Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Undercover footage shows the cruelty of Cranbrook's secret deer cull


BRITISH COLUMBIA, January 12, 2016:  In mid-December 2015, Cranbrook began to cull deer without notification to area residents.  The only public notification came from the BC Deer Protection Society and Animal Alliance of Canada in an ad that ran in the Cranbrook Townsman prior to the start of the cull.

On Friday, January 8, 2016, the BC Deer Protection Society lodged a formal complaint to the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations about incidents involving fawns in Clover traps.  The incidents which show the cruelty of the cull, were captured through photographs and video footage.

Two incidents in particular reveal violations of the terms of the cull permit issued by the Minister.

Footage for one incident shows a fawn captured in a trap (unedited video documents the fawn pacing for over two hours).  The cull contactors arrive, collapsing the trap on the animal and applying the bolt gun.  The cull contractors stand and the fawn moves.  They apply the bolt gun a second time.  The fawn moves again as the contractors try to erect the trap.  They drop it and observe the fawn.   One contractor starts to reach for the bolt gun but stops.  They proceed again to erect the trap and drag the fawn away by the hind leg.  In both cases the fawn is seen moving.  The cull contractor returns immediately leaving the fawn still alive and unattended.  A total of six minutes passed between the arrival of the contractors and the removal of the deer.  (bcdeer.org)

Photographs from a second incident show two fawns entangled in a trap that has collapsed on them.  They remain entangled and compressed for at least two hours prior to the arrival of the cull contractors.  It is not known at this time whether the fawns’ struggle was so violent as to dislodge the mechanism holding the trap upright or whether the mechanism was faulty.  Regardless, no-one checked the trap during that two hour period to end the suffering of these two animals. (bcdeer.org)

In the letter to the Minister, we urge him in the strongest possible terms to end the cull, conduct a full investigation of the violations of the permit and lay charges where appropriate.  In addition, we ask that the permit for the current contractor be revoked until the investigation is complete.

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Contact:          Devin Kazakoff: devin.kazakoff@gmail.com
Liz White: 1-416-462-9541 (23), 416-809-4371 (cell) or liz@animalalliance.ca
Barry MacKay, 1-905-472-9731 or mimus@sympatico.ca 
Sherry Adams, 250-432-5238 (cell) or shezza_ca@yahoo.com

Friday, 18 December 2015

Home for the Holidays?

Project Jessie needs YOUR help!
Every creature taken in by Project Jessie is cared for in a foster home. This lets us get to know them as individuals - what they need, what their personality is like, what they prefer.

We love them and care for them - for a short while or for a longer while - but eventually, each of them need and deserve a permanent home. 

These particular Project Jessie friends have been in care - but we would really love to have them in homes before the holidays. 

Please help us by considering adoption, or spreading their info to friends and family who are thinking of adding a new companion to their family.

Anyone interested, can email shelly@projectjessie.ca or call 519-940-4712

Thank you! And have a wonderful holiday!

This gentle soul is Willow - young, friendly and fabulous with everyone she has met. She is quiet and unassuming, very people oriented and a joy to be around.

Five years ago, Izzy and her kittens were adopted to a family. This fall, they all came back to us because the family was having some troubles. Poor Izzy! Her kittens were adopted together by a new family, but she is still waiting for a second chance. She is 6 years young, good with other animals and loves to cuddle. 

This handsome fellow would love to have an active family to love. Perhaps with some kids to play and romp with? Cooper is a young handsome boy with lots to offer. Great with other dogs, he would love to have a canine friend as well. 

This petite lady has a sad tale to tell. Abandonned outside, she had several litters of kittens behind a strip plaza, where the people helped by rehoming some of her kids - but no one helped her. Now she is in from the cold, and loving it! But she is still looking for a permanent place to call home.
Unfortunately, she has tested positive for FIV. What does this mean? It means that now that she is spayed, with good food and a low stress environment, she will probably have a long and healthy life. She is a very sweet little lady. Would you like to be her new friend?

