TORONTO, March 10, 2020 /CNW/ - When it comes to animal protection laws Canada gets a failing grade. The global charity World Animal Protection assessed the animal welfare policies and legislation of 50 countries and identified a continued lack of adequate animal welfare laws in its second edition of the Animal Protection Index (API). The charity is continuing to push for urgent improvements worldwide.
The index ranks countries from A (being the highest score) to G (being the weakest score) according to their policy and legislation. Canada received a D, alongside other countries including, Tanzania, Peru and the United States. Sweden and the United Kingdom have the highest scores, though not one country has obtained an A grade. Global animal welfare concerns range from intensive farming to wildlife markets and trade, all of which are proven threats of disease outbreak, such as the most recent global epidemic, the coronavirus (COVID- 19).
In Canada, the low marks received were for not having adequate legislation protecting wildlife in captivity, working animals, farm animals, animals used in research and companion animals.
An estimated 1.4 million wild animals are kept as exotic pets in Canada and their ownership and trade is governed by a patchwork of inadequate federal, provincial and local laws. Canada is strongly encouraged to follow the lead of countries like the Netherlands and Belgium which take a precautionary approach to mitigating animal welfare, environmental and public health and safety risks in their national laws restricting which animals can be kept as pets.
Canada also ranks poorly for having no federal legislation to protect the welfare of animals on farms. Farm animals are still raised in intensive systems, kept in barren, cramped conditions with little room to move and sometimes subjected to painful procedures such as having their teeth clipped, without pain relief.
And while some policy improvements have been made for farm animals, such as phasing out battery cages for egg-laying hens, pregnancy crates for mother pigs and the tethering of dairy calves, these requirements are not legally mandated. Farm animal care in Canada is guided by the National Farm Animal Care Council's codes of practice, meaning the agricultural industry is entrusted to police itself.
The report does acknowledge improvements made to federal regulations governing farm animal transport with more times for feed, water and rest, however the new times have not decreased much from the originals. And the industry has also forced a two-year delay to meet those requirements. This means animals can still be transported for very long periods of time without feed, water or rest and continue to travel in freezing temperatures or extreme heat with no climate control in the vehicles.
Canada was also docked marks for not having a central authority responsible for developing an animal welfare policy and for not tracking or monitoring progress on animal welfare.
Melissa Matlow, Campaign Director for World Animal Protection Canada says, "We would like to see Canada pass animal welfare legislation that finally recognizes animals are sentient beings that can suffer physically, mentally and emotionally. The Federal government should play a more active role, working with provinces and territories to ensure consistent protection for all animals across the country."
According to an August 2019 nationally representative poll, 73% of Canadians believe it is important that the government of Canada passes stronger legislation to protect animals to ensure they do not experience pain and suffering.1
Since the first API report came out in 2014, Canada did make some improvements including banning animal fighting, bestiality, shark finning and the keeping, breeding and capture of cetaceans for public entertainment.
While these are all positive steps forward, these initiatives did not improve the country's overall ranking. Much more needs to be done for animals. Canada should be a country leading on animal welfare, not one lagging behind.
About World Animal Protection
From our offices around the world, including Australia, Brazil, Kenya, the US and Canada, we move the world to protect animals. Last year, we gave more than 3 billion animals better lives through our campaigns that focus on animals in the wild, animals in disasters, animals in communities and animals in farming. For more information visit www.worldanimalprotection.ca
1 Omnibus poll of 1510 Canadians conducted by Maru/Blue on August 14/15 2019.
SOURCE World Animal Protection
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