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Traveling With Your Dog to Canada

August 3rd, 2011 38 comments

Traveling to Canada with Your Dog

Traveling from the United States to Canada with your dog is easy when you know the legal requirements.

Canada, like most countries, has specific rules for bringing dogs and other animals into the country.  The good news is that domestic dogs entering Canada do not have to be quarantined.  The bad news is that the United States is not considered a “rabies free” country under Canadian law.  Thus, there are some pretty strict requirements for traveling with your dog to visit our beautiful northern neighbor.

Signed Rabies Vaccination Certificate

According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, dogs entering Canada from the United States (or from any other non-rabies free country) that are accompanied by their owners must have a signed rabies vaccination certificate.  The certificate must:

  • Be written in English or French
  • Be issued and signed by a licensed veterinarian
  • Identify the dog by breed, color, weight, etc.
  • Confirm that the dog is vaccinated against rabies
  • Include the date of vaccination
  • State the trade name and serial number of the vaccine
  • Specify the duration of rabies immunity.

There is no waiting period between the time the dog is vaccinated for rabies and the time you may travel to Canada with your dog.  Additionally, dogs younger than three months of age do not require a rabies certificate to enter Canada from the United States.

It is important to note that different rules apply for dogs that are not accompanied by their owners when they enter Canada.

Dogs Entering Canada Without the Proper Rabies Certification

If you travel to Canada with your dog without the required rabies certification, you will have to have your dog vaccinated within a specified period (at your own expense).  The vaccination record will then have to be provided to a Canadian Food Inspection Agency office.

Assistance Dogs are Exempt

Assistance dogs certified as vision or hearing dogs entering Canada from the U.S. are exempt from the import requirements, so long as the person who is assigned to the assistance dog accompanies it to Canada.

Be Aware of Local Laws

If you are traveling to Canada with your dog, you should also do some research into the local laws of your destination to see if additional rules and restrictions apply.  For example, the province of Ontario maintains a ban on pit bulls and does not allow pit bulls to enter the province.

Doing your homework ahead of time and having the appropriate documentation can make for a stress-free and enjoyable vacation in Canada for you and your dog.

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Categories: Traveling With Dogs

California Man Faces Possible Life Sentence for Killing Chihuahua Puppy

May 20th, 2011 6 comments

California Man Could Spend Life in Prison for Killing Puppy

Animal welfare activists often wish that people who engage in barbaric acts of animal cruelty would be punished in a way that fits the crime, including mandatory prison terms for the worst offenses.

CBS News reports that Bud Wally Ruiz of Gilroy, California, is facing a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in prison for an act of animal cruelty.

During an argument with his wife on Thursday, Ruiz picked up her 6-week-old Chihuahua puppy and slammed it into a wall, killing it.  Ruiz has been charged with two counts of felony animal cruelty.

Life in Prison for Killing a Dog?

The reason Ruiz faces a potential term of life in prison for killing the dog has less to do with California’s animal cruelty laws than it does with the state’s “three-strikes” sentencing law.  By referendum, in 1994, California’s voters overwhelmingly approved a recidivist sentencing law in which an offender with two prior felony convictions could face 25 years up to life in prison for a third felony conviction. 

In a pair of decisions in 2003, the United States Supreme Court upheld California’s “three-strikes” law, ruling that the law does not violate the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.

According to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office, Ruiz has four prior convictions for assault with a deadly weapon.


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Update on Florida’s Farm Photography Bill

April 26th, 2011 No comments

We have been following SB 1246 as it makes its way through the Florida Legislature.  Recall from prior posts that Senator Jim Norman (R-12) introduced what we dubbed the “Florida Felony Farm Photography Bill” a few months ago.  As it was originally introduced, SB 1246 would have made it a first-degree felony to trespass onto a farm or to take photographs of a farm without the written consent of the farm’s owner.

Cows Photographed from the Roadside

The bill was aimed at combatting the efforts of groups such as the Humane Society of the United States who seek to expose what they consider to be cruel conditions on farms. 

As originally introduced, though, the bill was overbroad.  That is, the bill went so far in trying to prohibit certain conduct (photographing farming operations) that it would also have infringed on free speech.  For instance, the original text of the bill would have criminalized the mere act of photographing or making a video of a pastoral scene from one’s car or the public sidewalk.

