A nameless puppy mill survivor, rescued by the OSPCA, came into our lives on April 19th 2012. A tiny Shih Tzu mix, Ruby lived up to her new name in every way. It’s said that rubies are Divine love in crystal form. This pup – I say pup despite her approximate six years – was pure and gentle Divine love in doggy form. Ruby saved me from however it was I was spending my days before she arrived and her ability to love, despite the horrible things that happened to her, changed my life forever. Fraught with serious health issues and despite our very best efforts, Ruby left with the angels less than two years after we found each other.
The loss of Ruby’s sweet soul prompted me to write a children’s book about her life, and the success of the Angel in a Dog Suit (endorsed by the Ontario SPCA) had friends and fans asking, “So, what are you doing about puppy mills?” This led me and my husband/business partner Paul L. Clark to create Ruby’s Legacy, this very small non-profit, dedicated to putting an end to puppy mills and animal cruelty in Canada. The main focus of our organization is advocacy and education, so people understand the devastation abuse causes all life forms. We believe if children can recognize their own reflection in an animal’s life, their capacity for empathy and compassion will be vastly enhanced.
What is a puppy mill?
High-volume, substandard dog breeding facilities, puppy mills puts profits before animal health and welfare. Dogs are force-bred continuously while mothers, fathers and puppies are denied proper veterinary care. Most mill dogs live out their entire lives imprisoned with several others in cramped and stacked kennels, where urine and feces fall from the top cages onto the dogs below. They suffer heartbreaking illness from lack of water and from breathing air with high concentrations of ammonia, as well as severe deformities from standing day in and day out on wire cage bottoms. They are often inadequately protected from extreme weather conditions and many suffer unimaginable pain before perishing in summer heat or frigid winter temperatures. The puppies who survive are stolen from their mothers much too young and arrive at pet stores and flea markets seriously ill and in distress. Most pups you see for sale in pet stores are products of these inhumane money making machines, which ARE NOT ILLEGAL IN CANADA! (Read more about puppy mills here.)
Our Animal Welfare Laws are Worse than some Third-World Countries!
In a country so sincerely dedicated to human rights, it’s difficult to believe that Canada is ranked below some third-world countries when it comes to its animal protection. Our animal welfare laws have not been substantively revised in decades, so in January 2016 when the opportunity arose for me to use my skills to assist animal welfare in a very specific way, I assembled a small volunteer team through the Ruby’s Legacy Facebook Group, to help rookie Federal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith promote his private members’ Bill, C-246 ‘the Modernizing Animal Protections Act’. Then, for most of last year I worked tirelessly in Ontario, with Charlene Myers founder of Animal Cruelty Legislation Advocates Canada in BC, determined to convince MPs to vote in favour of this much needed, revamped legislation.
MP Erskine Smith made it very clear that Bill C-246 was meant to affect animal ABUSE and not change animal USE practices. It set out to bring our animal welfare laws into the 21st Century through four specific areas:
- Close loopholes and strengthen the Criminal Code’s animal protection provisions. These changes were targeted at animal abuse, from animal fighting to deplorable puppy mill conditions.
- Ban the sale of cat and dog fur within Canada and require labelling of source fur.
- Ban the importation of shark fins
- Update the definition of bestiality
Bill C-246 was supported extensively by animal welfare agencies across the country, as well as by the Canadian Centre for Abuse Awareness and each of these four issues were considered reasonable and necessary by the approximately 62,000 citizens who signed a Change.org petition, which endorsed these amendments for Canada’s animal protections. However, several MPs who opposed the bill, whipped farmers, anglers and hunters into a fearful frenzy by spreading false information and aligning the bill’s supporters with the most radical animal rights activists on the planet, including organizations who are not even Canadian and had absolutely nothing to do with Bill C-246.
Though we did everything we thought possible from petitions to letter writing and social media campaigns that had MPs begging for us to, “Make it stop!”, our Canadian elected officials weren’t ready to be as progressive as many countries are on animal welfare issues, because our cries for the voiceless fell on deaf ears. Sadly, Bill C-246 was defeated.
We may not have won, but in the words of MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, “…there is the silver lining. Thanks to the incredible outreach efforts of compassionate Canadians of all political stripes, an issue that was not on our government’s agenda is now there.” After Bill C-246 was voted down, the Minister of Justice, Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould stated, “We all agree animal cruelty is a significant social issue that needs to be addressed. In terms of looking at the animal cruelty provisions in the [Criminal] Code, that’s what I’ve always committed to do and we’re going to follow up on that.”
Make Our Government Keep Their Word!
On September 28th, 2016, Ruby’s Legacy and Animal Cruelty Legislation Advocates Canada were credited by MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, in the House of Commons, as ‘Grass Roots Animal Welfare Organizations’. In an effort to keep animal welfare top mind for our government, we are proud to have secured and to receive the continued support of MP Erskine-Smith, this time to sponsor a Federal Government Petition e-718 addressed to the Canadian Justice Minister.
GOVERNMENT e-PETITIONS ARE THE ONLY ONES PERMITTED TO BE READ IN THE HOUSE of COMMONS and we have a very brief 120 days to garner as much support as possible. The deadline for online signatures is Wednesday May 10th, 2017, at 4:10 p.m. (EDT). Once the petition is read in the House of Commons, the Government MUST respond within 45 days.
PLEASE SIGN and SHARE across Canada NOW!
Those who advocate for the humane treatment of animals are not fanatics. We’re regular people who won’t accept animals being beaten, battered and bruised while we use them to enhance our lives. Improving the welfare of animals does not go against agricultural constituencies. We are simply saying, it is time for our animal welfare laws to be brought in line with countries like Australia, New Zealand and the European Union where they recognize animals as sentient beings – creatures who suffer and feel pain like we do – and that IT’S NOT OK FOR ANIMALS TO SUFFER NEEDLESSLY. We are not suggesting animals be given human rights. Animals don’t need rights. They need people to take responsibility for humane treatment and for our government to set laws in place which will adequately deter and/or appropriately punish those who do otherwise!
Sadly, while you are reading this article, somewhere in Canada an animal is being abused and our laws are doing very little to protect them. IT’S UP TO EVERY CANADIAN to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION RIGHT NOW! DO IT for your own pet. DO IT for Ruby so her life was not lived in vain and DO IT for the countless others who suffer her fate.