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Animal rescue standards of practice – have your say!

The Animal Welfare Network of British Columbia (AWANBC) is currently seeking public feedback on draft standards for rescues. Follow this link for more information and to submit comments – https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/9G8NSQ7

The AWANBC, of which the Vancouver Humane Society is a member, aims to enable animal welfare organizations to work together and to support strategies around specific projects and initiatives associated with companion animal welfare.

One such AWANBC project is focused on creating rescue standards of practice. To date, there are no criteria required for groups to be involved in animal welfare or rescue and there is no accountability for these organizations. Meanwhile, the number of animal rescues and shelters across the province continues to grow. While many have high standards of care, others may have practices that put animals and the public at risk.

Without standards of practice, any group can self-identify as a rescue and it can be difficult for the public to determine if a rescue group is reputable or not. AWANBC has identified this as a pressing animal welfare and public safety issue and has worked to develop Animal Rescue Standards of Practice.

Follow this link for more information on the standards and to submit comments – https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/9G8NSQ7

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News/Blog

B.C.’s Hunting & Trapping Regulations – Have Your Say!

Update:

Weapons for “big game” hunting: The province listened to our concerns and prohibited the use of any weapon other than a firearm or bow, citing concerns about a higher likelihood of animal suffering from the use of alternative weapons.

No Hunting/Shooting Zone along Sea to Sky Highway: The province added a new no hunting and no shooting zone along the Sea to Sky highway. This follows a tragic incident in 2017, when a hunter in the area fatally shot a dog that he mistook for a wolf (despite the area being closed to wolf hunting), prompting calls by the dog’s guardian and the public for a no shooting and no hunting zone along the route.

Use of Technology to Locate Wildlife: The province prohibited the use of infrared optics (or thermal imaging) and wireless trail cameras for the purpose of hunting, as well as sharing the location of wildlife from an aircraft to a hunter on the ground.

Pursuit-only Season for Cougars: The province banned the pursuit-only season for cougars, where previously hunters who had killed their limit of cougars were permitted to continue chasing and treeing the animals with their hounds for training and exercise opportunities. In some situations, this created significant stress for mother cougars and their young.

Thank you for your advocacy to make these changes happen!

Original post:

The provincial government is currently seeking public feedback on a long list of proposed hunting and trapping regulations. This is an opportunity to weigh in on wildlife conservation and welfare issues in your area and throughout the province.

Weapons for Big Game Hunting

There are currently no regulations in place preventing big game hunters from using alternative or primitive weapons such as slingshots, spears and airguns. Citing concerns surrounding a higher likelihood of unnecessary suffering, a proposed regulation seeks to prohibit the use of any weapon other than a firearm or bow.

No Hunting/Shooting Zone along Sea to Sky Highway

Another regulation proposes a new no hunting and no shooting zone along the Sea to Sky highway. Unlike many other highways in the province, the stretch of highway 99 between Squamish and Pemberton or the Callaghan Road near Whistler currently has no restrictions on hunting or shooting within 400m of the highway. The area is a popular spot for locals, hikers and tourists. Tragically, in 2017 a hunter in the area fatally shot a dog that he mistook for a wolf (despite the area being closed to wolf hunting), prompting calls by the dog’s owner and the public for a no shooting and no hunting zone along the route.

Use of Technology to Locate Wildlife 

Several proposals also seek to prohibit the use of technology to assist hunters, including banning infrared optics (or thermal imaging) which enable hunters to see the heat signature of animal that is otherwise invisible to the naked eye; wireless trail cameras that when triggered send images of wildlife to a remote device and provide a hunter with the location of wildlife; and the sharing of location of wildlife from an aircraft to a hunter on the ground. The rationale behind banning this type of equipment for hunting purposes is that the use of it fails to meet the principles of fair chase, giving hunters an unfair advantage over wildlife. VHS is concerned that the use of such technology for hunting is turning B.C.’s backcountry into a canned hunt scenario, where the ability for wildlife to avoid human detection is increasingly diminished.

