EDITORIAL: Tougher cruelty laws needed

Greater Victorians are reeling this week from two cases of horrific cruelty against animals.

On Wednesday, Brent Connors was sentenced to six months in jail for the vicious killing of a three-month-old pit bull at a Victoria motel.

Earlier in the week, the shocking story of 100 sled dogs being shot execution-style after the Olympic Games in Whistler attracted world-wide attention.

Yet as appalling as these cases are, people should find the following information even more shocking. In 2009, the B.C. SPCA conducted 5,870 cruelty investigations; removed 1,332 animals from dangerous or neglectful situations, and rescued an additional 3,443 injured animals; executed 133 warrants; and submitted 62 charges of animal cruelty and neglect to Crown.

The amount of government funding the B.C. SPCA received to undertake this crucial work, which comprised $2 million of the organization’s $25-million budget? Not a cent.

The B.C. SPCA is the only animal welfare agency in the province authorized to conduct animal cruelty investigations and is officially responsible for protecting and rescuing animals. It does so almost entirely via charity – public and private donations.

That tells you the importance successive governments have placed upon animal welfare. It doesn’t warrant a sorry penny.

Animal cruelty laws in B.C. were strengthened in 2008, yet penalties remain light, with a maximum fine of $5,000. That’s if Crown takes the case at all. Only about 50 per cent of charges submitted are approved.

If any good can come from the recent cases of cruelty, perhaps the public’s outrage will be enough for government to provide consistent, adequate funding of the organization responsible for animal welfare, further toughening of cruelty laws and more legislation reform to make prosecution and conviction easier.

– Black Press

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