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Animal welfare laws tightened

John Towns

An amendment to the provincial Animal Care Act has increased the regulations governing the care of livestock and pets.

The amendment, which took force on Monday, enhances a number of already existing regulations, and also increases legal protection for potential whistle-blowers who tip off the province about suspected cases of animal abuse or neglect.

The new rules expand licensing regulations that cover dog and cat breeders to include kennels, breeders of all companion animals and retail pet stores, prohibit the loading and transportation of sick or injured animals, and update and expand the authority of animal welfare and protection officers to seize animals they consider to be in abusive or abandoned situations.

The new rules also increase the punishment for people convicted of animal care offences to $10,000 for a first offence and $20,000 for a repeat offence. The maximum prison term for someone convicted of abusing an animal will also be increased to a full year from the previous six months. In addition, if convicted, someone could be prohibited from owning or caring for animals for life.

In addition, three new people have been hired on at the provincial Office of the Chief Veterinarian as a companion animal welfare veterinarian, animal welfare investigator and an animal welfare program (licensing) coordinator, respectively.

"Livestock and companion animals depend on people for their care," noted Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives Minister Stan Struthers in a release. "These amendments help to strengthen the laws that ensure appropriate food, shelter and medical attention are part of that care and increase penalties for any mistreatment or neglect.

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