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OSPCA tells Ontario government it will no longer enforce animal cruelty laws

Some animal rights groups applauded the move by the OSPCA. The founder of Reform Advocates for Animal Welfare, said she wasn't surprised at the news. They haven't been doing their job for ages, at least it's official now.

LIAM CASEY: ‘For the first time in a century, Ontario’s animal welfare agency will no longer investigate and enforce animal cruelty laws. In a letter to Community Safety Minister Sylvia Jones, the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said it will not sign a new contract with the province after the current one expires at the end of March. “The current model is just simply not working,” CEO Kate MacDonald told The Canadian Press in an interview. “This is a very significant shift in who we are and what we do.” The letter, obtained by The Canadian Press, said the OSPCA will offer a three-month transition phase, by way of contract, until June 28…

MacDonald said the organization will shift into a support role in animal cruelty investigations, providing animal shelter, forensic evidence collection and veterinary services. She said the OSPCA would like to see a model similar to that in New York, where the NYPD has an animal cruelty squad that leads investigations and works with the American SPCA, which handles similar support services. “We expect to continue to be involved as a support to law enforcement agencies,” MacDonald said. “They’re going to need help and we’re the logical choice”…

The OSPCA has police powers — it can enforce both provincial and Criminal Code animal cruelty laws — under the OSPCA Act that became law in 1919. Its role came into question in early January when an Ontario court found the OSPCA’s powers to be unconstitutional and gave the government a year to remedy the situation. The judge said the province erred when it gave police powers to a private organization without imposing accountability and transparency standards on the agency. The province appealed the decision.

MacDonald said the court’s ruling was the “catalyst” in its move away from animal cruelty investigations. “The recent decision has helped us to see, truly, that enforcement is a function of government,” she said, adding that community members concerned about animal cruelty should contact their local police force or animal control units. MacDonald said the agency’s 65 enforcement officers will be offered jobs on the organization’s expanding animal rescue arm…

Some animal rights groups applauded the move by the OSPCA. “Law enforcement by private charities is no longer appropriate in 2019, and vulnerable animals in Ontario deserve a robust, well-resourced public system,” said Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice. Lynn Perrier, the founder of Reform Advocates for Animal Welfare, said she wasn’t surprised at the news. “They haven’t been doing their job for ages — at least it’s official now,” she said. “They have now made an easy path for the government to restructure the animal welfare system in Ontario so our animals will be protected. Let’s hope they don’t have to wait long”.’ SOURCE…

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