Toronto vegans taking Walmart and Home Depot to court over mouse traps
They may sound more "humane" than your traditional, spring-loaded, snapping type of mouse trap, but glue traps — which lock live rodents into place with powerful adhesives — are anything but kind.
In fact, animal rights activists describe such traps as "one of the cruelest methods of killing animals that exists today."
"Trapped rodents and other animals suffer immeasurably during the days that it takes for them to die," writes PETA.
"Glue traps rip patches of skin, fur, and feathers off the animals' bodies as they struggle to escape, and many animals even chew off their own legs trying to get free."
"Some animals get their faces stuck in the glue and suffocate, which can take hours," the organization continues, "Glue-trap manufacturers generally direct consumers to throw animals in the trash along with the trap, leaving the victims to suffer for days until they finally die of starvation."
In an effort to prevent small animals from suffering these types of agonizing, drawn-out deaths in the future, a Toronto-based group called Canadians for Animal Protection is mounting an unprecedented legal challenge against retailers that sell glue traps — and not just any retailers, but the biggest retailers in Canada.
Retired lawyer and animal rights advocate Sandra Schnurr kicked off what supporters are calling a "David-and-Goliath" court case in Toronto on Friday against Walmart, Canadian Tire, Home Hardware, Home Depot and Lowes.
Schnurr is arguing on behalf of the Canadians for Animal Protection that the use of rodent glue traps contravenes animal cruelty laws in Canada and that stores should be banned from selling them.
"The Criminal Code prohibits causing unnecessary suffering to animals, yet these stores sell products that torture animals to death," says Schnurr. "This is totally unnecessary, given the availability of far more humane methods of rodent control."
The vegan lawyer was joined by protestors for a rally ahead of their first court hearing at 393 University Avenue on Friday.
It's still the early days, but Schnurr is hopeful that the case can proceed past the initial "housekeeping" stage to a hearing where she can make her case for banning the sale of glue traps.
But first, the Canadians for Animal Protection will have to defend their right to even ask a judge to hear their case.
"In legal jargon, [Canadian Tire and Walmart] say our application is an 'abuse of process' because we are trying to use the civil courts to enforce a criminal law, which traditionally has not been allowed," explains Schnurr. "Enforcement of criminal law is normally only within the purview of the government."
Should the retail juggernauts win, the case will be over. Should the animal rights activists emerge victorious, it'll be on to the next stage of battle.
"We have an excellent judge and we are assured of a fair hearing (which, unfortunately, is not the same as a WIN!)," says Schnurr, hailing The Honourable Justice Lorne Sossin as progressive, open to new ideas and passionate about access to justice.
"He did not indicate that he thought the issue of rodent glue traps was trivial or unworthy of his valuable time; and he decided that he would be 'seized of the matter', meaning that he would be the judge to deal with all the stages of the proceeding," says Schnurr.
"So, it was a good day at court," she continued. "And it was made far better by a small but passionate group of supporters who demonstrated loudly outside before court started, but who behaved with perfect decorum in the courtroom."
Another hearing is set to take place some time this summer.
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