Toronto Star

December 1, 1999

Tough animal cruelty law eyed

Legislation aims to increase fines and jail time

By Valerie Lawton
Toronto Star Ottawa Bureau

OTTAWA - Activists are cheering tough new legislation to be introduced today as a turning point in the battle to stop the abuse of animals.

They also say the laws could stop child animal abusers from turning into violent adults.

Frances Rodenburg, executive director of the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, is delighted the law will recognize that animals are more than just someone's property.

``The fact that animals feel pain and can suffer should give them special status under the Criminal Code,'' Rodenburg said.

These are the first major changes to the animal cruelty laws in more than 100 years.

Under the proposed law, cruelty would no longer be considered as property offences, which are usually treated less seriously than violent crimes.

The law raises the maximum sentence for intentional animal cruelty to five years in prison, up from two years and lifts a $2,000 ceiling on fines.

It also allows judges to permanently ban someone from owning an animal and forces abusers to pay for an injured animal's care.

One of the key reasons behind the move is the fact that many people who mistreat animals go on to hurt - even kill - people. Some killers such as Paul Bernardo and Jeffrey Dahmer had a history of mistreating animals.

``It's not an animal rights agenda,'' said Randall Lockwood of the Humane Society of the United States.

``I think it is an agenda of recognizing that violence is violence and that perpetrators of violence are not making distinctions between their victims,''

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