Air Canada, you've just lost my business
"Air Canada confirms shipments to Europe
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Speeding down the runway in Dorval May 21, Air Canada passengers bound for Paris heard a lot more than just the jet's engines wailing.
Dogs were yelping in the cargo hold beneath them.
The estimated 70 to 100 healthy beagles were among many regular - and perfectly legal - trans-Atlantic shipments by Air Canada of dogs destined for medical experiments.
Passengers on the flight found the sound of the dogs very distressing.
"All we could hear during the boarding and before the takeoff was barking, crying and whimpering," said one passenger in business class on Flight 870 who did not want to be identified.
After landing in Paris, passengers saw three pallets with cages of two dogs each being unloaded from the Airbus 330 aircraft.
"Their tails were wagging through the cages," said one passenger, who also asked not to be identified.
"We were shocked to hear some flight attendants say this goes on regularly - dogs get shipped to Paris for experiments." Because Quebec's animalprotection law is vague and weakly enforced, the province provides a steady source of dogs for laboratories both here and abroad, animal rights activists said.
"Fifty per cent of all dogs used for medical research in Canada are used in Quebec," said Liz White, a director of the Animal Alliance of Canada, a national animal rights group.
Figures found on the website the Canadian Council on Animal Care, a government-funded organization that monitors animal research, show 5,610 dogs were "used" in Quebec in 2005.
That same year, 5,127 dogs were used in all the other provinces combined.
Despite a tough new provincial animal-welfare law enacted 2004, "Quebec is a frontier province for animal abusers," White said.
"There are very few bylaws, there is a high euthanasia rate by pet owners), and the claim rate for lost pets is very low." The Quebec atmosphere helps medical researchers trade in animals, she said.
Only four inspectors enforce Quebec's animal-welfare law, which allows for fines of $200 to $15,000 for repeat offenders. In Ontario, more than 200 inspectors enforce animal-welfare regulations.
Suzanne Lecomte, chief inspector with Anima-Quebec, a not-for-profit agency that applies the new law, said the "law is vague. It says simply you cannot compromise the safety and welfare of the animal." Linda Robertson, director of the Monteregie SPCA, said beagles are often used in research because they are particularly docile.
"You can do with a beagle whatever you want," she said.
"It's not going to bite you." The breed can be tailor-made to develop certain cancers, she added.
Pierre Barnoti, executive director of the SPCA in Montreal, said his group has been aware of the air shipments for years.
"Our investigators have checked out the dogs' health and they're fine," Barnoti said.
"These are not puppy mill dogs," he said.
Claude Morin, president of Air Canada Cargo, confirmed the existence of animal shipments for medical research.
"It's completely legal," Morin said. "The animals are treated perfectly (en route).We don't really ask too many questions about where they're going.
Clients don't have to tell us anything." Air Canada spokesperson Isabelle Arthur said a 1998 ruling by the Canadian Transportation Agency forbids the airline from refusing to ship animals simply because of their purpose. The ruling was made after Air Canada refused to carry monkeys intended for vivisection.
But Jadrino Huot, a spokesperson for the CTA, said the ruling was made to force Air Canada to apply its own policies and that the airline was entirely within its rights to change its policies.
"Air travel is a deregulated industry," he said. "They set their own policies." One Air Canada flight attendant, who asked not to be identi- fied, said the dog shipments have been kept "hush, hush." "It's a business," she said.
"They shouldn't be doing this." mharrold (at) thegazette.canwest.com " Source
To quote my friend Marci, I don't love beagles. I know an insane beagle that may have clouded my perception of them. But they are dogs, and they are living creatures, with emotion and memory and most importantly, pain receptors. They are not here on this planet for us to torture them or experiment upon. When will we all realise this. If you feel like I do, then please contact Air Canada at www.aircanada.com and explain (politely please) how you will choose to fly with a carrier that does not export souls to a lifetime of science experiments while still in their bodies.