BC SPCA urging public support of federal bill defining bestiality, cracking down on animal fighting

Proposed federal legislation would expand the definitions of bestiality and animal fighting in the Criminal Code. AP Photo/Elise Amendola

The B.C. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) has launched a campaign urging the public to support proposed federal legislation that would further protect animals from sexual abuse and fighting.

The campaign is in support of Bill C-84, proposed last October, which would amend the Criminal Code of Canada to expand the definition of animal fighting and baiting to include “promoting, arranging, receiving money for or taking part in the fighting or baiting of animals or birds.”

READ MORE: Liberals to broaden controversial definition of bestiality set by 2016 Supreme Court ruling

It would also criminalize training or transporting animals for those purposes and expand the offence of “building a cockpit” to include any arena for animal fighting.

The bill also seeks to define bestiality as “any contact, for a sexual purpose, with an animal.”

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According to the BC SPCA, the change “closes a legal loophole discovered in a case that went to the Supreme Court in 2016.”

READ MORE: Spike in stolen dogs could point to underground fighting rings in Alberta — animal society

In that case, Canada’s top court upheld the acquittal of a man who had been convicted in a lower court of facilitating sex acts between his stepdaughters and the family dog because the acts did not involve penetration.

In its ruling, the court said a broader reading of the crime would require a change in legislation.

READ MORE: Supreme Court defines crime of bestiality in Canada

The bill has passed committee stage in Parliament but would have to go through a third reading and be approved before June 2019 when the House of Commons rises for the last time ahead of the coming election.

The B.C. SPCA is calling on the public to email their MPs and push elected representatives to back the bill.

—With files from Amanda Connolly

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