Animal cruelty investigations can result in charges under The Animal Protection Act, 2018 when appropriate; charges are laid in about 2-3% of our cases, generally after we have had to seize animals to relieve them of their distress.
Maximum penalties for Animal Protection Act convictions include fine of $25,000, prison for up to two years, or both, and a judge can also impose restrictions on animal ownership and order repayment of expenses related to a seizure of animals. Fines, and the terms of any prohibition orders, are decided by the courts, not by the investigating agency.
Information about recent APSS cases convictions, penalties, and prohibition orders can be found in the table below. Our Animal Protection Officers do monitor compliance with prohibition orders, but if you know of violations, please contact our office.
Our process starts when we receive a complaint from a concerned party. Complainant information is strictly confidential, and we do accept anonymous complaints. Some complaints, such as physical abuse, are difficult to investigate without a witness that is willing to testify to what they saw.
An Animal Protection Officer attends for an initial inspection, where they contact the owner and find out if the complaint will need further visits. If there is a problem, our officers work with the owner to improve the animal care concerns. We will leave requirements specific improvements, and will use experts like veterinarians when we need to. The timelines for follow up visits depend on the seriousness of the concerns. We resolve the majority of our cases through requirements for changes and follow up with the owners.
Sometimes the owners will not make the needed changes, and as a last resort our officers must seize the animals in order to make arrangements for proper care; this happens in about 3% of our cases. If animals are seized, the owners do have a chance to make arrangements to have animals returned.
If animals have been seized, the owners and/or caregivers will usually be charged under the Animal Protection Act, 2018 and/or the Criminal Code of Canada. We can also lay charges if animals have not been seized, although this is rare. It can take several years for a case to move from a seizure through the trial process