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A photo provided as evidence during an animal cruelty trail in Charlottetown of Nicholas, a mixed Labrador/Rottweiler dog recovering at the P.E.I. Humane Society earlier this year.
A photo provided as evidence during an animal cruelty trial in Charlottetown earlier this year shows Nicholas, an emaciated mixed Labrador/Rottweiler, recovering at the P.E.I. Humane Society. — Contributed photo

The images are horrific and the details beyond disturbing.

In Scotsburn, N.S., a man has been given a lifetime ban on owning domestic animals after two dogs were seized, and a third animal in his house was found dead.

The SPCA found there was no adequate shelter, no food, and the drinking water was frozen. The disturbing photos were posted on Facebook.

In Darlington, P.E.I., animal protection officers seized all remaining breeding dogs from a farm which humane society officials described as a puppy mill. The RCMP may launch a criminal investigation. In Summerside, P.E.I., a woman pleaded guilty to wilfully causing unnecessary pain and suffering to two dogs, which were later euthanized.

In Woodstock, N.B., there are calls for a long jail sentence for a local man who pleaded guilty to leaving his dog to die, with no food for more than two months.  An online petition had 47,000 signatures demanding he be given 18 months in jail, — the maximum sentence — a demand supported by an N.B. political party.

The SPCA found there was no adequate shelter, no food, and the drinking water was frozen. The disturbing photos were posted on Facebook.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, three traumatized kittens are recovering after being found in a snowbank near Deer Lake. It’s believed they were thrown from a vehicle. They were rescued by a passing truck driver.

And these are just cases from the past several weeks. They suggest current laws are too lenient if owners think they can abuse their pets with little repercussion or accountability. As one judge said in sentencing, owners have to realize that having a pet comes with obligations, and if owners can’t meet them, there are options much more satisfactory than neglect or abuse.

These cases are occurring in a region that gets high marks for its animal protection laws. A recent report suggested P.E.I. leads the nation in such laws, with N.S. and N.B in the top four, and N.L. in the middle of the pack.

The laws are clearly not tough enough if such disturbing events keep unfolding.

Animal abuse cases seem to get more attention around the holidays. Some animal protection groups now say that adopting a pet as a Christmas gift is perfectly OK, as data suggests that people who adopt from shelters during the holidays tend to keep the animals. That thinking runs counter to other rescue organizations that refuse to process adoptions over the holidays, as they consider Christmas present pets an impulsive acquisition, with the novelty and interest wearing off after a few weeks.

Despite P.E.I.’s lofty ranking, the island’s Humane Society notes that in 2018, it investigated in excess of 600 cases of abuse, more than double the number in 2017.

If this is happening in a province with such strong pet protection laws, what’s happening elsewhere?

Based on the recent disturbing cases, Atlantic Canadians should push for stronger laws protecting animals. A pet doesn’t deserve to be mistreated, and owners who neglect and abuse animals don’t deserve to own them.

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