Hundreds of pet owners and animal enthusiasts rallied outside of the Alberta Legislature Sunday in support of Bill C-232.
If it goes forward, the bill would remove animal cruelty from the property section of the Criminal Code of Canada, allowing for tougher sentencing for those found guilty of abuse.
The event was organized by Charlee Morgan, an animal activist based in Edmonton. Morgan created a Facebook event inviting people to gather in support of the bill.
“From there, everyone wanted to get involved because we’re feeling it’s time now. All the sad stories in the news about the animals and people feel they can’t do anything – what can they do? We’re here, mainly, to petition … for the amendment of the Criminal Code of Canada.”
Morgan was joined at the podium by Alberta's Solicitor General Jonathan Denis, who drove in from Calgary to support the event.
“Many people have contacted me and they don’t want to see this in Alberta and they want to see stronger sanctions against people who mistreat animals,” he said.
“We need to send a very strong message that this type of cruelty to animals is unacceptable and will not be tolerated by the law.”
Provincial changes on the way
While Sunday’s event was based around a proposed change to a federal bill, Morgan is also excited for changes she sees coming to the provincial animal protection act.
Earlier this month, Calgary MLA Len Webber launched a private member’s bill calling for stronger sentencing for those found guilty of animal abuse. That bill was first introduced shortly after two particularly upsetting cases of animal abuse made headlines in Calgary.
“That was sickening, that hurt, that scarred us,” said Morgan of the two Calgary incidents. “Ever since then, there have been rallies all over, petition signing, Facebook pages created. The time is now, Alberta.”
Morgan says there is still a long way to go, but is optimistic that Canada and Alberta are now taking a step in the right direction.
“There are so many areas of abuse – the puppy mills, the dog fighting, the backyard breeder – all those things. But none of that [can] be changed if the animals are still considered property, which they have been since the 1800s. So that’s the number one thing.”
“It’s a marathon not a sprint,” she added.