Pursuit-only Season for Cougars

Another proposed regulation aims to ban the pursuit-only season for cougars in the Kootenay region, where existing regulations allow hunters who have killed their allotment of cougars to continue chasing and treeing the animals with their hounds. The rationale behind permitting a pursuit-only season was to allow houndsmen to train and exercise their dogs, but the cruel practice not only causes unnecessary stress to the animals, but can lead to injury for the cougar and the hounds, as well as the separation of mothers and kittens.

Numerous other regulations focused on motorized vehicle and firearm restrictions and changes to specific hunting seasons are also being proposed. For example, a proposal to end wolverine trapping in the Kootenays; implement a mule deer bow only season on Gulf, Denman and Hornby Islands; prohibit the use of precision-guided firearms and scopes on bows during bow-only seasons; and changes to black bear hunting seasons within the traditional territory of the Kitasoo/Xai’xais Nation in the Great Bear Rainforest in order to support bear viewing tourism efforts by the Nation.

How to Submit Comments

For the full list of proposed regulations, click here. The public comment period ends January 19, 2020 at midnight. To participate through the government’s engagement website, you’ll need to register for a “Basic BCeID” account. Once you’ve created a BCeID, return to the main hunting/trapping regulation page and click login. Once you’ve logged in, it will return you to the main page and you can scroll through the list of proposals. On each proposal page, you’ll be able to scroll to the bottom and select “support”, “neutral” or “oppose”. You’ll also be able to leave a comment, if you’d like to elaborate on your position.

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Media Release

Partnership between charities and plant-based businesses helps farm animals on Giving Tuesday

Vancouver – A unique partnership between two charities and 26 plant-based businesses in Metro Vancouver is raising funds to help farm animals on Giving Tuesday, December 3rd. Giving Tuesday, which follows Black Friday and Cyber Monday, is the biggest charitable giving day of the year.

The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) and The Happy Herd Farm Sanctuary have partnered with a variety of local businesses offering vegan, vegetarian or cruelty-free products and services to raise $15,000. The money will be used to help rescued farm animals at the sanctuary and to support VHS’s Veg Outreach program, which promotes a plant-based diet and cruelty-free living.

The 26 businesses participating are offering a percentage of sales on Giving Tuesday or direct donations to support the campaign. VHS and The Happy Herd are encouraging the public to support the businesses or to make direct donations. Funds will be split between the two charities.

“It’s a great way to help farm animals right now and in the future,” said VHS development coordinator Claire Yarnold.  “We’re grateful to these generous businesses who want to make a better world for farm animals.”

Diane Marsh, co-founder of The Happy Herd, said: “It is truly amazing that so many companies and individuals can come together to help us help these wonderful animals who give so much love in return.”

Donations to the campaign can be made by calling 604 266 9744 or by visiting the campaign web page.

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Media Release

Most Canadians are against rodeo so why is it being celebrated at the Grey Cup?

Vancouver – The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) is calling on the Canadian Football League (CFL) to cancel a rodeo being held as part of this year’s Grey Cup Festival in Calgary.  The call comes as a new poll shows that a majority of Canadians are opposed to rodeo. The poll, by Research Co., found that almost three-in-five Canadians (59%) are opposed to using animals in rodeos, with only 34 per cent in favour.  Even in Alberta, 49 per cent of residents oppose rodeo, according to the poll.

“The Grey Cup Festival is a national event, supposedly representing Canadian culture and values,” said VHS spokesperson Peter Fricker, “So why is the CFL including a rodeo, which most Canadians oppose?”

Fricker added that the public outrage at the deaths of six horses at this year’s Calgary Stampede and the Stampede’s long history of controversy over animal deaths and cruelty made it hard to understand why the CFL would associate itself with rodeo.

“It seems tone-deaf for the CFL to link Canadian football to rodeo at the league’s premiere event,” he said.

VHS has launched a campaign asking the public to urge the CFL to drop the rodeo from its Grey Cup plans.

