The idea of eating our pets seems absurd. However, animal cruelty laws do not specifically prohibit us from doing just that.
The issue of people eating their pets entered public discussion in early 2018, when a BC family adopted a Vietnamese pot-bellied pet pig named Molly. Weeks later, the family slaughtered and ate her. Many members of the public were outraged, and the SPCA banned the couple from adopting any more animals.
However, under the law the family did nothing wrong. Camille Labchuk, a lawyer and executive director of Animal Justice, pointed out in the Globe and Mail, that as long as an animal—including a household pet—is humanely slaughtered, authorities can do nothing about eating a pet.
Labchuk believes that Molly’s story proves that animal cruelty laws need to change. According to Labchuk, “treating animals as mere property has fallen out of step with the prevailing moral conscience.”
Many people agree with Labchuk, arguing that it is time to update our animal cruelty laws. In fact, a 2017 report by the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), found that of all Canadian provinces and territories, Saskatchewan ranked 11 out of 13 for laws that protect animals. Sophie Gallard, the Canadian spokesperson for ALDF, told the Regina Leader-Post that “Saskatchewan’s law is the bare basics, so it’s probably time to revamp it.”
However, Kaley Pugh, executive director of Animal Protection Services Saskatchewan, countered that the ALDF’s ranking system is somewhat arbitrary. She told the Leader-Post that it “doesn’t necessarily take into account how the legislation is applied…. I don’t think it takes into account that we do a good job with investigations within the laws that we have to work with.”
Bill Thorn of the Regina Humane Society agreed that a review of the laws in Saskatchewan would be a good idea. However, he told the Leader-Post that protecting animals is more than just about passing laws. Thorn said that “it’s an educational process, it’s not just a legal thing.”
Some people have advocated for animals to be considered “sentient” under the law. Jurisdictions such as New Zealand and Quebec have done this. A sentient being thinks and has emotions.
What consequences would come from making animals more than just property under the law?