Province of British Columbia Declares April23rd Animal Abuse Prevention Day in Honor of the Lost Lives of 100 Sled Dogs

https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=166015720122281

WHEREAS

The Province of British Columbia recognizes that the health, safety and well

being of all animals is vital, and

 

WHEREAS

The Province of British Columbia will lead the country by enacting the toughest

penalties against animal cruelty so that anyone proven responsible for harming

an animal will be subject to those penalties, and

 

WHEREAS

the Province of British Columbia believes that the prevention of cruelty to

animals is a matter of humanity and not just a matter of legislation,

and

 

WHEREAS

by working together and sharing information on how to prevent, recognize, and

report signs of animal abuse, we can help protect all animals from abuse and

neglect, and

 

WHEREAS

Our Lieutenant Governor, by and with the advice and consent of the Executive

Council, has been pleased to enact Order in Council 903 on October 11,

2002;

 

NOW KNOW YE THAT we do by these presents proclaim and declare that April 23, 2011

shall be known as

 

 

ANIMAL ABUSE PREVENTION DAY in

 

honour of the lost lives of 100

sled dogs on April 23, 2010

 

in  the Province of British Columbia.

 

Recommendations from the Sled Dog Task Force Report

Here is a direct copy and paste of page 23, 24 and 25 of the Sled Dog Task Force paper:

original can be found here: http://www.gov.bc.ca/agri/down/sleddog_taskforce_report_25mar11.pdf

Please note Recommendation 5!!! This is what we are all working towards. It has been stated by the BC provincial government that they will act on all of these recommendations, but we need to close those loopholes!

5.1 Regulation of Standards of Care for Sled Dogs in B.C.

RECOMMENDATION 1: Amend the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCAA) to:

• create a regulatory authority to define Standards of Care for animals.

• extend the current six month limitations for bringing forward proceedings related to contraventions of the PCAA

RECOMMENDATION 2: Consider increased penalties for offences committed under the PCAA

RECOMMENDATION 3: Establish a working group to develop a Sled Dog ‘Standard of Care’ based upon current knowledge, best practices, science, and expertise with extensive input from key stakeholders including veterinarians, enforcement agencies, animal welfare organizations, and the sled dog industry.

This explicit and mandatory standard will define an acceptable standard of care and provide clarity to both animal owners and law enforcement officials.The standard should provide minimum requirements of care in addition to recommended best practices–including, but not limited to food, water, housing, socialization, tethering, euthanasia and other animal husbandry responsibilities.

Consideration should be given to referencing external authoritative standards, including the CVMA, to ensure the standard continues to reflect emerging best practices.

RECOMMENDATION 4: Require that all sled dog companies receiving tenures on Crown Land under the Land Act include in their management plans annual inspections by either the BC SPCA or a licensed veterinarian.

RECOMMENDATION 5: Recommend to the Government of Canada that consideration be given to strengthen the Criminal Code provisions related to animal cruelty.

RECOMMENDATION 6: Consult with the College of Veterinarians of British Columbia on the creation of a mandatory reporting requirement under the PCAA that requires veterinarians to report suspected cases of animal abuse to the BC SPCA and provides statutory immunity for veterinarians making such reports.

RECOMMENDATION 7: Enhance the capacity of the BC SPCA to undertake animal cruelty investigations.

RECOMMENDATION 8: Build upon the existing prosecutorial expertise within the Ministry of Attorney General to successfully pursue cases of animal abuse through ongoing training and related efforts.

5.2 Certification of Sled Dog Operators in B.C.

RECOMMENDATION 9: Encourage the development of a self-sustaining sled dog industry association which incorporates a certification and auditing program.Encourage agencies and organizations that have the ability to market or license sled dog sporting events (e.g.tourism associations, business advocacy and consumer organizations, race organizers), to require membership in this association as a condition for B.C.-related activities and marketing.

RECOMMENDATION 10: Enhance the provincial public sector’s ability to recognize and report instances of animal abuse by:

• Developing and delivering information awareness materials regarding animal abuse to front-line staff as appropriate;

• Developing policies to ensure the expectations and mechanisms to report animal abuse are in place; and,

• Establishing Information Sharing Agreements between the BC SPCA and the numerous provincial Ministries, Crown Corporations and non-government agencies with statutory obligations.

