Captive Animals in Quebec Are in Desperate Need of Better Protection

captive-header-newsletterMontreal, January 31 2018 – Unlike other Canadian provinces, Quebec excludes exotic animals and most wildlife in captivity from the ambit of its provincial animal protection act. Here, these animals – namely found in zoos, circuses, aquariums, breeding facilities and pet stores – have provincial protection only under the Regulations on Animals in Captivity (RAC), for which the Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs (MFFP) has recently published proposed amendments. The Montreal SPCA applauds the MFFP for seeking to improve the safety and welfare of these vulnerable beings. However, the proposed modifications fall short of actually providing them with any meaningful protection.

In 2017, the Montreal SPCA’s Inspections and Investigations Department handled cases involving nearly 15,000 exotic animals – such as parrots, chinchillas and turtles – in private homes or commercial entities. Due to the limitations of the current legal protection for these animals, most are forced to live alone, even if they are social animals, in conditions without any stimulation. These animals often suffer from extreme boredom, which generates a lot of distress; when pushed to the extreme, boredom can lead to more suffering than actual physical pain.

To ensure the safety and welfare of exotic animals and wildlife in captivity in Quebec, the Montreal SPCA recommends the following improvements:

  • Provide the animals covered by these Regulations with the same legal protection as other animals in Quebec, mainly with respect to enrichment, socialization and exercise;
  • Increase the minimum required cage and enclosure sizes for exotic animals and wildlife in captivity to ensure that their physiological and psychological needs are met;
  • Prohibit, or at least restrict, the use of animals in circuses as other Canadian provinces have done, such as Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. Some countries, namely Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cyprus, Greece and Malta, even banned the use of all animals in circuses;
  • Prohibit the capture and keeping of cetaceans in captivity (such as dolphins, belugas and orcas) and impose minimum standards of care for other marine mammals in captivity, as Ontario has done.
  • Increases penalties for infractions, including jail time and prohibition from animal ownership.

“The Montreal SPCA does not condone the keeping of exotic animals or wildlife in captivity for recreational or entertainment purposes. However, the MFFP has a unique opportunity to ensure that these animals are provided with legal protection that truly ensures their safety and welfare,” says attorney Alanna Devine, Director of Animal Advocacy at the Montreal SPCA. “We urge Quebec citizens to get involved by writing to the Ministry of Fauna to send a clear message to the government that while they are taking a step in the right direction, further changes need to be made.”

You can help

The MFFP is accepting commentary from the public on the draft regulations until February 8th 2018. The Montreal SPCA encourages citizens to express their concerns over the proposed amendments and demand better protection for animals in captivity. You can take action by sending this letter to the Minister of Fauna.

Facts about exotic animals and wildlife in captivity in Quebec:

  • Unlike every other province in Canada, Quebec excludes exotic animals and wildlife in captivity from the protection of its provincial Animal Welfare and Safety Act.
  • Currently, under provincial regulations, the maximum fine for those convicted of cruelty or neglect involving these animals is only $750. The amendments proposed by the MFFP would increase the maximum amount to $2,500 with no prohibition or restriction on animal ownership. In comparison, the possible penalties for cruelty or neglect involving domestic animals include fines of up to $62,500 and a lifetime prohibition on animal ownership.
  • Hundreds or even thousands of exotic animals can be kept for commercial purposes without a permit, such as parrots and lizards used for breeding.
  • Many exotic animals are forced to live in cages or enclosures that do not meet their physiological or psychological needs.

Click here to take action and ask the MFFP to provide better protection for exotic animals and wildlife in captivity.

Photo credit: Jo-Anne McArthur | We Animals

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Media contact: Anita Kapuscinska, Communications Manager, Montreal SPCA, 514 656-2760, or anitak@spca.com.

About the Montreal SPCA Founded in Montreal in 1869, we were the first animal welfare society in Canada and our mission is to:

  • protect animals against negligence, abuse, and exploitation;
  • represent their interests and ensure their well-being;
  • raise public awareness and help develop compassion for all living beings.

For more information about the Montreal SPCA, please visit our website at www.spca.com.

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