New leg­is­la­tion bet­ter pro­tec­tion for an­i­mals

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FEATURES/COMMUNITY - This ar­ti­cle was from the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture and Fish­eries. For com­ments and sug­ges­tions, email wemack­in­

The new An­i­mal Wel­fare Act will mod­ern­ize the province’s an­i­mal wel­fare leg­is­la­tion and im­prove the abil­ity of author­i­ties to act in cases of an­i­mal ne­glect or abuse. The new act re­places a por­tion of the cur­rent An­i­mal Health and Pro­tec­tion Act and the en­tire Com­pan­ion An­i­mal Pro­tec­tion Act.

The new act com­bines live­stock and com­pan­ion an­i­mals un­der a sin­gle act. It will of­fer both sim­i­lar pro­tec­tion from abuse and ne­glect and en­sure the re­vised of­fences and penal­ties can be ap­plied. The act also amends penal­ties for of­fences by in­creas­ing fines and adding the po­ten­tial for im­pris­on­ment. In ad­di­tion, it more more closely aligns Prince Ed­ward Is­land with other ju­ris­dic­tions in Canada.

The stan­dards of care pro­vi­sions in­tro­duced in the new leg­is­la­tion will al­low an­i­mal pro­tec­tion of­fi­cers to in­ter­vene prior to an an­i­mal be­ing in dis­tress by us­ing na­tion­ally rec­og­nized codes of prac­tice as a guide to proper care.

“The shift from dis­tress trig­ger to stan­dard of care leg­is­la­tion is cru­cial to im­prove pro­tec­tion for an­i­mals in Prince Ed­ward Is­land,” said Dr. Alice Crook, co-or­di­na­tor of the Sir James Dunn An­i­mal Wel­fare Cen­tre at the At­lantic Vet­eri­nary Col­lege. “This well-crafted leg­is­la­tion will en­able in­spec­tors to in­ter­vene ear­lier-be­fore an­i­mals ex­pe­ri­ence pro­longed dis­tress and be­fore they de­velop ma­jor med­i­cal is­sues that make it much more dif­fi­cult to re­ha­bil­i­tate them.”

Each owner of an an­i­mal must en­sure that it is pro­vided with ad­e­quate food, wa­ter and shel­ter and rea­son­able pro­tec­tion from in­ju­ri­ous heat or cold, vet­eri­nary care when it is in­jured or ill, a rea­son­able op­por­tu­nity for ex­er­cise and trans­porta­tion in a man­ner that en­sures its phys­i­cal safety and gen­eral wel­fare. The act also sets out what would be con­sid­ered im­proper con­fine­ment.

If an­i­mal pro­tec­tion of­fi­cers be­lieve on rea­son­able grounds that an an­i­mal is in dis­tress, they can con­duct an in­spec­tion, seize of take into cus­tody an an­i­mal and take any other rea­son­able ac­tion, in­clud­ing res­cu­ing the an­i­mal and pro­vid­ing med­i­cal care. An­i­mal pro­tec­tion of­fi­cers can also make an or­der to re­quire the own­ers to take any ac­tion that is be­lieved nec­es­sary, in­clud­ing hav­ing the an­i­mal ex­am­ined and treated at the owner’s ex­pense.

They can also take an an­i­mal into cus­tody with­out a war­rant with the con­sent of the owner, if the an­i­mal is be­lieved to be aban­doned, on the opin­ion of a vet­eri­nar­ian or if the of­fi­cer be­lieves that tak­ing the an­i­mal into cus­tody will pro­tect it from im­me­di­ate life-threat­en­ing dis­tress.

An ap­peal board will be es­tab­lished if own­ers con­test the find­ings.

Cor­po­ra­tions con­victed un­der the act can face a min­i­mum fine of be­tween $1,000 and $20,000 and in­di­vid­u­als are sub­ject to fines be­tween $500 and $10,000. They could as well face im­pris­on­ment of up to six months.

The new leg­is­la­tion sends a strong sig­nal that an­i­mal cru­elty and ne­glect will not be tol­er­ated. Once the act has re­ceived fi­nal ap­proval, it will be posted on the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture and Fish­eries web­site.

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