PRINCE Edward Island (1), Manitoba (2), Nova Scotia (3) and New Brunswick (4) are the best provinces in Canada for animal protection laws, according to a report released today by the Animal Legal Defense Fund. Based on a detailed comparative analysis of the animal protection laws of all 13 Canadian provinces and territories, the report recognizes where laws protecting animals have real teeth, and calls out those where animal protection laws are the weakest like Nunavut (13), the Northwest Territories (12), Saskatchewan (11) and Alberta (10). The Animal Legal Defense Fund’s 10th annual report, the only one of its kind in the nation, ranks every province and territory on the relative strength and general comprehensiveness of its animal protection laws.

This year, Prince Edward Island showed unprecedented improvement, moving all the way from the bottom tier to the very top spot in just one year. In addition to having caught up to other top tier provinces by requiring veterinarians to report cases of suspected abuse and including incarceration as a possible penalty for offenders, Prince Edward Island’s new legislation also features particularly noteworthy and progressive provisions including prohibiting cosmetic surgery on animals, exotic animal circuses and the permanent tethering of dogs. New laws also require those who use animals in agriculture or scientific research to comply with recognized codes of practice. Prince Edward Island also empowers courts to issue protection orders covering animals and to order psychiatric evaluations and mental health counselling for offenders.

New Brunswick also showed significant improvement this year, moving from seventh to fourth place, breaking into the top tier. New Brunswick’s improved ranking is attributable to its enactment of broader law enforcement powers for animal protection officers and mandatory reporting of suspected animal abuse by veterinarians. Additionally, New Brunswick’s amended legislation now prohibits animal abandonment and protects all professionals involved in the administration or enforcement of the legislation from liability.

“The Rankings Report highlights the vast difference between the best and worst provinces for animals,” says Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells. “Even in the top tier, there’s room for improvement, and we encourage Canadians to contact their elected officials to push for strong and comprehensive laws protecting animals.”

The full report, including details about each province and territory, is available here.