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Environmental Commissioner of Ontario’s new report levels stinging criticism of the spring bear hunt pilot



TORONTO, November 3, 2015:  Animal Alliance of Canada and Zoocheck Canada praise the Environmental Commissioner for her criticism of the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry’s decision to re-introduce the spring bear hunt.

In her 2014/2015 Annual Report, Small things Matter (http://eco.on.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/2014_2015-AR.pdf) Ellen Schwartzel, Environmental Commissioner of Ontario states “In implementing the pilot project, the MNRF: made a bear management decision with incomplete information on the annual harvest; ignored ministry research that calls into question the utility of the pilot project; and disregarded the advice of the committee the ministry struck to review the nuisance bear issues.” 

“The Commissioner also points out that the Ministry cut back on its Bear Wise programme” said Barry MacKay, Director, Zoocheck Canada.  “In fact, the Bear Wise programme has largely disappeared in reality and the Wynne government has downloaded responsibility for human bear interactions on local communities.”

“We feel vindicated by the comments of the Environmental Commissioner about the Ministry’s pilot hunt.  These are exactly the issues we raised in our court case and in our EBR submission to the Minister in response to the announced pilot in 2014”, said Liz White, Director, Animal Alliance.

“You have to ask – why would the Premier and Minister disregard their own scientists and advisors and make a decision to expand the hunt so substantially?” White asks.

Despite the ECO’s concerns, Minister Bill Mauro intends to expand the spring hunt to Americans and other non-residents in all applicable wildlife management units.  The decision is posted on the Environmental Registry for comment until the end of November.
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Liz White:  416-462-9541 ex: 23 / liz@animalalliance.ca
Barry MacKay:  905-472-9731 / mimus@sympatico.ca

Friday, 9 October 2015

Helping Outdoor Dogs. Getting Them Off the Chain!

by Vicki Van Linden
Director, Animal Alliance of Canada

They are lonely dogs.
They bark and cry in distress.

Their boredom and misery remain a constant.

Many live their entire lives chained or penned in kennels as a regular way of life. They suffer social isolation, lack of exercise and extreme loneliness. It is a miserable existence that no social animal should be forced to endure.

Neighbours are disturbed by the barking and suffering, and their own feeling of helplessness.

Such animal-keeping practices allow intolerable suffering, divides communities, and places enormous stress on animal service agencies and humane societies. Yet many municipalities have very few tools to assist residents who witness the suffering, and to provide their own staff with the necessary tools to intervene.

Chaining is the worst of the practices inflicted on outdoor dogs. Dogs have even died from strangulation when they attempted to jump over a fence while chained at the neck. Penning or kennelling is less harmful than being chained but is equally cruel because of the lack of exercise, attention, and companionship.

Animal cruelty laws are usually not detailed enough to assist these dogs. A Humane Officer might recognize that a dog is suffering emotionally and in distress, but if the animal is in an acceptable physical condition anti-cruelty laws may not give the officer enough tools to help the dog.

The good news is that there are specific municipal laws that regulate how outdoor dogs must be kept and provide an effective way to assist these suffering dogs and the neighbours who have been made to live near them.

In jurisdictions across North American communities have passed laws that mandate how long a dog can be made to live outside during a 24 hour period.

Windsor, Mississauga and several communities in British Columbia have already passed bylaws. More than one hundred communities in the U.S have also passed such laws.

The province of Nova Scotia passed a province-wide law that regulates tethering/chaining in 2014.

The province of New Brunswick also passed a law that states: “Dog tethering is not permitted for more than 30 minutes between 11:00 pm and 6:00 am unless the owner or person responsible is outside and within 25 metres of the dog.”

The City of Windsor, Ontario does not allow a dog to be chained or tethered for longer than 4 hours in a 24 hour period. Mississauga has a similar regulation making 4 hours the maximum time that a dog can be chained.

Some communities have also passed regulations that can be used to assist penned dogs.

In Markham, Ontario their bylaw states: “Animals in Markham must be provided with a clean, sanitary environment and adequate care that meets the physical and behavioural needs of the animal, such as food, water, shelter, warmth, physical exercise, attention and veterinary care.”

