Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Don't use the Bible to justify cruelty

The St. Catharines Standard - Tuesday, April 21, 2009

By Daniel K. Wilson, NIAGARA VOICES

“‘Do not kill’: These words refer not just to the killing of a person, but to the killing of anything which is alive. This commandment was written in the people’s hearts even before it was heard on Mt. Sinai.” - Leo Tolstoy

It seems that whenever I’m leafleting, tabling at some event or speaking about animal rights or vegetarianism, there’s always someone who will use the Bible to justify our mistreatment of animals.

They usually say something like, “Well, that’s what the animals are here for,” but occasionally it’s a little more to the point: “That’s why God put them here.”

Although I find it hard to believe that an all-loving Creator condones animal cruelty, I do know where this particular view comes from:

“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.” - Genesis 1:26

Now to some people, including many animal-rights activists, having dominion means that we are stewards of the earth, and that we’re responsible for the animals in the same way a leader is responsible for the people he or she governs.

We have no more right to hunt, kill or experiment on animals than Stephen Harper has the right to hunt, kill or experiment on Canadians, or so they argue.

But a lot of other folks interpret dominion as exploitation: that we can use animals in whatever way we see fit, and why not? The Bible isn’t exactly the most animal-friendly book around.

Sure, God commanded the Israelites to let their animals rest on the Sabbath but aside from that, there really isn’t much about being nice to them.

The Bible does however, describe in graphic detail, how animals are to be killed for peace offerings, sin offerings, burnt offerings and other sacrifices “to make a sweet savour unto the Lord,” and although the Hebrews were instructed not to eat certain kinds of animals like pigs, vultures and mice (because they were considered unclean), the book of Leviticus lists a multitude of animals that could be eaten.

In the story of the flood, every living creature not in the ark was destroyed and when God told the children of Israel to attack their enemies, He insisted that all the animals of their enemies be killed as well, along with every man, woman and child.

Some animal activists, along with some Christians, have even suggested that Jesus was a vegetarian, although there’s no evidence of this, and if Jesus was concerned about the well-being of animals, nobody bothered to record it. Nowhere in Christ’s Sermon on the Mount does it say, “Blessed are they who protect the animals from unnecessary suffering.”

And while life in the Garden of Eden was apparently meant to be a vegetarian one,

“And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.” - Genesis 1:29,

I think it’s a mistake for activists to try and use the Bible to promote animal rights, as most references to animals have to do with how they are to serve us, alive or dead.

But just because the Bible isn’t compassionate towards animals doesn’t mean that we can’t be. The good book also sanctions war, slavery, polygamy, the killing of homosexuals and the oppression of women, all of which are quite unpopular today.

If we stop using the Bible to justify animal exploitation, and started promoting kindness and respect for all of God's creation, we might just acheive something most of us thought was impossible - peace on Earth.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Sanctuaries don't use their animals for profit

The St. Catharines Standard - Saturday, April 18, 2009

It has recently come to my attention that The Exotic Animal Rescue Society is back soliciting donations from the public at local Canadian Tire stores.

Be careful before you consider a donation. Sanctuaries do not breed animals, use animals in television/video, demand "public performance" for donations, nor do they keep animals housed in unnatural environments or displayed for public viewing.

This approach is an impediment to education about positive human and non-human relationships. These animals should be removed to recognized sanctuaries where they can live out the remainder of their lives free from exploitation.

Dylan Powell,
St. Catharines

How You Can Help

Call or write Canadian Tire on Welland Avenue in St. Catharines and let them know that you won't shop there as long as they allow exotic animals to be kept on display in the store. You can also call Canadian Tire's Head Office and tell them how you feel too.

Canadian Tire:
459 Welland Avenue
St. Catharines, ON
L2M 5V2
(905) 688-0488

Canadian Tire Head Office:
1 800 387-8803

Thursday, April 16, 2009

'You might as well not even have the legislation'

The Canadian Press - Monday, April 13, 2009


Horrific incidents of animal cruelty that have essentially gone unpunished or resulted only in slaps on the wrist demonstrate the weakness of federal legislation enacted one year ago, animal-rights activists say.

In one notorious case, a New Brunswick man was acquitted in February of charges for killing five pomeranians he didn't want with a hammer.

Since the animals were considered his property, the court decided he had the right to dispose of them as he saw fit, although he was ordered to pay $50 for injuring a dog that survived the hammer blow.

"Most Canadians do not view animals the same way that people did in the Victorian era," said Melissa Tkachyk of the World Society for the Protection of Animals.

"They do not agree that killing an animal with a hammer is the same as vandalizing a person's car."

In another case, a St. Catharines man dropped a kitten from a fifth floor balcony, then ran her over with his car. Charges were dropped because the kitten was considered marital property in a domestic dispute and his wife couldn't testify against him.

Critics complain that Bill S-203, which received Royal Assent last April 17, has done little to protect animals and say such incidents underline a crying need to put teeth into the law.

The legislation enacted last year, essentially the same as property-offences law enacted in 1892, beefed up penalties for animal cruelty.

However, it contains no standards of care for how animals are fed or housed and securing a convictions is difficult because of the need to prove "wilful intent" to cause suffering to an animal.

Simply proving an animal suffered is almost impossible.

Liberal MP Mark Holland called the updated law "placebo" policy.

"Those that are committing animal-abuse offences are essentially able to do so with impunity," Holland said.

"I've just been really exhausted with talking to SPCA officers who go into homes and situations where they see animals that have been tortured and abused and can do nothing."

Holland has introduced a private member's bill that would create a separate offence for killing an animal without lawful excuse regardless of whether it could be proven the animal suffered.

Across Canada, fewer than one-quarter of one per cent of charges under the animal-cruelty provisions of the code result in convictions.

"You might as well not even have the legislation," said Sean Kelly, chairman of the investigations committee for the Nova Scotia SPCA, who called the law useless.

He said he had heard of only a single conviction under the Criminal Code, and that one involved an extreme case of a man who abused 129 animals.

"When it comes to companion animals, it's just not heard of," Kelly said.

In another case last June, an Ontario man abandoned a two-year-old dog on a bush road after blinding her with a gunshot to the head but was acquitted of intent to unlawfully injure a dog.

Last month, a Nova Scotia woman was fined $5 for drowning a pair of newborn kittens in a bucket of water.

"The Criminal Code should recognize that animals experience pain and suffering," Tkachyk said.

"Animals are sentient - it's time to reflect this basic fact in our legislation that is supposed to protect them."

Ontario politician Mike Colle, who pushed the province to beef up its animal-welfare act last month, called the federal legislation a "paper tiger" that didn't give humane officials or inspectors better tools.

The legislation does not even outlaw breeding, training or selling animals to fight each other, he said.
- - -
Animal cruelty law called useless. Some recent cases:

Nova Scotia woman drowns two newborn kittens -- fined $5.

Northwest Territories man leaves dogs outdoors to freeze and starve to death -- no charges laid.

St. Catharines man drops kitten from a 5th floor balcony, then runs it over with car -- charges dropped.

New Brunswick man kills five pomeranians with a hammer -- absolute discharge.

Ontario man shoots, blinds and abandons dog on bush road -- acquitted.

Quebec man found with more than 100 dogs crammed in tiny, filthy cages -- 180 hours community service and $3,200 fine.