All of the provinces and territories in Canada have some form of animal protection law (sometimes called “animal welfare” law). In Saskatchewan, the law is called the Animal Protection Act of Saskatchewan This provincial legislation is enforced by the Regina Humane Society (RHS) in the City of Regina and immediate area.
It is a crime in Canada to willfully, or intentionally, harm animals. A person who deliberately harms animals can be charged under the Criminal Code of Canada This is a federal law that applies throughout Canada that lists crimes and sets out penalties for each crime. The code deals specifically with cruelty to animals in sections 444 to 447.
In order to appreciate what RHS Animal Protection Officers can and cannot do to assist animals in need, it is important to have an understanding of the provincial and federal legislation and the steps of an investigation including the collection of evidence, consultation with Crown Counsel, development of Case Summaries and Court Briefs as well as the court process and resulting verdict.
Once a cruelty complaint is received and investigated, the time period can be several months from a seizure or investigation to charges being laid. The length of time from charges being laid to trial is often many more months, and the trial itself can take place in several court appearances over years. Prohibitions on animal ownership are part of the sentence that is the result of a trial and conviction, and the details of the sentence are a judge’s decision.
Saskatchewan’s animal cruelty laws require strengthening primarily with regard to standards of basic care for companion animals including recognition of psychological harm. While the Animal Protection Act of Saskatchewan was traditionally created for livestock, today, the majority of complaints regarding animal cruelty involve companion animals, specifically dogs and cats. The authority of Animal Protection Officers to enforce care or remove animals is limited by the lacking legislative regulations for companion animals in Saskatchewan’s antiquated Animal Protection Act.
If you would like to join us in seeking stronger Animal Protection laws contact your MLA as well as Saskatchewan’s Agriculture Minister and ask them to make improved animal welfare legislation a priority.