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animal welfare compassion cruelty News/Blog Promoted rodeo

Newspaper refuses to print ad opposing rodeo

This is the ad the Williams Lake Tribune refused to print.

 

So much for freedom of speech in Williams Lake

 

Earlier this year, a tiny community newspaper in Iowa won a Pulitzer Prize for taking on big agriculture companies over factory farm pollution.

The Storm Lake Times, which investigated the effects of nitrogen from farm drainage on drinking water in the state, was praised for its “editorials fuelled by tenacious reporting, impressive expertise and engaging writing that successfully challenged powerful corporate agricultural interests in Iowa.”

The family that owns the newspaper reportedly lost a few friends and a few advertisers, but never doubted they were doing the right thing.

“We’re here to challenge people’s assumptions and I think that’s what every good newspaper should do,” said one family member.

It’s a great example of a community newspaper showing courage and tenacity in seeking the truth. Some newspapers still uphold the highest standards and values of a free press.

Then there’s the Williams Lake Tribune. In May, VHS tried to book a full-page ad in the Tribune. The ad, as we informed the Tribune’s publisher via email, would express VHS’s opposition to the Williams Lake Stampede rodeo.

After a couple of days of silence from the publisher, we emailed again and received this reply from an executive at Black Press, the Tribune’s corporate owner:

“In consultation with our lawyer we have determined that we are entitled to decline advertising in the circumstances.

“The Williams Lake Tribune is a sponsor of the Stampede because it is a significant community event that the paper supports. We appreciate that your society opposes the event and we respect your right to that opinion. You were wise to check with us before commissioning artwork and design.

“While we cannot say definitively that we will decline all possible advertising, we can say, from experience, that anti-Stampede type display advertising that suggests or argues gratuitous cruelty to animals by image or text is unlikely to be accepted by the Williams Lake Tribune at this time.”

Since the words “unlikely to be accepted” seemed to leave the door slightly open, we sent the executive the planned content of the ad to see if it would be acceptable. This included a photograph of the steer-wrestling event taken at last year’s Williams Lake Stampede, accompanied by text stating: “You know in your heart this is not right. Stop cruel rodeo events at the Williams Lake Stampede.”

The executive replied that this would not be accepted.

This is not the first time a Black Press newspaper has refused one of VHS’s anti-rodeo ads.  In 2015, the Abbotsford News rejected a full-page ad opposing the Abbotsford Rodeo (which was ultimately cancelled in 2016).  No reason was given for the rejection.

It’s perfectly legal for a newspaper to refuse an ad for any number of reasons.  The ad might be libelous or gratuitously offensive or misleading to readers.  VHS’s ad did contain a graphic image of a steer being wrestled to ground, but it only showed what a rodeo-goer would typically see at the Stampede – the very activity that the Williams Lake Tribune says it promotes and supports.  If the Tribune finds a photo of steer-wrestling offensive and unacceptable, how can it support the event?

It’s also perfectly normal for a newspaper not to agree with an ad it might carry. The Tribune could have made this clear with a disclaimer on the VHS ad or it could have run an editorial explaining its contrary position on rodeo.

But the Tribune chose instead to simply suppress a legitimate point of view on a matter of public interest.  It didn’t trust its readers to make up their own minds about rodeo.  Unlike the Storm Lake Times, it didn’t challenge assumptions, “like every good newspaper should do.”

The B.C. Community Newspaper Association, of which the Williams Lake Tribune is a member, says part of its mission is to: “Improve standards in the practice of the profession of journalism, and to promote a high standard of conduct and professional ethics in the business of newspaper publishing.”

The Canadian Association of Journalists’ ethics guidelines state that “Defending the public’s interest includes promoting the free flow of information, exposing crime or wrongdoing, protecting public health and safety, and preventing the public from being misled.”

Clearly, ethics matter to journalists and to the public they serve.  People still believe that a free press is vital to democracy, that diversity of opinion matters, that newspapers should be courageous defenders of free speech.

