The “Five Freedoms” are contained in the BC SPCA Charter and express the dedication of the BC SPCA ensuring that all animals are healthy, happy and cared for.
Five Part series: Part 3
“Freedom from emotional distress – By ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering”
“The PCA Act defines Distress as follows: if an animal is:
a) Deprived of adequate food, water or shelter,
b) Injured, in pain, sick or suffering
c) Abused or neglected”
By Definition, the terms:
“Well-Being includes both emotional and physical health”.
“Physical Well Being: the animal is free from clinical symptoms of disease and does not show evidence of current or old injuries left untreated;
Emotional Well-Being: the animal shows evidence of normal behaviour and an absence of abnormal behaviour (specific to the species).”
All animals will and do suffer extreme stress, just as do humans, when their basic needs are withheld from them. Just as in humans, physical and mental trauma, food/water deprivation, and their surrounding environment play a key role in the emotional and physical well-being of an animal.
Animals respond very much the same way that humans do to their surroundings and to the way they are treated. Those that are abused, beaten, tortured and abandoned experience fear, despair, hopelessness and worst of all pain. Pain not only from the physical but emotionally as well. While physical scars may heal in time, the memories of their abuse, neglect and mistreatment remain. Anyone who has rescued/adopted a severely battered or neglected animal knows this. My own canine companions are clear evidence of the emotional suffering they endured.
Animals also experience joy, contentment, enthusiasm, curiousity and playfulness. As the Pack Leader, the Alpha in your home, your dog looks to you for guidance, interaction, education, comfort and protection. If injured or frightened he/she will come to you for comfort and help, happy to see you when you come home, the excitement is evident in tail wagging and displays of affection; grabbing the leash or jingling the car keys and you are witness to an explosion of enthusiasm; throw a ball, walk, run, play tug of war and experience the exuberance of your own youth and that of your companion. Cats while often aloof, will snuggle up content and the purring begins.
Animals also experience the pain of losing a loved one. Devoted dogs and cats have been known to ‘pine away’ at the death of a beloved owner. Refusing to eat, falling into deep depression, remaining by that favourite chair of the deceased, refusing attempts to play or interact. Ever so slowly they will die if their spirits cannot be uplifted.
All animals, be it dogs, cats, birds, pet rabbits or ferrets to just name a few, very much need interaction with their human parents. They need your reassurance that they are loved, cared for, safe and more importantly respected. As a parent you are responsible for providing their every need. Their emotional and physical well-being is dependent upon you. The more time you spend in pleasurable interaction with your animal companion, the stronger the bond, the greater the devotion and of course that unconditional love you will receive.
The Following is a summary of the existing Federal Criminal Code, Animal Cruelty Act: Bill S-203. The Criminal Code is the Federal Law that is in force everywhere in Canada and which applies to every person in Canada.
Section 446 of the Federal Criminal Code states:
You are guilty of an offence if you:
a. willfully cause or allow unnecessary pain, suffering, or injury to an animal;
b. by willful neglect cause injury to animals while they are being transported;
c. abandon an animal or fail to provide it with enough suitable food, water, shelter, and care;
d. participate in any way in the fighting of animals (example: arranging or attending a cockfight or dogfight);
e. administer a poison or injury-causing drug to any domestic or captive wild animal or allow this to happen (example: poisoning a neighbor’s cat or spraying a dog with oven cleaner);
f. are involved in any way with the release of captive birds for the purpose of shooting them;
Section 429 of the Federal Criminal Code defines “willful” in the following way:
“If you cause something to happen, either by doing it or by not doing something you should do, and you know what the results will be, you are considered to have done so “willfully”.
Section 446 (c) abandon an animal or fail to provide it with enough suitable food, water, shelter, and care;
(Examples: which may be considered to be a “willful” act: failing to feed an animal could be, since you know that an animal will starve if it is not fed. Failing to provide proper shelter to protect animal from elements, leaving an animal in a vehicle during hot summer, not providing clean fresh water on a daily basis resulting in dehydration, depriving a sick /injured animal of medical care. Beating and/or abandoning an animal).
Any person found guilty under Section 446 of the Criminal Code can be fined up to $2,000, sentenced to up to 6 months in jail, or both. In addition to this, the Judge can make an order prohibiting that person from having an animal or animals for up to 2 years.
