November 17, 2006

Browsing the web

I was recently browsing the web looking at various sites about breed-specific legislation and I came across a number of pages about Ontario, all of which I'd seen before and forgotten. So, for your reading pleasure, I've included them here.

Here is a wonderful petition created by the owners of a dog named Lily, a boxer-lab cross identified by authorities in Kitchener, Ontario, as a "pit bull". The owners fought this and won. They created this petition to try to hold elected officials accountable for false and misleading statements made to the public.

In January and February 2005, 102 individuals and organizations made presentations to a committee in Ontario. The responsibility of this committee was to listen to public and expert opinion and to make recommendations regarding what was then Bill 132 and what eventually became the Dog Owners' Liability Act of Ontario. The Dog Legislation Council of Canada has created a summary of those presentations.

It never ceases to amaze me how much information the Ontario government was given on this subject and how much it chose to ignore. Read for yourself the actual presentations and the committee's final recommendations.

Some insightful comments about "pit bulls" by Antonia Zerbisias, columnist for the Toronto Star. Until recently, Antonia's American Eskimo, Syd, played regularly with a number of different "pit bull type" dogs. My sincerest condolences to Antonia regarding Syd's recent passing.

Here are some responses to Peter Worthington's series of articles in the Toronto Sun, the latest of which was a half-hearted attempt to show both sides of the argument:

Dianne Singer
Bryan Dale
Steve Barker and Bryan Dale

In that same column, he dismisses as proposterous the notion that a Jack Russell Terrier attacked a "pit bull", which did not respond in kind.

As a dog trainer, I have met the following Jack Russell Terriers:

  • A nine-month old puppy that had bitten each of the five human members of his family multiple times, twice seriously.
  • A two-year-old female that had tried, numerous times, to bite people in the face and could not be trusted to be petted or picked up.
  • A year-old dog that literally tried to kill any other dog that she met.
  • A two-year-old dog that had not had a bone in his house for over a year because he would seriously attack anyone who came near him once he had possession of one.
I actually really liked all of these dogs. They have all had their problems resolved, gradually, and they are wonderful dogs. But don't tell me that your particular breed won't bite, just because your own dog happened to be great, and don't tell me that my dog will attack someone or something, just because you happened to meet one that did.

Here are Worthington's other articles attacking pit bulls, their owners, and anyone who disagrees with him:

May 18, 2006 - Bite's worse than its bark
July 5, 2006 - Pitbull attacks columnist's dog

My own comments on his July article are here.

My final thoughts are with Linda Williamson, editor of the Toronto Sun and outspoken critic of the Ontario legislation. She has left the Sun and has dedicated her final column to her mother, who passed away in May of this year.

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November 16, 2006

Conservatives throw their support behind inadequate animal protection bill

I had started to put this together back in September and then decided to re-read bill S-213 before posting here.

Since that time, Mark Holland, a Liberal from Ajax-Pickering in Ontario, introduced private member's bill C-373 which is identical to the former C-50. Without a doubt, I would be much more willing to support C-373 over S-213.


August 29, 2006

The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies issued a press release today expressing their disappointment with the Federal Conservative government's decision to support a private members's bill amending the animal cruelty sections of the Criminal Code.


Canadian Federation of Humane Societies
CFHS Legislation Page
CFHS History of Animal Cruelty Legislation
CFHS Legal Analysis

Criminal Code of Canada
Criminal Code of Canada - Current Animal Cruelty Section

Bill C-50 (dead)
Bill C-373
Bill S-213

Ottawa Citizen / Vancouver Sun article courtesy of the Toronto Humane Society

Below are the details from the CFHS.

August 29, 2006

The CFHS learned yesterday that Justice Minister Vic Toews has indicated his government will support Senator Bryden's private members' bill, S-213, to amend the animal cruelty sections of the Criminal Code. This is extremely disappointing news. Watch for an article in today's Can-West newspapers (including the National Post, Ottawa Citizen and Montreal Gazette) about this unfortunate news. Bill S-213 is identical to Bill S-24, a private members' bill that Senator Bryden first tabled in February, 2005. As you may recall, Senator Bryden's bill makes no changes to the offences in the current legislation - which was initially enacted in 1892. Bill S-213 takes only the penalty provisions from the previous government's bill, C-50, including the prohibition on animal ownership and the restitution clause that allows reimbursement to a person or organization that cared for the animal(s).

