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Province announces more money to help animals at High Park Zoo

Province announces more money to help animals at High Park Zoo

Bloor West Villager

By LISA RAINFORD

As the llamas and geese at High Park Zoo looked on, the minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services announced the government is taking significant action to enhance animal welfare during a press conference Friday, Oct. 25.

“I’m proud to announce new measures that will strengthen animal protection across the province,b said Madeleine Meilleur, crediting the bdedicated staff” at High Park Zoo and adding, “this zoo has been the first introduction to animals of this nature and the start of a love of animals for so many children.”

The government was prompted to strengthen regulations and protective measures in the wake of a Toronto daily newspaper’s expose last summer into animals’ living conditions at Marineland, Meilleur said.

The government is committing to conducting regular inspections of the 60-plus zoos and aquariums in Ontario, to boosting enforcement of animal welfare laws, while cracking down on puppy and kitten mills and augmenting standards of care for marine animals.

The government is investing $5.5 million annually so the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) bcan build on its successes,b Meilleur said.

This includes establishing a 24-7 centralized dispatch to ensure timely response to alleged animal abuse and neglect across the province, enhancing the responsiveness of investigators to animal welfare complaints from rural and northern communities, creating a squad of specially trained investigators to crack down on puppy and kitten mills and delivering specialized training for investigators in the agriculture sector.

“Animals offer so much and in return, they deserve to be protected from harm,” Meilleur said.

Rob Godfrey, chair of the OSPCA, called Oct. 25 ba very proud day.b

“This is a watershed moment for us that the government has come together with the OSPCA to recognize that it’s our job to protect those in our society that do not have a voice, to ensure animals are safe from neglect and abuse,” Godfrey said.

Investigations into animal cruelty amount to half of the OSPCAbs business, said Godfrey; the other half is shelter.

“There’s still a lot of work to be done, but I can tell you we’ve taken 1,000 steps that no other government has taken,” he said.

In addition to conducting regular inspections of the zoos and aquariums in the province, the OSPCA will establish a registry of these. The organization has committed to regular progress reports and transparency.

Parkdale-High Park MPP Cheri DiNovo attended Friday’s event, but revealed her disappointment.

“This announcement will change absolutely nothing. There are a number of jurisdictions in the world that treat animals better.”