“By definition within the Act:
a) Adequate food means: providing for sufficient quantities of suitable food to allow for the normal growth and maintenance of normal body weight; that all food bowls are kept clean/disinfected and located in an area preventing contamination from excreta. “
b) “Adequate food does not mean: feeding the animal once a week because an owner may prefer a slim animal.” (An animal whose rib cage, hip bones, back bones can be visibly seen is not being fed properly, thereby constituting willful neglect.)
c) An animal not being provided with daily ongoing fresh supplies of clean watercan and will suffer from dehydration. Fresh water does not mean a pool of dirty rainwater or 2-3 week old water left in a slimy bowl or bucket.
d) Adequate shelter does not mean: “putting up an old canopy in the backyard to keep the animal dry”. Adequate shelter means: providing a shelter constructed properly to ensure that the animal is protected from the heat , the dampness and cold; it must be appropriate to climate conditions of the region as well as the “weight and protective outer coat of the animal.”
Section 448 of the Federal Criminal Code states:
“For the purposes of proceedings under paragraph (1)(a) or (b), evidence that a person failed to exercise reasonable care or supervision of an animal or a bird thereby causing it pain, suffering, damage or injury is, in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, proof that the pain, suffering, damage or injury was caused or was permitted to be caused wilfully, or was caused by wilful neglect, as the case may be.” (In other words the state and condition of the animal is proof of willful intent.)
For purposes of this Act, under Section 1(3) “person responsible for an animal” identifies two individual types covered by the Act:
Those that own the animal or individuals who have control or custody of the animal.
Important to note that while some communities within the N.W.T. do have By-Laws pertaining to the standard of care for animals, as well as By-Law Officers whose job it is to enforce these Municipal By-Laws and the current N.W.T. Dog Act (soon to be revised January 2010) it must also be noted that under the current N.W.T. Dog Act: R.C.M.P. are “exacto”.
The following is quoted from a letter submitted to GNWT Justice and MACA Ministers from the Animal Defense League of Canada pertaining to the proposed Amendments to the N.W.T. Dog Act:
8.b) Discussion Paper: “Scope of the Problem”:
“ to avoid the issue of “wilful intent” the RCMP can lay charges under the Dog Act which provides as follows: “2.(2) Members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are, by virtue of that office, officers under this Act. S.N.W.T. 2008, c.8, s.7(2).”
This means that by virtue of the legal authority held by RCMP to uphold all aspects of the Federal Criminal Code including the Federal Cruelty to Animals Act and the N.W.T. Dog Act charges can be laid for violations not only under the Federal Criminal Code but the current N.W.T. Dog Act as well.
8.a) Discussion Paper: “Legislative Arrangements”
(paraphrased) Conviction under Criminal Code requires proof of “intent”. Not so for conviction under “quasi-criminal” legislation. Therefore the preferred option is to proceed with a charge under the provincial or territorial animal protection legislation, or under a municipal bylaw.”
Recognizing the Signs
Signs of Chronic Stress include:
2) Weight loss or poor weight gain
3) Depleted immune system
4) Poor Body and Coat condition
5) Secondary parasites
6) Reproductive failure
Dehydration : Sunken Eyes, Loss of Skin Elasticity
a) due to lack of fresh potable water, water withheld, not provided
b) normal bodily processes: defecation/urination; sweating and respiration
c) abnormal processes: diarrhea, excessive urination/respiration and vomiting
“70% of total body weight is composed of water”, any animal/human suffering Dehydration is, if left untreated, facing a horrific death. All bodily functions depend upon a proper electrolyte balance. When Cells begin to lose their water content, electrolyte imbalance takes over, the needed H2O oxygen normally circulated by electrolytes becomes depleted, gradually organs begin to shut down. Left untreated, the animal/human will die.
Starvation: (Underweight, skin and bones, poor coat condition, immune deficit, skeletal structure visible, weak, lethargic) due to the failure to provide proper and adequate nutrition to the animal. This constitutes willful neglect. A horrific and lengthy way to die as the animal’s own system begins to feed on its own muscle tissue and bone marrow.
Quoted from Environment and Natural Resources Website: http://www.enr.gov.nt.ca/_live/pages/wpPages/starvation-malnutrition.aspx
“Starvation or malnutrition occurs when an animal is not able to get the amount of nutrients from food that it needs.” (Applies to all animals be it wildlife or domestic)
“What are the signs of starvation-malnutrition?”
“Animals may be weak with not much body fat. The skin may appear loose with a dull, rough hair coat. Animals may have humped or sagging backs, sunken eyes, and small tucked up bellies. The bones of the shoulders, ribs, back and hind end may stick out.”
Hypothermia (decreased body temperature): due to lack of proper protection and shelter and extreme climate changes: “Any reduction in body temperatures results in system slow down. Eventually, the body cannot remove toxic wastes nor produce energy and it ceases to function”. The very same process in humans.
Hyperthermia (increased body temperatures): due to lack of proper shelter, being left inside vehicles during summer, lack of backyard shade.
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