Nfld. & Labrador

SPCA wants its bite back

The Newfoundland and Labrador SPCA says the province's new Animal Health and Protection Act is making it difficult for the group to do its job of protecting animals.

Argues enforcement powers lost in provincial legislation

Simone Browne, the president of the SPCA in N.L., says provincial animal protection laws have to change. (CBC)

The Newfoundland and Labrador SPCA says the province's new Animal Health and Protection Act is making it difficult for the group to do its job of protecting animals. 

Simone Browne, the group's president, said the SPCA had been fighting for years to update provincial animal protection laws, which were more than 30 years old. But she said when the new act was passed on May 2, 2012, the SPCA lost its authority to enforce the rules.

"We no longer have the authority that the special constables have had," explained Browne. "We don't have the legal capability to actually go and seize an animal." 

"We have seen that the RCMP and RNC have had to really step up because they are the ones with the enforcement capability."

Browne said in the past, trained SPCA volunteers had the authority to remove animals from abusive homes. Now, when a call comes in, SPCA volunteers must call the police, who she realizes are often busy with many other types of calls. 

"It's important for us to be able to work with the act and to enforce that act," said Browne. "There's a lot of things within that act. It's not just the seizure of animals. It's having that authority and being able to speak with that authority and deal with issues before they get to some of those horrible situations."

Browne noted the SPCA receives about 500 calls a year from across Newfoundland and Labrador. 

She said the organization has submitted a proposal to the province in an effort to regain the authority it had before the new law was passed.

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