Ontario's Animal Protection Law Strongest In Canada

Archived Release

Ontario's Animal Protection Law Strongest In Canada

Ministry of the Solicitor General

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McGuinty Government Includes Specific Coverage For Law Enforcement
Animals
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TORONTO, March 2 /CNW/ -
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NEWS
Ontario now has the strongest animal protection law in Canada.
The Provincial Animal Welfare Act, which took effect on March 1, 2009:
- Establishes standards of care for all animals.
- Introduces penalties for causing harm to any animal including jail
terms of up to two years, fines of up to $60,000 and a potential
lifetime ownership ban.
- Creates a specific offence for causing harm to a law enforcement
animal, such as a police horse or dog.
Other key elements include:
- New provincial offences for causing or permitting distress to an
animal.
- Authorizing the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to
Animals (OSPCA) to inspect places where animals are kept for
entertainment, exhibition, boarding, sale or hire, including zoos,
pet shops and circuses.
- Requiring veterinarians to report suspected abuse and neglect, and
protecting them from personal liability for doing so.
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The act amends the OSPCA Act and marks the most significant changes to animal legislation in the province since 1919.
QUOTES
"As a society, we won't tolerate neglect or cruelty to any animal. The act recognizes that principle and extends protection to law enforcement dogs and horses that help rescue Ontarians, keep drugs out of our communities or patrol our parks and streets."
- Community Safety and Correctional Services Minister Rick Bartolucci (http://www.mcscs.jus.gov.on.ca/english/about_min/bio/bio.html)
"Today is an historic day in animal welfare in our province. The Ontario government has clearly demonstrated their support for the life-saving work of the OSPCA. The society looks forward to working on behalf of Ontarians to address concerns for the well-being and humane treatment of all animals."
- OSPCA Chief Executive Officer Kate MacDonald
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QUICK FACTS
- The OSPCA (http://ontariospca.ca/) investigates roughly 17,000
allegations of animal cruelty each year.
- Over 300 dogs and horses are used in law enforcement in the province.
- There are over 60 zoos in Ontario, which is more than all other
provinces combined.
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LEARN MORE
Download media video clips of Minister Bartolucci, key stakeholders and demonstrations by law enforcement animals at ftp://ftp.mcscs.jus.gov.on.ca/ (Username: b-roll; Password: mediaBroll)
Learn more about animal welfare (http://www.mcscs.jus.gov.on.ca/english/animal_welfare/animal_welfare/animal_w elfare.html) in Ontario.
Find out more about Toronto Police Service's Mounted Unit and Police Dog Services (http://www.torontopolice.on.ca/mountedpds/) and the Ontario Provincial Police's Provincial Emergency Response Team (http://www.opp.ca/specresteams/opp_001246.html).
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BACKGROUNDER
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CHANGES TO IMPROVE ANIMAL WELFARE
The Provincial Animal Welfare Act, which was proclaimed on March 1, 2009, significantly updates the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) Act, and marks the first comprehensive changes to Ontario's animal protection legislation since 1919.
Changes include:
NEW ANIMAL PROTECTION AND INVESTIGATION POWERS
- Creating standards of care for all animals.
- Giving the OSPCA the authority to inspect premises, other than homes,
where animals are kept for the purposes of exhibit, entertainment,
boarding, sale or hire.
- Allowing the OSPCA to seize dead animal remains or take samples for
an investigation.
- Establishing the authority to retain a seized animal where charges
have been laid and where there are reasonable grounds to believe the
animal may be harmed if returned to its owner.
NEW PROVINCIAL OFFENCES
- Causing or permitting distress to an animal.
- Causing harm to a law enforcement service animal.
- Training or permitting animals to fight other animals, or owning or
possessing equipment or structures used in animal fighting.
- Failing to comply with standards of care for all animals.
- Obstructing an OSPCA inspector or agent.
- Making a knowingly false complaint to the OSPCA.
- Failing to comply with an Animal Care Review Board decision.
STRONGER PENALTIES
- Creating appropriate penalties for the new offences including jail of
up to two years, fines of up to $60,000 and a potential lifetime
ownership ban.
PROTECTION OF EXISTING PRACTICES
- Creating appropriate exemptions for hunting and fishing, farming, and
veterinary practices.
MANDATORY REPORTING
- Requiring veterinarians to report suspected animal abuse or neglect
and protecting them from personal liability for doing so.
CLARIFICATION OF EXISTING LEGISLATION
- Stating that an adult is responsible where a minor "owns" an animal
and clarifying personal responsibility where an organization or
