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Students lead the effort to create a better world

Students are saving the world. Just skim the news lately and you’ll come across headlines about 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg’s compelling call to action at the recent UN Climate Change talks, or about the growing #FridaysForFuture youth movement and the recent Youth Climate Strike. Globally, youth are mobilizing a mass movement focused on creating a better world.

Locally, we at the Vancouver Humane Society are also inspired by the youth who have led the effort to bring more humane, healthy and sustainable plant-based foods to their school menus and who have worked to educate and empower their peers, and are proud to support amazing young people in Metro Vancouver.

Shiqi Xu and Naiara Peruchena are two of those local students who have been inspiring change in their community. Our Program Coordinator, Emily Pickett, first met Shiqi and Naiara in 2016 and supported them in co-founding a Meatless Monday Club at their school, Sutherland Secondary, helping to promote plant-based menu changes in order to help animals. Since 2016, their club has led a highly successful Meatless Monday campaign, with the growing demand for plant-based menu items leading to their school’s food service provider to commit to transitioning 20 percent of the daily menu to plant-based foods!

Shiqi and Naiara also presented their Meatless Monday work to the North Vancouver School Board, asking for a letter of support, which the board enthusiastically provided. They were also successful in getting a student choice policy for animal dissection implemented in the school district, with support from the Animals in Science Policy Institute. The student choice policy allows students to opt out of animal dissection and participate in alternative learning methods.

Sutherland Secondary students Naiara Peruchena (on left) and Shiqi Xu (on right)

All that said, it came as no surprise to us that Shiqi was recently awarded the prestigious Loran scholarship of $100,000 to go toward her undergraduate studies. She intends to study bioengineering and wants to help develop biotechnology that will save lives while replacing animals used in testing.

“I am proud of the work Naiara and I have done in promoting healthy, sustainable eating in our school and school district, with VHS’ support,” says Shiqi. “Not only has this experience allowed me to build my leadership skills, but it also played a central role in igniting my passion for sustainability and animal rights. In my bioengineering endeavours in the future, my goal is to help improve the lives of both people and animals.”

We have no doubt that Shiqi and Naiara will go on to do great things for animals, people and the planet after they graduate this year, and that they will leave an inspiring legacy for the next generation of students set to take over the Meatless Monday Club, who we too look forward to working with!

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Coalition calls on government to end wildlife-killing contests in British Columbia

The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) has joined a coalition of 54 environmental and animal protection groups, conservationists and scientists in calling on the government of British Columbia to put a stop to wildlife-killing contests, after learning about three such events currently taking place in the province.

In an open letter sent to the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, Doug Donaldson, our coalition expressed significant concern about the existence of contests throughout the province that are encouraging the indiscriminate killing of animals including wolves, coyotes, cougars and raccoons.

In some of these events, participants receive points for the type of animal killed and compete for a cash prize. The coalition is currently aware of three separate events, the first is a “wolf-whacking contest” hosted by Chilcotin Guns in Williams Lake; the second is a “predator tournament” hosted by the Creston Valley Rod and Gun Club; and the third is a wolf bounty being offered by the West Kootenay Outdoorsmen Club.

VHS opposes wildlife-killing contests on the grounds that they are unethical, inhumane and are not supported by science. Contest organizers claim they are protecting ungulate populations (deer, caribou, elk, etc.) by killing predators, but research shows that predator killing contests are ineffective and fail to address any root causes of decline. Instead, wildlife professionals suggest efforts should be invested in habitat protection and restoration.

These contests not only teach disrespect for wildlife through the indiscriminate killing of as many predators as possible, but they also disregard the value of individual animals, both intrinsically and as a part of the larger ecosystem.

We’re encouraging our supporters to contact their MLA and the appropriate government officials and respectfully ask that predator-killing contests be banned. Contact information can be found below. Feel free to use our coalition letter as a template for your own, but be sure to personalize your email!

Find contact information for your MLA

Hon. Doug Donaldson – Minster of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations & Rural Development
Telephone: (250) 387-6240

Hon. George Heyman – Minister of Environment & Climate Change Strategy
Telephone: (250) 387-1187

Fish and Wildlife – Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations & Rural Development
Telephone: 1-877-855-3222

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New transport regulations don’t go far enough to protect farmed animals

The federal government has finally released the new farmed animal transport regulations, which were last revised in 1977. Alarmingly, the new rules fail to address some of the most major animal welfare concerns and offer only minor improvements to the existing, outdated regulations.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s (CFIA) own statistics indicate that approximately 14 million animals suffer injuries during transportation annually in Canada and almost 1.6 million are reported dead on arrival each year. The agency also noted that the existing regulations did not reflect the current science regarding the care and handling of animals and failed to align with the standards of Canada’s international trading partners.

