Tuesday, March 23, 2010

We Animals: McGill Symposium & Exhibit On Animal Law: March 8-11, 2010

This is Alanna Devine, Director of Animal Welfare at the Montreal SPCA, this was during her presentation on the Canadian Laws on Animal Welfare/Cruelty.

Fauna was invited to attend the We Animals Symposium and Exhibit that was held in the McGill Faculty of Law building in downtown Montreal. The event which lasted two nights was hosted by the McGill Student Animal Legal Defence Fund (SALDF). Sophie Gaillard and Ashlyn O’Mara of the McGill chapter of SALDF, arranged for Fauna to not only be involved in the event but graciously included our Foundation as a recipient of part of the proceeds from the event, along with the ALDF and the Montreal SPCA.

The following presentation/discussion took place during the two nights.

Switzerland Leading the Way: A Presentation By the World’s Only Public Animal Welfare Lawyer, Dr. Antoine F. Goetschel.
Dr. Goetschel spoke about how Switzerland has become a world leader for animal welfare legislation and his role in the process. As the only public Animal Welfare lawyer in the world, his work has been key to get Switzerland, and more specifically the canton of Zurich, where they are today. Part of his mandate is to help other countries improve their animal welfare legislation by using Switzerland as an example and giving them the tools to build upon. It was very clear from his presentation that North America is far behind in their animal welfare/cruelty legislation and we have a lot of work to do.
Perspectives on Animal Law: A Panel of Experts from Switzerland, Canada, and the U.S.
The panel discussion included the aforementioned Dr. Goetschel from Switzerland, Alanna Devine – Director of Animal Welfare for the Montreal SPCA, and David Wolfson – lawyer and professor at the Columbia Law School in New York. Dr. Goetschel continued on the topics he had started the previous night in regards to the animal welfare legislation in Switzerland. Alanna Devine presented the portions of the Canadian Criminal Code that cover animal cruelty and she showed us how difficult it is to prosecute offenders in this country due to the wording in the law which states that the offender must show “willful” neglect in order to be found guilty. This is open to much interpretation and is a big reason why a lot of offenders are never prosecuted. Finally Mr. Wolfson concentrated on the factory farming industry and the hurdles they are facing to bring legislation to this industry. Factory farm animals make up 98% of all the animals humans are in contact with in North America, the number of animals in this industry is stunning. He also touched on the environmental impacts the factory farming industry has...it is considered the largest polluter, above the auto and oil industry.

From left to right is Dr. Goetschel, Alanna Devine, David Wolfson. This was taken during David's speech regarding factory farming.

The event also included a photo exhibit by Jo-Anne McArthur which concluded with a reception/vernissage on the last evening. Jo-Anne is an extraordinary photographer who has dedicated her work to highlight how humans have, and still are treating animals in all different countries and cultures. She has started the We Animals project http://www.weanimals.org/
and her photos are breathtaking yet thought provoking at the same time. We encourage you to visit her website and help support her project.

Jo-Anne McArthur

Once the event had concluded we had the pleasure of receiving Jo-Anne and Karol Orzechowski for a visit at the farm. Karol is a host on the Animal Voices Radio in Toronto. They took some time to talk with the staff and also took some audio and video footage with Gloria while she talked about the chimp's stories. Jo-Anne took some photos with the staff and the animals on the farm during the visit as well. You can find a quick review of her visit on her blog at http://www.weanimals.org/blog.php.

To Ashlyn, Sophie, Jo-Anne, and Karol, thank you for including Fauna in this event and giving the animals a voice!

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