Written by: Heather Clemenceau
Animal abuse is typically due to the inadequate protection of animals, along with social and cultural factors. Many psychologists and anthro-zoologists argue that animal cruelty is a good predictor of later violence against humans. Therefore, we must address the important psychological and social/cultural issues and make cruelty to animals target of intervention so that we can learn more about the etiology of human cruelty.
While animals deserve their own Bill of Rights, many crimes against humans may well have been prevented had any animal cruelty incidents that preceded them been taken seriously. Animals, people, and communities will be safer if animal abuse is detected early and intervention happens immediately with the use of appropriate risk assessment tools and treatment programs created specifically to target animal abuse.
The wanton abuse of a dog named Captain is the foundation for this petition, created by animal activist Charlene Myers and (now retired) parole officer Carole DeGrood. Brian Whitlock of Vancouver, British Columbia was convicted on June 12, 2013 of animal cruelty for beating Captain in the head and body with a baseball bat. He was sentenced to 60 days in jail, mandatory psychological counselling and 3 years of probation, but had also been convicted of assault and has subsequently been charged with killing his mother. The petition is intended to be applicable to anyone convicted of animal cruelty under the Criminal Code in Canada. Please help Animal Cruelty Legislation Advocates Canada collect signatures for presentation to the House of Commons.
The Petition is available in both English and French versions:
Please note about the petition:
Signing the petition:
- Only residents of Canada (anyone who has lived in Canada for 6 months or more) may sign this petition.
- The petition form should be printed one-sided only to prevent “bleed” of ink from one side of the paper to the other.
- Please do not write anything (such as comments) in addition to what is requested on the petition form.
- Please PRINT the FULL NAME OF THE TOWN OR CITY in which you reside (NO ABBREVIATIONS ARE PERMITTED); Provinces MAY be abbreviated.
Submitting the petition:
- Before mailing the petition to the address below, please ensure the following:
- All required information (name, address, signature) is provided on the petition form.
- Your return address is on the envelope in case it needs to be returned to you for any reason such as insufficient postage.
- Please mail ORIGINAL signed petitions (PHOTOCOPIES ARE NOT ACCEPTABLE) to:
ACLA Canada (short for Animal Cruelty Legislation Advocates Canada)
7895 Gladstone Drive
Prince George, BC V2N 3K5
Petition to the Government of Canada Requesting Mandatory Risk Assessment and Treatment for Anyone Convicted of Animal Cruelty Under the Criminal Code
Why is this petition important?
Animals are easy targets for abuse as they are vulnerable and without legal rights. Although the crime of animal cruelty may be viewed by some people as unimportant or trivial when compared with other crimes, studies show that people who harm animals may also be involved in other criminality, including crimes of violence toward humans, either simultaneously or in the future. Furthermore, according to the National Link Coalition animal abusers often kill and abuse pets to orchestrate fear, violence and retribution in homes marked by domestic violence. They add that animal cruelty rarely occurs in isolation—it’s usually “the tip of the iceberg” and frequently the first opportunity for social services or law enforcement agencies to intervene.
In a speech delivered at the Congressional Informational Briefing on Animal Abuse and Domestic Violence in 1998, Special Agent Brantley of the Federal Bureau of Investigation noted the link between animal abuse and violence toward humans (typically referred to simply as “the link”) and revealed the importance of taking animal cruelty into account when assessing a perpetrator’s behaviour when he stated the following:
“Some in our society make too much out of qualitatively distinguishing between violence against humans and violence against animals. Ladies and gentlemen, violence against animals is violence and when it is present, it is considered by the people I work with to be synonymous with a history of violence.”
As animal cruelty is not only a crime of violence unto itself but one that is linked with violence against humans, the focus should be placed more on the behaviour demonstrated by someone who inflicts violence than on the species or legal status of the target victim. As psychologist Dr. Lynn Loar states, “the behaviour that harms the animal is the same behaviour that harms the human.”
As a result of recognizing the link between animal cruelty and violence toward humans, animal protection organizations, social services, and law enforcement agencies in the United States have been working together to address the link since the 1990s.
Canada seems to be moving forward in this regard but there is more to be done. People convicted of animal cruelty typically still receive minimal sentences and there does not appear to be adequate recognition by the courts and other criminal justice workers of the potential risk animal abusers may pose to public safety. If someone convicted of animal cruelty does happen to be sentenced to significant time in custody, available risk assessment tools and treatment options are not designed specifically to allow the assessor to expose and gather information about animal abuse and the perpetrator’s motives for it. These deficiencies need to be addressed.
The Colorado LINK Project found that “an animal cruelty offender’s potential risk to public safety may vary from little to none to extreme” and recommends that “animal abuse by adults and children be examined carefully through comprehensive and developmentally sensitive evaluation to help determine the context and seriousness of the abuse, causative factors and the perpetrator’s level of blameworthiness.” As animal cruelty is a crime of violence that is linked to violence against humans, then animals, people, and communities will be safer if everyone convicted of animal cruelty under the Criminal Code of Canada is required to undergo mandatory risk assessment and treatment developed specifically to target animal abuse.
This petition calls upon the House of Commons to require that adequate risk assessment tools and intervention programs are developed and that everyone convicted of animal cruelty under the Criminal Code of Canada be required to undergo mandatory risk assessment and treatment developed specifically to target animal abuse.
For further information, please “like” the
“National Animal Abuse Prevention Day” (NAAPD) Facebook page.