—–

I note that Recommendation 3 does not include the term of *retirement*, but does include a recommendation regarding socialization. All dogs should be adoptable after their run … just like K-9s, seeing eye dogs etc.

http://www.newsroom.gov.bc.ca/2011/04/premier-announces-canadas-toughest-animal-cruelty-laws.html

Sled Dog Task Force Report Summary…. and questions…

Link to the complete task force report here:
http://www.gov.bc.ca/agri/down/sleddog_taskforce_report_25mar11.pdf

My concerns are in italics.

Mandate: words used:
Reported circumstance
Killings appear to contravene

Future work is indicated

Methodology:
Appears to me that there were many agencies solicited but only one animal advocacy group – why only one and how was it chosen? When individuals were chosen what was the specifications for the choice?

Public consultation was encouraged

Onsite visit of a commercial sled dog operation. Why only one and how was it chosen?

Introduction:
Seems to me the overall message given is that if the slaughter had been done in a different way it would not have raised so many concerns

Sled Dog Industry Context:
Important : while industry supported voluntary codes of practice are emerging… They have no legal effect unless incorporated into statues or regulations.

Review of current criminal code as it has direct bearing on ability to convict.

Legislation in other provinces
BC is not listed in either a. Jurisdictions with leg ability to regulate animal welfare stds or
b. Jurisdictions with leg ability to regulate humane animal euthanasia

Legislation in BC
The PCAA does not reference specific stds for animal care and well being

Enforcement is thru BCSPCA

Land Act
Sled Dog operators may operate on Crown or private land.
Important: because land act pertains to occupation … There is a link to business operation.

Focus is on use of land and environmental use of land not business practices. …
As long as the business is using the land for the purpose specified, and abiding by the management agreement, the Crown AGREES TO Uphold the lease or licence.

Regulatory Powers of Local Governments

Local regulation is ideal where flexibility is desired, .. however… intentionally does not provide for consistent application of laws across the province. THis is a significant factor when attempting to apply and meet a standard of practice so that individual operations would be regulated relatively consistently. It does not lend itself to standard of animal care or to a business sector.

It should be noted that many sled dog industry activities may take place within unincorporated areas of the province or on Crown Land where local government regulatory activities are limited.

Animal Care Codes of Practice and Standards

Codes of Practice are intended to promote sound management and welfare practices.. and … represent a national understanding of animal care requirements and recommended best practices. Some provinces have incorporated these codes into their legislation, giving hem legal effect.

Canadian Council on Animal Care, Canadian Veterinary Medical Associations: national codes specific to kennels and catteries as well as guidance on the use of firearms in the euthaasia of animals… (want to see these) , American Veterinary Medical Association (typo top page 13 should read AVMO not CVMO, pretty sure). Mush with PRIDE, has own sled dog care guidelines and care of geriatric dogs and end of life (want to see that).

Mush with PRIDE requires certification be done by ONLY one of the following: Licensed vet, vet techician (!) animal enforcement officer or bylaw officer.

While Mush with PRIDE represents the leading standard for sled dog ativities, it should be noted that the standards are voluntary in nature and were found to provide insufficient guidance in several critical areas of animal welfare including end of life planning and euthanasia practices.

Provincial Sled Dog Industry

Within the province of BC the industry remains largeley a small niche tourism market specializing in outdoor sport and guided tours (commercial, and entirely dependent on tourism market)

…new firms entering the industry simply require only a business license specific to their local municipality, if applicable.

Task Force Review Methodology


Receiving petitions involving 42,087 participants and 1082 pieces of correspondences from individuals

Areas of investigation included housing , exercise programs, health and dental veterinary care, socialization and plans for the care of elderly or injured animals that were no loner involved in dog sledding activities.

Dr David Fraser, Animal Welfare Program UBC… A number of potential soutions were proposed including the establishment of provincial regulatory standards of care applicable to sled dog activities and animals more broadly.

Howling Dog Tours…The … unsolicited submission… included both a commitment to re-homing and adopting dogs no longer required for their operations and an assessment by a licensed veterinarian that substantive improvements have been made and that *overall, this is a healthy and well cared for group of dogs*. (makes me wonder what they were like before and why is it *overall*?)

Considerable discussion among sled dog operators and veterinarians resulted in a consensus that sled dogs deserved the same consideration as companion dogs. Such considerations include…an appropriate long term plan for the dogs after they have been retired. The Task Force agrees with the consensus stakeholder sentiment that there is no acceptable reason to end the life of a healthy socially amenable dog simply because it may no longer be suitable for use in the industry. (My question here is healthy is fairly easy to understand, but what about socially? Where is the accepted definition of socially amenable, and where is the commitment to ensure the dogs are socially amenable? what about the generally accepted view that all dogs can be rehabilitated if required, by those who are educated and knowledgeable in these manners? Who will pay for this?)

