Considered creatures

The Gazette follows up on McGill’s We Animals symposium.

Alanna Devine is the director of animal welfare for the local SPCA. She has a law degree from McGill, is a member of the Ontario Bar and has clerked for the Supreme Court. She said she believes that having legal counsel representing the interests of animals in abuse prosecutions is advisable, but doesn’t expect the issue to come to the fore in Canada, and especially not in Quebec, any time soon.

“When it comes to animal welfare, I’d say that Quebec is about 100 years behind the rest of Canada and Canada is about 100 years behind a lot of the American states and those states are about 100 years behind the most progressive European countries such as Switzerland and Germany.”

She said a vital step the latter countries have taken is to recognize animals as sentient beings whose dignity and welfare merit legal protection while in Canada they are still legally regarded as mere property. “In Germany and Switzerland, animals are considered as creatures, not objects, separate from human persons under the law, but being something more than, let’s say, a chair or a car.”


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