And even if the bill did not suffer from overbreadth in its original incarnation, it was still ridiculously punitive.  Generally speaking, a first-degree felony is punishable by up to 30 years in prison under Florida law.

Revisions to the Bill

A Staff Analysis of the bill prepared on March 8, 2011, noted the very concerns we have been discussing here, namely lack of scienter and overbreadth.  The Analysis stated, “This bill does not take into account the intent of any violators of the statute nor does it create any exemptions such as for emergency response personnel, those touring a farm or those trespassing on a farm unintentionally.”  The Analysis also found,  “There may be potential First Amendment issues with the bill as written because the bill does not require that the offender actually be on private property to be guilty of photographing, etc., without the written consent of the owner.” 

SB 1246 has now been substantially revised.  It now provides that any person except a law enforcement officer or an employee or agent of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services acting under the law who enters a farm and produces an audio or photographic record without the owner’s written consent commits a first-degree misdemeanor.

So, the revisions addressed most of the concerns noted in the Staff Analysis.  Specifically, the revised SB 1246:

  • Creates an exception for law enforcement and Department of Agriculture personnel; and
  • Requires that violator actually be on the farm property while making the audio or photographic record of the farm’s operations.

Moreover, and quite significantly, the current version of SB 1246 knocks a violation from a whopping first-degree felony down to a first-degree misdemeanor. 

Nevertheless, the revised version of SB 1246 still arguably lacks a scienter element.  That is, there is no requirement that a person willfully enter the farm and take photographs without permission.  A person could accidentally stray onto a farm while on a hike, for example, and end up breaking this law.

If it passes, SB 1246 will take effect July 1, 2011.

Senator Jim Norman can be contacted at (813) 265-6260 or (850) 487-5068.  His e-mail address is norman.jim.web@flsenate.gov.

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Categories: Florida Animal Law

Florida Felony Farm Photography Bill will Undergo Significant Revisions

March 11th, 2011 6 comments

SB 1246, introduced by Senator Jim Norman (R-12), would make trespassing on a farm and photographing the farm, a first degree felony. 

Under the bill as it presently stands, a person could face a first degree felony charge, punishable by up to 30 years in prison, for:

  • Entering onto a farm or other property where agricultural operations are being carried out without the written consent of the owner or authorized representative.
  • Photographing, video recording, or otherwise producing images or pictorial records of the farm without the written consent of the owner or authorized representative.

As can be expected, the draft of SB 1246 that was introduced on March 8 has drawn sharp criticism from animal rights groups and First Amendment proponents.

I spoke with Dennis Cadle, Legislative Assistant to Sen. Nelson, this afternoon about the measure.  Cadle stated that the bill is set to undergo significant revisions to address constitutional concerns and to clarify the intent requirement for violating the law.

The Purpose Behind the Introduction of SB 1246

According to Cadle, the purpose behind the measure is the protection of property rights and intellectual property rights of farmers in the State of Florida.  Cadle explained that the proposed legislation is designed to prevent persons or groups such as PETA, the Humane Society and others from being able to conduct covert or undercover “sting operations” on farms because they disagree with “otherwise legitimate business operations” of the farms.

Cadle likened the activity of these groups to actions on the part of abortion opponents who would use improper means to object to otherwise legal actions.

Cadle clarified that the bill is not intended to act as a shield to allow farmers and ranchers to avoid scrutiny for illegal acts such as cruelty to animals or the employment of illegal aliens.  The application of the law would be limited to persons who, for example, gain entry onto the property by misrepresentation or subterfuge and then proceed to film or photograph legal activities they happen to disagree with.

Pictures of Cows

SB 1246 is Set for Major Overhaul

Revisions Are in the Works for SB 1246

Of course, for such limits to apply, the bill will have to undergo major revisions.  As it stands, the language of the bill is so broad that an individual who unwittingly wanders onto a farmer’s property after getting lost on a hike would be in violation and face a first degree felony charge, as would a tourist who snaps a photograph of a farm scene from the roadway.

Cadle explained that as part of the overhaul of SB 1246, a person would have to actually be trespassing on the farm in order to face criminal charges for photographing, video recording or otherwise producing visual records of the farm. 

Anyone interested in tracking SB 1246 can sign up for updates from the Florida Senate website. 

Senator Jim Norman can be contacted at (813) 265-6260 or (850) 487-5068.  His e-mail address is norman.jim.web@flsenate.gov.

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Categories: Florida Animal Law