The relationship between violence against people and animals is commonly known as the Violence Link. Evidence-based research shows that violence against animals and violence against people are not distinct and separate problems. Rather, they are part of a larger pattern of violent crimes that often co-exist. Cases of partner abuse, gang violence, youth crime, assault, homicide, sexual assault and child abuse also commonly include animal abuse.
The Canadian Violence Link Coalition (CVLC) was formed in 2018 as a result of issues brought forward at Humane Canada’s 2017 Canadian Violence Link Conference. The Coalition brings together professionals working to prevent and address violence against people and animals in more than 10 Canadian sectors and is committed to advancing awareness, education and training about the link between violence against humans and violence against animals. Its goal is to introduce violence prevention and intervention strategies across the country and to establish policies and practices that make our communities safer.
Members of the Coalition Coordinating Committee
Barbara Cartwright – Chief Executive Officer, Humane Canada
Tracy Porteous – Executive Director, Ending Violence Association of BC
Marcie Moriarty – Chief Prevention and Enforcement Officer, BC SPCA
Dallas Mack – Ontario Crown Counsel
Destiny Bedwell – Communications and Marketing Coordinator, Ontario 211 Service
Teena Stoddart – Sergeant, Ottawa Police Service
Dr. Andrew Sparling, DVM – Board Member, Ontario Veterinary Medical Association
Christine Hartig – Strategic Support Officer, By-law and Regulatory Services, City of Ottawa
Kaitlin Bardswich – Communications and Development Coordinator, Women’s Shelters Canada
Dayna Desmarais – President, SafePet Ottawa
Frances Wach – Executive Director, Saskatchewan SPCA
Michael Kelen – Retired Judge
Michelle Lem - Canadian Veterinary Medical Association
Kathy Powelson - Executive Director, Paws for Hope Animal Foundation
Canadian Violence Link Coalition Projects Underway:
- Violence Link Training for police officers across the country
- An amendment to section 160 of the Criminal Code of Canada (bestiality)
- Amending ViCLAS book to add animal abuse questions
- Amending threat assessment questionnaires to add animal abuse questions
- The National Centre for the Prosecution of Animal Cruelty’s 2018 Crown prosecutor training
- Hosting the second-ever Canadian Violence Link Conference in 2019
- Judicial training on the Violence Link, spearheaded by The Honourable Justice Michael A. Kelen (retired)
- Animal abuse statistics recorded by Statistics Canada (police statistics)
Have you heard that Humane Canada is presenting Canada’s first national conference on the violence link in December?
If you aren’t familiar with the violence link, it’s the proven link between violence against animals and violence against people. This can manifest in many ways, including a pet being harmed or killed after a woman leaves an abusive relationship or a serial killer practicing his or her abuse on animals before moving on to human beings. Over the last decade, this pattern has come to be known as the violence link.
We now know that, not only does animal abuse co-occur with human abuse, but it can predict future violence against human beings. In fact, animal abuse is more clearly correlated to family violence than mental illness, drinking or drug abuse*.
Our conference is the first big step that Canada is taking to find ways to coordinate and improve our response to the abuse of both people and animals – and better address the ways those forms of abuse intersect.
Our lineup of expert speakers includes…
- Dr. Margaret Doyle, DVM: a forensic expert on animal abuse and neglect who has worked on hundreds of animal cruelty cases, from crime scene analysis and necropsies to providing expert witness testimony at trial. She will be speaking on The Veterinarian's Role in Preventing Violence.
- Dr. Rebecca Ledger: an animal behaviour and welfare scientist who has been doing ground-breaking work as an expert witness in the prosecution of psychological and emotional suffering in cases involving cruelty and neglect. She is presenting on Determining Psychological Suffering in Cases of Animal Cruelty.
- Tracy Porteous: the Executive Director of the Ending Violence Association of BC and a three-time Governor General of Canada medal recipient for her work to prevent and end violence. She is presenting on Understanding Lethal Risks Associated with Domestic Violence Toward Keeping Women, Families and Pets Safer.
