For several years, the Montreal SPCA has maintained pressure on the Government of Québec to provide basic legal protection for farmed animals, including via representations made during consultations on bills such as Bill 51 in 2012 and Bill 54 in 2015, as well as through its Animal Wrongs campaign in 2018.
Given the development of scientific knowledge on the welfare of animals raised for food, and the public’s growing concern over the living conditions of these animals, the Montreal SPCA calls for a fundamental rethinking of the dairy industry’s current practices.
There is consensus on certain minimum requirements for the living conditions of dairy cows. A 2019 survey by the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) reveals that access to the outdoors, ability to express natural behaviours and freedom from permanent physical restraint are Canadians’ top priorities when it comes to dairy cow welfare. However, the Code of Practice continues to allow the use of tie stalls and the isolation of calves.
In the winter of 2022, the Montreal SPCA provided detailed comments on the draft Code of Practice for the treatment of dairy cows. The SPCA also conducted an important awareness campaign inviting citizens to provide constructive feedback to NFACC, which involved providing a summary of the key issues regarding the welfare of dairy cows.
This campaign helped expose the issue of dairy cow welfare in the media, including this article in La Presse and this column in Métro.
The Montreal SPCA’s mission is to foster compassion for all sentient beings.
Farmed animals are a particularly vulnerable category of sentient beings given their commodification in a self-regulated industry. They also represent by far the largest number of exploited animals in Quebec.
In addition to demanding that government provide these animals with a minimal amount of protection, an effective way to reduce their suffering is to choose plant-based alternatives to animal products.