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

Posted on May 20, 2009

Northwest Territories and Nunavut Worst for Animals, Ontario Takes Top Honors in Animal Legal Defense Fund’s 2009 Report

For immediate release

Lisa Franzetta, ALDF
Stephan Otto, ALDF

SAN FRANCISCO – New Brunswick, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Quebec 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 twelve 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 the Northwest Territories and Nunavut–tied for worst in Canada this year for animal protection laws–where animal abusers get off easy. The 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. In a dramatic turnaround, Ontario, which last year had the infamous distinction of ranking lowest in the nation for its animal protection laws, moved from worst to first this year due to a host of new laws.

Best: Ontario
Worst: Northwest Territories, Nunavut (tie)

Top Tier: British Columbia, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Ontario
Middle Tier: Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Yukon, Saskatchewan
Bottom Tier: New Brunswick, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Quebec

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 a lack of protections for most kinds of animals, minimal fines and sentences for offenders, and no provisions for the warrantless seizure of animals in emergency situations. On the other end of the spectrum, recent legislative improvements in Ontario that skyrocketed the province from the worst to the best in Canada for protecting animals include standards of care for animals, requiring veterinarians to report suspected offences, higher penalties, and restrictions on the future ownership of animals by offenders. Manitoba, which ranked highest in last year’s report, came in a close second. In 2009, the field of animal law is getting real legs in Canada; currently seven law schools are offering courses in the field, and the first-ever animal law conference in Canada is taking place this week, from May 21-22 at the Université du Québec à Montréal.

“ALDF’s report moves beyond the federal laws to identify what each province and territory is doing individually for animal protection,” says Stephan Otto, ALDF’s director of legislative affairs and author of the report. Regardless of where each jurisdiction currently ranks in the report, all still have room for improvement. “It is our hope that these ongoing reviews help shed light on this important issue and garner support for both their strengthening and enforcement,” says Otto. “Animals do not vote, but those who love and care about them do, so we encourage lawmakers to take notice and work on improving these vital laws.”

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

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