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This article was published 7/7/2015 (625 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
There's teeth in Manitoba's animal protection laws — in fact, Manitoba's have the best bite in Canada.
Manitoba has been ranked No. 1 as the toughest province/territory on animal abusers in the 2015 report released Tuesday by the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) which ranked animal protection laws across the country.
The eighth annual report holds up Manitoba, Nova Scotia, British Columbia, and Ontario as "the worst provinces in Canada to be an animal abuser" because they have the best laws in Canada to protect animals.
"Something unique that we have in Manitoba is our animal protection officers have the legal provision to take abandoned animals into care immediately and that's really meaningful," said Aileen White, the Winnipeg Humane Society's communications director.
"Our protection officers work with the Chief Veterinary Officer to uphold the Animal Care Act of Manitoba. It’s a very strong and positive relationship."
The study pointed to other positive features of Manitoba’s animal protection laws such as mandatory reporting of suspected animal cruelty by veterinarians and recognition of psychological harm to animals.
However, the ALDF report recommended Manitoba’s laws could still be improved by implementing mandatory minimum fines and more stringent restrictions on future animal ownership for people convicted of animal abuse.
Dr. Jonas Watson, spokesman for the Manitoba Veterinary Medical Association, said the report shows Manitoba is headed in the right direction but he stressed that there is more to do here.
"Recognition of this kind is certainly something for which Manitoba animal lovers should be proud. It is indeed good to know that our province continues to be the nation's leader in addressing animal welfare concerns," said Watson, a companion animal veterinarian at the Tuxedo Animal Hospital.
"However, countless issues in the province require urgent attention and improvement, including problems related to livestock handling and transport, a dearth of medical and surgical services for dogs in remote communities, and an overwhelming cat overpopulation in the city of Winnipeg that relegates far too many animals to long spells in crowded shelters, leading to humane euthanasia for the thousands that don't find adoptive homes.
"It's great to know we're doing so well compared to the rest of the country, but we've all still got a long way to go when it comes to the humane treatment of animals."
Yvonne Russell, who formerly operated the Paw Tipsters tip line in Manitoba to report animal abuse similar to Crime Stoppers, said she had started a petition for a National Animal Abuse registry in 2013 but it didn’t receive support from the provincial government.
"This was very discouraging because the reason I proposed the National Animal Abuse Registry, similar to the Child Abuse Registry, was to hold people accountable for animal abuse and prevent them from re-offending in another province," she said. "If people don’t get serious jail time for acts of animal abuse and neglect they will continue to re-offend with impunity. Although I am encouraged we are moving in the right direction, my opinion is that it is not enough."
Jessica Hansen, the executive director of the Manitoba Underdogs Rescue (MUR) said more preventative measures should be implemented in Manitoba to protect animals from being in vulnerable situations.
"Provincial funding for spay and neuter clinics in remote communities would help to control the unwanted animal population, and help to get ahead of the problem," she said. "Manitoba Underdogs Rescue is incredibly supportive of the animal protection laws in Manitoba, but we also know there is more work to be done."
The ALDF press release pointed to Quebec, Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and Saskatchewan as being places "where animal abusers get off easy."
The full report can be viewed at www.aldf.org/canadarankings.