V. Victoria Shroff: The year 2021 in animal law


As we wrap up 2021, how did animals fare?

For starters, there was not one single day in 2021 the place animals weren’t in the information someplace.

Coyotes in Stanley Park had been ceaselessly in the information for getting nippy with folks. As I instructed CBC, it was largely a human-created downside as a result of people had been feeding coyotes like pets.

My fixed chorus in my 21st year of practising animal law turned, “It’s not Disney.”

The 2021 Whistler bear case in R v. Stevikova splashed throughout headlines. Zuzana Stevikova netted a $60,000 nice, one of many highest ever in B.C., for intentionally feeding bears opposite to wildlife legal guidelines.

Both human and bear security was at stake and featured in the sentencing. High fines must be applauded, as they ship a message to discourage and denounce unhealthy human behaviour, as in this case—which resulted in three bears, sadly, being put down.

Unfortunately, household violence involving animals and people in 2021 elevated. The Department of Justice Canada famous a direct hyperlink between violence towards animals and people, with the federal Divorce Act being amended to incorporate animals in the definition of “household violence”. 

The Alberta Court of Appeal made momentous pro-animal feedback in the 2021 case of R v. Chen, involving an abused pet named Cinnamon. The courtroom said that animals might be victims; they’re sentient and never simply chattels below the law. 

Animal-sentience legal guidelines took centre stage in the U.Okay. and Europe this year. The want for legal guidelines to account for animals as sentient, animate beings with intrinsic price is rising. Canada also needs to enact legal guidelines formalizing animal sentience for animals to learn from better authorized protections.

Politicians are taking animals critically, a lot in order that animals had been on the agenda of each main social gathering in Canada’s 2021 elections. As chair of the Canadian Animal Law Study Group, I used to be invited to talk on the federal animal caucus to share views on animal-law reforms. Judging by the current mandate letters from the prime minister, some animal-friendly reforms look like in the works involving wildlife, combating ivory, et cetera. I imagine the law will quickly be amended to ban cargo of dwell horses to locations like Japan for slaughter. 

Animals are nonetheless categorized as property below the law in 2021. Pet adoptions soared at the start of the pandemic, and now some shelters are overflowing with undesirable animals, some because of seizures, and others because of “returns”.

Strata pet bylaws concerning measurement or variety of pets and repair animals is an space the place people ceaselessly sought authorized recommendation this year. Grudges between neighbours due to adverse canine-human interactions in strata dwellings are extremely emotional and second solely to “pet custody” points, which continued to be a captivating space in which to practise and likewise to show to my UBC law college students in 2021.

Conflicts have been escalating. Several U.S. states and Spain have particular laws to take note of the “finest pursuits” of animals in deciding who will get to maintain the pet after a breakup, as an alternative of treating animals like respirating property or silverware. In Canada, we principally nonetheless see custody choices resting on animals as property, although there are outlier circumstances—a few of which return 40 years, in addition to some current choices in Ontario. (The majority of my strata and pet-custody circumstances are settled exterior courtroom.)

Covid continued its rampage in 2021. We realized the phrase zoonosis—the place viruses ping-pong between people and animals—thanks, in giant half, to fur farming, the place intensively confined furbearing animals are raised solely to be killed for his or her fur, for frivolous style.

Calls got here from B.C. First Nations chiefs, animal teams, and infectious-disease specialists to shutter the trade. In November 2021, the B.C. authorities did a commendable factor for each animal and human welfare by banning breeding of mink, with a whole closure of the mink-farming trade by 2025 because of Covid-19 outbreaks on a number of B.C. mink farms.

In 2021, a B.C. courtroom levied a $60,000 nice towards a Whistler resident for feeding bears opposite to provincial law.

However, each sort of fur farming ought to banned. An excellent courtroom case regarding a B.C. chinchilla farm stays.

Extreme warmth, wildfires, and floods have underscored how susceptible thousands and thousands of farmed animals are, and never simply in pure emergencies. Farmed animals haven’t fared nicely total. In 2021, two B.C. corporations had been fined $300,000 for abusing chickens. We have to take a better take a look at how thousands and thousands of animals are commodified in meals manufacturing. 

Action also needs to be taken on outdated science analysis that also makes use of thousands and thousands of animals in laboratories when humane scientific strategies exist.

In December 2021, a legal cost was laid towards Ontario’s Marineland for allegedly displaying a captive cetacean for efficiency for leisure functions with out authorization. (Marineland denied the allegations, none of which have been confirmed in courtroom.)

We have few legal guidelines in Canada that defend animals, so it’s essential to see the legal guidelines we do have be absolutely enforced.

It has been nearly two years since B.C.’s highest courtroom clarified the law on “harmful” canines in the landmark Santics case. Though we had been denied go away to attraction Punky Santics’s case to the Supreme Court of Canada in January 2020, many conflicts between canines and the general public, happily, proceed to be settled exterior courtroom.

A number of circumstances which have gone to a listening to have additionally seen canines being launched again to house owners or guardians, offering the canine doesn’t pose an “unacceptable danger to the general public” in accordance with the ruling. This is Punky’s legacy.

Readers in studying extra about animal law can take a look at two current publications contemplating animals and the law. Animals as Legal Beings, by Maneesha Deckha, and Canadian Animal Law, a e-book I wrote to finally enhance entry to justice for animals.

Should you want to do deed for animals in want, drop off a brand new cat or canine toy at Starbucks at 1895 Cornwall Avenue, Vancouver.  We’ll be donating the toys to B.C. pets in want in early 2022.