​Nunavut and N.W.T. animal protection laws still lack bite, says report

The Animal Legal Defense Fund released its 2016 Canadian Animal Protection Laws Rankings on Thursday and Yukon placed eighth, Northwest Territories 12th, and Nunavut dead last compared to the other Canadian jurisdictions.

2 territories have been in bottom tier of list since 1st Animal Legal Defense Fund report issued in 2008

Animal Legal Defense Fund ranks Nunavut and N.W.T. as having the weakest animal protection laws in the country. (Animal Legal Defense Fund)

The Animal Legal Defense Fund released its 2016 Canadian Animal Protection Laws Rankings on Thursday and Yukon placed eighth, Northwest Territories 12th, and Nunavut dead last compared to the other Canadian jurisdictions.

Nicole Spencer, N.W.T. SPCA president, said she is not surprised by the rankings. N.W.T. and Nunavut have ranked in the bottom tier of the list since the group's first report in 2008.

"It's very similar to last year," Spencer said of the rankings. 

NWT SPCA President Nicole Spencer wants the Northwest Territories government to adopt laws from the highest ranked provinces in the country. (Nicole Spencer)

"It's not surprising that we are still in the bottom tier. There has not been a lot done legally in the Northwest Territories to improve our legislation."

The report suggests potential improvements for each province and territory. Of the 16 recommendations for N.W.T., Spencer would like to see the territorial government expand the Dog Act to include other animals.

She would also like the N.W.T. government to mandate veterinarians to report suspected animal cruelty to police.

"That could definitely be added," Spencer said.

"Perhaps we could copy or adopt some of the laws from similar provinces or territories like Manitoba (#1)... It is probably the quickest thing or easiest thing we could do."

Sophie Gaillard, Canadian spokesperson for the Animal Legal Defense Fund, said last year the Quebec government looked to the higher-ranking provinces to revamp its animal protection laws, bumping Quebec up in the rankings to sixth from 12th.

Sophie Gaillard, Canadian spokesperson for the Animal Legal Defense Fund, says, "The main reason for the Northwest Territories and Nunavut to be at the very bottom is that fact that the legislation only covers dogs and doesn't cover cats or any other animal."

"We encourage legislators to look to those provinces that are at the very top of the rankings and get inspiration from what those laws look like," Gaillard said.

"The main reason for the Northwest Territories and Nunavut to be at the very bottom is the fact that the legislation only covers dogs and doesn't cover cats or any other animal. That has a huge impact in how the rankings are calculated."

Both Gaillard and Spencer encourage the public to contact government officials and demand action.