What isn’t clear is whether those things matter to the Williams Lake Tribune, which, to our knowledge, has not been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

 

TAKE ACTION: Help us fight rodeo cruelty at the Williams Lake Stampede

 

 

 

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animal welfare Circus compassion cruelty News/Blog Promoted

Circus on the run!

The circus is coming to the PNE.  And we need to stop it.

VHS supporters will recall that the Royal Canadian Circus was scheduled to appear at Concord Pacific Place in Vancouver from May 12th to 14th, but after VHS encouraged the public to complain to Concord Pacific about the circus’s questionable animal welfare record, the venue was switched to the PNE.  It’s not too late to let the PNE know how you feel about its decision to host this performance.

This circus is put on by the U.S.-based Tarzan Zerbini Circus, which has a reportedly poor animal welfare record with regard to its treatment of elephants, as detailed in this 2016 article in the Ottawa Citizen and in this report by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). This gives us concerns about the welfare of other animals in its care. 

The article in the Citizen, by the Harvard Law School’s Animal Law & Policy Fellow, reveals that the Zerbini Circus has been cited for animal welfare violations in the U.S. and states that it “has featured elephants who are kept chained and forced to perform under threat of punishment.”

The PETA report says the circus failed to “meet minimum federal standards for the care of animals” used in exhibition, as established in the Animal Welfare Act in the U.S. It states that in 2011 the USDA “cited Tarzan Zerbini for failure to prevent elephants from being exposed to tuberculosis (TB).”

While it is VHS’s understanding that the Vancouver performance of the Royal Canadian Circus will feature only domestic animals and not exotic animals (which is prohibited by City of Vancouver bylaw), its parent company’s animal welfare record raises serious concerns.  Consequently, we are urging the public not to attend the Royal Canadian Circus’s performances.

We are also asking the public to complain to the PNE about hosting this circus.

Please email the PNE and politely ask them to cancel the performance of the Royal Canadian Circus.

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animal welfare compassion cruelty News/Blog Promoted

Tell the government it must address the cruelty of animal transport

 

Please speak out for animals facing long journeys of preventable suffering by submitting your views to the government’s consultation on  farmed animal transport

The trial of Ontario animal activist Anita Krajnc, who faces jail time for giving water to pigs being transported to slaughter in hot weather, caught the attention of the world’s media last year.  It also brought attention to the suffering of millions of farmed animals routinely transported throughout Canada.

More stories of animal suffering during transport are emerging. The Vancouver Sun recently revealed the deaths of 27 pigs being trucked from Alberta to Vancouver for slaughter in sub-zero winter weather. A necropsy on some of the dead pigs found that “environmental challenges” during the trip affected the pigs’ ability to regulate their body temperature and they died of “cardiopulmonary failure.”

Such stories are not rare. About 700 million farmed animals undergo transport every year in Canada, 14 million of whom become sick or injured in the process and 1.5 million die en route.

Now the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is proposing new animal transport regulations and is asking for feedback on the proposals. This is your chance to speak up for pigs, chickens, cows and other animals who endure journeys of confinement, deprivation and exposure to Canada’s harsh climate.

VHS has responded to the CFIA proposals, with a submission outlining our concerns. If you share our concerns please feel free to use our submission as a guide in providing your own, unique feedback. It’s crucial that your submission be personalized and not identical to ours, as any identical submissions will all be counted as one submission.

The CFIA’s proposed amendments to the regulations concerning animal transport fall far short of protecting animals from suffering. They also fall short of the expectations of Canadians.  A 2016 poll found that 97 per cent of Canadians surveyed believe the country’s transport regulations must be updated to ensure farmed animals are transported in a safe and humane manner.

Please take a few minutes to read our submission and send your own personalized submission to the CFIA, based on the main issues listed below.

Long transport times:

The proposed length of time farmed animals can be transported for without access to food, water and rest is still far too long. Did you know that they are recommending that spent hens can endure 24 hours of transportation after they have spent up to 1 ½ years in cruel battery cages and are suffering from painful weakened bones, feather loss and other serious health issues?