Yet the new regulations still fall significantly short of meeting the best available science and still do not reflect other international standards. Transport is a stressful process for farmed animals and internal CFIA documents revealed that the CFIA’s original intention was to drastically reduce transport times under the new regulations. Officials also indicated in briefing notes that transport times between eight and 12 hours were ideal. But under pressure from industry lobbyists, the CFIA abandoned its own recommendations.

For example, the CFIA initially proposed a maximum of 24 hours in transport for day-old chicks, but lobbying by the meat industry led to the maximum time being changed to 72 hours under the new regulations. Similarly, maximum times for cattle changed from a proposed 28 hours to 36 and spent hens, who are deemed no longer productive for the egg industry and are incredibly vulnerable, went from a proposed maximum of 12 hours to up to 28 hours.

Meanwhile, the European Union has a maximum transport time of eight hours for most animals, while in New Zealand and Australia it ranges from 12 to 24 hours.

Shockingly, animals can still be transported in all types of weather without protection from the elements – a situation that has been increasingly making headlines in recent years, when the public encounters transported animals in distress during heat waves and cold snaps.

These “new” regulations will lead to the continued suffering of millions of animals every year across Canada. Join us in telling the federal Minister of Agriculture, the Hon. Lawrence MacAulay, that the revised transport laws are unacceptable and fail to meet not only the best available science, but also the expectations of the Canadian public.

Read the recent coalition letter from 30 animal protection organizations, advocates, experts and Members of Parliament calling for stronger federal transport regulations

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It’s time to ban inhumane predacides in Canada

Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) is currently consulting Canadians on how the humaneness of pesticides to control predators (predacides) could be considered during their approval and use.

There are currently three active ingredients registered to control large vertebrate predators in Canada: sodium fluoroacetate (Compound 1080), sodium cyanide and strychnine. For the purpose of this consultation, the focus is limited to large vertebrate predators, for example, wolves, coyotes and bears.

Consultation Questions:

  1. Should PMRA include humaneness considerations as part of the pesticide registration process for products intended to control large vertebrate predators? If so, what would be the best options and approaches for doing so?
  2. Should PMRA develop public information, such as best practices / standards on humaneness considerations, that pesticide users could take into account when deciding whether to use a pesticide for controlling large vertebrate predators?  If so, what kind of information would be most useful?
  3. In either case, what should be the parameters to measure humaneness?

For more background information, please visit the PMRA’s homepage for the consultation. 

The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) has made a submission calling for humaneness to be considered in the pesticide registration process. VHS opposes the use of predacides, including sodium fluoroacetate (Compound 1080), sodium cyanide and strychnine, on the grounds that they are not only inhumane and violate animal welfare guidelines, but that they also pose an unacceptable risk to biodiversity, the environment and public safety. Therefore, we are calling on the Minister of Health and the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) to prohibit predacides under the Pest Control Products Act (PCPA). Read our complete submission here.

We are encouraging our supporters to participate in this public consultation before the April18th deadline. Please feel free to use our submission as a guide, but be sure to personalize your own (duplicate submissions are discouraged).


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Animal advocates, experts and Members of Parliament call for stronger federal transport regulations

Every winter the issue of farmed animal transport makes news headlines across the country and this winter is no exception.

Last week, during the extreme cold that hit parts of the country, CTV Toronto reported (CTV News at Noon, Jan.31, 2019, story starts at 2:45 minutes) on concerns from Toronto Pig Save advocates about the welfare of pigs being transported to Fearmans Pork slaughterhouse in Burlington in -35 degree Celsius weather.

The reality is that Canada’s federal regulations permit farmed animals to be transported for long periods of time without food, water, rest or adequate protection from extreme weather. The result is that approximately 14 million farmed animals arrive dead, dying or injured at federally inspected slaughterhouses each year. 

The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) and other animal protection organizations, advocates and experts have long called on the federal Ministry of Agriculture to strengthen Canada’s archaic transport regulations, which were last updated in 1977. Finally, in December of 2016 the Ministry released draft amendments to the regulations, but these offered only minor improvements and investigations revealed the amendments were directly influenced by the livestock industry, which strongly opposes any changes.

Meanwhile, the regulations have still not been finalized and animals continue to suffer during transport.

Join us in calling on the federal government to prioritize the release of significantly improved, evidence-based transport regulations.

Contact your Member of Parliament and the federal Minister of Agriculture, the Hon. Lawrence MacAulay, and let them know this issue is important to you! See the coalition letter to the Minister as a reference (please be sure to personalize your letter) and for a complete list of signatories.

