Monday, March 24, 2008

Ontario Government Recognized for Commitment to Animal Welfare

World Society for the Protection of Animals Applauds McGuinty Government and MPP David Zimmer

TORONTO, December 6, 2007 – The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) has awarded the Ontario Government and Willowdale MPP David Zimmer for their efforts to improve animal welfare in Ontario.

Mr. Zimmer received a “Special Award for Leadership in Animal Welfare”. His private member’s bill to regulate roadside zoos resulted in a historic government commitment to improve animal welfare in Ontario. The government committed to many measures that will greatly improve the protection of animals including strengthening Ontario’s animal cruelty law (Ontario SPCA Act), which hasn’t been significantly revised in 88 years and establishing standards for zoos.

“For years WSPA has witnessed and fought against the suffering of countless animals, including those kept in roadside zoos,” said Melissa Tkachyk, WSPA Programs Officer. “We would like to recognize David Zimmer for championing this issue and the Ontario government for committing to change”.

The Hon. Donna Cansfield, Minister of Natural Resources and York-Center MPP, Monte Kwinter each accepted awards on behalf of the government. As the former Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, Mr. Kwinter was in charge of the SPCA and played a pivotal role in achieving the government’s animal welfare commitment. The Ministry of Natural Resources is currently responsible for licensing the keeping of native wildlife in captivity.

Highlights from the government’s commitment include:

Making it a provincial offence to cause distress to an animal. Imposing penalties of up to $25,000 and six months in jail for an animal abuse conviction. Imposing a lifetime ownership ban for persons convicted of animal cruelty.

Giving Ontario SPCA agents broader authority to inspect commercial premises like zoos where mistreatment of animals is suspected.

Immediate increase of annual funding for the Ontario SPCA to $500,000 to support inspector and agent training (current annual funding is $119,000).

Requiring veterinarians to report suspected abuse, with protection from liability for doing so.

Banning animal fighting and associated equipment.

Providing $80,000 for the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA) to offer free care for pets of women who have left an abusive spouse or partner.


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