Nunavut, N.W.T. have worst animal protection laws in Canada: report

Nunavut and the Northwest Territories are the best jurisdictions in Canada for animal abusers, according to a report released Wednesday by a national animal rights group.

Nunavut and the Northwest Territories are the best jurisdictions in Canada for animal abusers, according to a report released Wednesday by a national animal rights group.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund's 2009 rankings of Canadian animal protection laws singled out the two territories as ranking lowest in terms of the relative strength and comprehensiveness of their legislation.

Neither the Northwest Territories nor Nunavut has strong animal protection legislation, although the N.W.T. provides some protections for dogs through its Dog Act.

Report author Stephan Otto told CBC News that some jurisdictions lack even the most basic protections for pets.

"One of the major weaknesses, though, is just that the standard of care for animals is very inadequate," Otto, the group's director of legislative affairs, said Wednesday.

"The penalties for those who do these types of violent acts towards animals aren't very high."

Otto's report recommends, among other things, that both Nunavut and the N.W.T. provide a broader range of protections and better definitions of what should be considered standard care for animals.

As well, Otto recommended both territories introduce mandatory seizure of mistreated animals, restrictions on future animal ownership, larger fines and sentences.

It's the second year the Animal Legal Defense Fund, which is headquartered in San Francisco, has analyzed the animal protection legislation of provinces and territories.

Along with Nunavut and the N.W.T., New Brunswick and Quebec were in the bottom tier among provinces.

Ranking among the best provinces are British Columbia, Manitoba, Nova Scotia and Ontario.

"Last year Ontario was the very worst in the entire country. Since then, they've passed legislation and they've catapulted from the worst to the first," Otto said.

Yukon in middle

Otto said the Yukon is in the middle of the pack, along with Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador, P.E.I. and Saskatchewan.

"Yukon, to its credit, though, is right there in the middle. I mean, there's quite a few that are below and there's some that are above, but they're going in the right direction," he said.

"I think every single province and territory has room for improvement."

The Yukon amended its Animal Protection Act earlier this year, introducing stiffer penalties and more powers for officers investigating complaints of animal abuse.