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A Call to Change

There are many roles to fill in the efforts to improve the lives of companion animals in BC. Some rescue the homeless, neglected and abused, some transport animals to larger centres for adoption and some foster. But we cannot forget that in order to accomplish real and lasting change, some of us must speak up and keep speaking until animal protection laws are changed at every level of government—municipal, provincial and federal.

Quick Links:

» Federal Legislation: Criminal Code of Canada
» Provincial Legislation : Preventation of Cruelty Act
» Municipal Bylaws

Also, read It's time to talk about it — Weak animal protection legislation.

Federal Legislation : Criminal Code of Canada

Canada's Animal Cruelty provisions fall within the Criminal Code of Canada under Part XI: Willful and Forbidden Act's in Respect of Certain Property: Cruelty to Animals, Sections 444-447.


  • Provisions of the Criminal Code dealing with animal cruelty have changed very little since 1892 and they are extremely antiquated. This has made it difficult to obtain convictions against animal abusers (less than 1% are convicted), and when convictions are obtained, the penalties are too light. These laws were also written at a time when animals were protected by virtue of being property. The Conservative government has chosen to ignore the strong support to Bill C-229, tabled in 2008 by major animal welfare groups, most organizations representing animal use industries and NDP and Liberal MPs.

    Visit Mark Holland's web page to learn all of the facts and how you can help his animal cruelty bill: Mark Holland: Cruelty to Animals Bill C-229

    Criminal Code of Canada Sections 444 to 447 pertaining to cruelty to animals

    Criminal Code of Canada

    Bill C-229

In 2008, the Internation Fund for Animal Welfare published their damning study 'Falling Behind', comparing Canada's animal cruelty legislation with 12 other countries around the world. They discovered the following disturbing facts:

  • Canada is alone in offering virtually no protection for wild and stray animals
  • Canada’s legislation does not include a clear definition of ‘animal’ while other countries are explicit
  • Canada is the only country that does not provide protection for animals being trained to fight each other
  • Canada is the only country that makes it virtually impossible to prosecute cases of neglect.

    Falling Behind 

What You Can Do:

By the history of Mark Holland's efforts to get a reformed animal cruelty bill passed in our parliament, it is obvious Canadians need to become active and vocal in the fight for those who cannot speak for themselves. Daily we are assaulted by news stories about unspeakable neglect, abuse and cruelty to animals.

  • At each and every opportunity we must speak up—in our local media, wherever our federal politicians speak and campaign, at courthouses where animal cruelty cases are before the courts to name a few.
  • Write to your Member of Parliament, Senators and Justice Minister Rob Nicholson do the following:.
    - Indicate that they wish to join an all-party team of MPs and Senators in support of the general
    - Urge the government to introduce a government bill based on C-229.

» Find your federal MP

Sites related to federal animal cruelty law:

Video: Keep Me Safe

This presentation is designed to assist in changing animal cruelty laws. It is difficult to watch.
WARNING: Graphic content (Not for children).
Produced by Hardhat Productions

Provincial Legislation : Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

The BC SPCA was created under the auspices of the provincial Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCA Act), and is the only animal welfare organization in BC that has the authority to enforce laws relating to animal cruelty, and to recommend charges for Crown Counsel for the prosecution of individuals who inflict suffering on animals. 

The BC SPCA states that on average $2 million a year on cruelty investigations, caring for animals in distress and preparing charges, and that their Cruelty Investigations Department investigated more than 5,800 complaints of cruelty and neglect throughout the province of British Columbia. The BC SPCA does not receive any funding from the provincial government to assist them with animal cruelty investigations.

Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act


  • The government's designated enforcement agency does not receive provincial funding to carry out their mandate.
  • The BC SPCA is not subject to Freedom of Information requirements of the Society's Act so that donors can know exactly how their donation funds are spent.
  • The BC SPCA has little to no presence in remote, rural regions of the province where neglect and cruelty to animals is a pervasive problem, especially on First Nations reserves.

What You Can Do

  • At each and every opportunity we must speak up—in our local media, wherever our provincial politicians speak and campaign, at courthouses where animal cruelty cases are before the courts to name a few.

  • Contact the Minister of Agriculture, Ben Stewart to request improvements to the Prevention of Cruelty Act, increased penalties for animal cruelty convictions and funding for the BC SPCA to properly enforce the Prevention of Cruelty Act throughout BC.

    Honourable Ben Stewart
    PO Box 9043 Stn Prov Govt
    Victoria BC  V8W 9E2

    Telephone: 250 387-2253
    Fax: 250 387-4312

Municipal Bylaws

Changing municipal bylaws has the ability to impact the lives of the highest number of animals. Proactive bylaws that foster responsible pet guardianship and safe, humane communities include the following regulations:

  • Basic requirements for animal care
  • Ban on dog and cat sales in pet stores
  • All rabbits sold in pet stores to be spayed or neutered
  • Dog and cat licensing (including mandatory tattoo or microship identification)
  • Management of pet population including access to low-cost spay/neuter funds
  • Kennel and cattery licensing
  • Pet store licensing
  • Ban on unrestrained dogs in pickups
  • Ban on pets left unattended in cars
  • Anti-tethering
  • Dangerous dogs

What You Can Do:

  • Review your municipality's animal bylaws available on the website or by contacting your Mayor's office. Write a letter to your Mayor and City Council to request improvements to your animal welfare bylaws. It helps to make reference to animal issues that may have ocurred in your community as they relate to the bylaws. The BC SPCA has a handy web page listing the municipal contacts for BC communities:
    »» Municipal Contacts

  • Bring the In Defense of Animals Guardian Campaign to your community.