The goal of such bylaws is to ensure that no dogs are made to live entire lives as backyard dogs, but must be brought inside the home each and every day, as well as during extremes of weather - hot or cold.

Enough communities have passed such laws that there are now several examples for other communities to refer to.

We can end this practice if we have sufficient political will.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Lost Pets Used in Research


by Vicki Van Linden
Director, Animal Alliance of Canada

What if your dog or cat became lost?

What if you could not locate your animal family member, in spite of your best efforts?

What would your hopes be for your lost animal friend?

You would likely hope that a kind person would keep your friend until he or she was returned to you.

If fate is not so kind and your friend is never returned to you, you likely hope that your beloved companion would find another loving home. And, when companion animals like dogs and cats are lucky, that was what happens.

Not all dogs and cats are so lucky.

For some lost, stray or abandoned dogs and cats, a fate that violates all of our protective values is in store for them. Some of them will be purchased by research laboratories where they will be subjected to experimentation in ways that will cause them pain, fear and distress. This actually takes place all across Canada. It is referred to as pound seizure or pound release, the practice of taking lost, homeless and abandoned dogs and cats from animal control facilities or pounds for use in experimentation (research, teaching and testing).

Every province allows dogs and cats from municipally-funded or contracted animal pounds/shelters to be turned over to research facilities.  Ontario is sadly unique in that the practice is actually mandated under the ‘Animals for Research Act.’  This means that if a research facility choses to do so, they could actually demand that animals from a municipally-funded animal shelter/pound be turned over for their use, even if the shelter workers do not wish to comply.

The story of a dog named Royal, and the family who loved him, is a stark illustration of the horror of Pound Seizure.

Royal was a 13-year-old Golden Retriever who was much loved, and had lived with his guardian since he was a pup. One day Royal wandered away from his property. But Royal was found by people who wanted to help him so they brought him to the Arteeka Canine Control facility, the animal control pound/shelter contracted for that area. They liked Royal so much that they stated they would like to adopt him if his family did not claim him.

Royal was tattooed and wore a collar with his name embroidered on it, and his dog tags were attached.

In spite of all of this evidence that Royal was a loved family pet, and in spite of there being a ready adoptive home for him, Royal was quickly sold to the University of Guelph for use in research. The Arteeka Canine Control facility actually violated the Act by turning Royal over before the full 4 day holding period required by law had expired.

Royal was quickly deemed to be unsuitable for research, likely due to his age, and was killed at the University of Guelph.

Then, as a further indignity, the Ministry responsible for the University had to be forced to confirm to Royal’s loving guardian, Laurie Bishop, that the dog she had loved since he was a pup had been killed at their facility.

Royal died alone.  The pound keeper did not look out for Royal. Nor did the University of Guelph. Royal was nothing more than a potential test subject. And, Royal could be your dog.

There is good news from this sad story.  Today the vast majority of shelters in Ontario have stood against this practice so animals are not going to research from those facilities.  Still, there are pounds, especially in smaller communities, that still hand over animals for research. The dogs and cats that are desirable to researchers are those who are docile, in other words, are adoptable as pets. All lost, stray or abandoned pets deserve to have every effort made to find them a loving adoptive home – not sent to a life of suffering, fear and death in a laboratory. We believe that no lost dog or cat should ever be used as research subjects. This is the ultimate betrayal of a lost friend.

For these reasons, we ask all Ontarians to help us bring an end to POUND SEIZURE in Ontario – the ultimate betrayal of a lost dog or cat - by banning the use of lost pets in research.

We urge Ontario citizens to download and mail a sign-on letter addressed to Premier Kathleen Wynne by clicking here.  Or better yet, write a letter in your own words.

Ask the Premier of Ontario to amend the Animals for Research Act to:
1)  ban the release of lost, stray or abandoned dogs and cats from Ontario pounds for animal experimentation; and
2)  to ban the import of lost, stay or abandoned pets for experimentation from other provinces in Canada.

Canadian citizens in other provinces can also protect companion animals by contacting their own Premiers to ask that the surrender of lost, stray or abandoned dogs and cats from pounds and shelters be banned.

