New book outlines Canada’s shameful animal rights record

Professor John Sorenson poses with his two recent books, About Canada: Animal Rights and Ape.

Professor John Sorenson poses with his two recent books, About Canada: Animal Rights and Ape.

Canadians pride themselves on being nice, but the country is a moral contradiction when it comes to animal rights, says a Brock University professor in a new book released this week.

More than half of Canadians have pets. Some churches conduct an annual “blessing of the animals.” But when it comes to animal rights, Canada is in the dark ages compared to some other countries, says John Sorenson, chair of Sociology at Brock, in his book About Canada: Animal Rights.

“Gandhi is quoted as saying ‘The greatness of a nation can be judged by how it treats animals,’” he said. “Then we look at how animals are really being treated in Canada. In comparison to 10 other countries, we come out at the bottom of the pile.”

Sorenson, one of the country’s foremost experts in Critical Animal Studies, argues that Canadians are opportunists who profit from advanced legislation passed in other countries. He points out that while the U.S. has banned the practice of slaughtering horses, in Canada, 112,887 horses were slaughtered in 2008 for uses like pet food, fertilizer and glue. This is supported by Agriculture Canada.

Sorenson cites other examples of animal exploitation such as factory farming, the fur trade, sport hunting, puppy mills and a lax Canadian Council on Animal Care code of ethics that issues a “blank cheque” to vivisectors.

About Canada: Animal Rights was launched this week. It is published by Fernwood Publishing.

Quick links:
About Canada: Animal Rights | Fernwood Publishing
Dr. John Sorenson | Brock University

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10 comments on “New book outlines Canada’s shameful animal rights record”

  1. Tony Porcaro says:

    Those of us involved in animal rescue and support groups throughout Niagara know painfully well what Prof. Sorenson is talking about; while we struggle to save the lives of abandoned cats and dogs and prevent neglect and abuses at the community level, we are acutely aware of animal rights issues in their broader sense;I,for one, as founder of the Welland Feral Cat Support group ( have long realized that the root of so much animal cruelty in Niagara alone(much more than the general public know) is to be found in the incredible lack of compassion,empathy and understanding of what our fellow creatures should mean to us in a civilized society; and it is often those very groups which we have entrusted to animal care and protection such as our humane societies who are the least enlightened and accountable; there is an enormous need for education ,especially of the next generation ,because the status-quo is very deeply entrenched in our present culture’s way of thinking; I have read part of your excellent book online and hope to get my own copy and your other work at Brock,if available…all the best..Tony

  2. Tony Porcaro says:

    “Some denigrate the concept of the animal psyche, or separate themselves away from the idea that humans are both soulful and animal. Part of the problem lies in the perception that animals are not soulful or soul-filled. But the word itself,animal,is from the Latin,meaning a living creature, even more properly “anything living,” and especially, animalis:having the breath of life,from anima,meaning air ,breath, and life. At some point in time, perhaps not too far down the road, we may be amazed that this anthropocentrism ever took root, in the same way many are now amazed that discrimination against humans based on skin color was once an acceptable value for many.” -Jungian analyst and author Clarissa Pinkola Estes,Ph.D. cited in “Women Who Run With the Wolves”. We have a lot of both conscience and consciousness raising to do before we will accept a new value where “anything living” with “the breath of life” have the “right” to share this planet with us.

  3. Brandon says:

    I would respond to this communistic drivel, but for some reason my comments never seem to work properly on this website.

  4. Transparency says:

    Reply to Brandon: You obviously have no comments worth printing…other than the vitriolic “communistic drivel” aspersion which says more than we want to know about you!

  5. Brandon says:

    Well it is communistic, but you’re right that the ‘drivel’ comment was a judgment call.

    Anyone else think it ironic that a poster who calls themselves Transparency wants to censor my posts?

  6. Dan says:

    While I agree animals and pets should be treated kindly, and I agree that slaughtering horses for glue and fertilizer, and people abandoning pets etc is wrong, I see nothing wrong with so called Factory Farming. Humans are at the top of the food chain, and we need to eat. With the population and technology where it is right now, there is no avoiding it. Besides, we arent going into the wild and exterminating all the chickens, we breed them to be eaten later. No person is to blame for that, only the industrial revolution. I cant stand hearing people complain that we are evil because we kill cows and chickens for food.

  7. Henryk says:

    The notion of “rights” is entirely a human invention, and I fail to see how it could be applied to animals.
    Yes, we should not be cruel to animals, but animal “rights”? Who precisely granted any rights to animals?

  8. Melanie says:

    Great book! I was wondering how farming in Canada compared to that in the US, and it seems sadly similar. I had no idea horses were used in pet food. My uncle can’t understand cruelty to cats, but he’ll eat horse meat. I think it has a lot to do with whether we have spent time with different animals.
    As for Dan who sees nothing wrong with Factory farming in Canada, I recommend you check out “Canada: No country for Animals” on Global (you can watch it online) or check out the website for Canadians for the Ethical Treatment of Farm Animals (, where you can see pictures of chickens feet stuck in their battery cages while the birds have been taken to slaughter. Apparently, they don’t hang properly with one foot missing and the slaughter can be a mutilation rather than a successful slaughter. The cull of male chicks is also unethical, in my mind. There’s producing animals for food like it was done decades ago, but animal torture is rampant these days. I don’t think animal torture is ok in our food production system.

  9. Kaleigh says:

    I don’t understand. What’s wrong with using horses for glue and pet food? How is that different from using cattle for leather and beef? Its not like they are wasting parts of the horse, they seem to be those parts to good use.
    I wish the article was more specific when it comes to “slaughter” of the horses. Where they old horses? Did they break a leg and were going to suffer otherwise?

  10. A.Jeannette (Aldridge) says:

    I totally agree with John Sorenson….the quote by Gandhi speaks volumes and makes Canada look very barbaric in worldly standards. It is shameful and very sad that in this modern day and age that this is so.

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