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Morin-Heights Quebec, the true first ever bylaws that protect companion animals

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On August 5 2014, on the site offislandgazette.com it was posted that the town of Hudson is the first town to take a bite out of animal cruelty. Social media was bursting with comments expressing happiness at the amazing awakening of the town officials. People were happy to learn that finally a town would be the first to establish bylaws that protect the most vulnerable from abuse: animals.

Just like there is a lack of laws that protect animals in our province, there is a lack of knowledge on the topic. Morin-Heights Quebec took the first steps towards the evolution of animal law. In 2011, several town officials agreed to a meeting with respectable animal advocate Bill Bruce. They were part of an exclusive two-hour briefing by Bill Bruce, the highly respected director of Animal and Bylaw Services and Chief Bylaw Enforcement Officer/Protective Services, for the City of Calgary.

The event was organized by Johanne Tasse. Ms. Tasse is president at Centres d'Adoptions d'Animaux de Compagnie du Quebec (caacQ).The people invited to the meeting were Quebec community representatives interested in the topic of animal control. Montreal City counselor Mike Cohen, and other officials attended the meeting. Liberal Senator Francis Fox was the highest-ranking politician in the room. The boroughs of St. Laurent and Verdun who have cat bylaws were both represented. Other cities present at the meeting were Morin-Heights, Longueuil, Ste. Agathe, Val David, St. Marguerite and the Plateau-Mont-Royal Borough.

These are the true pioneers of animal law evolution in the Province of Quebec. They took the time to listen to Mr. Bill Bruce and put his ideas to work for the animals of the city.

It is necessary to mention that in the by-laws of Morin-Heights, it is specified that the person in charge of the care of the animal is GUARDIAN. Although in Quebec animals are considered to be equal only to inanimate objects, the term guardian gives animals the right to be acknowledged as sentient.

It states:

Guardian »: is reputed as being a guardian, the owner of an animal or a person who gives refuge to an animal, or feeds it, accompanies it, or acts as being it's master, or a person who requests a license as provided for in the present by-law; is also reputed as it's owner, the occupant or lessee of a unit where he resides.

The animal advocacy group In Defense of the Animals started the Guardian Campaign in 1999. The purpose of the campaign is to promote the use of the term ‘guardian’ rather than ‘owner.'

This will encourage a more responsible relationship between pets and those who care for them.As more people consider using the updated term “animal guardian,” evidence of society’s deep personal relationship with dogs, cats and other animal companions comes to light. Society’s views change over time and every so often, society calls for a language facelift. It is not so long in human history that women, children and others were seen, in legal terms, as merely property.

The following are a few of the municipal bylaws that exist in Morin-Heights. The bylaws that cover animals in parked cars, animals in open box of truck and studded or choked collars were passed in 2011. The rest of the mentioned by bylaws were passed in the beginning of 2013.

Dog Breeding Facilities:

  • The maximum number of animals that can exist within a house unit is five.
  • A permit can be acquired in order for people to have more than five dogs.
  • This permit cannot be used for breeding purposes and the five dogs must be sterilized.

Animal Cruelty

  • It is prohibited to leave an animal inside a parked car
  • Use of studded or choke collars is prohibited, as is a halter or any other form of device which may strangle an animal
  • It is prohibited to leave an animal tied outside for more than 3 hours
  • It is forbidden to carry an animal that is tied or not, in the open box of a truck
  • It is prohibited to use or allow the use of traps or poison outside of a building to capture or destroy animals, with the exception of a trap-cage
  • A guardian cannot abandon one or more animals with the goal of getting rid of it. It must be done responsibly or given to an animal control service if space is available at the applicable cost
  • A guardian, knowing that his animal is hurt or has a contagious disease, commits an offense to the present by-law if he does not take the necessary steps to take care of the animal or submit it to euthanasia

Cats

  • For a stray cat, he/she may be captured and sterilized (at the Municipality's request)
  • There is a working TNR program established in Morin-Heights

These are just a few of the many important things covered by the Morin-Heights Animal Control bylaws. There is provincial law and municipal law. Morin-Heights sets the example for the other municipalities in Quebec to follow. Morin-Heights is the first municipality of Quebec showing true awareness of the need to establish bylaws that take care of their citizens and their animals. We applaud that the town of Hudson is taking action and is helping out their citizens and animals.

They are evidence of the famous Gandhi quote:

"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated."

― Mahatma Gandhi

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