Sudbury

Sudbury animal abandonment case: Ontario SPCA responds

The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is responding to criticism over an apparent case of animal abandonment in Sudbury, saying they stepped in once additional information was made known — and it became clear that they had the authority to step in.

'If we cannot clarify that there's distress, then we have no authority,' OSPCA inspector says

Three cats, 11 newborn kittens and a rabbit were left in a downtown Sudbury apartment last week. The OSPCA told CBC News it has to follow a strict process when animal abandonment cases are reported and, in this case, that protocol delayed their intervention. (Provided)

The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is responding to criticism over an apparent case of animal abandonment in Sudbury, saying they stepped in once additional information was made known — and it became clear that they had the authority to step in. 

Last week, three cats, 11 newborn kittens and a rabbit were discovered in a downtown apartment. The animals were left behind by a tenant who moved out of the building. 

The animals were then taken in by volunteer rescuers, who said they were told by the OSPCA that the issue was a landlord-tenant matter. 

But the OSPCA said later in a statement that a break-and-enter happened during their investigation into the matter and the animals were stolen. 

Lynn Michaud, the OSPCA's senior inspector for northern Ontario, told CBC News that the first call made about the case did fall under specific rules. 

"Animals are considered property," she said. "That's where the Residential Tenancies Act comes in." 

She said the organization intervened, once a follow-up call made the next day provided more details. She wouldn't elaborate on the matter because the investigation is still ongoing.

Determining authority

However, Michaud said the OSPCA can intervene in a situation where there are concerns for the well-being of an animal, when it comes to a lack of medical help, food and water. 

"Everything we do is governed by the distress of an animal. If we cannot clarify that there's distress, then we have no authority." 

Michaud also said the OSPCA must follow a strict process when a case of animal abandonment is reported. 

"Our first form of investigation is to always to try and make contact so we can address the concerns. And only when that's not feasible do we seek a warrant to become more intrusive," she said. 

"We absolutely do care, and the well-being of those animals is always first and foremost in our minds. But, we are guided and governed by the legislation and we have to adhere to that." 

Michaud said no charges have been laid as the investigation is still in its early stages.

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