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CFIA releases “What we heard” report from transport regulations consultation

Canada’s farmed animal transport regulations are extremely archaic (dating back to 1977) and VHS, along with other animal protection organizations and concerned citizens, have long advocated for stronger regulations to better protect animal welfare.

It’s been almost a year and half since the federal government held a public consultation on its proposed amendments to the transport regulations. Disappointingly, not only were the improvements being proposed very minor, but to date the final regulations still haven’t been released.

Just recently, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) finally released its “What We Heard” report, summarizing the feedback from the public consultation. This report will be used to inform the development of the final amendments.

As heat waves continue across the country, so do the trucks transporting farmed animals long distances with no protection from the weather. This issue has made headlines this summer, with footage of overcrowded and overheated pigs in transport trucks making recent news in British Columbia and Manitoba. Shockingly, in the Manitoba case the CFIA said the load was in compliance with the regulations, and that the animals were not overcrowded for the weather conditions at the time. This despite a thermometer reading of nearly 40 C and evidence of overcrowding and heat stress.

As efforts to finalize the amended transport regulations are underway, please join us in keeping the pressure on the federal government to prioritize the release of significantly stronger transport regulations that are evidence-based, free from industry influence and that will prevent the senseless suffering showcased time and time again in transport investigations.

Take action by sending an email to:

Lawrence MacAulay, Federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food –

Your Member of Parliament –

Dr. Cornelius Kiley, National Manager, CFIA –

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Handsworth student wins award for Meatless Monday efforts

Handsworth Secondary student, Meghan Little, was recently presented with a Student Recognition Award for her efforts to bring Meatless Monday to her school. Meghan’s peers and teachers nominated her for the award and even put together a video highlighting her work. The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) was honoured to be in attendance at the awards ceremony to celebrate Meghan’s success.

VHS Program Coordinator, Emily Pickett, first met Meghan at Handsworth’s Be Aware Fair, where VHS was tabling and talking to students about our Meatless Monday program. Meghan was keen to bring the initiative to Handsworth and so she worked with VHS, the school’s Environmental Club (of which she was a member) and the food service provider to get more veg options on the menu.

Handsworth’s Meatless Monday initiative was successfully launched on November 20, 2017 and Meghan and fellow Environmental Club members have been raising awareness of the benefits of going meatless and encouraging students and staff to opt for the Meatless Monday special ever since!

Meghan’s leadership and dedication to protecting animal welfare, the environment and public health were instrumental in improving student access to plant-based foods at multiple North Vancouver secondary schools. Meghan’s efforts inspired students at other schools to get involved and ultimately helped contribute to the recent commitment by local food service provider, Amaga Food, to expand on Meatless Monday by transitioning 20 per cent of the regular menu to plant-based at five North Vancouver secondary schools (Handsworth, Sutherland, Argyle, Windsor and Seycove secondary), starting this fall. This means students and staff will have access to humane, healthy and sustainable plant-based options every day!

“It’s exciting to see all the positive changes at Handsworth,” said Meghan. “The 20 per cent increase in plant-based options shows how open our community is to change and progress. I’m hoping our efforts for Meatless Monday will inspire other students to follow their passions and to make positive changes as well.”

This achievement would not have been possible without the help of Meghan, Handsworth’s Environmental Club and the incredibly dedicated students involved at the other participating North Vancouver secondary schools. As a grade 12 graduate, Meghan leaves behind a meaningful and inspirational legacy at Handsworth and is excited to attend the University of British Columbia in the fall, where we look forward to continuing to support her efforts to spread the “go veg” message!

Learn more about Meatless Monday and donate today to help us improve access to plant-based options at more schools and institutions.

You can also check out a recent feature on Meghan’s efforts in the North Shore News!

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What the Chilliwack Fair could learn from other country fairs

Facts show country fairs are successful without cruel rodeo events

The Chilliwack Fair refuses to eliminate cruel rodeo events, stubbornly ignoring all the moral arguments and photographic evidence showing that its annual rodeo causes animal suffering.

The fair, operated by the Chilliwack Agricultural Society, has ignored pleas from VHS, the BC SPCA, the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (Humane Canada) and Animal Justice.  They have ignored polls showing that 66 per cent of B.C. residents are opposed to rodeos. 

The fair doesn’t seem to care about animal welfare, but are they interested in being successful?  Here’s what happened to some other B.C. country fairs when they agreed to drop or curtail rodeo events.

After a campaign by VHS and Victoria Citizens Against Rodeo Events, the Luxton Fair on Vancouver Island cancelled its rodeo in 2015.  Fears were expressed at the time that the fair would not survive without the rodeo.  But that’s not what happened. The fair not only survived – it thrived. In 2017, a local newspaper quoted a fair organizer saying that despite the lack of a rodeo, “we’re still getting good crowds.”

