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Ontario's new, tougher animal welfare act takes effect

Diamondsmum
March 1st, 2009, 10:04 AM
TORONTO Ontario's Provincial Animal Welfare Act officially takes effect today, ushering in tougher penalties for animal abuse.

Before overhauling the 90-year-old act, the province had been criticized for having the most lax animal protection laws in the country.

The provincial government says it's gone from "worst to first" and Ontario is now the only jurisdiction in Canada with special protections for law-enforcement animals like police dogs and horses.

The legislation also imposes new rules on the province's dozens of roadside zoos, giving the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals the right to inspect them.

Veterinarians are now required to report any instances of abuse or neglect.

And a new section of the act makes it illegal to cause an animal distress, train an animal to fight, or have structures or equipment used in animal fights.

Penalties for individuals under the act include fines between $1,000 and $60,000 and jail time between 30 days and two years.

Pet owners convicted of a crime under the act can also be barred from owning any animals for life.

story here (http://www.cp24.com/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20090301/090301_animal_protection/20090301/?hub=CP24Home)

Proposed Provincial Animal Welfare Act calls for jail time and fines of up to $60,000 for abusers

Apr 04, 2008 04:30
Jim Wilkes
Paola Loriggio
Staff Reporters

Ontario is cracking down on animal abusers with the toughest legislation in the country, but the Toronto Humane Society says the plan still has no teeth.

Animal abusers could be hit with jail time, fines up to $60,000 and a ban on owning pets if the new Provincial Animal Welfare Act introduced yesterday at Queen's Park, is passed by the Legislature.

Among key changes are laws requiring veterinarians to report suspected abuse or neglect, said Rick Bartolucci, the province's Community Safety and Correctional Services minister who introduced the legislation.

Last fall the Humane Society criticized the Liberals' electoral plan to change provincial animal cruelty legislation and the organization is disappointed officials ignored its recommendations, said spokesperson Lee Oliver.

"The real problem is that there's no genuine strengthening of powers, and it doesn't say how it will (financially) support the changes," Oliver said, adding that the province declined the society's offer to discuss the proposal.

He said the changes were a step in the right direction, but failed on several key points, including the creation of a province-wide standard of animal care.

The new legislation would be the toughest in the country, Bartolucci said yesterday at the Newmarket headquarters of the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

The minister, who nuzzled Crash, a dog who lost a leg when it was tossed from a speeding pickup truck last year, said the new laws were the most significant changes to animal welfare legislation since it was first passed in 1919. At that time, the Humane Society was responsible for the protection of both animals and children, he said.

"This is all about protecting our animals," Bartolucci explained. "There are too many incidents of dogs and cats being abused, birds being trained for cockfights and animals going unfed and held in deplorable conditions."

OSPCA Chief Inspector Hugh Coghill welcomed the proposed new laws. "We've waited a very long time to see substantive progressive amendments to Ontario's animal welfare legislation," he said.

He said the proposed laws would help the society more closely protect animals like the 166 dogs and four goats seized from a Bancroft puppy mill this week.

"They were in cages and pens in pretty bad conditions," Coghill said.

Under existing laws, the animals must be returned to their owner if he can clean up the conditions and pay any bills owed to the society for interim care.

The new legislation would allow the society to seek custody of seized animals until their owner is dealt with by the court.

Another fan of the proposed law is long-time dog-owner Paulette Toubi. "It's long overdue," she said yesterday, watching her year-old mutt Daisy gambolling in the grass at David Crombie Park. Daisy, a tousled bundle of canine exuberance, was abandoned by her previous owner and rescued by the Toronto Humane Society, where Toubi adopted her.

"It's important, because they're sentient beings," Toubi said. "They feel love and pain, they can be embarrassed, they have a sense of humour they're just like us."

Bartolucci said that last month, the society rescued 300 rabbits caged in a filthy shed in Barrie, just one of the more than 15,000 allegations of animal cruelty it investigates each year. It also rescues "tens of thousands" of abandoned dogs and stray cats from the street, he said.

Bartolucci said the new legislation will go hand-in-hand with a $5 million investment it made earlier this week to "to improve and modernize" OSPCA facilities and shelters across the province, what he called the largest single investment in the society by any government.

The new act would give the OSPCA the authority to inspect non-residential premises where animals are kept for entertainment, exhibition, boarding, sale or hire including public and private zoos, circuses and pet shops.

Society inspectors would also be permitted to enter almost any non-residential locations where they have "reasonable grounds" to believe an animal is in immediate distress.

Bartolucci said the proposed act would "bring more animal abusers to justice" by establishing new provincial offences against cruelty to animals, including:

Causing or permitting distress.

Training or allowing animals to fight.

Harming a law enforcement animal.

Obstructing an OSPCA inspector or agent.

Judges would also be given greater flexibility to impose stiffer penalties, including jail time, fines up to $60,000 and a potential lifetime ban of owning an animal of any kind.

Bartolucci said the proposed legislation advances the work of Willowdale MPP David Zimmer, who earned an international award last year for his efforts to regulate roadside zoos.


