Archive for the ‘ Animal Law ’ Category

Think Twice Before Releasing the Hounds: Dog Bite Law in Ontario


The joy and happiness of dog ownership has been proven time and time again. However, with dog ownership also comes legal responsibly. After all, dog breeds of all shapes and sizes have the potential to inflict harm to other people or dogs and the legal consequences must be taken seriously.

In Ontario, the Dog Owners’ Liability Act R.S.O. 1990, Chapter D.16 (the “Act”) governs the law in relation to dog bites and attacks.

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Has Your Pet Been Injured or Killed?: Compensation for Emotional Distress on the Rise


Traditionally, pets have been treated as property under the eyes of the law. That being the case, a pet owner attempting to obtain compensation for the death or injury of his/her pet was limited to the fair market value of the pet at the time of loss, plus any related costs incurred (such as veterinarian bills etc.). Thoughts of even awarding a pet owner general damages for “pain and suffering”, “mental and emotional anguish”, or “loss of companionship” for their pet’s loss, death or injury was unheard of in Canada. A pet’s loss was seen as no different  than losing a  Laptop computer or other prized personal property. Read more

Pigs in a Pit: Animal Welfare on the Meat Front



I wanted to bring to light the realities of the meat industry. I’d be the first to admit that I enjoy a good piece of steak or ribs every now and then.

However, I came across a clip of South Korean officials performing a government approved “Pig Cull” after discovering traces of foot and mouth disease in the meat supply. This involved the slaughter of over one million pigs in the hopes of eliminating the problem. Read more

Bedbug Barristers: An Emerging Legal Niche

Bedbug outbreaks are reaching pandemic proportions.  These critters multiply quickly and spread easily and thousands of bedbug sightings are reported every year in Toronto alone at increasing numbers. Bedbugs know no boundaries and have been known to infest living environments ranging from Motel 6 to five star hotels, and multi-million dollar condominiums. If you have blood in your veins, then you are susceptible to infestation regardless of your personal wealth or living quarters. Anybody can get bedbug infestations and nobody is immune. Read more

Turn Life’s Lemons Into Virtual Lemonade

When life throws you lemons, what can you do? A few options exist. Firstly, you can do as they say and make lemonade, but that is just way too cliché. Secondly, you can take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing, end them; of course this Shakespearean suicidal approach (from Hamlet’s famous “To Be or Not To Be” soliloquy) is never the best option. Finally, you can start your life afresh in a 3-dimensional virtual world called “Second Life”, an online platform that mimics life in the real world. As you will find out, this final option is probably the best choice as our society cruises further into the 21st century.

As its name suggests, Second Life provides an opportunity to live a second life in a virtual form, separate and apart from any aspect of the “physical” world. Online users who sign up for this experience become “residents” in the Second Life virtual world. These residents are then able to create their own onscreen graphic characters known as avatars. It is through these avatars that residents are able to navigate this virtual world and interact with millions of other residents while creating, designing, buying and selling any virtual objects they want along the way. Read more

Factory Farming Operations: The Smell of Mass Litigation at its Finest

Factory Farming Operations are a  real and substantial threat to the environment, human health, and the economic integrity of  communities plagued by the presence of such operations. Factory Farming Operations confine as many animals as economically possible into a fixed amount of available space essentially operating as a factory by treating animals as units of production. It is not uncommon to have  thousands or hundreds of thousands  of animals tightly cramped into cages in order to maximize production for the corporate producers. The implications of such industrialized farming practices will be discussed to shed light on the various classes of stakeholders who are impacted by these operations.

The environmental impacts of Factory Farms are no secret. Hundreds of thousands of animals cramped in limited spaces translates into thousands of pounds of waste collected in cesspools every day. This gives  off offensive odours to members of the surrounding community. It is also not uncommon for the waste to find its way into the soil leading to nutrient overloading  causing runoff and contamination of  surrounding waterways and local drinking wells.

For frontline employees of these operations, exposure to high levels of dust, ammonia,  and hydrogen sulfide can result in serious health effects. It has been reported that just 2 hours of exposure in these conditions can lead to bronchitis, and asthma.

Consumers of meat produced from these facilities are at risk of consuming meat infected with bacteria such as E-coli, Salmonella, and Listeria to name but a few. In addition, as a result of  the high level of antibiotics pumped into the animals to keep them from developing illnesses in these less than ideal conditions, antibiotic  resistant strains of bacteria may become more prominent creating more risk to the public. Further risks associated with these types of Factory Farm conditions include the incubation and spread of flu epidemics such as Swine Flu, Avian Flu, and even diseases such as Mad Cow Disease (BSE).

For those residents who are plagued with a Factory Farm in their backyards, health effects have been reported to include asthma, immune suppression, neurological symptoms, psychological impairment, gastrointestinal problems and increased infant mortality rates. In addition, the establishment of such Farming operations greatly decrease the value of local properties, and outcompete smaller family run farming operations through its monopolistic nature.

The lower costs of food that Factory Farming practices may generate  fails to consider the great costs of production associated with environmental degradation of our air, water, soil, health and economic integrity posed by such practices. It is time for the power of class action litigation to do what it does best in  circumstances such as this where the regulatory regime falls short: behaviour modification.

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