UPDATE 04/07/11: The government-appointed task force has submitted recommendations that align with our requests to reform B.C.'s Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. Premier Clark has stated that the government will act on every recommendation, giving B.C. the strongest anti-cruelty laws in Canada. Now is the time to keep the pressure on to make sure the recommendations are enacted.
The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act is overseen by the Ministry of Agriculture and is an alarmingly ambiguous piece of legislation. Some of the law dates back over 100 years. Dogs and cats are defined strictly as property and there is no regulation in the act addressing businesses that work with animals such as sled dog companies. Without this regulation, a place of business cannot be shut down for acts of cruelty against animals. This legislation is clearly in place only to protect the rights of owners with “animal property”, not the rights of animals.
A recent article by the Vancouver Sun revealed that the Howling Dog Tours manager who killed the dogs tried to contact the BC SPCA for help on two occasions. The BC SPCA didn’t investigate the business and turned down the request to shelter the dogs, claiming the dogs were not adoptable.
A task force has been assembled by BC Premier Gordon Campbell to do a thorough investigation of this case. The outcome of their findings is to be reforms to the BC Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
We must put a stop to animal cruelty by throwing our voices behind new legislation that regulates the roles of all animal welfare stakeholders and closes the loopholes that fail our animals. The BC SPCA and all animal shelters in British Columbia need to be regulated to follow a “rescue and save” plan, not a “seize and kill” plan.
Premier Campbell’s task force will be reporting to Agriculture Minister Ben Stewart with recommendations for reformed legislation by March 25th, 2011. Let’s raise our voices loud and clear for the Whistler 100 to ensure the task force's recommendiations are in favor of animal welfare. There's needs to be real change to the Act and we must pull together and demand that change.
“The question is not, Can they reason? Nor Can they talk, but Can they suffer? ~ English philosopher, Jeremy Bentham
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I am one of many voices from the Canadian and international community devastated over the killings of 100 sled dogs in Whistler, British Columbia. This gruesome slaughter of innocent dogs must bring change to animal welfare throughout Canada by amending The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
In order to prevent another Whistler massacre from happening, we ask the government of British Columbia to enact legislative changes to help provide the following protections:
1. British Columbia must implement a new regulation that requires the BC SPCA and all animal shelters to follow a contingency plan to address all allegations of animal abuse by evaluating every individual animal before condemning it;
2. Change the definition that states animal are property; separate dogs and cats from wildlife or livestock;
3. Clearly define the meaning of distress as “a state of being in need of proper care, water, food or shelter or being injured, sick or in pain or suffering or being abused or subject to undue or unnecessary hardship, privation or neglect.”;
4. Add language as to the Standard of Care; define standard of care “as sufficient to preserve the health and well-being of an animal via; food of sufficient quantity and quality to sustain life; open and adequate access to potable water in sufficient quantity to sustain life; structures sufficient to protect the animal from all forms of weather; Veterinary care deemed necessary by a reasonably prudent person to relieve distress from injury, neglect or abuse; continuous access to an area with adequate space for exercise necessary for the health of the animal; and the space be kept reasonably clean and free from excess waste or other contaminates that could affect the health of the animal;
5. Strengthen the Offence section of the law by adding language that a person is guilty of an offence if animals are found in distress while in their care and/or the standard of care is not followed;
6. Strengthen the Penalties section of the law by increasing the fines that can be imposed and by increasing the length of incarceration for violation of said Offences. The Penalties section of the law should also set clear boundaries as to sentencing guidelines for the Justice System;
7. Require businesses that operate with animals be subject to inspection by the Ministry of Labour to ensure compliance with regulations regarding the health and wellbeing of the animals.
British Columbia has been tarnished and is now in the international spotlight due to the slaughter of the 100 sled dogs. We don’t want to witness another “Whistler” and that is why you must pass the amendments mentioned above to assure the world such a tragedy will never happen again.