Humane Canada™ consulted on the language of Bill C-246, The Modernizing Animal Protections Act, a Private Member’s Bill introduced in the House of Commons on February 26, 2016, by Liberal Member of Parliament Nathaniel Erskine-Smith (Beaches-East York). This Bill aimed to close a number of loopholes in the current federal animal cruelty provisions. More often than not, it is these loopholes that allow chronic hoarders, repeat abusers, puppy mill operators and dog fighting perpetrators to get off with a slap on the wrist rather than an appropriate punishment.
At the heart of this bill was the proposed creation of a new offence for individuals who cause unnecessary pain, suffering or injury to an animal through gross negligence of the animal’s welfare. The bill also promised to close the loopholes related to animal fighting by making it illegal to train, breed or convey animals for the purpose of fighting or profit from dog fighting. Unfortunately, Bill C-246 was defeated in the House of Commons on Wednesday, October 5, 2016.
Recently, attempts have been made to hold the Canadian government accountable for closing these legal loopholes through initiatives like e-petition e-718 (petition is now closed).
Below, you will find information on previous attempts to update Canada's federal animal cruelty provisions.
On June 9 2014, Liberal MP Irwin Cotler (Mount Royal) introduced Bill C-610, which would have created a new offence for the inadequate and negligent care of animals. The bill would have established it as an offence to negligently cause unnecessary pain, suffering or injury to an animal or bird. It would have become an offence to willfully or recklessly abandon an animal or fail to provide suitable and adequate food, water, air, shelter, and care. It would have also punished those who negligently injure an animal or bird while it is being conveyed.
On April 9, 2014, the NDP MP Isabelle Morin (Notre-Dame-de-Grâce – Lachine) took up the gauntlet again by introducing Bill C-592, which would have provided a better definition of "animal", defined intentions and acts of cruelty and set the higher penalties for those found guilty. C-592 reached second reading but did not become law.
Bill C-274 and C-277
On September 19, 2011, Liberal MP Hedy Fry (Vancouver Centre) introduced Bills C-274 and C-277, which would have consolidated animal cruelty offences, created a new section in the Criminal Code of Canada for animal cruelty offences and increased the maximum penalties for animal abuse. Unfortunately, both bills died before becoming law.
Bill S-24, S-203 and S-213
In February 2005, Liberal Senator John Bryden from New Brunswick, tabled Bill S-24. This bill took the entire penalties section from the Liberal government bill, but made no changes to the offences. Humane Canada™ and other animal protection groups strongly opposed this bill. So did the Canadian public – a petition with almost 112,000 signatures was tabled in the House of Commons in 2007 opposing Senator Bryden’s bill. The introduction of this bill changed things dramatically, as most industry groups supported the Senator’s bill. This bill also fell victim to parliamentary prorogation three times, but Senator Bryden retabled it as Bill S-203 and then S-213. The latter ultimately passed through the Senate and the House and was enacted in June 2008.
In December 1999, then Justice Minister Anne McLellan tabled Bill C-17 in the House of Commons. Bill C-17 died shortly after it was introduced due to an election being called early in 2000. Over the next several years, the Liberal government repeatedly brought the bill forward, but it repeatedly died due to prorogation of Parliament. The bill was named Bill C-15, C-15B, C-10, C-10B, C-22 and C-50. In 2003, Bill C-10B came extremely close to passing and was supported by all parties in the House, but the Senate blocked its passage.
Once the Conservative Party was in power, Member of Parliament Mark Holland brought forward a private member’s bill in October 2006 that was virtually identical to Bill C-50. Mr. Holland retabled his Bill repeatedly as it died with prorogation. In addition, the NDP tabled its own bill, C-558, in June 2008. Neither became law.
On July 24, 2015, the Justice for Animals in Service Act, or Quanto’s Law, was enacted as part of the federal animal cruelty provisions in the Criminal Code of Canada, making the harming or killing of police, military or other service animals a special offence.
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.
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 specific laws 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 specifics of the law can be found below, including minimum/maximum sentences and applicable fines.
An Act to amend the Criminal Code (law enforcement animals, military animals and service animals)
This enactment amends the Criminal Code of Canada to better protect law enforcement animals, military animals and service animals and to ensure that offenders who harm those animals or assault peace officers are held fully accountable.
Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, enacts as follows:
This Act may be cited as the Justice for Animals in Service Act (Quanto’s Law).
R.S., c. C-46 CRIMINAL CODE
The Criminal Code is amended by adding the following after section 270.02:
Marginal note: Sentences to be served consecutively
270.03 A sentence imposed on a person for an offence under subsection 270(1) or 270.01(1) or section 270.02 committed against a law enforcement officer, as defined in subsection 445.01(4), shall be served consecutively to any other punishment imposed on the person for an offence arising out of the same event or series of events.
The Act is amended by adding the following after section 445:
Marginal note: Killing or injuring certain animals
445.01 (1) Every one commits an offence who, wilfully and without lawful excuse, kills, maims, wounds, poisons or injures a law enforcement animal while it is aiding a law enforcement officer in carrying out that officer’s duties, a military animal while it is aiding a member of the Canadian Forces in carrying out that member’s duties or a service animal.
Marginal note: Punishment
(2) Every one who commits an offence under subsection (1) is guilty of
(a) an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than five years and, if a law enforcement animal is killed in the commission of the offence, to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of six months; or
(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction and liable to a fine of not more than $10,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than 18 months or to both.
Marginal note:Sentences to be served consecutively
(3) A sentence imposed on a person for an offence under subsection (1) committed against a law enforcement animal shall be served consecutively to any other punishment imposed on the person for an offence arising out of the same event or series of events.
(4) The following definitions apply in this section.
"law enforcement animal"
« animal d’assistance policière »
"law enforcement animal" means a dog or horse that is trained to aid a law enforcement officer in carrying out that officer’s duties.
"law enforcement officer"
« agent de contrôle d’application de la loi »
"law enforcement officer" means a police officer, a police constable or any person referred to in paragraph (b), (c.1), (d), (d.1), (e) or (g) of the definition "peace officer" in section 2.
« animal d’assistance militaire »
"military animal" means an animal that is trained to aid a member of the Canadian Forces in carrying out that member’s duties.
« animal d’assistance »
"service animal" means an animal that is required by a person with a disability for assistance and is certified, in writing, as having been trained by a professional service animal institution to assist a person with a disability.
The Act is amended by adding the following after section 718.02:
Marginal note: Objectives — offence against certain animals
718.03 When a court imposes a sentence for an offence under subsection 445.01(1), the court shall give primary consideration to the objectives of denunciation and deterrence of the conduct that forms the basis of the offence.