Toronto star (http://www.thestar.com/News/Ontario/article/410147)

Read the full Bill 50 here (http://www.ontla.on.ca/web/bills/bills_detail.do?locale=en&BillID=1979)

hazelrunpack
March 1st, 2009, 10:55 AM
I can't open either link...the pages just won't download over my oh-so-majestically-slow connection :rolleyes:...

So how well is 'causing distress' defined in the law?

Diamondsmum
March 1st, 2009, 11:07 AM
hazel

The first link is actually the same story (I always try & copy the story) just so you & others dont have to go to the site.

2nd link I added that article as well. (more in depth)

I think this is good news for our animals

hazelrunpack
March 1st, 2009, 11:47 AM
Thanks for adding that, DM! :thumbs up

I'm trying to get out to the bill now... :fingerscr that my connection doesn't die on me anymore :frustrated:

hazelrunpack
March 1st, 2009, 12:14 PM
It's much better than the bill that was proposed here last year, that's for sure, but there are still some things that could be better clarified, imo.

The first thing that jumps out is that it really doesn't define "distress", which is something that will be open for a lot of interpretation. When does it become "distress" and when is it just "generally acceptable practice"? On the basis of that, puppy millers might be able to make the case that life in a crate is "generally acceptable practice". And if the owner of a regulated business happens to have a dog with cancer on the premises and has chosen not to treat it with chemo, is that dog going to be considered "in distress"?

One other thing that's a little troubling is giving the SPCA police powers. I'm not sure what sort of powers the SPCA has in Canada, but I sure do hope they're getting some training! :eek:

I hope a lot of members here look at the bill and add their :2cents:... I think the more people actually read the bills and find things to improve, the stronger subsequent legislation can be. :thumbs up The solutions are out there, it's just often difficult to tease through all the unintended consequences.

Diamondsmum
March 1st, 2009, 01:16 PM
I agree hazel, I am hoping Chris can shed some light on it (defying distress)

I have the .pdf of the bill if you want to email it yo you?

hazelrunpack
March 1st, 2009, 05:47 PM
Thanks, DM, but no need to send the .pdf. The link to the bill opened up fine :thumbs up Those sorts of links don't have much graphic overhead and open up well for me. :D

Chris21711
March 2nd, 2009, 10:59 AM
It's much better than the bill that was proposed here last year, that's for sure, but there are still some things that could be better clarified, imo.

It is better than what we had Hazel, but still falls far short of what is needed

The first thing that jumps out is that it really doesn't define "distress", which is something that will be open for a lot of interpretation. When does it become "distress" and when is it just "generally acceptable practice"?

I think it is pretty apparent when an animal is in distress physically, I don't think that they are aiming at the mental distress :sad:

On the basis of that, puppy millers might be able to make the case that life in a crate is "generally acceptable practice".

Up until now, the law permits for an animal to be caged as long as the cage meets the criteria. Whether this has changed with the implementation of Bill 50 I don't know, I doubt it though :sad:

And if the owner of a regulated business happens to have a dog with cancer on the premises and has chosen not to treat it with chemo, is that dog going to be considered "in distress"?

One cannot be forced to provide treatment to an animal, but must alleviate the pain and discomfort that that animal is experiencing, if they are unable to do so, from what I understand the animal in question can be seized or signed over to the society.

One other thing that's a little troubling is giving the SPCA police powers. I'm not sure what sort of powers the SPCA has in Canada, but I sure do hope they're getting some training! :eek:

They only have police powers in upholding the SPCA act, they enforce that particular law, no others.....yes, they are given training in how to defend themselves, fortunately, since most people they confront are not too happy to see them If they did not have police powers, how would they uphold the law ?

I hope a lot of members here look at the bill and add their :2cents:... I think the more people actually read the bills and find things to improve, the stronger subsequent legislation can be. :thumbs up The solutions are out there, it's just often difficult to tease through all the unintended consequences.

IMO It will be a long time before the legislation will improve. Until animals are are no longer considered "Property" not much else will be done.

Let's see what the "Judges" do with their new powers, at the present time, it seems that a slap on the wrist is suffice :frustrated:

chico2
March 2nd, 2009, 04:47 PM
I'd say anything is better than what we have now,at least they are doing something..the question is,will the Judges give stiffer sentences.
Here in Ontario you can kill a person and get house-arrest:evil:,especially if you come from a wealthy,white-collar family..are they really going to throw an animal-abuser in jail:confused:I doubt it:sad:

Mom_Of_Two_Dogs
March 3rd, 2009, 12:01 AM
Fingers crossed that this also protects non-captive wild and stray animals as well. The punishment for poisoning a raccoon should be the same as if it should be for a dog.

Melinda
March 3rd, 2009, 07:16 AM
there was an article in our paper that shows our Bonnie (spca officer) she is so happy over the new law....she's a real tiger when it comes to animals not cared for properly....like tied outside etc......

hazelrunpack
March 3rd, 2009, 09:51 AM
From what I read on the link to the legislation, Melinda, the law only applied to businesses, not residences. Will it actually empower Bonnie to approach residences if they aren't running an animal-related business out of the home?

