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Canadian authorities threaten to seize 'relinquished' pets of arrested Freedom Convoy truckers

Ottawa using sweeping emergency powers to crack down on nonviolent protests.

Published: February 18, 2022 2:26pm

Updated: February 18, 2022 4:59pm

Canadian authorities are warning the so-called Freedom Convoy truckers protesting Canada's COVID-19 mandates that not only could they be arrested for participating in the peaceful demonstration but also their pets could be confiscated.

"Attention animal owners at demonstration," the official Twitter account of Ottawa's by-law and regulatory services tweeted Thursday. "If you are unable to care for your animal as a result of enforcement actions, your animal will [be] placed into protective care for eight days, at your cost. After eight days, if arrangements are not made, your animal will be considered relinquished."

The city of Ottawa, the site of the protest, added that the "Animal Care and Control By-law provides for temporary 'protective care' of animals by the city in the event that the owner is not available, under circumstances including eviction, incarceration, or fire or medical emergency."

The tweets were flagged by the Counter Signal news site and Canadian journalist Keean Bexte.

The city's protective care "authority is applicable citywide and intended to ensure the animals' safety and well-being, including the provision of basic needs, while their owner is unavailable to do so," said Jennifer Therkelsen, acting director of by-law and regulatory services for the city of Ottawa.

Relinquishment of a pet generally means animal shelters assume ownership of the pet, which will then wait to be adopted by a new owner. However, if the animal isn't adopted quickly, euthanasia may become a realistic possibility, according to, which bills itself as "North America’s largest non-profit pet-adoption web service." 

"When shelters run out of kennel space, sometimes even healthy adoptable dogs are put to sleep," according to "Some shelters simply don't have the manpower to spend time with each dog, so they spend most of their time alone in a small cage ... What is true at every shelter is that when you surrender a dog, what happens to him is completely out of your hands."

The Ottawa Humane Society has stated that "humane euthanasia is considered necessary" when an animal is "suffering severely or incurably," "dangerous to the public due to unstable temperament," or "professionally assessed as not suitable for adoption, either medically and/or behaviorally, using a best-practices protocol."

Some critics argue the last reason is arbitrary in nature and shouldn't be practiced.

Ottawa's announcement about potentially confiscating pets comes as police have begun arresting leaders of the Freedom Convoy. The Canadian government has indicated that protesters who are arrested could face up to a year in jail and $100,000 in fines.

The arrests followed Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's announcement this week that he would invoke the Emergencies Act, giving him broad and unprecedented emergency powers to quell nonviolent protests led by the Freedom Convoy truckers. For three weeks, truckers opposing COVID-19 mandates have blocked roads in downtown Ottawa.

Under the Emergencies Act, Trudeau's government has banned public assembly in certain locations and ordered banks to freeze the accounts of those involved in the convoy. The Canadian government has also mandated financial service providers must cease providing their services where the institution suspects that an account, either personal or corporate, is being used to further the blockade.

"DEMONSTRATORS: You must leave," Ottawa Police tweeted Friday. "You must cease further unlawful activity and immediately remove your vehicle and/or property from all unlawful protest sites. Anyone within the unlawful protest site may be arrested."

So far, the protesters have not committed any acts of violence, and Trudeau has refused to meet with the truckers to discuss their concerns.

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