The same thing happened when the Abbotsford Agrifair cancelled its rodeo in 2016. (also after a VHS campaign).  The Abbotsford News reported that attendance went up after the rodeo was cancelled.

After a long campaign by VHS, the Cloverdale Rodeo and Country Fair dropped four of the worst rodeo events (calf-roping, steer-wrestling, team-roping and wild cow-milking) in 2007.  Again, there were predictions that the fair would suffer. Instead, attendance at the fair has gone from 81,000 in 2004 to 110,000 in 2018 (36%). During the same period, attendance at the remaining rodeo portion of the fair has only increased from19,500 to 21,000 (8%).

The message is clear: Country fairs don’t need cruel rodeo events to be successful.  It’s a message the Chilliwack Fair would be foolish to ignore. 

TAKE ACTION: If you haven’t already done so, please join our effort to convince the Chilliwack Fair’s sponsors to take a stand against rodeo cruelty.

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Ditch dairy for these great alternatives

In an effort to promote the consumption of dairy products, the dairy industry has dubbed June “National Dairy Month”. But with milk consumption steadily declining in Canada and more people embracing healthier, humane and less resource-intensive dairy alternatives, we prefer to celebrate June as “National Dairy-Free Month”.

In the last few years the variety of dairy-free products on grocery store shelves has grown significantly, including almond, soy, coconut, pea and oat milks and creamers and dairy-free butters, sour cream, cheeses, ice creams and yogurts.

A number of factors have contributed to the growing demand for dairy alternatives, including increased public awareness of both animal welfare and environmental issues related to the dairy industry, as well as a growing body of scientific evidence that questions the industry’s health claims.

Take the Chilliwack Cattle Sales cruelty case as an example. Chilliwack Cattle Sales is one of Canada’s largest dairy farms and a major supplier to Dairyland. In 2014 an undercover investigation revealed horrendous acts of animal cruelty taking place on the farm. While the farm’s owners claimed to have no knowledge of the abuse and suggested it was not reflective of their company’s standards, the undercover investigator repeatedly reported concerns to the owners and no corrective action was taken. In addition, a lawyer for one of the workers charged painted a picture of a “toxic” work culture at Chilliwack Cattle Sales and the same farm had also previously been investigated for animal welfare issues back in 2008.

Time and again, undercover investigations have shed light on what is a systemic culture of cruelty within today’s animal agriculture industry.  Meanwhile, animal welfare is routinely compromised through standard practices in dairy farming. B.C. Milk Marketing Board inspection documents over an 18-month period revealed that one in four farms in the province failed to comply with the provincial animal-welfare Code of Practice. Starting in January, 2015, the inspections revealed cases of overcrowding, lame or soiled cattle, tails torn off by machinery, branding and dehorning of calves without pain medication, and cows lying on concrete. 20 of 73 farms, or 27 per cent, required “corrective action” after on-site inspections. About 10 per cent were still not compliant on a follow-up inspection. Another inherent issue with this industry is the separation of dairy calves from their mothers in order to collect the milk for human consumption.

It’s no wonder that consumers are increasingly dropping dairy and instead opting for alternatives. So, in honour of “National Dairy-Free Month”, we’d like to highlight just a few of our favourite dairy alternatives:

Milks & Creamers


Ice Cream


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New bus ad reminds us that animals are friends, not food

VHS’s new Translink bus ad highlighting our Go Veg campaign recently hit the streets of Vancouver. The ad, which features a young girl petting a pig, aims to remind us that when we were children we instinctively saw animals as friends and not food.

VHS’s Go Veg campaign works to help people rediscover that innate love for animals and to raise awareness of the power behind what we put on our plate.
In 2017, over 800 million land animals were killed for food in Canada. They are crammed, shackled and caged in filthy conditions that don’t permit them to perform the most basic natural behaviours. Most will never feel the sun on their backs or grass under their feet and their transport and slaughter conditions are equally horrific.

Every time we sit down to eat, we have an opportunity to stand up for a kinder world for animals. By choosing to leave animal products off our plates we’re helping to reduce the demand for meat that drives factory farming and we’re setting a positive example for others. You can download our Live Well booklet to learn more and get free vegan recipes.

French Toast Coffee Cake, Mac & Cheese Onion Rings, and Stuffed Crust Pizza – sound delicious?! These are just a few of the 101 recipes featured in Lauren Toyota’s new “Vegan Comfort Classics” cookbook. Help us spread the “go veg” message and you’ll be entered for a chance to win Lauren’s new cookbook! Keep an eye out for our bus ad, take a photo and post it to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and tag VHS. Use the hashtag #govegvancouver and we’ll select a winner at random.