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Animal abusers are rarely prosecuted in Canada. And the few that are charged and convicted are rarely punished in any substantive way. Recently, Robert Fawcett of Whistler, B.C. was sentenced for the vicious bludgeoning deaths of dozens of sled dogs, many who were then buried alive. Despite being one of the worst cases of animal cruelty in Canadian history, Fawcett received no jail time, no criminal record and remarkably, no ban on owning dogs. Animal cruelty is not considered a serious crime by our justice system and is one of the most unpunished and weakly punished crimes in Canada.
Contrast this to the current criminal case in Surrey B.C. of Janet Olson, a 59 year old animal rights advocate, activist and rescuer who is facing charges for the theft of nine badly neglected and abused dogs. The cruelty the rescued dogs were suffering at the hands of their owners is being entirely disregarded in the handling of Olson's case. Not only did the police fail to mention the abuses in their press release following Olson's arrest, but they slandered her by falsely stating she "stole dogs for profit". This was an intentional and deliberate lie that was completely contrary to the truth, all the evidence and the publicly available information that Olson donates tens of thousands of dollars every year to help pay the rescue organization's enormous vet costs. The intent and result of this slanderous press release was public outrage against Olson who received dozens of threats of violence. Olson has since filed a complaint of slander that is being investigated.
In addition to misleading the public about the nature and motivations of her rescue work, the crown and police are even working to return rescued dogs to their abusive owners. And in one case they succeeded. The police removed one of the rescued dogs from his new adoptive family where he was living inside the home for the first time in his life and returned him to his abusive owner and stood by and watched as the dog fought to be put back inside the windowless shed he had been living in for the majority of the previous four years. Olson paid $4000 of her own money to buy the dog back and returned him to his adoptive family.
Olson has already spent more time in jail prior to a conviction then the vast majority of animal abusers receive following a conviction. It is deeply disturbing to anyone who cares about the welfare of animals that Canada's judicial system is not only extremely lenient in their prosecution of animal abusers but have demonstrated an eagerness to not only prosecute, but persecute, an animal rescuer.
Not only does our justice system not protect animals from suffering, it prosecutes those that do.
The right of animals not to suffer abusive or neglect is, at least in theory, protected by the Criminal Code of Canada which states "Every one commits an offence who willfully causes or, being the owner, willfully permits to be caused unnecessary pain, suffering or injury to an animal or a bird. " But in practice, animals are considered little more than property and, in the words of Surrey RCMP Cst Drew Grainger during an interview about Olson's case with Ian Hanemansing of CBC News, are considered by the law to "be no different than VCR's". (This interview can be seen on UTube at http://youtu.be/M8jnY6Tt5Qs )
When the authorities who are charged with the responsibility for preventing animal suffering fail to act and when the police are willing to return a dog back to an abusive owner animal rescuers like Olson know they are an abused animal's only hope. Olson points out that if these were children she had rescued from starvation, cruel confinement, beatings and hypothermia instead of dogs, it would be the parents who would be facing prosecution instead of her.
It will cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to prosecute Olson for rescuing nine abused dogs. If you agree that prosecuting Janet Olson does not serve the public interest please make your voice heard by calling, faxing or mailing both:
Surrey Crown Counsel Office at p: 604-572-2360 fax: 604-572-2398
Mailing Address: 14340 57th Ave, Surrey, B.C. V3X 1B2
The Office of the Assistant Deputy Attorney General Joyce Dewitt-Van Oosten.
Office of ADAG: phone 250-387-3840 fax 250-387-0090
Mailing Address: ADAG, PO Box 9276, Stn Prov Govt, Victoria, B.C. V8W 9J7
Janet can be reached via messages on Facebook "Campaign for Animal Rights Legislation", email at [email protected] or on Twitter at @CampaignARL