Sled Dog Killings Prove Canadian Law Desperately Needs Reform

By now everyone is aware of the senseless and cruel deaths of 100 sled dogs in BC last April. Regardless of the reasons given for the killings, there is no excuse for such cruelty and depending on the outcome of the criminal investigation by the SPCA and RCMP, this case may once again highlight Canada’s deficient animal cruelty legislation.

Dogs are not a commodity to be disposed of when they no longer have value… that would be, when they no longer have the supposed value they were assigned by people. It doesn’t matter whether you have a family pet, a working sheep dog, or a team of sled dogs, it’s your responsibility to provide for your animal(s) for the duration of their lives.

In this case, it meant providing food, water, shelter, exercise and socialization for 300 dogs. If that’s not a commitment the owner could make, killing the dogs should not have been on the table as an option. What’s amazing is that it took a claim to the Worker’s Compensation Board for this to come to light.

There is no excuse for the cruelty outlined in the review committee’s report, both to the dogs who died and the dogs as they waited to die. While we wait to see just how serious Canada is about punishing cruelty in this country (where animals are still seen as property – like your chair), stay connected to the issues that face companion animals every day in your back yard and across the nation.

Canada does not have a stellar record for standing up and saying “animal cruelty is not okay”. But you can.

Learn more about Canada’s animal cruelty legislation. Check out IFAW’s report “Falling Behind – An International Comparison of Canada’s Animal Cruelty Legislation” which compares Canada’s anti cruelty legislation with 12 other countries around the world and reveals some startling facts including:

  • Canada is alone in offering virtually no protection for wild and stray animals
  • Canada’s legislation does not include a clear definition of ‘animal’ while other countries are explicit
  • Canada is the only country that does not provide protection for animals being trained to fight each other
  • Canada is the only country that makes it virtually impossible to prosecute cases of neglect.

However, despite all of the public pressure, many of our elected officials chose to pass Bill S-203 on April 9th 2008, which continues to leave animals largely unprotected from cruelty.  S-203 is an ineffective piece of legislation because it:

  • allows animal abusers to walk free
  • allows cruelty to wildlife, stray and feral animals
  • allows crimes of neglect to go virtually unpunished
  • allows the cruel reality of breeding and training of dogs for dog fighting

We need to continue to make our politicians aware that stopping animal cruelty is an important issue to Canadians.  Please contact your MP and let them know that you want effective and modern animal cruelty legislation now.

-- JH

For more information on the International Fund for Animal Welfare efforts to help animals in crisis around the world, visit

Comments: 1

7 years ago

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