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Canada - Animal Welfare and Cultural Issues

Canada has federal laws for the protection of animals. The Health of Animals Act sets out legislation for the care and treatment of animals including correct methods for transportation, prevention of cruelty and even the humane handling and slaughter of animals for food. If you are wishing to keep domestic animals, keep animals for food for example chickens (eggs and meat) or start a business involving animals (such as a farm, pet store or butchers) then you must adhere to the regulations laid out otherwise face prosecution, heavy fines or even imprisonment.

As well as the federal laws which cover the whole country, each province or territory has their own rules and regulations regarding the welfare of animals. The Farm Animal Welfare Infrastructure is a group of organisations located nationwide and they ensure that all strict codes of practice are adhered to when working with farm animals.

The Health of Animals Act sets out the conditions for safely transporting animals which includes no overcrowding, transporting similar type animals together and ensuring that all animals to be transported are actually fit to travel. Any animal found unfit to travel will not be allowed to be transported. It also ensures that the conditions the animals are kept in during transportation are of a high standard, including regular feeding and watering, rest stops and bedding areas. It also ensures that animals receive any needed medical care at the first available opportunity as any animal taken unwell during the journey must not be allowed to travel further than the first available animal medical care centre (such as a vet or animal hospital).

The Meat Inspection Act covers the Humane handling and Slaughter of Food Animals. Each facility used to slaughter animals is inspected on a regular basis and often without warning by the federal government. Canadian Food Inspection Agency inspectors work at every registered slaughterhouse to ensure that codes of practices are met as laid out in the regulations.

The Criminal Code of Canada is a federal act with a section covering the prevention of cruelty to animals. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals works in a similar way to the RSPCA in the UK. They, along with the police investigate any reports of animal endangerment and can prosecute anyone found to be causing unnecessary suffering to animals.

There are several non-government animal welfare organisations around Canada. Each follows its own codes of practice. They include the National Farm animal Care Council, The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies and the Canadian Council on Animal Care.

The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS) was founded in1957 and is considered the national voice on all animal welfare issues. They work to promote and improve the humane treatment of animals and work with the public, the government and the media to ensure awareness of the issues are promoted well.

Animals such as domestic pets are treated in exactly the same way in Canada as they are in the UK. The majority of the public who have pets take good care of them, but there are instances where neglect and cruelty become a factor and that is when the animal welfare organisations step in.

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