Ontario Veterinarians Applaud McGuinty Government for Plans to Update OSPCA Act and Address Animal and Human Abuse



    MILTON, ON, Aug. 31 /CNW/ - Ontario veterinarians are showing their
support today of the Provincial government's move to support people and
animals through an updated OSPCA Act and other initiatives.
    "After years of working with the government on some of the key issues,
the Province is finally making some critical changes to effectively deal with
animals, and the people who recognize their value in our society," says
Dr. Reg Reed, President of the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA)
and a mixed animal veterinarian from Mitchell, ON.
    Three components of today's announcement are particularly important as
they will serve to assist both abused animals and humans.

    Mandatory reporting of suspected animal abuse with protection for
    veterinarians reporting in good faith

    "Because of the nature of our work and expertise, veterinarians are in
the perfect position to be able to identify suspected cases of animal abuse,"
says Dr. Reed. "This new policy provides veterinarians with the confidence
that their decision to report suspected abuse is the right course of action."
    "When a situation arises where the lines are blurry (e.g., is it
negligence or purposeful animal abuse), mandatory reporting of animal abuse
with protection for veterinarians who report suspected cases in good faith,
will make it easier for veterinarians to make the decision to report the
suspected abuse."

    Tougher penalties for offenders of animal rights legislation

    Besides the inhumane treatment of animals, many studies have shown a
correlation between animal abuse and human violence. OVMA views the province's
plans to:

    
    -   Introduce tougher penalties
    -   Impose lifetime bans on pet ownership as a penalty for some offences
    -   Make it an offence to be equipped for animal fighting
    -   Introduce offences for those who attack enforcement animals, etc...
    

    as a positive step forward, toward reducing violence both towards animals
and humans. OVMA strongly supports tougher penalties as a method to minimize,
if not eliminate, animal abuse in Ontario.

    Funding for OVMA's SafePet Program

    Thanks to the generous support of the provincial government, OVMA is
today announcing the expansion of a program which has been assisting women to
flee domestic violence.
    Since 2003, veterinarians across the province have helped hundreds of
abused women (and their children) by opening their clinic doors and providing
temporary shelter and care to their pets through OVMA's SafePet Program.
    Under the expanded SafePet program, veterinarians will either take the
pets into their facilities or recruit community members as temporary pet
foster parents (volunteers). These pet foster parents will give temporary
homes, care, exercise, food and love to pets owned by women who are entering
and receiving the help they need from a registered Ontario women's shelter.
Veterinarians also provide initial physical examinations of the pets - along
with any necessary medical treatment and vaccinations - prior to handing the
pets over to pet foster parents. Throughout the process, veterinarians also
provide assistance and guidance to the pet foster parents.
    SafePet was developed because veterinarians recognized the growing
problem of domestic violence and that they could play a vital role to help
minimize this growing problem in their own communities.
    "Veterinarians practice in every community across the province," says
Dr. Reed. "As animal health experts, we are able and pleased to play a leading
role in an essential program such as OVMA's SafePet Program. The program not
only has the ability to improve local communities and the lives of women and
children, it can ultimately save lives." (see separate media release about
this program for details)

    Founded in 1980, the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association represents
more than 3,300 Ontario veterinarians in private practice, government,
academia, industry and public service. Its mandate is to advance and promote
excellence in the veterinary profession in Ontario, and contribute to the
betterment of animal health and the protection of human health.





For further information:

For further information: Nadia Vercillo, OVMA Manager of Communications
& Public Relations, c. (416) 838-3925 or 1-800-670-1702, ext. 15, or
nvercillo@ovma.org

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Ontario Veterinary Medical Association

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