Animals enhance our lives — they're loyal, offer comfort and companionship, and ask for little in return.
But they too have needs and wants, and one of the most important needs is quality of life, says Temple Grandin in her latest novel, Animals Make Us Human: Creating The Best Life For Animals. "[They] function based on their own emotional system: they seek play, care and lust, and are unnerved by fear, panic and rage," she adds.
If, as Mahatma Gandhi said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated,” how does Canada stack up? Our record isn't perfect, but strides are being taken to improve the rights of our animals.
Take, for example, the tale of Darwin the Ikea Monkey. The primate was found roaming outside one of the chain's Toronto stores in November. The monkey was seized and, two weeks ago, a Canadian judge ruled Darwin should stay at a proper animal sanctuary. (A place where — according to The Huffington Post Canada blogger Lisa Kramer — “he will be surrounded by other monkeys and will never be forced to wear Halloween costumes or diapers for the amusement of humans.")
What other animal stories made headlines in 2012 — for better or worse? We turned to the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies to find out.
The Good: Charges Against Maple Lodge Farms
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency laid 60 criminal charges against food company Maple Lodge Farms, according to The Toronto Star. The company was charged for routinely allowing thousands of chickens to die during transportation from farms to slaughterhouses.
The Good: Elephants Moved From Toronto Zoo:
Toronto city council recognized the needs of three elephants at the Toronto Zoo and voted to move them to a sanctuary in California.
The Good: Quebec Promotes Better Animal Care
The province of Quebec created a provincial animal welfare body to help promote better care for animals in the province.|
The Good: Cities Ban The Sale Of Cats And Dogs
In 2012, Toronto followed Richmond, B.C. and became the second Canadian city to restrict the sale of cats and dogs in pet shops environmentalists deemed unhealthy. The city of Mississauga has also banned the sale of all privately bred cats and dogs (where the animals are often bred in deplorable conditions) in pet stores.
The Good: Critical Habitat For Orca Whales Protected
In 2012, the Federal Court of Appeals ruled the Minister of Fisheries must protect critical habitats for orca whales as outlined in the Species at Risk Act.
The Good: Tim Hortons Took A Stand
The Good: Ban On Cropping Dogs' Ears For Aesthetic Purposes
Manitoba became the second province after Newfoundland to ban the practice of cropping dogs' ears, a procedure that can lead to infection and illness.
The Good: UBC Forced To Release Details
The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner ordered the University of British Columbia to release all details of their animal research program. This is a good first step in creating more transparency in how taxpayers’ money is used in public research facilities, according to Global News.
The Good: More Severe Fines For Animal Abuse
Newfoundland and Labrador passed a new Animal Health and Protection Act which includes increased penalties for animal abuse. Anyone convicted of animal cruelty or neglect can now face fines of up to $50,000 or six months jail time.
The Good: Harp Seal Pups Released Back To The Wild
After an international outcry, the Aquarium des Iles in Quebec, released 6-month old pups Zak and Mika back into the wild. Both harp seals were scheduled for euthanasia.
The Good: Air Canada Will No Longer Transport Primates
The Canadian Transport Authority will now allow Air Canada to discontinue the transportation of primates for medical research.
The Good: Darwin Sent To Sanctuary
Darwin, the five-month-old "Ikea monkey" is now in the care of Story Book Farms Primate Sanctuary in southern Ontario.
The Bad: Marineland Animals Are Still Suffering
Seals, sea lions, walruses and dolphins at Marineland are suffering fur loss, skin damage and even blindness because of recurring water problems at the Niagara Falls, Ont. theme park.
The Bad: Ripley's Aquarium Stocked With Wild Sharks
In 2012, it was announced Toronto's newest aquarium will house sand tiger sharks taken from the wild.
The Bad: The Senate Approved A Cull For 70,000 Grey Seals
Last year, it was reported Ottawa should approve a cull of 70,000 seals off Canada's East Coast. The decision was made as part of a controversial four-year experiment aimed at helping the recovery of cod stocks.
The Bad: Canada Allows Dog And Cat Fur
China is the world’s largest exporter of fur garments, mostly made from mink, fox and raccoon dog. Even though most Western countries prohibit imports of cat and dog fur, Canada does not.
The Ugly: Man Kills 56 Sled Dogs
Robert Fawcett, the man who pleaded guilty to killing at least 56 sled dogs in Whistler B.C., was given a small fine and no jail time. The B.C. court system missed an opportunity to set new standards for preventing animal cruelty in the province.
The Ugly: 3 Horses Died At The Calgary Stampede
Three horses died as a result of chuckwagon races during last summer's Calgary Stampede. Many activist groups have called for a suspension of these types of races.
The Ugly: The Inhumane Treatment Of Factory Farm Animals
Last year, W5 exposed a Winnipeg farm for performing inhumane practices like castration without pain medication, confinement housing and “thumping” of piglets. However, researchers concluded the farm was within accepted industry standards and, likely, did not break any laws.
The Ugly: "DIY" Pet Surgeries
In 2012, it was noted do-it-yourself pet surgeries were on the rise. One report found that dog owners used elastrator bands to neuter their dogs.
The Ugly: Groups Deemed Extremist
Federal security services identified Greenpeace and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals as extremist groups that were capable of carrying out attacks against Canadian infrastructures.