McGuinty Government To Put Roadside Zoos On Tighter Leash



    Stronger Animal Protection Legislation And Stiffer Penalties Needed

    TORONTO, Aug. 31 /CNW/ - The McGuinty government is moving to better
protect animals by cracking down on the people who abuse them, Community
Safety and Correctional Services Minister Monte Kwinter announced today.
    "Ontarians expect better protection for animals against mistreatment and
acts of cruelty," Kwinter said. "The McGuinty government is committed to
working with animal experts across Ontario to develop some of the toughest
animal safety standards in the country."
    "I am very happy with our government's action on the issue of roadside
zoos," explained David Zimmer, MPP for Willowdale, who earlier introduced a
private member's bill to regulate roadside zoos. "These new measures will
further protect animals from cruelty. Today is a big win for the animals, the
public and animal rights groups."
    The government will immediately increase annual funding for the Ontario
Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Ontario SPCA) to $500,000 to
support inspector and agent training and provide $100,000 in one-time funding
for Ontario SPCA agents to work with the Ministry of Natural Resources to
implement an interim zoo inspection plan.
    "Today is an important day for the Ontario SPCA network and for countless
animals across Ontario in need of protection," says Ontario SPCA Chief
Inspector Hugh Coghill. "With this announcement, the society will be better
equipped to help the animals we're mandated to protect under law. We are
thankful to the McGuinty government for making this commitment."
    The government recognizes the need to modernize the Ontario Society for
the Protection of Cruelty to Animals Act to regulate premises such as roadside
zoos, make cruelty to animals a provincial offence and ensure there are
serious consequences for people who abuse animals.
    "The Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums is delighted that Ontario
is committed to moving ahead with tough new legislation and standards that
will fix the roadside zoo problem," said Canadian Association of Zoos and
Aquariums (CAZA) National Director Bill Peters. "We will cooperate fully with
this important initiative, and will make our experts available to assist
Ontario in developing standards based on our accreditation program. CAZA's
members across the country already conform to the highest standards of animal
care and we will help to ensure that the same is true for all zoos in this
province."
    "Today's announcement marks an historic moment for animals in Ontario,"
said Melissa Tkachyk, programs officer with the World Society for the
Protection of Animals (WSPA). "For the first time in 88 years, the government
has declared that the abuse of animals, including those kept in roadside zoos
will not be tolerated and will be punished. WSPA has been advocating for the
regulation of roadside zoos for more than a decade. We applaud the McGuinty
government for making this commitment and are hopeful that change will happen
without delay."
    The McGuinty government is also investing $80,000 over two years to
expand the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association's (OVMA) SafePet program to
help at-risk women escape domestic violence by providing temporary homes to
their pets. Research shows many women often delay leaving abusive situations
because they fear for their pets' safety. Under the newly expanded program,
participating veterinary clinics across Ontario will work with women's
shelters to coordinate temporary pet housing for these women with local
volunteers who serve as pet foster parents.
    "Veterinarians practice in every community across the province," said Dr.
Reg Reed, president of the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association and a
veterinarian from Mitchell. "As leaders in our communities with close ties to
both people and animals, veterinarians have the ability to effectively lead a
critical program to help improve the lives of women at-risk of abuse, their
children and pets, and ultimately save lives as well. OVMA is fortunate to
have the Province's support in expanding OVMA's SafePet program."

    
    Disponible en français

                           www.mcscs.jus.gov.on.ca


    Backgrounder
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

               MCGUINTY GOVERNMENT IMPROVES ANIMAL PROTECTION

    The McGuinty government is committed to working with its partners to
develop long-term options to improve animal welfare and is moving to ensure
better protection of animals by cracking down on people who abuse them.
    Three interim measures announced today provide more effective means to
protect animals from cruelty.

    The Interim Measures

    -   $500,000 Annual Funding for the Ontario Society for the Prevention of
        Cruelty to Animals

        The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Ontario
        SPCA) enforces all laws pertaining to animal welfare including
        municipal, provincial and federal laws.

        Since 2000, the Ontario government has provided the Ontario SPCA with
        annual funding of $119,000 to support training of investigators. The
        Ontario SPCA receives most of its funding from private donations and
        fundraising.

        The significant increase in funding to $500,000 from $119,000 for the
        Ontario SPCA will enable it to train additional agents and
        inspectors, and better oversee animal protection in the province.

    -   $100,000 in Funding for the Ontario SPCA to Implement a Zoo
        Inspection Plan

        There are 34 licensed zoos in Ontario containing native wildlife that
        are scheduled as game or specially protected wildlife under the
        Ministry of Natural Resources-administered Fish and Wildlife
        Conservation Act. It is believed there are approximately 40
        additional premises, including private zoos and collections where
        significant numbers or types of animals are kept, that do not require
        licences because they only contain exotic animals.

        The operation of roadside zoos has become an animal welfare and
        public safety concern. The government is providing $100,000 in one-
        time funding for Ontario SPCA agents to work with the Ministry of
        Natural Resources, supported by Canadian Association of Zoos and
        Aquariums experts, to implement an interim zoo inspection plan for
        ministry-licensed zoos.

    -   $80,000 Funding for the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association
        Program Providing Temporary Housing for Pets of Women Fleeing
        Domestic Violence

        The McGuinty government is also investing $80,000 over two years to
        expand the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association's SafePet program
        to help at-risk women escape domestic violence by providing temporary
        homes to their pets. Research shows many women often delay leaving
        abusive situations because they fear for their pets' safety. Under
        the newly expanded program, participating veterinary clinics across
        Ontario will work with women's shelters to coordinate temporary pet
        housing for these women with local volunteers who serve as pet foster
        parents.

    Disponible en français

                           www.mcscs.jus.gov.on.ca
    





For further information:

For further information: Annette Phillips, Minister's Office, (416)
326-8265, (647) 205-6598 (cellular); Anthony Brown, Communications Branch,
(416) 314-7772

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