SPCA Newfoundland and Labrador (SPCA NL) would like to inform the general public that with the passage of the new Animal Health and Protection Act in 2012, SPCA NL and its 8 branches which comprise of St. Johns, Baccalieu, Burin, Clarenville, Gander, Exploits Valley, South West Coast, and Goose Bay, have been instructed by the Department of Natural Resources to stop responding to complaints of animal neglect and abuse. SPCA NL is not considered an enforcement agency under the Animal Health and Protection Act.
Every year, the SPCA NL branches receive more than 750 complaints of possible animal neglect and cruelty across the province. As a community organization with public trust, dedicated volunteers and staff knowledgeable in animal care and behaviour, SPCA NL could provide a key role in the area of responding to complaint calls. Therefore, SPCA NL will remain focused and committed to re-establishing a presence in providing a sustainable response to animal abuse complaints, educating the general public and assisting enforcement agencies in carrying out this mandate more effectively.
Under previous legislation SPCA branches had authority to enforce legislation, and to support law enforcement agencies, in the prevention of animal cruelty. Currently SPCA NL branches have authority to hold animals that have been seized by the RCMP or RNC but not to be engaged in the enforcement activities leading up to that seizure in any way. Once an animal seizure occurs and the animal is placed in the care of the SPCA, the shelter has to assume all costs associated with housing and caring for the animal and in some cases these costs have been in the range of several thousands of dollars.
The Provincial Government has stated that the services of the RCMP, RNC and designated Municipal Officers are providing an adequate service in responding to complaints of animal neglect and cruelty in this province. SPCA NL Board and its 8 branches contend that animal cruelty deserves additional attention as there continue to be gaps in service across the province. While the RCMP/RNC and municipalities are working diligently to fulfil their obligations under the Animal Health and Protection Act, these enforcement agencies have many other responsibilities besides animal investigations. Many citizens continue to contact the SPCA with complaints of animal cruelty because the timelines for investigations appears extensive and the individuals logging the complaints are concerned about the level of distress of the animals. The SPCA continues to receive requests for assistance from enforcement agencies. The involvement of SPCA branches would result in a better utilization of resources and more expedient response to all complaint calls.
SPCA NL will continue to advocate to the Province for authority to be able to work with existing forces to provide better coordination, and bring stronger animal health knowledge to the process of enforcement. SPCA organizations are a valued member of the enforcement process across Canada.
They are a professional, knowledgeable, and trusted agency. The animals of Newfoundland and Labrador deserve the same consideration as other provinces.
The Provincial Government supports the sheltering and rehoming operations with an annual renewable grant of $110,000, representing just over 10% of the $1.2M spent by shelters across the province. The remaining funds for shelter operations are provided by private and corporate donations. The more than 3600 animals directly coming through our shelter doors and hundreds of others are assisted through various community programs, thanks to the Province and the public. However, the needs of those animals that are neglected and face abuse that do not come through our doors also need resources, attention and care.
We ask that the public tell their Members of the House of Assembly their concerns to ensure animals’ voices’ are heard in this matter. The animals of Newfoundland and Labrador deserve to be safe, protected and free from suffering. SPCA NL should be provided a role in enforcement activities to provide protection for animals of Newfoundland and Labrador.
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