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Animal Law: Improving Canadian Federal Anti-Cruelty Animal Legislation


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Weak Federal Anti-Cruelty Laws are creating problems for Society. This is an overview of the many questions and solutions around how to strengthen them.

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Animal Law: Improving Canadian Federal Anti-Cruelty Animal Legislation

  1. 1. Improving Canadian Federal Anti-Cruelty Animal Legislation by Suzana Gartner February 6, 2014 Ontario Bar Association –Animal Law Institute
  2. 2. • Lack of protectionfor animals against violentacts; • Cases in media ignitepublic debate; • Widespreadrequeststo update law; • Largely unsuccessfulParliamentary processes; • Remainsa controversialissue. Weak Federal Anti-Cruelty Laws result in:
  3. 3. • Maintaina justand peacefulsociety; • Keep individualssafe from harm; • Prohibitbehaviorthat threatens serious harm to individualsand society. Social Justice goals of Criminal Law:
  4. 4. • Researchlinks humans who abuse animalsand seriousdomesticabusers Animal Law & Social Justice: Ascoine Loring & Bolton McClellan Peterson & Farrington Ribbans
  5. 5. • Studies demonstrateanimal abuserswill go on to commitmore seriouscrimes againsthumans; • Strong anti-cruelty animal legislation can deterother formsof violencein society. Animal Law & Social Justice:
  6. 6. R v Menard: (1978) 43 C.C.C. (2d) 458 (Que CA): • Operator of an animal shelter killed the dogs by gassing them to death by use of motor vehicle exhaust (cheapest method); Animals were conscious for at least 30 seconds and experienced pain and suffering and burns from the intense heat; Found guilty for killing animals……. Sentenced to…………….. Lamer JA wrote what became the leading case interpreting the general Anti-cruelty provision and the concepts of “unnecessary” for modern times. This case illustrates how weak convictions are not a deterrent to animal abuse .
  7. 7. R v Menard (1978) 43 C.C.C. (2d) 458 (Que CA): The animal is inferior to man, and takes its place within a hierarchy which is the hierarchy of animals, and above all is a part of nature with all its "racial and natural" selections. The animal is subordinate to nature and to man. It will often be in the interests of man to kill and mutilate wild or domestic animals, to subjugate them and, to this end, to tame them with all the painful consequences this may entail for them and, if they are too old, or too numerous, or abandoned, to kill them. Lamer JA wrote what became the leading case interpreting the general Anti-cruelty provision and the concepts of “unnecessary” for modern times. This illustrates how weak convictions are not a deterrent to animal abuse.
  8. 8. Few abusers convicted • Require a high level of mens rea; • Crimes difficult to prosecute due to the term ‘willful neglect’ –requires proof that an accused intended to harm or kill his her animal; Part XI sections 444-447 of the Code re: Crimes against Property:
  9. 9. Sections444-447of Part XI of the Codeare Crimes againstProperty: 3 typesof offences against animals: 1. Killingandharminganimals(445); 2. Torturinganimals(445.1); 3. Neglectinganimals(446).
  10. 10. PartXIsections444-447oftheCodere:Crimes againstProperty: • Animals are treated as Property; • Protectedonly in relation to their relationshipto humans; • Ownedanimalsare protectedbetter than unownedanimals, i.e. cattle vs. strays.
  11. 11. Legal recommendations to update these laws: In 1987 the Law Reform Commission of Canada had recommended an entirely new part be created in the Code “What the Criminal law should address was the growing sentiment that it was no longer appropriate to treat crimes against animals as mere property offences.” In 1998 the Department of Justice commissioned a report ‘Crimes Against Animals.’
  12. 12. Crimes against Animals: • Consultation process to update the law; • Revealed a broad spectrum of opinion; • Consensus –majority view was that animals should be protected from intentional cruelty and needless pain.
