The Saskatchewan Government is looking to give the Animal Protection Act more teeth.
The Ministry of Agriculture announced amendments to the act on Monday, including broadening the definition of animal distress and giving animal protection officers the ability to issue corrective action orders.
It will also expand where animal protection workers can inspect to include boarding kennels and other places where services for animals are provided.
Veterinarians will also be required to report suspected cases of animal cruelty.
Patricia Cameron, executive director of the Saskatoon SPCA, said the organization is pleased to see the changes.
“Expanding the locations that could be inspected without a warrant to include things like kennels and grooming services … will be all in the better interests of animals,” she said, adding the change will take away the “significant complexity” of getting an inspection order.
She believes it will also be helpful to businesses, as a number of kennels in Saskatoon have already made efforts to follow standards set out by veterinary associations.
Cameron said the ability to issue a corrective action order — such as having a pet owner attend to the deteriorating dental health of their animal, for example – also allows for further education and accountability.
“It is a step forward for the province, undoubtedly.”
Animal welfare resources still under pressure
But despite the amendments, Cameron said there’s immense pressure on animal welfare resources in the province, not just Saskatoon.
“When you include agricultural animals, literally millions of animals, and the area is under-resourced, there are not enough officers,” she said.
For Saskatoon, there are three animal protection officers — two full-time and one casual.
Cameron said the organization receives well over 1,000 concerns a year, with a smaller number being serious cases of neglect or abuse.
“It’s difficult to get to all of the calls as concerns come in and that’s true of all our agencies, we’re all small.”
Saskatoon, Regina, Moose Jaw, and Prince Albert humane societies provide animal protection services in their communities – funding for which is provided through donations. Cameron said the Saskatchewan Animal Protection Services handles all other calls in the province.
The Saskatoon SPCA also receives a grant from the city to help provide this work.
The updated act will likely come into force at the end of the spring session.
— With files from 650 CKOM’s Daniella Ponticelli.