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Supporting Responsible Pet Ownership

The lack of penalties for people who cruelly abuse animals is one problem that deserves urgent action.  These days, stories about animal cruelty have even made it as far as our sports pages with the story that a star NFL quarterback has been indicted for participating in a brutal dog-fighting ring.

Incidents of animal cruelty are not just limited to a few celebrity examples, nor do we just read about these stories from south of the border.

Earlier this summer Ontarians were shocked to read about a German Shepard-Rottweiller puppy in the Windsor area that had his ears cut off by his owner.

Around the same time another dog was rescued from the Niagara River after her owner threw her into the river with weights tied around her neck.

These kinds of acts are reprehensible yet, shockingly there is very little punishment for such disgusting acts under current Ontario laws.

In fact, Ontario currently has the weakest animal-welfare laws of any province.  This is the only province that has not created a specific offence for anyone who causes or permits and animal to come to harm.

Today in BC or Alberta, pet abusers face, among other sanctions, a lifetime ban on ever owning pets again.  Conversely in Ontario the longest a pet-abuser can be barred from buying a new pet is the two-year ban provided for in the criminal code.

This represents an unacceptable hole in Ontario’s justice system.  There is no excuse and no pardon for people who wilfully cause innocent animals to come to harm.

Earlier this spring, my fellow Progressive Conservative MPP Bob Runciman introduced a Private Members Bill that would show some long-overdue leadership to make animal-cruelty a serious provincial offence.  Yet Premier Dalton McGuinty did not even bother to let this Bill come to a vote before adjourning the legislature.

The weak leadership of Dalton McGuinty has left far too many innocent animals in jeopardy.

That is why a John Tory has committed to showing real leadership and take serious action to ensure that Ontario’s animals have far greater protection under the law.

Under our plan, we will stiffen the penalties for any person who is convicted of abusing animals.  People convicted of these cruel acts will face fines of up to $60,000 and two years in jail.  Equally importantly they can be banned from ever owning another pet for the rest of their lives.

The only pet legislation introduced by the current Liberal government was a politically motivated Bill that banned pit bulls.  The definition of that breed was so vague that the Attorney General couldn’t even identify what a pit-bull actually looked like.

I believe the correct and sensible way to deal with the threat posed by dangerous dogs is to have in place legislative provisions which deal with all dangerous dogs of all kinds and with irresponsible owners, as opposed to breed specific legislation.

I want to congratulate Lori Gray, a constituent in our riding, who has devoted countless hours towards fighting for responsible pet ownership laws.  She is involved with the Dog Legislation Council of Canada and they are to be applauded for their efforts.  

It is unacceptable that innocent animals are suffering while the McGuinty government does nothing.  We need stronger protection for Ontario's animals.

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