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Current Animal Rights and Laws in Canada

Penalties for committing acts of animal cruelty

It is an offense to:

  • cause or permit distress to an animal
  • cause harm to a law enforcement animal
  • train or permit animals to fight other animals
  • own or possess equipment or structures used in animal fighting
  • fail to comply with standards of care applicable to most animals
  • obstruct an inspector or agent

Ontario has basic standards of care that apply to all animals covered under the act, including requirements for:

  • food, water, medical attention and care
  • ventilation, light, and protection from the elements, including harmful temperatures
  • sanitary conditions and space to enable natural movement and exercise
  • pens or enclosed structures
  • humane euthanization to minimize pain and distress to animals

Ontario also has additional standards of care for animals in unique circumstances like dogs that live outdoors and marine mammals such as cetaceans (whales, dolphins, porpoises), pinnipeds (walruses, sea lions) and sea otters. In addition, it is prohibited to buy and breed orcas (also known as killer whales) in Ontario.

Violating these laws can result in sentences that may include up to two years in jail, fines of up to $60,000, and a lifetime ban on animal ownership, as well as other penalties.

Our goal is to ensure that Ontario’s animals are protected and treated in the humane manner the people of Ontario expect.

An Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals)

S.C. 2008, c. 12

Assented to 2008-04-17

An Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals)

SUMMARY

This enactment amends the Criminal Code to increase the maximum penalties for animal cruelty offences.R.S., c. C-46

Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, enacts as follows:

1. Sections 444 to 447 of the Criminal Code are replaced by the following:

Marginal note: Injuring or endangering cattle

  • 444. (1) Every one commits an offense who wilfully
    • (a) kills, maims, wounds, poisons or injures cattle; or
    • (b) places poison in such a position that it may easily be consumed by cattle.
  • Marginal note: Punishment(2) Everyone who commits an offense under subsection (1) is guilty of
    • (a) an indictable offense and liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than five years; or
    • (b) an offense punishable on summary conviction and liable to a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars or to imprisonment for a term of not more than eighteen months or to both.

Marginal note: Injuring or endangering other animals

  • 445. (1) Every one commits an offence who, wilfully and without lawful excuse,
    • (a) kills, maims, wounds, poisons or injures dogs, birds or animals that are not cattle and are kept for a lawful purpose; or
    • (b) places poison in such a position that it may easily be consumed by dogs, birds or animals that are not cattle and are kept for a lawful purpose.
  • Marginal note: Punishment(2) Everyone who commits an offense under subsection (1) is guilty of
    • (a) an indictable offense and liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than five years; or
    • (b) an offense punishable on summary conviction and liable to a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars or to imprisonment for a term of not more than eighteen months or to both.

Cruelty to Animals

Marginal note: Causing unnecessary suffering

  • 445.1 (1) Every one commits an offense who
    • (a) wilfully causes or, being the owner, wilfully permits to be caused unnecessary pain, suffering or injury to an animal or a bird;
    • (b) in any manner encourages, aids or assists at the fighting or baiting of animals or birds;
    • (c) wilfully, without reasonable excuse, administers a poisonous or an injurious drug or substance to a domestic animal or bird or an animal or a bird wild by nature that is kept in captivity or, being the owner of such an animal or a bird, wilfully permits a poisonous or an injurious drug or substance to be administered to it;
    • (d) promotes, arranges, conducts, assists in, receives money for or takes part in any meeting, competition, exhibition, pastime, practice, display or event at or in the course of which captive birds are liberated by hand, trap, contrivance or any other means for the purpose of being shot when they are liberated; or
    • (e) being the owner, occupier or person in charge of any premises permits the premises or any part thereof to be used for a purpose mentioned in paragraph (d).
  • Marginal note: Punishment(2) Everyone who commits an offense under subsection (1) is guilty of
    • (a) an indictable offense and liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than five years; or
    • (b) an offense punishable on summary conviction and liable to a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars or to imprisonment for a term of not more than eighteen months or to both.
  • Marginal note:Failure to exercise reasonable care as evidence(3) For the purposes of proceedings under paragraph (1)(a), evidence that a person failed to exercise reasonable care or supervision of an animal or a bird thereby causing it pain, suffering or injury is, in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, proof that the pain, suffering or injury was caused or was permitted to be caused wilfully, as the case may be.
  • Marginal note:Presence at baiting as evidence(4) For the purpose of proceedings under paragraph (1)(b), evidence that an accused was present at the fighting or baiting of animals or birds is, in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, proof that he or she encouraged, aided or assisted at the fighting or baiting.

