Although it is safe to say that the vast majority of citizens are not abusers of animals there exist, nevertheless, people who are and who too often receive meaningless penalties for these heinous acts. This situation has pertained for centuries and it is only since the turn of the current one that we are witnessing some tiny steps of improvement along the road to higher standards of animal welfare and care.
In Canada, federal penalties have become much more severe monetarily for animal abuse. Provincially, Ontario and BC have raised their penalties as well but it is Quebec that is leading the pack with its proposed legislation that will classify animals in legal terms as the sentient beings that they are in fact. Such classification greatly enables the prosecution process.
Recently, animal welfare-related news coming from Tennessee in the United States gives reason for further optimism. On January 1, 2016, a statewide Animal Abuse Registry will come into effect, similar to the one that exists in New York City. The registry will be a public, online listing of anyone convicted of animal abuse in the state. First time offenders will remain on the Registry for two years after their conviction and that will go up to five years for subsequent convictions. The Registry will be a public record so that any shelter, rescue group or any member of the general public can look through the list on the website before finalizing an adoption or rehoming a pet. By naming abusers it is hoped that their access to animals will be curtailed, while this public shaming will further serve as a disincentive.
Some other jurisdictions have expressed interest to replicate this Registry; awareness is such a crucial factor in change of this kind. Please take a minute and email your MPP and MP about the Animal Abuse Registry. Deterrents like this should be nationwide.
Sandra Pady, Founder