We are attaching the media release that we circulated to national news outlets today. As always, you are welcome to use any parts of it that you wish. Also attached is a grid we developed to summarize the problems with Bill C-213. This grid is available on our website, as is the text of the current legislation, Bill S-213 and Bill C-50.

Here are some key points/messages about this development that you may wish to use:
  • S-213 makes no changes to the offences in the current, archaic and inadequate legislation
  • While there is a dire need to increase the sentencing provisions, there are some serious problems with the wording of the current offences that need to be fixed (see the grid for details about these problems) - Bill C-50 would have made such changes
  • It would be outrageous to enact legislation in 2006 that retains the ancient and confusing language of 1892
  • In 2003, Bill C-50 (then called C-22) was supported by the vast majority of Canadians, the Liberal Rural Caucus on behalf of scores of animal industry groups; a coalition of about 35 animal industry groups and, of course, humane societies, SPCAs and other animal protection organizations.
  • In the summer of 2003, Bill C-22 was repeatedly passed unanimously in the House of Commons, but was held up by the Senate, due mostly to concerns about the protection of Aboriginal practices
  • Bill C-50 added a clause to address the concerns about Aboriginal practices
  • The coalition of industry groups (mostly livestock, but some trapping and other animal-use industry groups) that had actively supported C-22, threw their support behind Senator Bryden's bill last year, mostly based on a legal opinion that has fueled concerns about private prosecutions from animal rights organizations
  • Hunting and fishing groups are convinced that Bill C-50 would make their activities illegal. This is absurd. Hunting and fishing are lawful activities and would no more be illegal than slaughtering animals for food
  • The phrase, 'lawful excuse' is what permits people to engage in lawful activities, such as hunting, fishing, farming, trapping, euthanasia or scientific research.
  • Many animal industry groups are also concerned about the only new offence in Bill C-50 - 'killing an animal brutally or viciously, whether or not the animal dies immediately'. While we do not feel their concerns are valid, we have indicated to industry that we would accept changing this offence to 'killing an animal with brutal or vicious intent, whether or not the animal dies immediately'.
  • One of the priorities for the Conservative Party is crime prevention and safe communities - Bill S-213 would have negligible impact on violence in our communities
The CFHS will be launching a complete strategy to mobilize Canadians to make their views known on Bill S-213 - we will be sharing this with you and hope to count on your support in your communities as well. In the meantime, please feel free to add a link from your website to the CFHS website,

Canadian Federation of Humane Societies
102 - 30 Concourse Gate
Ottawa, ON K2E 7V7
Tel: 613-224-8072, ext 21
Toll free in Canada: 1-888-678-CFHS (2347)
Fax: 613-723-0252


Canadian Federation of Humane Societies

Conservatives throw their support behind indaquate animal protection bill

Ottawa, August 29, 2006

The Conservative government is putting the welfare of animals and vulnerable Canadians at risk by today announcing it will support a wholly inadequate private members bill to amend the animal cruelty provisions of the Criminal Code.

The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS) is disappointed but not surprised that Justice Minister Vic Toews is supporting Bill S-213, says CFHS Chief Executive Office Steve Carroll.

The Conservatives, who campaigned on their efforts to get tough on crime and make Canadian communities safer, are falling short on their own election promises by supporting S-213.

The proposed legislation, introduced this April by Liberal Senator John Bryden, is nearly identical to todays Criminal Code, originally enacted in 1892: it contains the same loopholes, archaic language and inadequacies, and provides only increased penalties. Animal abusers who today slip through the cracks unpunished, will continue to do so under Bill S-213.

The Conservatives are missing a great opportunity to introduce strong, effective legislation that would not only better protect animals and appropriately punish those guilty of animal cruelty: it would also help protect vulnerable citizens from violence, says Mr. Carroll.

In the last decade, extensive research has shown a clear link between violence toward humans and violence toward animals. In domestic violence cases, abuse toward women or children is often noted alongside violence toward animals. And many of the most notable violent offenders like Paul Bernardo and Jeffrey Dahmer were known to have abused animals in their youth. Effective animal cruelty legislation could help stop violence toward animals before it escalates to violence toward people.