Marginal note: Causing damage or injury

  • 446. (1) Every one commits an offense who
    • (a) by wilful neglect causes damage or injury to animals or birds while they are being driven or conveyed; or
    • (b) being the owner or the person having the custody or control of a domestic animal or a bird or an animal or a bird wild by nature that is in captivity, abandons it in distress or wilfully neglects or fails to provide suitable and adequate food, water, shelter and care for it.
  • Marginal note: Punishment(2) Everyone who commits an offense under subsection (1) is guilty of
    • (a) an indictable offense and liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than two years; or
    • (b) an offense punishable on summary conviction and liable to a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars or to imprisonment for a term of not more than six months or to both.
  • Marginal note:Failure to exercise reasonable care as evidence(3) For the purposes of proceedings under paragraph (1)(a), evidence that a person failed to exercise reasonable care or supervision of an animal or a bird thereby causing it damage or injury is, in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, proof that the damage or injury was caused by wilful neglect.

Marginal note: Keeping cockpit

  • 447. (1) Every one commits an offense who builds, makes, maintains or keeps a cockpit on premises that he or she owns or occupies, or allows a cockpit to be built, made, maintained or kept on such premises.
  • Marginal note: Punishment(2) Everyone who commits an offense under subsection (1) is guilty of
    • (a) an indictable offense and liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than five years; or
    • (b) an offense punishable on summary conviction and liable to a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars or to imprisonment for a term of not more than eighteen months or to both.
  • Marginal note: Confiscation(3) A peace officer who finds cocks in a cockpit or on-premises where a cockpit is located shall seize them and take them before a justice who shall order them to be destroyed.

Marginal note: Order of prohibition or restitution

  • 447.1 (1) The court may, in addition to any other sentence that it may impose under subsection 444(2), 445(2), 445.1(2), 446(2) or 447(2),
    • (a) make an order prohibiting the accused from owning, having the custody or control of or residing in the same premises as an animal or a bird during any period that the court considers appropriate but, in the case of a second or subsequent offense, for a minimum of five years; and
    • (b) on application of the Attorney General or on its own motion, order that the accused pay to a person or an organization that has taken care of an animal or a bird as a result of the commission of the offence the reasonable costs that the person or organization incurred in respect of the animal or bird, if the costs are readily ascertainable.
  • Marginal note: Breach of order(2) Everyone who contravenes an order made under paragraph (1)(a) is guilty of an offense punishable on summary conviction.
  • Marginal note: Application(3) Sections 740 to 741.2 apply, with any modifications that the circumstances require, to orders made under paragraph (1)(b).

Date modified: 2019-09-24

Are Liberals Making a Change In Canada’s Animal Cruelty Laws -Bill C-246

Nate Erskine-Smith speaking to Bill C-246 on September 28. 2016

This is the video from my speech last night on Bill C-246. For more info on my bill, please visit www.beynate.ca or watch the Facebook Live Ask-Me-Anything video archive on my Facebook page

Posted by Nathaniel Erskine-Smith on Thursday, September 29, 2016
Speech from Nathaniel Erskine Smith -From Beeches North York

Nate has been vocal in support of improving animal protections, he has introduced legislation to modernize animal protection laws, and he has helped to establish the Liberal animal welfare caucus in Ottawa, of which he is a member.

In 2016, Nate received the Humane Legislator of the Year Award from Animal Justice.

In 2017, he received the Clements Award from the Fur-Bearers for being an Outstanding Politician.

This Page Will Be Updated Regularly

Please stay tuned in for more information and changes being made. We will be extending this section in the future. However, here is some current information that will help you. If you need help call 1-833-9-ANIMAL.

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