Animal protection is an issue that has risen to the forefront of global priorities! There are countries that have stepped up to the challenge over time and amended or created laws that are much stronger for the protection of animals, and there are some countries that unfortunately have not. Canada as a whole has certainly come a long way with these laws. The original animal cruelty section of the criminal code was enacted in 1892, and A LOT has changed since then. Additionally, a lot of the laws differ from province to province, so cohesion and consistency across the board are harder to achieve. For anyone curious, the Government of Canada’s website sections 444 to 447 cover animal cruelty.
A 2017 report by the Animal Legal Defense Fund ranked Prince Edward Island, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick in the top tier, British Columbia, Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec, and Yukon as middle tier, and Alberta, Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut as bottom tier for overall strength and comprehensiveness of animal protection laws. A 2017 article included some of the more recent changes that the Government of P.E.I. has enacted, including: no dogs in back of trucks, horses can only be tethered if they have access to food, water, shelter, and comfortable movement, no overnight pet tethering (from 11:00 PM to 6:00 AM), no cosmetic surgeries (this extends to horses as well), and bigger penalties. One article stated that in Alberta specifically, humane societies are overstretched and underfunded. he Edmonton Humane Society announced it wouldn’t enforce the Alberta Animal Protection Act in 2019. This led to the creation of an animal cruelty unit by two police officers from the city. This unit is said to be the first of its kind in Canada, and as of 2021 it has 17 animal liaison patrol officers and “works with vets, city animal care and control officers, and provincial Crown prosecutors”.
Ultimately, there is far more work to be done, not just in Canada, but globally as well. There are many things we can do to facilitate further development of animal protection laws! Some ideas include showing support and interest, whether it be by signing petitions, calling or emailing the office of representatives directly, volunteering with organizations that aim to protect animals, or showing support on social media. Something I personally also prefer doing is showing support with my dollar, and I go out of my way to shop for cruelty free products! With social media especially, we now more than ever have a front row seat for what goes on in the world, and because of this we also are able to influence and push for change. There are also countless organizations (including AARCS!) who have dedicated themselves to this amazing cause. I know I personally can’t wait to see how much progress will be made in even another few years.