Canada has some of the weakest animal cruelty laws in the western world. Our criminal animal cruelty laws were first enacted in 1892, and they haven’t been meaningfully updated since 1954.
Canada’s animal cruelty laws are so full of loopholes that countless animal abusers escape prosecution every year. Prosecutors often avoid laying criminal charges against animal abusers because they fear these loopholes will make it difficult to convict, relying instead on less serious provincial regulatory charges. As a result, animal abusers often escape criminal conviction even for extreme acts of cruelty against animals.
Bill C-246 closes loopholes in our laws and modernizes the animal cruelty section in the Criminal Code to protect animals from animal abusers.
Ending Animal Neglect
Currently, it is difficult to convict those who neglect animals by failing to provide them with suitable food, shelter, and care because prosecutors must prove “wilful neglect” — an unclear and contradictory standard. Bill C-246 updates and clarifies the criminal offence of neglecting an animal to ensure that puppy mill operators, animal hoarders, and those who starve animals don’t get away with their crimes.
Outlawing Animal Fighting
Forcing animals to fight each other is completely unacceptable. Bill C-246 closes legal loopholes related to animal fighting by making it illegal to profit from animal fighting, and to train, breed, and transport animals for the purpose of fighting.
The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in shocking decision in June, 2016 that not all sexual abuse of animals is illegal under anti-bestiality laws – only sexual intercourse with an animal is prohibited.
Bestiality laws are badly out-of-date and must be modernized to protect animals from sexual abuse, and it’s up to Parliament to act. Bill C-246 closes the dangerous bestiality loophole and ensures that all sexual contact between a human and an animal is illegal.
Removing Crimes Against Animals from “Property Offences”
Animal cruelty offences are currently located in the property offences section of the Criminal Code. Bill C-246 moves animal cruelty crimes to a new section of the Code called “Offences against animals”. While this is largely a symbolic change and does not change animals’ legal status as property, it is important recognition that animals deserve legal protections not because they are someone’s property, but because they are sentient beings who deserve to live free from abuse and suffering.
Closing Other Loopholes
Currently, unowned animals like wildlife and stray pets are virtually unprotected from cruelty and killing: it is not a criminal offence to kill a stray or wild animal for no reason.
It is also not illegal to brutally beat an unowned animal to death for no reason so long as the animal dies quickly. Because of this loophole, a judge in Edmonton was forced to acquit two men who tied two dogs to a tree and beat them to death. Because the dogs died relatively quickly, their reprehensible actions were not a crime.
Bill C-246 will close these disturbing loopholes.
Bill C-246 will not affect industries like animal agriculture, hunting and fishing, as critics have falsely claimed. Animal cruelty laws target cases of blatant animal abuse and neglect – not legitimate uses of animals by industry. Lawful uses of animals such as hunting, fishing, agriculture, and medical research will not be affected by Bill C-246.
Cat and Dog Fur
Canadians are often shocked to learn that cat and dog fur is perfectly legal in Canada. Most cat and dog fur comes from China, a country with no animal welfare laws. Footage from cat and dog farms in China has revealed horrific conditions, with cats and dogs crammed into small, filthy cages before they are brutally killed. That’s what led countries like the United States and the entire European Union to ban cat and dog fur long ago.
Bill C-246 bans the import and sale of cat and dog fur in Canada, and requires that fur products be labeled. Currently fur products in Canada are largely unregulated, leaving consumers with no way to tell if a product is made from cat or dog fur, another species, or even faux fur. With rare exceptions, dog and cat products are not labeled as such, and fur exporters have even admitted to placing false labels on dog and cat fur.
Banning cat and dog fur will protect animals from suffering, and protect consumers from buying these unconscionable products. Fur labelling will ensure that consumers have the information they need to avoid buying cruel for products.