Change Animal Abuse Laws in Canada

  • by: Erma Rogers
  • recipient: The Honourable Peter Gordon MacKay, Minister of Justice

Abused dog euthanized by Animal Services (From The Toronto Sun - October 17, 2014)

City of Toronto officials are asking for the public’s help in finding out who left a dog with burns and broken bones so severe it had to be euthanized.

The city issued the appeal for information about the abused dog — a young, male, black labrador mix — on Friday.

Three horrific photos showing the toll of the abuse were also provided by the city.

The photos show the whites of the dog’s eyes were blood red, its snout swollen, the left side of its mouth was puffy and inflamed and scabs covered burns over its ears and face.

The dog was picked up by Toronto Animal Services on Oct. 10, after a homeowner found it in distress on a property near Jane and Finch.

“It had an elastic band around its muzzle, which caused severe swelling, and an injured ear,” city officials said.

After further tests and treatment, animal services found the dog had multiple broken ribs and burns to around 30% of its body including its head, ears and feet. Officials believe the burns may be chemical burns but the cause has yet to be confirmed.

Dr. Stephanie Sparling, a veterinarian with Toronto Animal Services, said the burns turned out to be very severe.

“There was dead tissue and infection,” Sparling told the Sun on Friday.

The dog was given antibiotics and pain medication but on Oct. 15, after being examined by an internal medicine specialist, it was determined the dog would be unable to recover from its injuries.

“This is probably the most severe case (of animal abuse) that I’ve seen,” Sparling said.


In April 2008, Parliament passed Bill S-203. The Bill increased the jail time and other penalties for animal abuse. Recent headlines show that little has changed.

Offenders and their lawyers continue to exploit flaws and loopholes in the law to get off with a mere slap on the wrist or no penalty at all. The burden of proof that Crown Attorneys, police and SPCA investigators must meet in order to successfully prosecute these crimes is too high since it's virtually impossible to prove that the cruelty was 'wilful' in its intent and 'unnecessary'.

We need modern legislation now!

We need the government of Canada to pass modern and enforceable legislation that protects all animals from cruelty and abuse. Animals matter to Canadians - it's time to reflect this in our laws.

The Honourable Peter Gordon MacKay, Minister of Justice 

Dear Minister MacKay,

I am writing to you today to request that you do everything in your power to ensure that animals in Canada are protected from acts of cruelty. 

Canada has one of the oldest animal cruelty laws in the developed world. It was first enacted in 1892 and remains virtually unchanged since then. In 2008 Bill S-203 was passed and amended the penalties section of the code. Now it’s time to update offences section to ensure that those committing acts of cruelty aren’t continuing to get away because of existing loopholes and outdated language. These loopholes continue to prevent the prosecution of many serious animal abusers.

Animal cruelty is a grave form of violence that must be addressed. It is also a form of violence that is well recognized in authoritative, academic research as a precursor to violence against humans. Canada needs a law that takes heinous crimes against animals seriously. 

A bill that would make the necessary changes to Canada’s animal cruelty law has been debated by Parliament and at one time had the support of all parties in the House of Commons as well as animal protection groups, animal use industries and veterinarians. 

As a Canadian who cares about animals, I’m asking you to bring forward amendments that will properly protect all animals from cruelty and abuse.

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