February 20, 2002

Mr. Terry Horner
758070 2nd Line East Mulmur
Rural Route 2
Lisle, ON L0M 1M0

Dear Mr. Horner:

I am writing to you on behalf of our 115,000 supporters and the millions of Canadians who share our views on the protection of animals and the environment. Over the past 30 years, our staff has worked in Canada and in over 85 countries on issues affecting people, their animals and nature.

We have learned that despite being warned to the contrary, you continue to advise the public at large that dogs may be killed. Make no mistake. You are counselling people to commit criminal offences punishable upon conviction by fines, imprisonment, a criminal record and a prohibition from owning or working with animals for up to 2 years.

We are aware of at least six criminal case law precedents involving people inflicting cruelty on dogs, and then attempting to use provincial law to justify their actions. In all cases, this defense was rejected, and those charged were convicted of cruelty to animals.

You may be interested to learn, that I was personally involved in investigating and prosecuting three of those cases, as far back as 1982. One of those convicted was a dogcatcher in Essex County. After being convicted of cruelty to animals, he appealed his conviction. His appeal was denied and his original conviction upheld.

If you continue to counsel people to commit criminal offences, and then act upon your advice, you will be held individually responsible. You will not be protected by any corporate shield. If you review the provisions of any liability insurance policy which you carry, you will also see that it will not protect you from engaging in wrongful acts.

Make no mistake. This not open for negotiation.

We have also read published reports that the local animal control officer complains that existinglaws are not tough enough. On a personal note, during my professional career which has spanned three decades, I have handled hundreds of thousands of animals in a wide range of difficult and dangerous situations. Not once, have I ever found it necessary to use a firearm to resolve these issues.

If your animal control officer can’t do his job properly, than perhaps you should find one who can.

We have also carefully reviewed other provisions contained in the draft bylaws for the care and control of animals in Mulmur Township. Based upon this review and our experience, we believe that the proposed draft exceeds the authority given to you by the Province of Ontario to pass such local bylaws.

In our view, should you proceed with the passage of this draft, it will in turn, trigger at least four unfortunate and avoidable consequences for animals and taxpayers.

The proposed dog bylaws will:

  1. Result in unfair, inhumane and expensive services
  2. Result in numerous legal challenges by taxpayers, citizens’ groups and humane organizations - challenges which will not be covered by your liability insurance
  3. Create a ripple effect and result in other jurisdictions following your lead and passing defective bylaws which are open to legal challenge and for which you may also be held liable
  4. Trigger the overarching civil and criminal legal liabilities for each of you that are involved in passing defective bylaws.

While we understand your need to respond to local concerns, it should never be at the expense of animals or taxpayers, or even more importantly, common sense.

To this end, we are willing to work with you and your staff to review and amend the bylaws so that this results in the delivery of cost effective humane animal care and control services.

I can be reached through our toll free number 1-800-641-KIND or by fax (416) 368-1948.

Awaiting your reply, I remain, yours sincerely,

Michael O’Sullivan
Chairman & CEO
Humane Society of Canada