Pet Cruelty Law Changes

NOT ENOUGH!!!  PROTECT THE VULNERABLE AND UNSPOKEN FOR. A STRONGER MESSAGE and MORE SEVERE CONQUENCES NEEDED. THUGS NEED NOT TO GET AWAY WITH THIS AND SHOULD DEAL WITH HARSHER CONSQUENCES.

A lousy $5 fine, is NOT ENOUGH!! WAKE UP CALL. PEOPLE!!!

Proposed Provincial Animal Welfare Act calls for jail time and fines of up to $60,000 for abusers

Apr 04, 2008 04:30 AM



Staff Reporters

Ontario is cracking down on animal abusers with the toughest legislation in the country, but the Toronto Humane Society says the plan still has no teeth.

Animal abusers could be hit with jail time, fines up to $60,000 and a ban on owning pets if the new Provincial Animal Welfare Act introduced yesterday at Queen’s Park, is passed by the Legislature.

Among key changes are laws requiring veterinarians to report suspected abuse or neglect, said Rick Bartolucci, the province’s Community Safety and Correctional Services minister who introduced the legislation.

Last fall the Humane Society criticized the Liberals’ electoral plan to change provincial animal cruelty legislation and the organization is disappointed officials ignored its recommendations, said spokesperson Lee Oliver.

"The real problem is that there’s no genuine strengthening of powers, and it doesn’t say how it will (financially) support the changes," Oliver said, adding that the province declined the society’s offer to discuss the proposal.

step in the right direction, but failed on several key points, including the creation of a province-wide standard of animal care.

The new legislation would be the toughest in the country, Bartolucci said yesterday at the Newmarket headquarters of the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

The minister, who nuzzled Crash, a dog who lost a leg when it was tossed from a speeding pickup truck last year, said the new laws were the most significant changes to animal welfare legislation since it was first passed in 1919. At that time, the Humane Society was responsible for the protection of both animals and children, he said.

"This is all about protecting our animals," Bartolucci explained. "There are too many incidents of dogs and cats being abused, birds being trained for cockfights and animals going unfed and held in deplorable conditions."

OSPCA Chief Inspector Hugh Coghill welcomed the proposed new laws. "We’ve waited a very long time to see substantive progressive amendments to Ontario’s animal welfare legislation," he said.

He said the proposed laws would help the society more closely protect animals like the 166 dogs and four goats seized from a Bancroft puppy mill this week.

"They were in cages and pens in pretty bad conditions," Coghill said.

Under existing laws, the animals must be returned to their owner if he can clean up the conditions and pay any bills owed to the society for interim care.

The new legislation would allow the society to seek custody of seized animals until their owner is dealt with by the court.

Another fan of the proposed law is long-time dog-owner Paulette Toubi. "It’s long overdue," she said yesterday, watching her year-old mutt Daisy gambolling in the grass at David Crombie Park. Daisy, a tousled bundle of canine exuberance, was abandoned by her previous owner and rescued by the Toronto Humane Society, where Toubi adopted her.

"It’s important, because they’re sentient beings," Toubi said. "They feel love and pain, they can be embarrassed, they have a sense of humour – they’re just like us."

Bartolucci said that last month, the society rescued 300 rabbits caged in a filthy shed in Barrie, just one of the more than 15,000 allegations of animal cruelty it investigates each year. It also rescues "tens of thousands" of abandoned dogs and stray cats from the street, he said.

Bartolucci said the new legislation will go hand-in-hand with a $5 million investment it made earlier this week to "to improve and modernize" OSPCA facilities and shelters across the province, what he called the largest single investment in the society by any government.

The new act would give the OSPCA the authority to inspect non-residential premises where animals are kept for entertainment, exhibition, boarding, sale or hire – including public and private zoos, circuses and pet shops.

Society inspectors would also be permitted to enter almost any non-residential locations where they have "reasonable grounds" to believe an animal is in immediate distress.

Bartolucci said the proposed act would "bring more animal abusers to justice" by establishing new provincial offences against cruelty to animals, including:

• Causing or permitting distress.

• Training or allowing animals to fight.

• Harming a law enforcement animal.

• Obstructing an OSPCA inspector or agent.

Judges would also be given greater flexibility to impose stiffer penalties, including jail time, fines up to $60,000 and a potential lifetime ban of owning an animal of any kind.

Bartolucci said the proposed legislation advances the work of Willowdale MPP David Zimmer, who earned an international award last year for his efforts to regulate roadside zoos.

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