Animal Justice | Leading the legal fight for animal protection
Animal Justice leads the legal fight for animals in Canada. Their lawyers work to pass strong new animal protection legislation, push for the prosecution of animal abusers, and fight for animals in court.
EDMONTON – National animal law non-profit Animal Justice is deeply troubled by animal cruelty charges laid earlier this month against the City of Edmonton after the deaths of three cats.
According to news reports, the City of Edmonton, the director of the city’s Animal Care and Control Centre, and three other staff are all facing charges under the provincial Animal Welfare Act of allowing an animal to be in distress. The charges carry a maximum fine of $20,000 and a lifetime ban on having custody of an animal.
The charges allegedly stem from an incident that took place on May 18, 2018. According to news reports, three cats were transported in a rubbermaid container and subsequently died. Several months later, in July, the Alberta SPCA received a complaint over the incident. The Alberta SPCA apparently laid charges on October 5, and the accused will appear in court on December 12.
“It’s incredibly disturbing that a government agency entrusted with helping vulnerable animals is now facing very serious charges for harming three cats,” said lawyer Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice. “We are troubled that while the City held a press conference on Thursday afternoon, it refused to elaborate on the circumstances that led to the cats’ dying.”
“It is relatively rare for such a large group of individuals to face charges, including the City and management,” said professor Peter Sankoff, law professor at the University of Alberta and a director with Animal Justice. “There are many unanswered questions, and the public urgently deserves more information about the details of this incident. Was this a systemic issue? What happened between May, when the incident occurred, and July, when the Alberta SPCA received an independent complaint? What type of internal investigation was conducted and who was notified? Why did the public not learn of this incident sooner?”
For more information, contact:
Board of Directors, Animal Justice
Professor of Law, University of Alberta
OTTAWA – National animal law organization Animal Justice is applauding the Senate for passing Bill S-203, the Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act. If passed, Bill S-203 would outlaw keeping whales and dolphins in tiny concrete tanks for display.
After years of delay and obstruction, the legislation passed late on Tuesday evening in a surprise vote, and will now move to the House of Commons where it will be sponsored by Green leader Elizabeth May. Bill S-203 was originally introduced by Senator Wilfred Moore in December 2015, then sponsored by Senator Murray Sinclair after Senator Moore retired.
Conservative Senate Whip Don Plett repeatedly used procedural delay tactics to slow down the legislation. Fed up with his efforts to block Bill S-203 from reaching a final vote, MPs from all parties joined Animal Justice and Humane Society International at a press conference in June to call for an end to the stalling tactics.
“Canadians understand that whales and dolphins are complex, intelligent beings who deserve far more than a life of boredom and misery in captivity,” said lawyer Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice. “That’s why Bill S-203 has attracted such tremendous support from the public as well as politicians from all parties. Animal Justice is calling on the House of Commons to swiftly pass this groundbreaking measure to protect whales and dolphins. Canada has some of the worst animal protection laws in the western world, but banning whale and dolphin captivity would demonstrate international leadership on animals.”
After passing Bill S-203, the Senate also voted in favour of Bill S-238, the Ban on Shark Fin Importation Act, sponsored by Conservative Senator Michael MacDonald. Bill S-238 also has strong support across party lines.
Fast facts about Bill S-203:
Bill S-203 would make it an offence to keep captive, breed, import, or export a whale, dolphin or porpoise. There are exemptions for cetaceans currently in captivity, as well as for rescue and rehabilitation efforts.
Bill S-203 was studied for nearly a year by the Fisheries Committee, which heard evidence from countless experts over 17 committee meetings.
Only two Canadian facilities still keep whales and dolphins in captivity—Marineland and the Vancouver Aquarium. There is only one surviving dolphin at the Vancouver Aquarium after a spate of deaths, and the facility has publicly committed not to acquire any further cetaceans.
