Time for new animal welfare legislation on P.E.I., says advocacy group

Colin MacLean colin.maclean@tc.tc
Published on June 4, 2014

Animal Justice Canada is calling on P.E.I. to hurry up its review of its animal welfare laws. Molly, left, and Dillon were blissfully unaware as they played in the Summerside dog park. Colin MacLean/Journal Pioneer

CHARLOTTETOWN – A national animal rights group is calling on Prince Edward Island to hurry up and enact new laws protecting pets and livestock here.

Animal Justice Canada (AJC), a non-profit organization based in Toronto, said the Department of Agriculture has been working on new companion and farm animal protection legislation for almost four years.

It understandably takes time to do due diligence and research any new piece of legislation, but P.E.I.’s approach has been inordinately slow moving, said Elizabeth Schoales, Atlantic representative for AJC.

“It’s been over three years now, and the legislation on P.E.I. is not that complicated. There’s not much of it so it doesn’t take that long to review it,” said Schoales.

AJC has been tracking P.E.I.’s legislation since the Bud Wheatley case of 2010. The former owner the now defunct Snookums pet store and www.PuppiesAcrossCanada.com was charged and convicted of causing unnecessary pain and suffering to an animal.

The case also raised serious questions about P.E.I.’s animal welfare legislation.

The Department of Agriculture committed to reviewing some of its policies and acts as a result.

Since then, AJC said it has routinely checked in with the province to see how that process is coming along.

That hasn’t always been easy, said Schoales.

“I don’t know where things stand at the moment. They seem pretty reticent about providing any information to the public about what they’ve been doing,” she said. 

That being said, she added, AJCs most recent inquiry to the department was returned with an offer to submit any suggestions they may have.

In response they’ve sent along 13 pages of recommendations like: appointing a chief veterinary office, forcing the department to follow up on complaints from the public (they don’t have to right now) and taking away responsibility for animal welfare from the Department of Agriculture and moving it to the Department of Community Services.

To read their full list of recomendations, click HERE.

The Journal Pioneer also asked the Department of Agriculture for an update on its progress on this file.

A spokesperson for the department issued an emailed statement saying it is in talks with various pet and farming industry representatives and is in the process of drafting new legislation.

They were unable to provide an estimate as to when it would be brought forward.