Newfoundland ninth in animal abuse study

The Telegram and The Canadian Press
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Annual report ranks Quebec as ’best province to be an animal abuser'

Newfoundland and Labrador has finished in the middle of the pack when it comes rankings of the best provinces to be an animal abuser, according to a new study.

Newfoundland was ninth in the rankings of 13 provinces and territories — the bottom of the “middle tier.”

Quebec has been placed squarely in the doghouse as a new report decries its track record on animal protection.

The publication released Tuesday by the U.S.-based Animal Legal Defense Fund named Quebec as “the best province to be an animal abuser” with only Nunavut trumping its unenviable record.

The fund analysed animal protection laws in jurisdictions across the country and also placed Alberta and the Northwest Territories in the bottom tier of its report.

Among the areas of lengthy list of improvements suggested for Newfoundland and Labrador are mandatory and larger fines; mandatory reporting of suspected animal cruelty by veterinarians and other agencies; mandatory seizure of mistreated animals; mandatory terms of conviction for certain offenders and a higher range of penalties, including increased penalties for repeat offenders.

Ontario emerged as the safest province for animals due to its wide range of protection laws, followed by Manitoba and New Brunswick.

Saskatchewan showed the most significant improvement, moving from seventh place last year to fifth. ALDF noted the province enacted stiffer penalties for offences with animal abusers now facing imprisonment for up to two years and a $25,000 fine.

“Animals do not vote, but those who love and care about them do. It is our hope that these ongoing reviews continue to garner support for both the strengthening and enforcement of animal protection laws throughout Canada,” said report author Stephan Otto, who is also the fund’s director of legislative affairs.

The report — published for the fourth consecutive year— said legislative weaknesses including minimal fines and weak basic care standards resulted in some jurisdictions ranking worse than others.

Quebec’s rock-bottom ranking came just weeks after reports of animal suffering at Montreal’s privately-held Berger Blanc pound shocked many across the country.

Videos of cats and dogs suffering, as well as images of questionable euthanasia practices documented in a Radio-Canada report prompted criticism from the city and the province.

Actress Brigitte Bardot was among those who lashed out against the pound and also called the province a “barbaric, primordial country” when it came to the treatment of animals.

Montreal’s mayor has said measures have been taken against the pound which has animal-control contracts in several Montreal boroughs and surrounding towns. One of those include making sure a city employee is present when an animal is euthanized.

Meanwhile, British Columbia ranked seventh, among the report’s middle tier, as the province continues to deal with the fallout from the slaughter of about 100 sled dogs last year near Whistler, B.C.

A team from the B.C. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is investigating the mass cull and has exhumed some 52 sled dogs so far. The probe was launched after allegations surfaced that a sled dog operator slaughtered the animals in April last year and as a result sought worker’s compensation for post-traumatic stress disorder.

While specifics from the investigation haven’t been released, new information has since come to light and was to be forwarded to the Crown with the aim of pressing animal cruelty charges.

The ALDF report, which documented existing strengths and identified potential improvements for each jurisdiction, suggested a broader range of protections and better definitions of basic care standards for the province.

When it comes to countrywide animal protection, the fund said change could take place at the provincial and territorial levels and urged animal advocates to push their elected officials to watch out for their furry friends.

The organization also remained hopeful that Ottawa would improve federal animal protection laws. But it could have a tough time making headway with the new Conservative majority government.

While on the campaign trail last month Canada’s federal political leaders were surveyed for their positions on animal rights by the World Society for the Protection of Animals.

NDP leader Jack Layton, who now fronts the official opposition, had decried “the abuse of any vulnerable creature, human or otherwise,” and promised to work to protect animals.

The Conservatives however, neglected to respond.

Organizations: Animal Legal Defense Fund, Canadian Pressand The TelegramNewfoundland, Berger Blanc Radio-Canada B.C. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals World Society for the Protection of Animals.NDP Conservatives

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec, Montreal U.S. Nunavut Canada Alberta Northwest Territories Ontario Manitoba New Brunswick.Saskatchewan British Columbia Whistler Ottawa

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Recent comments

  • Hardware
    May 18, 2011 - 13:24

    I find it curious and sad that people are so quick to attack the ALDF as nutbars based on such minimal information as their (the ALDF's) choice of terminology. I don't profess to know anything about that organization but I know a little about cruelty and neglect. When I was a child my mother ran a small satellite chapter of the SPCA in rural Nfld. We saw far too much cruelty (and that includes neglect). Regardless of the source, please understand that there's no excuse for cruelty to any beings that cannot fend for themselves - whether it's an animal or child.

  • Ford Elms
    May 18, 2011 - 11:19

    And who exactly are the Animal Legal Defense Fund? Their use of the term "animal abuser" suggests to me they are much the same as PETA, the Sea Shepherd Society, HSUS, or IFAW. "Animal Abuser" is a term used by supporters of these companies to describe anyone who consumes meat or dairy products or wears animal products, in some cases, it is even used to refer to pet owners! Why does the media, in particular the Newfoundland media, give a voice to these lunatics? Here in Newfoundland, the media should know better. We have been targets of the animal rights industry since the 60s. Their dishonesty, media manipulation, and bigotry should be well known to every media person in this province. Why then does the media allow itself to be manipulated in this fashion? If the Telegram is going to report this, you should at least give us some information on the company making these claims. Are they reputable? Did you even bother to check? Is your need for a sensational story so great you are willing to sell out your own people like this? Next thing you'll be claiming we skin seals alive!

    • Telegram newsroom
      May 18, 2011 - 11:29

      From the Better Business Bureau's website: ALDF meets the 20 Standards for Charity Accountability. Most ($927,194 or 90%) of ALDF's public education program expenses were carried out through educational materials and other activities conducted in conjunction with fund raising appeals. ALDF's criminal justice program works with law enforcement and prosecutors to seek penalties for animal abusers. Its litigation program files lawsuits to stop the abuse of companion animals, and animals abused in industries including factory farming and the entertainment business. Furthermore, its animal law program is dedicated to advancing the field of animal law among legal professionals and in law schools. ALDF reports having about 140 student Animal Legal Defense Fund Chapters in law schools across the US and Canada and, in 2008, it created the first center for animal law.

    • Stovetop
      May 18, 2011 - 16:30

      Wow... let's shoot the messenger instead of consider the message. Are their claims backed up by facts? Has anyone attacking them bothered to read their report? From what I gathered, the report is based upon the laws on the books already. Well, I checked their site ( and they have their reports and collection of laws from all of the provinces out plain for anyone to see. In Newfoundland the law calls animal abuse "mistreatment of an animal." In my book, "mistreatment" and "abuse" are pretty synonymous, so how about quit parsing words? If someone has a legitimate gripe about how they reported on our laws and the rest of the country's speak your piece. Otherwise, stop with all the knee-jerk reactions please.

  • Penney
    May 18, 2011 - 11:05

    Why is a report from these Animal "Right" nutbars being reported at all? The perspective of this group, and others like it, is defined by emotionalism and a perverse relationship with and understanding of animals.