- Marcie Moriarty: Chief Prevention and Enforcement Officer of the BC SPCA, thought leader on animal cruelty enforcement and prosecution, and a key advisor for Canada’s National Centre for the Prosecution of Animal Cruelty. She is co-presenting on Investigation and Prosecution of Animal Abuse and Neglect.
- Alex Janse: Animal Cruelty Resource Counsel for British Columbia with the BC Ministry of Justice, thought leader on animal cruelty prosecution, and a key advisor for Canada’s National Centre for the Prosecution of Animal Cruelty. She is co-presenting on Investigation and Prosecution of Animal Abuse and Neglect.
- Dr. Frank Ascione: an internationally-renowned researcher and author on the development of antisocial and prosocial behavior in children and Scholar-in Residence at the Graduate School of Social Work of the University of Denver. He is presenting on The Roots of Animal Abuse and Neglect and the Connections to Interpersonal and Societal Violence.
Who is this conference for? Police officers, Crown prosecutors, judges, animal cruelty enforcement personnel, veterinarians, social workers, first responders, animal welfare advocates and policy experts. All of these key stakeholders in the fight against violence and abuse will gather for cross-training on these issues so we can begin to take real action on preventing the cycles of abuse that harm both animals and people.
You can find out more about the conference here.
*Source: Dealing with Animal Abuse to Alleviate Family Violence. Zorza, Joan. Family & Intimate Partner Violence Quarterly. Spring 2010. Vol. 2 Issue 4, page 345.
Two years ago today, Canada’s Criminal Code was amended to make the harming or killing of police, military or other service animals a special offence. Called the Justice for Animals in Service Act, this piece of legislation is better known as Quanto’s Law.
The law’s more common name is a memorial to Police Dog Quanto, a German shepherd with four years of service and more than 100 arrests to his name who was killed on the job in Edmonton in 2013. Quanto took risks on the job every day and, sadly, paid the ultimate price while protecting his community.
Paul Vukmanich, who killed Police Dog Quanto, was sentenced to 26 months in prison after pleading guilty to six charges in court, including one charge for killing the dog. But the short prison sentence was controversial and sparked a nationwide conversation about the need for a specific law to address service animal cruelty.
Humane Canada was proud to take a lead role in advocating for this law, and we’ve already seen charges being brought forward to discourage the assault and murder of service animals in Canada.
The first-ever charges were laid under Quanto’s Law in November 2015 after Police Dog Lonca was stabbed with a machete during a raid on a suspected illegal gaming house in a Toronto-area home. Then, in August 2016, officers from the Edmonton Police Service – where Quanto worked – laid a second charge after Police Dog Jagger was struck in the face several times by a man who evaded police in a high-speed chase for more than an hour. Both dogs have made a full recovery, and both suspects were apprehended. The first case has ended in acquittal, and the second is winding its way through the courts.
While police dogs clearly need our protection, this legislation was enacted to protect all service animals against the mistreatment and aggression they face while on the job. It’s not uncommon for guide dogs, medical alert animals and emotional support animals to be harassed and sometimes even assaulted by members of the public who don’t understand, value or respect the work that the animal is doing. These highly-trained, sensitive and intelligent animals have important jobs, and they deserve better than being subjected to this kind of abuse.
Quanto’s Law represents an important step forward for animal protection in Canada. But all of Canada’s animals deserve much better protection than our current federal laws afford.
As a next step, it’s crucial that we bring forward updates to Canada’s archaic federal laws, which make it so difficult to prosecute animal cruelty that they leave animals high and dry when they need our protection the most.
Do you want better laws for Canada’s animals? You can make a difference! Reach out to your MP today and tell them you support an immediate update to our federal animal cruelty provisions.
Learn more about the fight for improved federal legislation here.
I know that puppy mills are places of unspeakable animal suffering. By signing this pledge, I commit to help end puppy mills by:
- Thinking carefully before getting a dog.
