Legal Showdown: Animal Justice Fights Canada’s Dog Rescue Ban

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Animal Justice and dog rescue group Soi Dog Canada were in court this week, arguing an important motion in a case that challenges a federal ban on dog rescue from over 100 countries—including many of the world’s most vulnerable and war-torn regions.

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On September 28, 2022, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) banned the import of rescue dogs from most countries in a misguided effort to safeguard against dog rabies. Animal Justice and Soi Dog Canada believe the total ban is unlawful because it is unreasonable and goes further than necessary to protect against rabies, and because the agency unfairly failed to consult dog rescue groups.

On January 23, the groups fought in court over whether the CFIA would have to disclose more evidence about their rationale for enacting such a drastic ban. The CFIA wants to keep some documents secret, on the basis that they contain sensitive information. Represented by lawyers from Cassidy Levy Kent LLP, Animal Justice and Soi Dog Canada argued that we can’t properly and fairly review the ban in court if the government isn’t compelled to provide more information. 

Canada was once considered a lifeline for dogs abroad, and several international charities had dedicated teams of volunteers who brought dogs in need to Canada. But the devastating policy means more dogs will be left to die on the streets, in the dog meat trade, or in overcrowded high-kill shelters. No other Western country has such a drastic ban.

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Canada should instead rely on science-based rabies prevention measures, like vaccination, antibody testing, and quarantine—just like many countries around the world already do.

Canadians Oppose Ban on International Dog Rescue

Since the ban was enacted, there has been major pushback from Canadians and dog rescue groups.

On February 3, 2023, MP Michelle Rempel Garner presented a federal e-petition to Parliament with over 20,000 signatures, calling on the government to ensure its policy on dog imports will keep Canadians safe without increasing the number of animals in shelters or on the streets globally.

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Notable Canadians are also using their platforms to raise awareness and push back against the ban.

Actor and comedian Lauren Ash, originally from Bellville, Ontario, and known for her role in sitcoms Superstore and Not Dead Yet, spoke up against Canada’s harmful policy. 

Canadian pro football running back and dog rescuer Brady Oliveira has also vocally opposed the ban, calling on his large social media following to take action. 

There is much more in store in our legal challenge to protect vulnerable dogs abroad. Please join us in speaking up for homeless dogs in need, and stay tuned for more updates on this important case.

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