Animal protection laws must apply to all, says humane society

Alberta defines an animal as any creature that isn’t human. Here, under proposed changes to the Yukon Animal Protection Act, the definition of…

Alberta defines an animal as any creature that isn’t human.

Here, under proposed changes to the Yukon Animal Protection Act, the definition of animal would not include wildlife or exotic animals.

The Humane Society Yukon wants the government to adopt similar language found in the Alberta and British Columbia animal-protection legislation.

“It’s an animal protection act, not a some animal protection act,” said society spokesperson Andrea Lemphers.

“If some animals aren’t protected, a potential for cruelty always exists.”

It’s one suggestion the humane society has made to the Yukon government, which is soliciting public opinion about its proposed amendments to the animal protection act.

Animal rights supporters have long criticized the legislation as being antiquated and lacking any real power to prevent cruelty to animals or to deter owners from harming their pets.

The 22-page document released by the Yukon Party government last month lists 17 proposed amendments to the outdated legislation.

It includes increased penalties and stronger powers for protection officers and RCMP.

Fines for violating the act would increase to $10,000 from $500 and maximum jail time would rise to two years from six months.

It also redefines animal to include wildlife in captivity, but leaves out wildlife and exotic animals.

If that definition were changed to include everything but a human, the legislation would cover every animal, said Lemphers.

Overall, the proposals are supported — with suggestions — by the humane society, which has been asking for changes to the act for years.

“These laws are designed to catch people who take pleasure in harming animals,” said Lemphers.

“A lot of thought has gone into the (proposals), but there’s room for improvement. Now is the time to tackle the deficiencies.”

One change would allow animal-protection officers to secure a warrant more quickly by using the telephone or other means.

As it now stands, officers can only obtain a warrant in person, which has delayed investigations in remote parts of the territory.

And under proposed changes, the RCMP could enter homes without a warrant in emergency cases of animal abuse.

But new powers for animal-protection officers will still be ineffective if other policies aren’t changed, too.

“Without adequate funding and support, no legislation will be effective,” said Lemphers.

One animal protection officer for the territory isn’t enough, she added.

Eventually that one officer will need a vacation, or might be in Carcross when something happens in Mayo.

And dealing with complaints leaves less time for other things like education in the schools, said Lemphers.

“If they’re not dealing with complaints there’s so many other things they could be doing,” she said.

While the fine increases — and the provision that increases penalties every subsequent day an offence is committed — is welcome, the fine should be in line with the $50,000 maximum found in the Yukon Wildlife Act, said Lemphers.

“Why differentiate between a wild and captive animal? It’s creating a different class of animal,” she said.

The proposals follow an 11-page report by veterinarian Ken Kilpatrick that found the current laws outdated and ineffective.

The process of consultation and amendment development has been positive, said Lemphers.

Already, Kilpatrick has said he’s searching for answers to several questions posed in the society’s response to his work.

Kilpatrick indicated the local humane society chapter is not receiving the support and funding it needs to properly protect animals.

“To improve the effectiveness of the Yukon Animal Protection Act, the primary focus should be on policy, procedure, funding and staffing to be put in place to support the act,” he wrote.

“Implementation of the act can be improved without changes to the legislation itself.”

Commissioned in 2006, the report compared Yukon legislation to that of the Northwest Territories, British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Those jurisdictions have much stronger laws that better protect animals, said the report.

The Yukon Party government decided to study the legislation after a 2,500-signature petition was introduced in the legislature in December 2006.

Several troubling incidents of animal abuse — dozens of cats abandoned in freezing weather, the mass slaughter of dogs and a gruesome incident of a dog left to die after being dragged behind a truck — have been reported in the Yukon over the past two years, prompting the call for tougher legislation.

To obtain a copy of Humane Society Yukon’s suggestions, call Lemphers at 633-4337.

Just Posted

Willow Brewster, a paramedic helping in the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre, holds a swab used for the COVID-19 test moments before using it on Nov. 24. The Yukon government is reopening the drive-thru option on June 18. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Drive-up COVID-19 testing opening June 18 in Whitehorse

The drive-up testing will be open from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. everyday and increase testing capacity by 33 spots

A draft plan has been released by the Dawson Regional Use Planning commission on June 15. Julien Gignac/Yukon News
Draft plan released by the Dawson Regional Land Use Planning Commission

Dawson Regional Land Use Commission releases draft plan, Government of Yukon withdraws additional lands from mineral staking in the planning region

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Let them live in trailers

“I found Rome a city of bricks and left it a city… Continue reading


Wyatt’s World for June 18, 2021.… Continue reading

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Yukon News file)
Yukon logs nine new COVID-19 cases, 54 active cases

More CEMA enforcement officers have been recruited, officials say

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council at its June 14 meeting

Murray Arsenault sits in the drivers seat of his 1975 Bricklin SV1 in Whitehorse on June 16. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Bringing the 1975 Bricklin north

Murray Arsenault remembers his dad’s Bricklin, while now driving his own

A presumptive COVID case was found at Seabridge Gold’s 3 Aces project. (file photo)
Presumptive COVID-19 case reported at mine in southeast Yukon

A rapid antigen rest found a presumptive COVID case on an incoming individual arriving at the 3Aces project

Jonathan Antoine/Cabin Radio
Flooding in Fort Simpson on May 8.
Fort Simpson asked for military help. Two people showed up.

FORT SIMPSON—Residents of a flooded Northwest Territories village expected a helping hand… Continue reading

A woman was rescued from the Pioneer Ridge Trail in Alaska on June 16. (Photo courtesy/AllTrails)
Alaska hiker chased off trail by bears flags down help

ANCHORAGE (AP)—An Alaska hiker who reported needing help following bear encounters on… Continue reading

Two participants cross the finish line at the City of Whitehorse Kids Triathlon on June 12 with Mayor Dan Curtis on hand to present medals. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
2021 Kids’ Triathlon draws 76 young athletes

Youth ages five to 14 swim, run and bike their way to finish line

NDP MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq rises in the House of Commons, in Ottawa on May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
‘Unacceptable’ that Inuk MP felt unsafe in House of Commons, Miller says

OTTAWA—It’s a “sad reflection” on Canada that an Inuk MP feels she’s… Continue reading

Lily Witten performs her Canadian Nationals beam routine on June 14. John Tonin/Yukon News
Three Yukon gymnasts break 20-year Nationals absence

Bianca Berko-Malvasio, Maude Molgat and Lily Witten competed at the Canadian Nationals – the first time in 20 years the Yukon’s been represented at the meet

Most Read