Melinda
March 3rd, 2009, 12:01 PM
article in our paper today
http://www.standard-freeholder.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=1459069




Ontario's new rules get tough on animal abusers
Posted By DAVID NESSETH, STANDARD-FREEHOLDER
Updated 3 hours ago


Overnight, Ontario has gone from having the weakest animal protection laws in the country to some of the strongest, which makes the area's lone animal cruelty investigator a very happy woman.

Bonnie Bishop, the first paid, full-time inspector for S, D and G Prescott-Russell, says the new Provincial Animal Welfare Act, which took place March 1, is a huge step forward for animal protection in the Cornwall area, where she handles some 50 to 60 cruelty calls per month.

"It's been a long-time coming," Bishop said. "Years and years. Now it's finally happening."

This marks the first significant change to the OSPCA Act since 1919.

Now, Bishop has the ability not only to respond to complaints, but also to regularly inspect the conditions of animals in places like country fairs or pet shops.

She laid about 14 animal cruelty charges in 2008, many of which ended up at trial, she said.

The Cornwall Community Police Service has laid two such charges over the last two years.

Most of the complaints Bishop handles are resolved through orders forcing the pet owner to comply with new conditions, such as improving an animal's outdoor shelter or, under the new act, ensuring proper veterinary care for an injury. These, in addition to concerns about food, are some of the most common calls Bishop has responded to in her 15 years of service.

"It's now an offence to not care for animals that have been hurt," Bishop said.

If people are unable to afford the appropriate medical care for their animal, Bishop said they need to contact the local OSPCA.

Bishop follows up with the individual to make sure they've complied with the order. If they haven't, the new act allows for fines of up to $60,000 or two years in jail.



` "With the establishment of stiffer penalties, the introduction of standards of care for all animals and the creation of new provincial offences, the government has ensured that Ontario has some of the toughest animal protection laws in Canada," said OSPCA Chief Inspector Hugh Coghill.

Other highlights of the new act include an option for the OSPCA to apply for custody of an animal victim while a case is still before the courts. Previously, a pet owner accused of cruelty could still have the animal in their possession.

The new act also gives veterinarians the ability to report owners who they suspect are abusing their pets.

"Just like when a doctor sees signs of child abuse," Bishop said.

"There was a conflict of interest before.

"Like a doctor, there were confidentiality issues."

Bishop says she's not interested in whether you're running a growop, she just wants to make sure that animals are getting the care she knows they deserve.

But she does believe that she deserves the same respect as the police, who ultimately have the same powers when it comes to animal protection. Like a police officer, individuals can now be charged if they interfere with an animal cruelty investigator at a scene.

"We rely on the public to come forward and give us information," Bishop said.

The new act also expands the standards of care to include all animals, not just dogs and cats.

Police dogs and horses injured in the line of service also have increased protection under the new act.

Article ID# 1459069

erykah1310
March 4th, 2009, 06:40 AM
Sounds good and all, or atleast is a step in the right direction but there is one particular puppy mill around here that just keeps starting up even after the first piddly fines were placed on the owner.
Her dogs are kept in cages in book cases FFS.
Every time I see this, I go to the SPCA, DIRECTLY to them and blow a gasket.
They keep feeding me the sob story that they need a warrant to go in. At first they said since I was technically a government employee they didn't need one since Iwas granted access while acting as an employee but... word has it, she's still breeding and caging.
No one seems to do much about it, SPCA around here IMO is quite useless.
I called them once about a husky mix that was tethered on a 2 foot chain with no way to access the empy bowls for water and in direct sunlight. THis dog was right outside my friends window ( apartment below) I waited around all day to see the SPCA show up once they told me that they were on their way ( 10 minutes tops from the office) but they never showed up.
We used a stick to push a water dish over to the dog ( as it was terribly cross) My friend said the SPCA never did show up, but the owners did around 5 that day.

NoahGrey
March 4th, 2009, 07:40 AM
It will be nice to see if their 5 million dollar investment to "improve and modernize" OSPCA shelters around the province, will also include afflicate shelters. Probably not though...*sigh*.

ACO22

Melinda
March 4th, 2009, 08:04 AM
cornwall isn't really all that big, mind you she does also do s.d.&g which pretty well quadruple her riding (bonnie) but normally if you call in a complaint its looked into with in 4 hours, so in that instant we're lucky, when I called in about finding Whisper last year, bonnie called me back with in an hour and popped in to check her by that afternoon,

Chris21711
March 4th, 2009, 09:00 AM
It will be nice to see if their 5 million dollar investment to "improve and modernize" OSPCA shelters around the province, will also include afflicate shelters. Probably not though...*sigh*.

ACO22

They have distributed funds to affiliates, remember L4H mentioning that the HS she volunteers for received a grant of $300,000 to update their facility from the $5,000,000 Provincial Grant. http://www.pets.ca/forum/showthread.php?t=58021