New Study Names Canada’s “Best Places to be an Animal Abuser”

Posted on May 17, 2011

Quebec and Nunavut Ranked Worst for Animals, Ontario Takes Top Honors in Animal Legal Defense Fund’s 2011 Report

For immediate release

Lisa Franzetta, Animal Legal Defense Fund  
Stephan Otto, Animal Legal Defense Fund

San Francisco – Quebec, Nunavut, the Northwest Territories, and Alberta are the best provinces and territories in Canada to be an animal abuser, according to a new report released today by the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF). Based on a detailed comparative analysis of the animal protection laws of each jurisdiction, researching thirteen distinct categories of provisions throughout hundreds of pages of statutes, the report recognizes the provinces and territories where laws protecting animals have real teeth, and calls out those like Quebec and Nunavut–the worst in Canada this year for animal protection laws–where animal abusers get off easy. ALDF’s fourth annual report, the only one of its kind in the nation, ranks every province and territory on the relative strength and general comprehensiveness of its animal protection laws. For the third year in a row, Ontario held the top spot in the rankings due to its wide array of animal protection laws; Saskatchewan showed the most significant improvement overall, moving from seventh last year to fifth best in the country this year.

Animal Protection Laws Map

2011 Canadian Animal Protection Laws Rankings
Comparing Overall
Strength & Comprehensiveness

1. Ontario

4. Nova Scotia
5. Saskatchewan

British Columbia
8. Prince Edward
9. Newfoundland & Labrador
10. Alberta
Northwest Territories

Why are some provinces and territories in the dog house when it comes to getting tough on animal abusers? The legislative weaknesses seen in the jurisdictions at the bottom of the animal protection barrel include minimal fines and other penalties for offenders, a limited range of protections, and a lack of basic care standards for animals. Saskatchewan’s improved ranking was due in part to its enactment of stiffer penalties for offenses–animal abusers in Saskatchewan now face imprisonment for up to two years and a $25,000 fine. Manitoba regained its position as the second best province owing to stronger laws regulating the ownership of animals following a conviction or when an owner is determined by a court to be unable to care for an animal, and for requiring veterinarians to report suspected offenses. The Northwest Territories revamped its dog protections, leading to an improvement in its score.

“While we remain hopeful for additional improvements with the federal laws, much can continue to take place at the provincial and territorial level,” says Stephan Otto, ALDF’s director of legislative affairs and author of the report. “Animals do not vote, but those who love and care about them do. It is our hope that these ongoing reviews continue to garner support for both the strengthening and enforcement of animal protection laws throughout Canada.”

The full report, including a rankings map and overview of the strengths and weaknesses of the animal protection laws of each province and territory, is available here. Some highlights of legislative improvements since ALDF’s first report in 2008:

  • Seven jurisdictions have increased the maximum penalties for offenses (BC,
    NB, NT, NS, ON, SK, YT)
  • Five have improved the standards of care for animals (BC, NB, NT, NS, ON)
  • Three provinces have enacted provisions requiring veterinarians to report
    suspected cruelty (MB, NS, ON)
  • Three jurisdictions have broadened the range of protections (NT, ON, SK)
  • One now authorizes courts to require mental health counseling by offenders
  • Five jurisdictions have enacted stronger inspection/seizure/oversight
    authority (BC, NB, NT, ON, YT)
  • Three have increased restrictions on ownership of animals following a
    conviction (MB, NT, ON)

ALDF was founded in 1979 with the unique mission of protecting the lives and advancing interests of animals through the legal system. ALDF’s latest edition of the "Animal Protection Laws of the U.S.A. and
compendium (on which the report is principally based), is also available at

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