Over a dozen other jurisdictions around the world have already banned keeping some or all cetaceans in tanks, including Mexico, France, South Carolina, and California. Ontario banned keeping orca whales in 2015, and the Vancouver Park Board voted to ban cetacean display and captivity at the Vancouver Aquarium in 2017. (The ban is being challenged in court.)
The Whale Sanctuary Project plans to build a seaside sanctuary for retired whales and dolphins in Nova Scotia, British Columbia, or Washington.
For more information, contact:
After a courtroom showdown and years of advocacy by Animal Justice, the federal government finally introduced legislation today to close Canada’s bestiality loophole. The new law also strengthens animal fighting offences. Animal Justice welcomes this news, but believes it is still not enough. The legislation still fails to deliver more comprehensive reform to Canada’s outdated animal cruelty laws.
Over two years ago, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that most forms of bestiality are not illegal under existing animal cruelty laws. Animal Justice intervened in the case to fight bestiality, and urged the federal government to take immediate action to update the laws once the shocking decision was released.
Yet it took years to see action. In 2016, the Liberal government killed a bill introduced by Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith that would have updated Canada’s archaic animal cruelty laws and addressed bestiality. The public was outraged, and in response government officials promised to launch broad consultations and improve the animal cruelty laws.
Conservative MP Michelle Rempel introduced a private member’s bill to address bestiality in 2017, and sponsored a parliamentary petition started by Animal Justice that gathered thousands of signatures. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Canadians have contacted the government, seeking stronger laws.
Although the government has finally taken action, Animal Justice believes that animals deserve far more than what they got. Canada still has some of the worst animal cruelty laws in the western world, and this legislation does nothing to change that. Surprisingly, the new laws don’t even give courts the ability to ban bestiality offenders from owning animals in the future, leaving vulnerable animals at risk of ongoing sexual abuse.
In the news release announcing the law, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould emphasized that the bill wouldn’t interfere with “farming, hunting, and trapping practices,” suggesting the government continues to listen to animal-use industries that profit from animal cruelty, rather than listening to the overwhelming majority of Canadians that support strengthening animal cruelty laws.
Animal Justice will push for changes to the new legislation to ensure those convicted of bestiality cannot own animals in the future, and will continue to fight for an overhaul of Canada’s last-century animal cruelty laws.
We can’t thank you enough—#Voiceless4AnimalJustice was a smashing success.
Together, we raised $28,164.32 for animals, exceeding our $25,000 fundraising goal!
For three weeks, participants from coast to coast educated their friends, families and the public about why Canada’s animal protection laws are some of the worst in the western world, and raised funds on behalf of Animal Justice’s mission to transform the legal system for animals. Participants even took a 24-hour vow of silence to raise awareness for the animals whose voices are ignored by our legal and political systems, and by industries.
The faces of #Voiceless4AnimalJustice
Transforming our legal system is a mighty feat, but with your support, we know it IS possible! Thank you so much to everyone who made a gift to the #Voiceless4AnimalJustice campaign, shared posts on social media, showed their support, and joined the day of silence. Here’s to a future where animals’ voices are heard loud and clear, and they have the protections they deserve from cruelty and neglect.
Congratulations to our prize winners for their incredible fundraising efforts:
1st Place Top Individual Fundraiser:
Tina & Neil Stokes
2nd Place Top Individual Fundraiser:
3rd Place Top Individual Fundraiser:
Top Fundraising Team
Animal Justice Staff
First Fundraiser to Reach $200
First Fundraiser to Reach $500
Prize for Using the Hashtag #Voiceless4AnimalJustice
Best Personal Story Shared on Fundraising Page or Social Media
Fall is the in the air, and autumn fashion accessories are hitting the streets! Many products are still made with leather, fur and other animal-derived materials, but happily, cruelty-free fashion has never been easier. More and more brands are now offering animal-free products, proving that no animal has to suffer for fashion!
Leather is a product of the meat industry, and comes from animals who lived miserable lives on industrial farms before being shipped on long, brutal journeys to slaughterhouses. Leather is often imported from countries like China and India where investigations have shown animals suffering horrific abuse for the fashion industry.
