- Honourable Minister Verlyn OlsonMinister of Agriculture and Rural Development
DON'T LET QUANTO DIE IN VAIN - STRENGTHEN OUR LAWS TO PROTECT OUR ANIMALS
To The Honourable Minister Olson
On Monday, October 7, 2013 Alberta lost another Police Service Dog (PSD) in the line of service. The Edmonton Police Service (EPS), in their press release opened with “The Edmonton Police Service has suffered a tragic loss today. PSD Quanto died doing his job, protecting fellow officers and preventing further harm to the public. PSD Quanto gave the ultimate sacrifice for our community, he was forever watchful and will never be forgotten.”
Among the numerous charges being laid against the offender, is one of animal cruelty under “Cruelty to Animals” Part XI of the Criminal Code of Canada. The section pertaining to animal cruelty has changed little since 1892 and many attempts have been made over the years to update provisions under the Criminal Code, most notably was private members Bill c-229 introduced by Mark Holland from the Liberal Party in 2008 and re-introduced again in 2011 after the events surrounding the Whistler Sled Dogs in British Columbia. This Bill entails provisions for services animals. Though direct reference to the harming of services animals has yet to be realized on a federal level it has at a provincial one for at least three provinces: Ontario, Saskatchewan and most recently, British Columbia.
In response to the Whistler Sled Dog case, the province of BC updated their Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act which is now considered one of the most comprehensive and strongest pieces of animal welfare legislation. As part of this amended Act, crimes against service animals are now identified as:
23.1 (1) A person must not do, or attempt to do, any of the following without lawful excuse or authority:
(a) harm a service animal;
(b) touch, directly or indirectly, a service animal;
(c) interfere with or obstruct a service animal.
(2) A person responsible for an animal must take reasonable steps to prevent the animal from doing a thing described in subsection (1).
Penalties for such an offence can carry up to a $75,000 fine and up to 2 years imprisonment.
BC cares about its service animals.
Every year the Animal Legal Defence Fund publishes its Canadian Animal Protection Laws Rankings. Again, Alberta ranked amongst the lowest of the provinces and territories, ranking 8th in 2013.
By signing this petition, understanding that it cannot be formally used to bring to Cabinet, but can demonstrate public opinion and support for change, I (we) request that the as the Minister responsible for the Alberta Animal Protection Act, you introduce amendments to the Act, in all aspects of animal protection, to at a minimum mirror that of the newly passed BC Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act with the intent to make it the strongest piece of provincial animal protection legislation in Canada. We as Albertans owe it to Quanto, and expect this for all law enforcement and service animals that help and protect us as citizens every day, and for all of our companion animals that suffer at the hands of those who intend to do them harm.
- Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development
Honourable Minister Verlyn Olson
Were you aware that Alberta’s APA is ranked 8th across Canada and the NWT. I am sure you are more than aware that it is fairly silent on dealing with offences against service animals, including law enforcement animals. Had Bill 229 been passed federally, the Criminal Code would cover such offences, but we are still fighting that battle.
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