N.L. promises tougher animal protection laws

The government of Newfoundland and Labrador is promising new animal protection legislation this spring that promises harsher penalties for people who abuse animals.

The government of Newfoundland and Labrador is promising new animal protection legislation this spring that promises harsher penalties for people who abuse animals.

"We have been reviewing our existing six live animal statutes and consulting with special interest groups on the consolidation of these acts into a new, modern and tougher Animal Health and Protection Act," said Natural Resources Minister Kathy Dunderdale, in a news release Monday. "We are now ready to bring forward an all encompassing piece of legislation for debate that will address concerns and issues raised over cruelty to animals in this province and stiffer penalties for such behavior."

The provincial government announced in April 2009 that it would review its existing live animal statutes.

Government officials consulted the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), municipalities and representatives from the livestock industry, and considered submissions from other special interest groups and the public in the process.

Most of the province's legislation relating to live animals was enacted in the 1970s and has not been significantly updated, according to the government's news release.

"Societal expectations and attitudes towards the care of animals have changed since much of the existing legislation was introduced," said the release. "The new legislation will provide the greatest protection and enforcement possible in regards to animal welfare and will address the fines and penalties for inappropriate treatment of animals and neglect. Details will be provided when the draft bill is released during the spring session."

The new Animal Health and Protection Act will address the definition of animal cruelty and appropriate penalties, enforcement and animal control activities.

The six acts being consolidated into one are the Animal Protection Act, Dog Act, Heritage Animals Act, Livestock Act, Livestock Health Act and the Poultry and Poultry Products Act.

This winter a disturbing case of animal abuse in southern Newfoundland ignited calls for tougher animal protection laws.

The RCMP and members of the SPCA forced their way into a house in Dunville, Placentia Bay, in mid-February after receiving a report that starving animals were trapped inside the home.

Days later, SPCA officials in St. John's said it would like to see fines of up to $10,000 for cruelty to animals. They hope that would deter people from abusing animals.