Most fur products come from fur farms, where animals are confined in tiny, filthy cages and experience severe mental distress. Wild animals are also caught in bone-crushing leg-hold traps, suffering for hours or days before being brutally killed and skinned.
Opting for animal-friendly products without any leather, fur, or wool has never been easier—plus, it’s better for the animals, our planet, and for your peace of mind.
Looking for an animal-free bag to complete your October wardrobe? Look no further. Check out Animal Justice’s top picks for beautiful vegan purses and handbags for this autumn season!
Doshi FCSA — Saddle Bag in Burgundy
This gorgeous saddle bag is made with high quality microfibre vegan leather and suede. The detachable cross-body strap allows for an instant clutch transformation. Even better: Doshi donates 5% of revenue to charities working to help animals, people and the environment.
Matt & Nat — Mitsuko in Emerald
The Mitsuko handbag is part of the vintage collection, and radiates a classic elegance. This bowling style bag is made with 100% recycled nylon lining and includes a special pocket for smartphones.
Souliers Studio — Dulce Arches Cross-Body Purse in Sunset Red
We love Souliers Studio, a gorgeous Canadian shoe and accessory store. Their Dulce Arches bag’s versatile style can easily dress up, or add an edgy flair to any outfit. Created with vegan suede, the purse is inspired by the architecture of both modern and ancient Greece. A perfectly bold style statement with no animals harmed.
Good Mood Moon — Frida in Dusty Pink, White & Kale Green
Good Mood Moon’s bags are all hand-made. With a colour palette inspired by nature, the Frida crossbody bag has soft vegan leather, and two sections on the snaps. One section can fit an iPad mini, and the other can fit smartphones.
Gunas — Cottontail Pe in Black
The Cottontail bag is dedicated to the New England cotton tail rabbit, once featured in many children’s books but now, sadly, facing extinction. This gorgeous accessory is made with vegan textured polyurethane, recycled plastic bottles, and recycled metal hardware with 18K gold plating.
Pixie Mood — Emily Crossbody in Caramel
The Emily Crossbody bag’s clean lines and contrasting shapes exude class and sophistication, and is made with vegan leather and suede. The bag’s straps can be adjusted to transform this piece into a shoulder bag. It even comes with a small zipped wristlet! Adorable.
MILTON, Ontario—An animal welfare complaint has been filed with provincial law enforcement authorities after a video appearing to show a cow moving its head while its skin is hacked off has gone viral on Twitter.
“Under Ontario law, it is illegal to cause animals to be in distress,” said Lawyer Anna Pippus, director of farmed animal advocacy for Animal Justice. “Removing the skin of a conscious animal would certainly qualify as causing distress. Authorities must investigate to determine whether the movements depicted in the video were the result of a conscious animal struggling to right itself while being cut up alive.”
Non-stun slaughter is permitted in Canada. Federal policy prohibits suspending or dragging sensible (conscious) animals, and requires immediate corrective action if animals return to sensibility. However, laws regulating slaughter do not apply when people are killing animals for their own consumption.
“It appears from this video that this cow may still be conscious while being skinned,” said Ontario-based veterinarian Dr. Maureen Harper said. “It is hard to say definitively that this is the case. Regardless, it is my opinion that non-stun or ritual slaughter is a cruel and inhumane practice and should be banned in this country. This case presents a perfect argument for this, as clearly the people in the video are not trained to asses whether or not the animal is dead prior to being skinned.”
The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association is opposed to slaughter without stunning because “it causes avoidable pain.” The British Veterinary Association, Farm Animal Welfare Council, EU Scientific Panel on Animal Health and Welfare, and the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe have also issued position statements opposing slaughter without stunning.
Many countries have already banned or restricted non-stun slaughter, including Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, New Zealand, and Australia.
For more information, contact:
Director of Farmed Animal Advocacy