Within the last two weeks, there has been a noticeable amount of news media focus directed to the need for the Northwest Territories to pass an Animal Protection Act. This is something that I have been working on since April 2008. The featured picture is one reason why.
Wheels of government turn slowly, however MACA, Municipal and Community Affairs, has come out with a “Discussion Paper on the Amendments to the Dog Act” which may be viewed at: http://www.maca.gov.nt.ca/Dog_Act_Discussion_Paper.pdf
You may also view the current NWT Dog Act along with this Discussion Paper.
In an article which I recently published with News North, also contained in this Blog, titled “No Exceptions….” I have called for the Dog Act to be completely thrown out. This Animal Protection Legislation for the NWT must encompass all aspects of Animal Protection for all animals, there can be no exceptions for individuals such as breeders, mushers or kennels. Nor can stray animals be exempt from this protection.
In a recent article published by News North the “NWT ranked best place to be an animal abuser”; this is in accordance to the Animal Legal Defense Fund report released in 2009. http://www.cbc.ca/canada/north/story/2009/05/21/animal-defense-report.html
When interviewed for my own opinion I concurred completely. Given what I have seen, what I have been involved in, how could I not agree? The NWT is a disgrace, both on the Canadian home front and internationally. Conveying that message clearly to the Government of the Northwest Territories has not been an easy task and has consumed my energies for over a year. Finally it appears that my message has gotten across.
MLA David Ramsay is speaking out for the Northern Animals :http://www.nnsl.com/frames/newspapers/2009-03/mar6_09brf2.html
I must commend Kam Lake MLA Dave Ramsay for speaking out on this issue, the News North article published May 25, 2009 cites that Mr Ramsay said “he’s ashamed of NWT’s ranking in the study and believes the territory should follow Ontario’s example by enacting tough animal protection laws.” Note that at one point Ontario was listed as one of the lowest areas for Animal Protection and has with the passing of tougher legislation for that province now moved to the Top Spot, Ontario is leading the way.
To further quote the News North article of May 25, 2009, Mr. Ramsay goes on to say “That’s not the kind of Northwest Territories that I want to represent, we need new legislation – period.” “In the worst cases of abuse there needs to be jail time – serious jail time. There’s no place for animal cruelty in society today.” Mr. Ramsay added “We’ll keep pressuring them” meaning GNWT, “to make sure that does happen.” “It can’t just be a Band-Aid approach.”
Something that I have been attempting to re-inforce myself through my own media interviews and continuing correspondence to the GNWT Legislature.
Taking the time to read the Discussion Paper, http://www.maca.gov.nt.ca/Dog_Act_Discussion_Paper.pdf you will note that there is a consideration listed for the increase in fines, current fines under the Dog Act are ridiculous, and offenders of animal cruelty rarely face, if at all, any criminal charges. The MACA Discussion Paper also states that in reference to the Yukon, the Yukon has a Dog Act but that it also has an Animal Protection Act. Reference is also made in this Discussion Paper to the varied Municipal By-Laws and notes that due to population size and logistics, some municipalities do not have by-laws concerning dogs or any other animals. Such municipalities would therefore have to depend on the current policing authority, that being the RCMP to uphold any GNWT Animal Protection Act that is put into place, as well as the current Dog Act.
In consideration of the current Muncipal By-Laws that are in place, and the enactment of An Animal Protection Act for the NWT, I am strongly suggesting that Municipal By-Laws be revised to follow in line with the upcoming Animal Protection Legislation. Properly trained, qualified Animal Cruelty Investigators must be established and must be given the legal authority to seize any/all animals that are in crisis, they must have the legal authority to pursue justice via the laying of criminal charges against animal abusers. Animal Cruelty reports which these Investigators file must be taken seriously and must result in follow-up action on the part of Legal Authorities.
Currently that legal authority rests soley with the RCMP under the current Federal Criminal Code, Animal Cruelty Bill. As it stands, many cases contravening the current Dog Act of the NWT and the Federal Criminal Code of Canada go unpunished, such as the Tuktoyaktuk and Behchoko cases.
In the Tuktoyaktuk case (please see earlier post on Blog – Tuktoyaktuk – Cruelty Capital of Canada?) the Animal Cruelty Report which was filed to the RCMP detachment by the Executive Director of the Beaufort Delta Regional SPCA, was for all intent and purposes ignored, the three surviving sled dogs were not seized by legal authorities and given a chance at rehabilitation and recovery, and RCMP failed to lay charges of animal abuse. Even when PETA got involved, appealing for legal action to be taken and the seizure of the surviving dogs, absolutely nothing was done by the Muncipality or the Legal Authorities. These dogs are now presumed dead as they cannot be located.
Despite that RCMP did lay charges in the Behchoko case, 44 dogs needed to be destroyed, the Crown chose not to prosecute citing that it was “unlikely” that a conviction would be won. Whether a conviction would be won or not, the guilty party, in the opinion of many, should have been hauled before a Judge and undergone the judicial process, faced the scrutiny and humiliation of his peers. Instead, he got his walking papers, free to do the same thing over again to whatever animals that may come into his possession in the future. Please see earlier post on Blog (Hail to the Justice System) and prior posts concerning reknowned Dene Artist Archie Beaulieu.
This cannot be allowed to continue.
It would behoove the GNWT in a very positive fashion to adopt any one of the many Provincial Animal Protection Acts which I sent to the Legislature via Registered Mail to use as a Template. Amending the current Dog Act, is and will be totally inadequate. A comprehensive Animal Protection Act, for ALL Northern Animals is a must. This new piece of Legislation must encompass all manner of companion, working and stray animals. The Act must be explicit in penalities an offender will face, it must be explicit in denoting what constitutes animal abuse in accordance to the standards as set by the rest of Canada and the Federal Criminal Code.
As I have repeatedly stated, there can be no loop holes, as Mr. Ramsay has stated “”It can’t just be a Band-Aid approach.”In the worst cases of abuse there needs to be jail time – serious jail time. There’s no place for animal cruelty in society today.”
No amount of Legislation, or By-Law revision will be effective if the Legal Authorities fail to uphold the laws contained in this new Act, it will not be worth the paper it is written on. It is imperative that trained, qualified Animal Cruelty Investigators be established with the necessary legal powers of seizure and the laying of charges, their hands must not be tied. In communities where this is not feasible, the onus will continue to fall on the RCMP to uphold this new Animal Protection Legislation and the Municipal By-Laws as they will pertain to this new piece of Legislation.
Please feel free to add your own comments and to contact : Action for the Protection of Northern Animals (APNA) at
firstname.lastname@example.org to voie your comments and to speak for the animals.