Research facilities in all provinces should also ban the importation of former pets from other jurisdictions.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Cecil and the Killer

by Barry Kent MacKay,
Senior Program Associate, Born Free USA's Canadian Representative
Animal Alliance of Canada, Director

Published 07/29/15
© Bryan Orford/YouTube

Unless you've been sequestered on the back side of the moon, you probably know by now that, in early July, Walter Palmer, a 55-year-old dentist from Minnesota, illegally killed Cecil, a lion who had lived in Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park. Cecil, age 13, wore a radio collar installed by researchers from Oxford University. He neither feared nor threatened human visitors to the park, including numerous tourists who photographed him, often as he strolled down park roads or rested in the middle of the road, truly looking like a king. With his distinctive black mane, he was surely among the most charismatic of the rapidly vanishing charismatic megafauna of Africa—a handsome cat, indeed.

Palmer allegedly paid more than $50,000 to Bushman Safari, whose owner, Theo Bronkhorst (reportedly "a professional hunter" and member of the Zimbabwe Professional Hunters and Guides Association [ZPHGA]), is now "suspended indefinitely" from ZPHGA, pending investigation of the hunt that took Cecil's life. Bronkhorst and the owner of the farm where Palmer shot Cecil have been charged with poaching offenses. Cecil had been lured from the relative safety of the park by tying a dead animal to a vehicle, and reportedly using a "spotlight" to illuminate the lion.

It has been further reported that Palmer's arrow only wounded Cecil, who was then tracked for 40 hours before being found, shot with a rifle, skinned, and decapitated... the headless body left behind.

The poachers then tried to destroy the radio collar, presumably realizing it could provide evidence of their perfidy. But, they bungled that, too, and Cecil's remains were found, and charges were laid (although not against Parker, who, as of the time I am writing, is in hiding, his dental office closed).

In a press release, Palmer claimed innocence: "I had no idea that the lion I took was a known, local favorite, was collared and part of a study until the end of the hunt. I relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt. I have not been contacted by authorities in Zimbabwe or in the U.S. about this situation, but will assist them in any inquiries they may have. Again, I deeply regret that my pursuit of an activity I love and practice responsibly and legally resulted in the taking of this lion."

In 2008, he pleaded guilty in a federal court to misleading a federal agent investigating the killing of a black bear in Wisconsin, 40 miles outside of where his permit would have allowed the legal killing of the animal. He got one year's probation and a fine of nearly $3,000, according to the Star Tribune. He has also paid a fine for fishing without a license: a misdemeanor that, like the rest of his unfortunate history, would remain unknown to most people, but for Cecil's radio collar.

Palmer has numerous photos of himself posing with hunted animals: an elk, a mule deer, a cape buffalo, a rhino, and a warthog, among others.

A warthog? Well, the animal had big tusks—which are, I guess, to guys fixated on large horns, antlers, or thick and beautiful manes (as Cecil had), important additions to the trophy room. Big tusks are, too. (No surprise; he has shot an elephant.)

Palmer has been credited with 43 kills, including moose, mountain lion, and polar bear, by Safari Club International (SCI), which boasts 55,000 members worldwide. SCI loves to keep lists of measurements of their members' various victims. Palmer's "kills" are all with bow and arrow, and we'll never know how many "kills" were as cruelly bungled as Cecil's death. Palmer bragged that he could put an arrow through a playing card 100 yards away.

SCI appeals to the rich and uncompassionate. Society would generally frown upon SCI's love of killing beautiful animals ("love" being Palmer's word)—and so the group claims to be conservationist, thus serving a cause more noble than mere bloodlust. The large amounts of money these people are willing to spend for the ‘privilege' of ending the lives of the most magnificent of animals is, they claim, used to conserve animals... as if that justifies the killing.

Cecil's death belies all that. Lions are in decline in Africa, and by removing a viable male, the likelihood is that Cecil's cubs will be killed by the next lion in the community's pecking order—thus reducing still further the number of individuals and genetic variation of a species in freefall decline. Furthermore, whatever—if any—of Palmer's money may fund conservation, Cecil was far more valuable alive, drawing tourists to Hwange National Park from around the world.

