Rescue group calls for changes to ‘flawed’ animal welfare laws in Newfoundland and Labrador
Animal rescue group Rescue NL is calling for increased enforcement and changes to animal welfare laws in the province.
Founder Heather Ballard said she sent a proposal to Gerry Byrne, Minister of Fisheries and Land Resources, detailing the changes the organization would like to see.
Ballard said she would like to see the Animal Health and Welfare Act changed to:
- See animals as sentient beings rather than goods.
- Implement tethering legislation to restrict the length of time a dog can be tethered outdoors.
- Implement breeding regulations to follow specific standards.
- Return investigative and seizure powers to the SPCA and other credible rescue organizations.
- Provide additional resources to credible rescue organizations.
- Abolish the use of gas chambers for euthanasia.
- Increase the training of enforcement agents.
Ballard received a letter from Byrne which she shared with The Telegram.
In his letter to Ballard, Byrne wrote that he had heard from “a number of concerned citizens” about this and that the government was taking animal welfare seriously.
His letter goes on to say that fisheries and land resources regularly engage law enforcement authorities on the implementation of the legislation.
âAt this time, there are no immediate changes to be made to provincial animal welfare legislation or its enforcement model,â Byrne wrote.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Fisheries and Land Resources took note of the letter and reiterated that there were no plans to change the legislation.
Plans for the animal welfare rally
Ballard said she was not happy with Byrne’s response and is now meeting with other activists to plan a rally.
She also circulated a related petition.
Ballard said enforcement of current legislation is a problem she faces frequently.
âI know it firsthand because it’s so frustrating. I get all these complaints and try to do my best, but it often comes back to us like a rescue, saying, why haven’t you done anything? But, really, we don’t have the power to do it.
âMore animals are suffering now, I believe, because of this. “
The government declares that “this government takes animal welfare seriously” and “At the moment there are no immediate changes …
The province had special agents with the SPCA who had the authority to investigate and remove animals from situations of abuse or neglect, but when the Animal Health and Welfare Act came into effect in May 2012, that authority was given to the RNC and the RCMP.
The telegram asked an RCMP spokesperson if officers had time to properly investigate animal welfare complaints.
âIt’s really kind of a situational type of thing. So it can be a yes at times, and it can be no, it doesn’t at other times.
“So you can imagine if we have, say, a detachment that got a call about an animal, then they get a call for an armed robbery – we know which one is going to have that priority, right?” But that doesn’t mean they won’t respond to the animal’s complaint.
The spokesperson said the role of the RCMP is to enforce the law and a complaint does not always mean that the laws are broken.
A spokesperson for the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary said officers are aware of the legislation and any animal welfare appeals are investigated.
The SPCA could not be reached for comment before the deadline.
However, Frances Drover, president of the NL West SPCA, previously told The Telegram that part of the concern about having Special Agents with the SPCA was that these people were volunteers and the nature of the work often involved volatile situations.