The Task Force agrees with the views of the veterinary community that any euthanasia , that is considered justifiable … (what is considered justifiable? )

Finally the Task Force took note of the views expressed by stakeholders who indicated that any operation or facility tht housed large numbers of dogs required significant and/or human resources to adequately care for the animals in question…. (what about a maximum? What about retirements and long term commitments?)

The philosophy of animal rights and laws was presented to consider moral principles which are not addressed by animal welfare positions.
However, it is the Lifeforce position that a ban on sled dog businesses for profit is necessary based in part on the probable lack of compliance and enforcement of any guidelines or legislation.

Save the Sled Dog: Reform British Columbia’s Anti-Cruelty to Animals Law: The Ian Somerhalder Foundation, based in the United States, provided a petition supported by 37,464 individuals
To avoid compromising any ongoing criminal investigations all interviews, discussions and documents were structured to preclude engagement with the parties on matters directly pertaining to the reported April 2010 events.

Observations and Findings
Role of Sled Dogs…

Dogs have a special relationship with Canadians as companion and acting as working animals tasked with policing communities, assisting person with disabilities and providing Search and Rescue Services. Such a close relationship is difficult to align with the reality that animals within Canada and British Columbia are considered chattel or property of their owners…and when an individual fails to adequately care for his or her animals, it triggers a social responsibility to ensure that standards are in place to protect animals, regardless of their ownership. (my bolding)
Enforcement of Existing Legislation

While provincial animal protection legislation was found to be effective in ensuring that instances of animal cruelty and abuse are identified, and prosecuted appropriately, the Task Force noted concerns expressed by the BC SPCA that it does not have the financial resources required to ensure consistent enforcement of the PCAA across the province

The BC SPCA investigated 7,147 complaints of animal cruelty and removed 1,249 animals from neglectful or distressful situations in 2010.During this period, 117 search warrants were executed and 78 charges of animal cruelty were submitted to Crown Counsel. (Terrible statistics. They need more funds to do their work.)
Standard of Care

The Task Force took note of the voluntary Mush with P.R.I.D.E.standard, but believes that the unique circumstances of the sled dog industry would benefit from the development of mandatory standards regarding a number of the reported issues raised in the April 2010 event (listed page 18 and 19
Provincial ministries also have the opportunity to positively influence the operations of the sled dog industry through their existing regulatory powers such as requiring consideration of animals’ well-being when they are part of a business occupying Crown Lands. (what if not on Crown lands, what are the provisions?)
Dog Sled Industry

… uncharacteristic of the industry…

While there remains a range of practices within the industry, several representatives identified current best practices that recognize the importance of the animals and their overall well-being.
These include:

••Providing for the health and well-being of the dogs over the full course of their entire life (e.g.veterinary care, exercise, nutrition and retirement);
••Prioritizing early socialization of young animals; and,
••Population management practices that preclude the killing of healthy animals that may be unsuited to the task of sledding or surplus to the operation’s requirements.
Unfortunately, the lack of an effective provincial industry association restricts the consistent voluntary adoption of comprehensive best practices, the sharing of expertise and resources as well as the identification of inappropriate activities by individual operators.As a result, public confidence in the industry is more likely to be eroded by instances of poor performance.
Members of the dog sled industry … have indicated that they would support the introduction of common standards of care.Industry members have requested both involvement in the potential development of the standards and time to transition.
Public Dialogue

Common concerns raised by the public specific to the reported event included:
••Concern for the current well being of the remaining dogs;
••Killing of sled dogs as a business practice based on economic factors;
••Number of animals killed and the manner in which they were killed;
••Concern that the level of care provided to the animals involved in the sled dog industry was insufficient and failed to meet their physical and mental needs;
••Maximum penalties under existing provincial and federal animal protection legislation to address instances of severe cruelty are not strong enough;
••Failure to access other options for the placement of the animals (e.g.adoption and referral to rescue organizations); and,
••Appropriateness of engaging animals in recreational or commercial sled dog activities without common standards as a basis for effective oversight and enforcement
Common concerns raised by the public specific to the need to prevent future reoccurrence included:

••Amending the PCAA to incorporate clear standards of care;
••Strengthening penalty provisions under the PCAA for serious cases of animal abuse; and,
••Providing funding to the BC SPCA to support the organization’s animal cruelty investigation and enforcement activities
Duty to report animal abuse.