The Justice Ministers announcement to support Bill S-213 is the latest setback in a seven-year effort to update the animal cruelty provisions of Canadas Criminal Code. The CFHS supports the reintroduction of effective animal cruelty legislation, similar to the Bill last known as C-50. And while Parliament continues to delay passage of effective legislation, animals continue to suffer, and Canada falls farther and farther behind other developed countries when it comes to animal protection.

Canadian animal lovers need to write to the Prime Minister, the Justice Minsiter and their MP to tell them Bill S-213 just doesnt cut it, adds Mr. Carroll. The government needs to understand Canadians want anti-cruelty laws that will actually make a difference.


For more information, please contact:
Tanya OCallaghan
Communications Coordinator
Tel: 613-224-8072 ext. 12 or 613-808-2475

Canadian Federation of Humane Societies
102-30 Concourse Gate, Ottawa, Ontario K2E 7V7 (613) 224-8072 fax: (613) 723-0252 email:

Animal cruelty amendments at a glance

Flaws in current legislationWhat's wrong with the current legislation?How does Bill S-213 address it?How would effective legislation address this problem?*
Wilful neglectThe wording of the current offence of wilful neglect requires proof of a person's intent. The requirement that a person intended to neglect their animals makes it extremely difficult to lay charges, as is proven in the following example: A Saskatchewan farmer allowed more than 30 sheep to starve to death and his other animals were emaciated. The SPCA visited numerous times over several months advising him to provide proper feed and bedding. Ultimately he was charged with causing wilful neglect but the judge found him not guilty as he did not feel the farmer intended to starve his animals.No change. Under this legislation, crimes of neglect will continue to be nearly impossible to punish appropriately.Effective legislation introduces the term negligent and defines it as departing markedly from the standard of care that a reasonable person would use.
Killing an animalIt is currently an offence to kill an owned animal without lawful excuse. For example, animals may be killed in the pursuit of lawful activities such as farming or research. However, wild or stray animals can be killed for any reason.No change. Bill S-213 still would not extend any protection to wild or unowned animals.Effective legislation makes it an offence to kill any animal without a lawful excuse. Lawful excuse includes hunting, fishing, farming, euthanasia and protection of life and property.
Brutal and viciousThe current legislation does not address brutally or viciously killing an animal as a form of violence. Several years ago in Edmonton, two young men tied a dog to a tree and beat it to death with a baseball bat. Because the veterinarian testified that the dog died instantly on the first blow, the men could not be convicted of causing unnecessary pain and suffering.No change. Cases such as this one from Edmonton would continue to go unpunished.Effective legislation makes it an offence to kill an animal with brutal or vicious intent, whether or not the animal dies immediately. This would allow the Criminal Code to address a particularly heinous form of violence in our society.
Different protection for different animalsCurrent legislation refers to different animals and protects them differently. It contains a separate section and offences for cattle and also refers to dogs, birds and other animals.No change. Bill S-213 maintains the confusing language of the current legislation, enacted in 1892.Effective legislation applies to all vertebrates equally whether they are owned or unowned and includes special provisions for the protection of law enforcement animals.
DefinitionThere is currently no definition of animal.No change.Effective legislation includes the following definition: A vertebrate, other than a human being.
Property sectionCurrently, crimes against animals are considered property offences. Contemporary Canadian values place animals as more than just simple property, but rather as feeling, sentient beings.No change. Bill S-213 continues to entrench the century-old concept that animals need to be protected simply as someone's property.Effective legislation moves animal cruelty out of the property section of the Criminal Code to better reflect modern Canadian values.
Fighting and trainingThe current legislation does not make it an offence to train animals to fight other animals, nor to receive money for the fighting of animals.No change.Effective legislation makes it an offence to train an animal to fight and receive money for animal fighting and training.
PenaltiesIn the current law, the penalties do not appropriately punish perpetrators nor act as a deterrent. The bill also provides different penalties for crimes against cattle. There is currently no provision for cost recoveries for those who provide care and treatment (such as SPCAs, humane societies or veterinarians) of animals who have been abused.Bill S-213 provides greater flexibility in sentencing by allowing animal cruelty crimes to be prosecuted as either summary conviction or indictable offences. Maximum penalties are either a jail term of up to five years and unlimited fines for indictable offences; or fines of up to $5,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 18 months for summary convictions. The bill also includes up to a lifetime prohibition on ownership, and those found guilty can be ordered to pay restitution.Effective legislation contains all these penalties, and in addition, applies to unowned animals.

* The problems with current legislation were all addressed in Bill C-50

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