Project #9826

Animal Cruelty Legislation

by Canadian Federation of Humane Societies
Parliament Hill
Parliament Hill

You have already shown your dedication to helping improve conditions for animals in Canada – whether they are on the farm, in the wild, used in research, or our companions at home!

We want you to know your donation made 2015 a landmark year! Together, we are making Canada a more humane nation, and your support will keep that momentum going.

The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS) turns 60 next year and we are proud to be Canada’s national organization representing SPCAs and Humane Societies in your local communities – some of the oldest and most trusted organizations in our country.

It’s not always easy being at the forefront of animal welfare in Canada. We have to change attitudes, confront cultural beliefs and stay focused on the big picture to make lasting changes. Your gift means so much, even more than you may realize!

2016 is just beginning but already we are working closely with one of our newly elected MPs to bring in a bill to update the Criminal Code of Canada. We expect to see it hit the floor in the next couple of weeks.  We are also working with two senators to bring bills forward to ban cruel and unnecessary cosmetic testing and to end the captivity of whales and dolphins.

Sadly, almost every day we hear stories about animals being abused. Canada’s federal animal cruelty legislation hasn’t been adequately updated since 1892, but our relationship with animals has changed dramatically in the last 124 years – and we need to protect them with strong, modern laws.

We saw the results of our work just this week when a 32-year-old Ontario man, Michael Earl Hill, received the highest sentence possible imposed for animal cruelty. The sentence of 2 years in federal prison and a 25-year-ban on having pets was issued for taping a dog’s muzzle shut with electrical tape, binding its legs and leaving it to die in a field. This sentence is the second time in two years that a full, 2-year imprisonment penalty was given, which means we’re making good progress. Do you remember the case of Breezy, a black Labrador-shepherd mix brutally and viciously beaten by Steven Helfer of Ottawa in September, 2013? Our work to update the Criminal Code was cited by the judge when she handed down the first 2-year prison sentence for animal cruelty. What we’re doing is working – we’re changing minds and evolving expectations.

As CEO of the Federation, I am proud of how much we are accomplishing together.  I wanted to send you a special thank you because you see that making change happen is not a short-term goal. It will take all of us working over a number of years to create the changes we want to see.


Edmonton Police Dog Quanto in action
Edmonton Police Dog Quanto in action

Thanks to your support of our work to update animal cruelty legislation in Canada, it is now an offence to “wilfully and without lawful excuse, kill, maim, wound, poison or injure a law enforcement animal while it is aiding a law enforcement officer in carrying out that officer’s duties; a military animal while it is aiding a member of the Canadian Forces in carrying out that member’s duties; or a service animal.  Bill C-35 has become LAW!

With your donation, the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS) has been able to ensure Bill C-35, better known as Quanto’s Law, passed before parliament dissolved for the election.

Quanto, a police dog, was stabbed to death chasing down a suspect in an Edmonton parking lot in 2013.  His assailant received 26 months in prison after pleading guilty to six charges, including one for killing Quanto.  At that time the toughest available charge was animal cruelty, and the assailant’s short sentence prompted concerns about the limited laws around service animal cruelty.

With public support behind us CFHS jumped into action. We met Members of Parliament and Senators, consulted with the Justice Minister, hosted events highlighting the importance of the law and spoke in both the House of Commons and the Senate.

C-35 put in place a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment for anyone wilfully injuring or killing animals protected under the new law and a minimum mandatory sentence of six months for those convicted of killing such an animal.  The law applies to police animals, military animals and service animals that assist people with disabilities, removing them from the property section of the criminal code.

At the CFHS we understand and appreciate the bond between human and animals.  We promote respect and humane treatment of all animals believing they should be provided with the highest levels of protection to ensure their health, welfare, and safety. The animals covered in Bill C-35 protect us and provide us a multitude of services.  These are jobs that they do willingly, and sometimes, they make the ultimate sacrifice.

We thank you and celebrate this success with you!   A new Federal government means we need to move quickly forward and ensure more updates are made to our archaic criminal code.  Quanto’s Law is a great first step to protect some animals.  Your support is needed to continuing making changes and to ensure protection for all animals.  

Please subscribe to Humane News for updates on this and other stories on animal welfare and please support our critical work in creating a more Humane Canada.


The CFHS uses the Five Freedoms to guide and determine animal welfare. The Five Freedoms describe conditions that must be fulfilled in order to prevent the suffering of domesticated animals in human care.This is a concept that was originally developed in 1965 by the UK Government based on the "Brambell" report and is specifically designed to guide how animals under human control should be treated.

The five freedoms are:

1. Freedom from hunger and thirst

2. Freedom from pain, injury, and disease

3. Freedom from distress

4. Freedom from discomfort

5. Freedom to express behaviours that promote well-being

These five freedom concepts are what drives the CFHS when we are working to represent the issues that matter to you. Thank you for your ongoing support!

Currently there is a bill making its way through Parliament that seeks to amend the Criminal Code of Canada to improve protection for law enforcement animals, military animals and service animals.  Bill C-35 makes it an offence to “wilfully and without lawful excuse, kill, maim, wound, poison or injury a law enforcement animal while it is aiding a law enforcement officer in carrying out that officer’s duties, a military animal while it is aiding a member of the Canadian Forces in carrying out that member’s duties or a service animals.” 

Enforcement and military animals have been given the job of protecting us.  A job that they do willingly and for which they sometimes make the ultimate sacrifice.  Service animals are specifically trained to assist people to enrich their lives.  Animals who can guide the blind, signal to the hearing impaired to provide other services to people who need them.  C-35 will increase penalties against those who commit acts of cruelty towards these animals.  

The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS) is supporting Bill C-35 and working to improve animal cruelty laws across Canada. We recently presented to the Justice and Human Rights Committy in support of this bill.  

The CFHS advocacy team quickly united Canadian animal welfare groups and mobilized a response to a Private Member’s Bill that was announced in early spring. Bill C-592, tabled by NDP MP Isabelle Morin, shocked animal welfare groups across the country when it unexpectedly contained a potentially devastating amendment that would exempt pest control, rodeo events, traditional or sport hunting or fishing and livestock raising or slaughter in an agriculture context from the Criminal Code of Canada.

The CFHS, leading a loose coalition of animal welfare groups, met with Thomas Mulcair’s office, MP Isabelle Morin and the House Leader of the NDP to outline our concerns. We were successful in securing a commitment from the NDP leadership that they did not support exemptions and that they would not allow the bill to move to second reading.

Because of your support, CFHS is launching a new and unique program called the National Centre for the Prosecution of Animal Cruelty (NCPAC). NCPAC designs and delivers training to the legal community that reflects current best practices in animal cruelty prosecution. NCPAC provides essential resources and crucial training to Crown prosecutors which supports them in effective prosecution of animal cruelty cases using the Criminal Code of Canada leading to more convictions and higher sentences. 

NCPAC will launch publicly in January 2015 and deliver the first set of four one-hour training modules in February.

The advancements we are making in Animal Cruelty Legislation is possible because of the support we receive from you. Thank you!

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Organization Information

Canadian Federation of Humane Societies

Location: Ottawa, ON - Canada
Project Leader:
Barbara Cartwright
Ottawa, ON Canada