The Task Force determined that there is currently no legal requirement to report inhumane treatment of an animal. (The incidents can be reported but as seen from the stats of BC SPCA, there are not many charges, and even less convictions.)
Licensed Veterinarians

Only four provinces have a mandatory duty for veterinarians at large to report suspected abuse of an animal including legislative protection for such individuals: Manitoba, Ontario, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador (pending legislation).
WorksafeBC

WorkSafeBC conducted its own internal review in order to clarify what action it may take in the future when matters relating to the inhumane treatment of animals is brought to its attention, with particular attention to the claims and compensation route, and has provided recommendations to the Task Force.The Task Force is of the view that these are valuable recommendations and asks WorkSafeBC to implement them. (I would like to see these! I hope it includes the requirement for anything that is considered immoral be refused, and that the company who ordered the immoral act must step up and pay for any compensation claims.)

Vigils for animal welfare in Canada continue with great hopes for election on May 2

Just many other groups have Facebook to help communicate their cause and inspire action, so is Vancouver resident Crystal Arber leading a global pack to bring awareness to Animal Cruelty legislation in Canada.  Arber, an MSW Candidate, was struck by the senseless and heartless executions of the Sled Dogs in Whistler BC and decided she could not just let things go on status quo. “These sled dogs cannot die in vain. We need to be their voice!” Seems thousands of other people agreed with her. For her, though, thousands are not enough; her goal is millions.

After some research, she discovered that animal cruelty legislation remains virtually unchanged since 1892. Animals are still considered property even though the majority of the population comprehends and views them as  sentient beings.

“They feel, they understand, and they display joy. Because animals are still considered property, it seems to give some people justification for abuse.” Arber says.

Arber has a goal of 100 cities around the world, and is halfway there.

Since mid February, 27 “walks” to highlight Canada’s lack of effective animal cruelty legislation have taken place already from Italy, across Europe and in to Canada through to the US.

Her April 23rd Vigil organizers in Canada, from North Vancouver BC and in every province are making a lot of noise as well as those organizers from England, South Africa,Australia, and US. And the media is listening even if the Harper government is not.

For local residents North Vancouver will hold its Vigil at the foot of Lonsdale at the New Shipbuilders’ Square. All local MPs and MLAs including Premier Christy Clark have been invited, and North Van Mayor Darrell Mussatto will be speaking.

MPs are also getting involved, letters. MP Mark Holland, drafter of Bill C-229,  spoke  in Waterloo about the fight for effective Animal Cruelty legislation.

“That’s really the focus of these Vigils”, Crystal explained. “We will have petitions on site at every Canadian vigil for people to sign. If the amendments to the Criminal Code of Canada were in place, as proposed in this bill, any offense would be enforced more effectively and efficiently. For example, we’d have less people getting away with a slap on the wrist for beating a three month old puppy to death, like what happened in Victoria early 2011.”

When asked how much Bill C-229 will cost Canadian taxpayers, Mark Holland, MP for Ajax Pickering since 2004, says “it is expected (to cost) nothing to implement. There really is no reason for them (the PCs) not to do this at all..” If anything, it will increase enforcement, he confirms, and it will increase the effectiveness of our court system, where currently, offenders have very little accountability. When someone harms an animal, they rarely are convicted because of our current Criminal Code. That is what needs to change.

“There is no need to make this a partisan issue – it is just the right thing to do.” He added, “I am happy to pull my bill if they agree to introduce it as government legislation. We badly need these changes passed.”

Libby Davies, NDP MP Vancouver recently said in the House on March 7 2011, “All these important citizen initiatives have focused our attention on what needs to be done. Animal cruelty laws must be effective and they must not be stripped down in the Senate. I urge all members to join together to protect animals and prevent animal cruelty.”

In fact, all the Liberals, the NDP and the Bloc support changing legislation based on Bill C-229. So why is the bill being stopped? Holland attributes it to the complacency of the Conservatives who feel they have already done enough to support animal cruelty legislation. John Weston, Vancouver PC MP says in a letter to the editor North Shore News February 4, 2011 in response to the “despicable act” of the sled dog executions:  ” Our federal government supports the fight against animal cruelty. We need to send the message that animal cruelty is unacceptable in Canadian society. That is why our government helped pass Bill S-203 into law during the last parliament, a bill that increased the maximum penalty to five years for acts of animal cruelty.”

In a written reply to Mr Weston, Mr Holland said “You mention that your government “remains open to future initiatives to combat animal cruelty.” If that is true, then why has your government consistently ignored countless calls made over years to get a bill like C-229 through Parliament? …. demands have been made by … residents who live in West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, the riding you represent in Parliament.”