- Choosing my dog wisely and ensuring that the animal is coming from an ethical source, such as a humane society, an SPCA or a breeder whose facilities I have visited to ensure that they are ethical and humane.
- Loving the dog I have chosen deeply for life.
- Educating my friends and family about how to avoid puppy mills.
To learn more about choosing a dog responsibly, go here.
Take the Puppy Mill Pledge
Considering a dog
There are many reasons for wanting a dog, and all of them will have a huge impact on your daily life. Dogs will entertain you, keep you company, enrich your life and likely even improve your mental and physical health, but it's important to remember that, in exchange for all of the richness a dog will add to your life, he or she is going to need your dedicated time and attention.
There are many things to consider before getting a dog, like whether or not you have the time, money, energy, space, desire, patience and lifestyle to make the commitment of being a full-time dog owner.
Learn more about considering a dog.
Choosing the right dog
Dogs come in many shapes, sizes and temperaments. It is important when choosing a dog that you consider the reasons why you want a dog, what activity level you're comfortable engaging in, how often you want to groom your dog, how experienced you are with dogs, how big you want your dog to be once the animal is fully grown, what kind of personality you want your dog to have and whether or not you will need to get a hypoallergenic dog.
Thinking about your needs and having a concrete idea of what kind of qualities you are looking for in a dog will help you decide whether to get a puppy or an adult dog, and which breed or breed mix might be best for you.
Learn more about choosing the right dog.
Finding your dog
You've done your research and decided on the kind of dog you want to get. Now where do you go to find your dog? To ensure that you avoid supporting puppy mills, you can either adopt a dog from a humane society, SPCA, reputable rescue or satellite adoption centre, or you can purchase directly from a responsible, ethical breeder.
Learn more about finding your dog.
Remember, dogs are for life. Think carefully, choose wisely and love deeply!
What to do if you have lost or found a dog:
IF YOU HAVE LOST A DOG
Losing your dog can be devastating. Here are some actions you can immediately take to help you bring your Fido home.
- Immediately check your property and your neighbours' properties – check any place your dog could reasonably hide in.
- Notify your local animal shelters, including animal control and nearby humane societies, rescue groups, dog parks, groomers, doggy day cares and pet stores.
- List your lost pet on www.helpinglostpets.com. Emails and twitter alerts will be sent to all network members in the area.
- Create a poster that you can place in high-traffic areas. Include a photo of your pet and describe his or her distinguishing characteristics. (Note: posters can be printed at www.helpinglostpets.com)
- Get friends and family involved right away. The more ground you cover in the first few hours, the better chance you have of finding your dog.
- Knock on doors.
- Follow your dog’s regular walking route. Try to think of where he or she might go to feel safe.
- Go to your local humane society or SPCA and look for your pet.
- Check websites that have lost/found pet pages. Also, check in the pets for sale section in case someone is trying to sell/find a new home for your pet.
- If you receive a call about a sighting of your dog, confirm the pet’s description and size before you send anyone to search that area.
- If you get a confirmed sighting, have someone go immediately. Dogs can travel a long way in just an hour.
IF YOU HAVE FOUND A DOG
- If a lost/stray dog approaches you, be cautious. Even if he or she seems to be a friendly dog, we would advise that you move slowly, and very gently take hold of the collar or leash.
- If the dog growls or becomes panicked/aggressive, stop what you are doing and stand back.
- If you are able to leash the dog, check for tags and call whatever phone numbers you find on the dog's tags.
- If there is no contact information, notify your local humane society or SPCA or animal control.
- If you are offering food to the dog, place a small amount on the ground.
- Do not look the dog directly in the eye – this may be interpreted as aggression.
- Take the dog to a veterinarian or animal shelter to be scanned for a microchip. This could tell you who the owners are and where they live.
- Microchip your pet, and update your information with the service provider EVERY TIME you change your phone number or address.
- License your pet with your municipality and keep the tag on your pet’s collar/harness at all times.
- Have another ID tag on the dog’s leash in case the collar breaks free or is lost.
- Check tags regularly for wear and tear.