  13. 13. Crimes Against Animals: Among questions asked was whether respondents thought: 1. Is abuse of animals closer in seriousness to producing child pornography; or, 2. Is abuse of animals closer in seriousness to stealing an automobile?
  14. 14. Crimes Against Animals: Recommendations: • Reform of the law is not intended to forbid conduct that is socially acceptable or authorized by law so these provisions do not restrict or otherwise interfere with normal and regulated activities i.e. hunting, fishing, etc. • Crimes against animals is separated from other property offences in Part XI of the Code ; • Moved to part dealing with morals based offences.
  15. 15. Bill C-17: • Proposed to move crimes against animals from property from Part XI of the Code to a revised Part V which would include sexual offences against public morals, disorderly conduct, and cruelty to animals; -Introduced a definition of “animal” to mean a “vertebrate, other than a human being, and any other animal that has the capacity to feel pain -Made it an offence to kill an animal without lawful excuse; -Changed the offences from summary conviction to hybrid offences.
  16. 16. 15 Failed attempts to update the Code:
  17. 17. Omnibus Bills involve many groups Animals = Property Hunting & Fishing Industries Aboriginal Practices Pet Owners Medical Research
  18. 18. Complications due to Parliamentary Process: The parliamentary process has too many possibilities for someone to raise some objection to some element of an omnibus bill because of the nature of the Parliamentary process which encourages criticism to passage of Bills; Bills need to be more specific to pass, particularly when they are ‘contentious’ Issues such as the status of animals and amongst stakeholders with a vested interests (who hold strong interests) on these issues.
  19. 19. 2002 to 2003 > 2008
  20. 20. Revisedthepenaltyprovisions: Animalcrueltyoffencesarehybridoffencesasopposed tosummaryconvictions; Maximumpenaltiesare5yearjailterm,unlimitedfines andlifetimeprohibitionfromanimalownership. Restitutiontoagenciescaringforabusedanimals. BRYDEN’S BILL C-203
  21. 21. Criticism of BRYDEN’S BILL: Criticizedbyavarietyofinterestgroups,i.e.animalwelfare groupsfornotbeingenoughofachangebecause: Increasedpenaltieswithoutaddressingconvictionrates; AnimalscrueltycontinuestobeinpropertypartofCode.
  22. 22. Anti-Cruelty Case Law: Since Bryden’s Bill: Rv.Munroe(2010ONCJ226): • Accusedsubjected2dogstotorture,usingheat,electricity andbluntforce,causinghemorrohaging,aseparatedretina, acollapsedlungand14ribfracturesoverprolongedpd; • Sentencedtotwelve(12)monthsandanorderprohibiting Munroefromowing,havingcustodyorresidinginthesame premisesasananimalorbirdfor25years. • Judgenotedtheamendments“representafundamentalshiftinParliament’sapproachtothesecrimesand suchadramaticchangeinapenaltyprovisionisvirtuallyunheardofinourcriminallaw.”
  24. 24. Recommendations: Proposeprovisionsincrementally, better protectsserviceanimals, i.e. Quanto’slaw; Providea definitionof ‘animal’; Things everyoneagreed to not in Bryden’sbill Consensusasaprecursorto eachchange;
  25. 25. RvZeller(1998ABPC19): • Duringanargumentwithhiswifebeatherpuppytodeath withashovel; • Chargedwithwillfullycausingunnecessarypainand sufferingtoananimal; • Sentencedto60daysinjailand2yearsprobation. RvPower(2003OCA176); • Chargedwithwillfullycausingunnecessarypain,suffering, andinjurytoananimalandmischief; • Sentencedto90daysinjail Examples of Weak Anti- Cruelty Convictions:
  26. 26. RvPaul(1997)BCJNo808(Prov.Ct): • Accusedpleadguiltytowillfullycausingpainandsuffering; hewasaskedtokillastarvingcatbyfamilyandstabbedthe cat5timesandthencrushedthecat’sskullwithhisboot; • Sentencedto1dayinprisonandprohibitedfromowning animalsfor2years. Examples of Weak Anti- Cruelty Convictions:
  27. 27. Suzana Gartner is a Canadian Lawyer who focusses on Animal Law and Dispute Resolution. For further information: Gartner Kostanza Gartner’s Animal Law practice The Dispute Resolution Specialists Gartner’s Alternative Dispute Resolution practice