Bill C-229 allows for all regular hunting, fishing, farming, ranching, as long as these continue lawfully.

An election has been called for May 2, and the petitions for this Bill are still valid because they state “based on Bill C-229. If the public would like to get involved and make their voice heard, or to sign a petition, there are vigils happening in almost every area in Canada on April 23rd.

It seems the international population understands what the Canadian Conservative party does not.

More information about the Vigils in your city or around the world can be found at http://www.april23rdvigil.com. This site also has a repository on all the press received regarding the Vigils so far and is updated daily. Mark Holland’s website which contains the very short history on Animal Cruelty legislation in Canada is http://markholland.liberal.ca/cruelty-to-animals/

Canadian Animal Cruelty Legislation has no balls – you can help change that!

Sled Dog Suzie Massacre Whistler
Meet Suzie, she loved her sticks and would always try to engage you. Suzie is no longer with us, and according to the WCB reports died a horriic death. Thank you to Amie Wills for her photo so we can remember her.

This petition is aimed at international citizens, not Canadians.

If you are Canadian please go to http://markholland.liberal.ca/cruelty-to-animals to get a hold of a good letter to send to your MPs – especially the Conservatives!

Information about Vigils happening around the world on April 23rd 2011.

Animal Cruelty part of the Canadian Culture?

Sled Dog Suzie Massacre Whistler
Meet Suzie, she loved her sticks, and would always try to engage you. Image courtesy of Sled Dog trainer, Amie Wills. According to the WCB report on the CBC website, when she was shot in the face, she made a horrible noise, and ran away in pain with her eye hanging out. She settled near some of her packmates, but she was finished off with a scoped rifle.

Most Canadians I have talked to in Kelowna really had no idea how bad our Animal Cruelty legislation is; they didn’t know that laws have not been substantially changed since 1892. But then, when news stories hit regarding someone setting fire to their pet, or dismembering an animal, how can we wonder why they are not successfully prosecuted.

At the end of January, 2011, Canadians and world citizens were shocked and dismayed to hear of the mass executions (known to some as the Canadian Sled Dog Massacre of the Whistler 100) of the Whistler dogs in 21-23 April 2010, two short months after the Olympics. While a Task Force has been appointed by the BC government to investigate, and the results and effectiveness of that remains to be seen, Canadians are no longer waiting for the government to do the right thing.

Some Canadians are no longer accepting that animal cruelty is part of our culture, part of our identity.

But we are not the only ones.

The international community is appalled at the lack of animal cruelty legislation in Canada. Countries like the United States, England, Norway, South Africa, Italy, and the list is growing every day, are signing online petitions directed to the Canadian Government that current laws are unacceptable. According to the IFAW organization, Executive Summary in “Falling Behind – An International Comparison of Canada’s Animal Cruelty Legislation”, “Almost every day in Canada newspapers cover stories of horrific acts of cruelty to animals. From house cats captured and killed in microwaves to dogs dragged behind cars until they die from their injuries — cases of cruelty abound.” Recently, a three month old puppy was beaten to death in a hotel room in Victoria, and the killer received almost nothing as a consequence to his action.

Unless, you, my fellow Canadian, support these kinds of actions? Do you accept that cruelty to animals is part of our Canadian culture?

A grassroots movement of Canadians say things need to change. There have already been 25 walks across the country and around the world, trying to bring awareness to Canada’s horrible animal cruelty legislation. There are more to come.

As of this writing, 46 vigils are taking place on April 23rd, the second and final day of the two day Canadian Sled Dog Massacre, and petitions will be available for people to sign. We want to symbolically show the sled dogs that we really do care that this happened to them by signing the petition in support of Bill C-229.

Have you already signed?

Letters have been written by residents of Canada to their MPs. Some have written every MP in Canada! The responses have been varied but predictable. Liberal MPs have responded with unequivocal support, while the Conservative MPs appear to be quite haughty and do not believe they need to listen to the Canadian voice.

From letters I received from Conservative  MPs,  it appears to me that they feel that their work with Animal Cruelty legislation is done with the passing of S-203. Maybe they think that with their stance in the polls, should there be an election called, they have it completely wrapped up, and they don’t need to lift a finger.

How do you feel about that?

To see all the vigils that are planned for April 23rd, please visit http://www.april23rdvigil.com. This is a facebook page.

Past events can be seen at the Advocates Against Outdated Animal Welfare, also a facebook page. This link though will take you right to the photo albums.