Precisely because trophy hunting is inherently unethical to so many people, and tends to focus on removing the healthiest individuals, it has to be constrained. The favored way of doing so is by charging high license fees. This seems to make it all the more attractive to military leaders, executives, and highly paid professionals, who seem to delight in wealth-fueled power over others. They are the "might makes right" crowd who is used to getting its own way.

There is no aspect of the trophy hunt that can be accomplished without slaughtering magnificent and often rare animals (or "taking," to use their word for it).

The killing aspect is important to trophy hunters. Consider, for example, the game farms of Texas and elsewhere. Hunters go into huge, fenced compounds and shoot a "trophy" of a species that is native to Africa or Asia, without the cost of going to Africa or Asia, or the inconvenience of hunting for an animal who can get away. It's as "sporting" as killing a lion who's unafraid of people and dazzled by a spotlight—easier, in fact, because the fence is always there—and they don't have to spend 40 hours searching for the wounded, as Palmer did with Cecil.

By all accounts to date, the extent of Palmer's "remorse" is not that he shot a lion—but that he shot that particular lion, and got found out. Killing does not seem to bother him at all. On the contrary, he is shown all over the internet, grinning over the bodies of his victims. He is actually proud, it seems, of what he does.

I believe that these trophy hunters are the rewarded, the privileged, the elite: secure in a relatively rarified air of insulation from what is felt by the majority of people, whose ethical compass they will never understand. They are the entitled, given power by money or position. Usually, they remain well hidden within our midst. Yes, Palmer got caught. But, he's one of many: at least 55,000, I'd estimate. And, there are still more who yearn to join their ranks and kill innocent, beautiful, valuable creatures.

Keep Wildlife in the Wild,

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

A Hero who chose compassion over killing now needs heroes to save his job


TORONTO, July 14, 2015:  When two orphaned bear cubs needed a hero to save their lives, British Columbia conservation officer Bryce Casavant acted, even though his superiors had ordered him to kill the young bears.

For disobeying the order to kill, Officer Casavant is being punished by being suspended from his job. It is not clear if Officer Casavant will be reinstated after the matter is fully investigated.

We think this is wrong.

Liz White, Director of Animal Alliance of Canada, says: “We need to encourage conservation officers, like Officer Casavant, not punish them. Officer Casavant values the lives of these cubs, an admirable quality in a conservation officer.”

Officer Casavant did not act recklessly when he refused to kill the bear cubs after their mother was killed for breaking into a freezer where food was stored. The Officer had the two cubs assessed by a veterinarian and then transferred them to the North Island Wildlife Recovery Association. This rehabilitation centre is experienced with the rehabilitation and release of bears into the wild, and they have stated they believe the cubs are good candidates for release next year.

Whether these two cubs will get that chance, and whether Officer Casavant will keep his job, still has to be decided. It is critical that B.C. government authorities make the right choices.

That is why we are asking Canadians to contact B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak, and B.C. Premier Christy Clark, to let them know that the two cubs, named Jordan and Athena, deserve their chance at a natural life and should not be killed.

The government should also provide the North Island Wildlife Recovery Association assistance to care for Jordan and Athena for the next 18 months until they can be released back into the wild. Too often donor-funded groups do the work that government agencies should do.

And, Officer Casavant must be reinstated without censure.

Animal Alliance of Canada hopes that this incident can mobilize public opinion and increase the political pressure on the B.C. government to enact policies that encourage responsible wildlife rehabilitation so that B.C. conservation officers are not in constant fear of losing their livelihoods when they do the right thing and help animals.
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Liz White, Director
416-462-9541 ext: 23 / liz@animalalliance.ca

Animal Alliance of Canada is committed to animal protection through politics, advocacy and education. Since 1990, Animal Alliance of Canada has been bringing together dedicated professionals with proven records in animal and environmental protection, together we work on local, national, and international educational and legislative advocacy initiatives to protect animals and our environment. Online at animalalliance.ca