commercial entity owns an animal.
- Clarifying the OSPCA's ability to enter premises, other than homes,
without a warrant, when they have reasonable grounds to believe an
animal is in immediate distress.
- Clarifying that an OSPCA order remains in force while it is being
appealed to the Animal Care Review Board.
- Enabling the Animal Care Review Board to award costs of interim
animal care, or the costs of complying with an order, to either party
involved in an appeal.
COORDINATION WITH MUNICIPAL AUTHORITY
- In the event of a conflict between the OSPCA Act and a municipal by-
law, whichever provision affords the greatest protection to animals
would take precedence.
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SUPPORT FOR THE ACT
"The OSPCA is pleased with this legislation. With 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 the toughest animal protection measures in Canada."
- OSPCA (http://ontariospca.ca/) Chief Inspector Hugh Coghill
"These are the first real changes to the OSPCA Act in nearly 100 years. We congratulate the government for its actions, and we're pleased to have played a role in this important step forward for animal protection in Ontario."
- World Society for the Protection of Animals (http://www.wspa.ca/) Program Manager Pat Tohill
"The college was an early partner of the government in amending the provincial animal legislation. The act gives veterinarians the respect and protection they need to help make it an effective tool in strengthening animal
welfare in Ontario."
- Registrar of the College of Veterinarians of Ontario (http://www.cvo.org/) Susan Carlyle
"Veterinarians are often the first to recognize signs of abuse. For every animal that has been reported with obvious signs of abuse, there are dozens of cases that go undetected until identified by a veterinarian. The legislation, which makes the reporting of animal abuse mandatory for veterinarians, means that more cases will be reported. We applaud the Ontario government for providing additional protection for all animals in the province."
- President-Elect of the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association (http://ovma.org/) Dr. Jennifer Day
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BACKGROUNDER
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SPECIFIC PROTECTION FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANIMALS
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The Provincial Animal Welfare Act, which amends the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) Act, includes a specific offence for causing harm to a law enforcement animal. This measure is the first of its kind in Canada and helps make the OSPCA Act the strongest animal welfare legislation in the country.
The inclusion of the new provincial offence for causing harm to law enforcement service animals follows the 2006 death of Brigadier, a horse of the famed Mounted Unit of the Toronto Police Service (TPS).
BRIGADIER'S STORY
A Belgian crossbreed, Brigadier had served in the TPS's Mounted Unit since 2001. In February 2006, as Toronto police officers approached a driver behaving strangely, the man sped away, made a U-turn and drove into Brigadier and his rider. The driver then returned and hit the seven-year-old horse a second time before taking off again.
The horse was injured so badly that he had to be put down. His rider suffered broken ribs and injuries to his neck, back and leg.
A memorial was organized soon after the death of Brigadier. Hundreds attended the event including the then minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, the mayor of Toronto and the chief of the TPS.
SUPPORTIVE QUOTES
"The circumstances in which Brigadier died were very difficult for the members of the Toronto Police Service, in particular for our unit. The new legislation sends a very clear message about the enormous importance of law enforcement animals."
- Head of the TPS Mounted Unit (http://www.torontopolice.on.ca/mountedpds/) Staff Inspector Bill Wardle
"Our canine units' handlers and dogs play a critical role in fulfilling our mandate across Ontario. I am pleased to see that all law enforcement animals will be recognized by this legislation and afforded the protection they deserve."
- Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Julian Fantino (http://opp.ca/Organization/Commissioner/index.htm)
LAW ENFORCEMENT SERVICE ANIMALS IN ONTARIO
There are over 300 animals involved in law enforcement in the province. Dogs are used by municipal police services and the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) in a variety of roles: explosives and firearms detection; search and rescue; and for sniffing drugs. Some are even trained to detect currency being illegally carried out of the country at airports.
The TPS's Mounted Unit has 28 horses that help maintain order, conduct regular patrols on city streets and take part in search and rescue operations in areas difficult to access by car or on foot. The Niagara Regional Police Service and the OPP also have small mounted units.
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For further information: Laura Blondeau, Minister's Office, (416) 325-4973; Anthony Brown, Communications Branch, (416) 314-7772