Canada should follow the lead of the European Union and apply an 8 hour transport maximum for all species; including spent hens and cull dairy cows.

 

Transport trucks:

Poor ventilation and exposure to extreme weather can cause significant suffering, injury and death for animals being transported.

Transport trucks should be required to have temperature-controlled systems.

 

Space requirements:

The proposed regulations don’t provide specific space requirements for animals during transport. On average, transporters pack between seven and 16 chickens into each .5 m² crate, and there may be as many as 11,000 chickens on one truck.

Canada should follow the lead of the European Union and outline specific space requirements in order to prevent overcrowding.

 

Handling techniques:

Carrying animals by their legs, wings and head, as well as the use of electric prods is still allowed under the proposed regulations. Such handling methods should be banned and animals should only be handled in a low-stress and calm way.

 

Tusk removal:

The process of cutting the teeth of boars (de-tusking) without the use of painkillers should be banned. Instead, boars should be transported separately, as is done in the European Union.

 

Driver training:

Transport companies and drivers should be certified by a third party. Certification should include training focused on animal welfare, appropriate handling methods and special considerations for driving live animals.

 

Record-keeping:

Transport records are currently based on the “honour system”. CFIA inspection records reveal some drivers are completely unaware of how many animals they are transporting, even though the regulations require they keep a record.

Electronic systems that can confirm details like travel times, temperatures, speeds, distances, opening/closing of loading door should be required.

 

Enforcing regulations:

Improved regulations are important, but in order to be effective they must be well-enforced and violations must result in appropriate penalties. Anything less allows penalties to become simply a cost of doing business.

For example, transporting animals who are unable to stand in their natural position is considered a “minor” violation.

There should be a zero tolerance policy for animal welfare violations.

 

 

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animal welfare compassion Food and Drink News/Blog plant-based diet Promoted

Tell Health Canada it’s time to recognize the benefits of a plant-based diet

Food sources of complex carbohydrates, isolated on white background.

Your chance to stand up for a healthier, kinder and more sustainable diet for Canadians.

Health Canada is currently conducting a consultation on the Canada Food Guide, which makes important dietary recommendations for Canadians.  It only takes a few minutes to complete a brief questionnaire.

The questionnaire focuses on a number of questions related to health but also asks for general recommendations regarding diet (near the end of the survey).  Please stress the values and benefits of a plant-based diet.  Here are some suggested points:  

The Canada Food Guide should provide information on the specific benefits of a plant-based diet, which are well established by scientific evidence. These include: lower cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar; healthier weight and lower risk of cancer and diabetes. 

The Canada Food Guide should contain advice on how to transition to a plant-based diet, including specific information on how to replace animal protein with non-animal protein such as pulses.

The Canada Food Guide should provide information on the health, environmental and animal welfare implications of dietary choices. There is substantial scientific evidence showing that the overconsumption of meat is linked to poor health; that meat and livestock production causes environmental degradation, contributes to climate change and wastes resources; that intensive agriculture (factory farming) is inherently inhumane to animals.

Health Canada should actively promote the benefits of a plant-based diet and encourage its adoption by Canadians.  It should support concepts such as Meatless Monday, especially in schools, hospitals and workplaces, to familiarize Canadians with plant-based eating and its benefits.

Please click here to take part in the consultation, which runs until December 8, 2016.

Thank you for your support!

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animal welfare compassion News/Blog Promoted

New film exposes sled dog cruelty

sled-dog-istock_000018254152small

 

You can help by drawing attention to this important documentary

A new documentary is exposing serious animal welfare problems in the sled dog industry in North America.  The film, Sled Dogs, is being screened at this year’s Whistler Film Festival in British Columbia in December.

VHS, which was interviewed for the film, has always been opposed to sled dog racing and touring.  After the infamous 2010 massacre of surplus sled dogs in Whistler, we called for a ban on the industry but the provincial government chose instead to introduce standards for the treatment of sled dogs (which we believe are inadequate and ineffective).

In a press release, the film’s director, Fern Levitt, says: “This film comes at a critical moment when the public is waking up to the treatment of animals and demanding change. The audience will be outraged when they discover the legal abuse of ‘man’s best friend’ under the guise of sport and entertainment. This is a timely documentary and a definitive call for action.” 

Take action 

Please view the film’s trailer here and comment. You can express opposition to the tethering of sled dogs and “culling” by gunshot. (You can view VHS’s position on the sled dog industry here.)

If you are able to attend the Whistler Film Festival we encourage you to see this film. Tickets will be available through the festival’s website.

Please share this information and let other people know about this important film.

Please donate to VHS to support our work on important issues like this.

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animal welfare compassion Dairy Food and Drink News/Blog plant-based diet Promoted vegan vegetarianism

A chance to speak up for farm animals

 

cow-istock-2

The federal, provincial and territorial governments are asking for comments on plans for the future of agriculture in Canada, providing an opportunity to raise issues about the treatment of farm animals.

Phase 2 of the consultation is open until November 30 and includes options to fill in an online questionnaire, email your comments or write a letter. Please take the time to contribute your views about animal welfare and the future of animal agriculture.

The consultation refers to the government’s plan, called The Calgary Statement – the Next Policy Framework, which sets out several Priority Areas:

Markets and trade
Science, research and innovation
Risk management
Environmental sustainability and climate change
Value-added agriculture and agri-food processing
Public Trust

Following are some key points from our submission to the consultation (full submission here):

Markets and Trade

Canada should develop markets for plant-based protein instead of animal-based protein, which contributes to environmental degradation, is resource-intensive and is dependent on inhumane confinement systems.

Science, research and innovation

Canada should invest in research and development of plant-based protein, especially the production and processing of pulse crops.  In contrast to animal protein production, pulses have been shown to be environmentally beneficial (requiring relatively little water and fertilizer), healthy and sustainable.  A number of innovative plant-based industries have emerged in recent years, attracting investment and consumer interest.

Risk management

The livestock sector has a number of inherent risks, including:

– negative environmental impacts (e.g. greenhouse gas emissions)
– zoonotic disease outbreaks (e.g. avian flu, listeria, e. coli)
– consumer rejection of inhumane, intensive confinement systems (e.g. battery cages for laying hens) and other animal welfare concerns
– consumer health concerns over meat consumption (e.g. cancer risk of red and processed meats)
– rise of antbiotic resistance due to overuse of antibiotics in livestock

Environmental sustainability and climate change

Globally, the meat and livestock sector contributes 14.5% of all greenhouse gases, which is more than the transportation sector.  It is also resource-intensive – it is the world’s largest user of agricultural land, through grazing and the use of feed crops. The sector is also a major contributor to water pollution and loss of biodiversity.

Public Trust

Canadian consumers have many concerns about animal agriculture.

Currently, animal agriculture in Canada involves the confinement and suffering of millions of animals.  Animal welfare should be a top priority in the development of agricultural policy. Currently, there are no mandatory animal welfare standards in Canada, only voluntary Codes of Practice.  These should be replaced with mandatory standards enforced by independent, third-party inspections.

The meat and livestock sector is dependent on intensive confinement systems (factory farms) that compromise animal welfare and degrade the environment. In addition, the overconsumption of meat has been shown to be harmful to human health.  Consequently, this sector is unsustainable.  Consumers will lose faith in agriculture if these problems persist.

Resources should be shifted to the development of a plant-based protein sector, including more support for Canada’s production, processing and marketing of pulses (peas, beans, lentils). Plant-based diets should be promoted through public information programs and support for initiatives like Meatless Monday.

Such initiatives would earn public trust, as they benefit the environment, public health and animal welfare.

Your participation in this consultation will ensure that animals are not forgotten in the development of Canada’s agricultural policies.

More info:

CBC News story

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