PAWS (Provincial Animal Welfare Services Act)
Ch.2 - Distress and Related
- Distress Exemptions
- Harm to Service Animals
'Distress' is the provincial standard of animal welfare, used in the prior Ontario Society for the Protection of Animals Act and continued here in PAWS. It focusses on neglect while the Criminal Code equivalent standard focusses on intent or willful blindness [CCC 445.1(1)]:
445.1(1)Both have a general form of the offence and as well a 'permitting' form applicable to the owner or custodian of the animal.
Every one commits an offence who
(a) wilfully causes or, being the owner, wilfully permits to be caused unnecessary pain, suffering or injury to an animal or a bird;
While the Criminal Code version only has an offence form, distress operates as both an offence and the standard at which numerous protective search, seizure and order powers come to bear [see Ch.6].
'Distress' means the state of being [PAWS 1(1)]:
The distress prohibitions are against:
- in need of proper care, water, food or shelter,
- injured, sick, in pain or suffering, or
- abused or subject to undue physical or psychological hardship, privation or neglect.
Where the owner or custodian of an animal is a minor, the owner or custodian for the purposes of this Act is deemed to be the minor’s parents or guardians [PAWS 1(4)].
- anyone causing an animal to be in distress [PAWS 15(1)];
- owners or custodians permitting an animal to be in distress' [PAWS 15(2)]; and
- "knowingly or recklessly caus(ing) an animal to be exposed to an undue risk of distress" [PAWS 15(3)].
3. Distress Exemptions
The above prohibitions are exempted for [PAWS 15(4,5)]:
- "an activity permitted under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1997 (FWCA) in relation to wildlife in the wild";
A separate FWCA regulation relates to 'hunting in captivity', which is allowed under the FWCA when done with game birds on a game bird hunting preserve [FWCA 41(1,2)]. To extend the PAWS exemption to these activities hunting not in the wild (ie. the 'game bird hunting preserve'), and the fact of 'permitting hunting' by the game preserve, are similarly exempt [Reg 448/19, s.1(a,b)].
- "an activity permitted under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1997 or the Fisheries Act (Canada) in relation to fish";
- "an activity regarding agricultural animal care, management or husbandry carried on in accordance with" either,
. any standards of care or administrative requirements that expressly provide that they apply to that activity, or
. if no standards of care or administrative requirements expressly provide that they apply to that activity, the reasonable and generally accepted practices of agricultural animal care, management or husbandry;
- "a veterinarian providing veterinary care, or boarding an animal as part of its care, in accordance with the standards of practice established under the Veterinarians Act", and:
. a person acting under the supervision of a such a veterinarian;
. a person acting under the orders of such a veterinarian, but only insofar of what the person does or does not do in following those orders;
- "a prescribed class of animals or animals living in prescribed circumstances or conditions" [in a theme which will soon become apparent throughout PAWS, no such 'prescribed' animals or circumstances have yet been promulgated].
(a) Fighting of Animals
"No person shall encourage, promote, arrange, conduct, assist in, receive a financial or material benefit for or take part in [PAWS 16(1)]:
(b) Permitting Fighting of Animals
- the training of an animal to fight with another animal; or
- any meeting, competition, exhibition, pastime, display or event at or in the course of which an animal fights another animal."
No person shall [PAWS 16(2)]:
(c) Fighting Equipment or Structures
- permit an animal to be trained to fight with another animal; or
- permit any meeting, competition, exhibition, pastime, display or event at or in the course of which an animal fights another animal to take place.
"No person shall own or possess equipment that is used in animal fights or in training animals to fight" [PAWS 16(3)].
"No person shall own or possess a structure that is used in animal fights or in training animals to fight" [PAWS 16(4)].
5. Harm to Service Animals
"No person shall cause harm, or attempt to cause harm, to an animal that works with peace officers in the execution of their duties, or to a service animal, whether or not the animal is working at the time of the harm" [PAWS 17].
For the purposes of this Act, an animal is a 'service animal' if [PAWS 1(2)]:
- the animal is required by a person with a disability for assistance; and
- the person has documentation from one of the following regulated health professionals confirming that the person requires the animal for reasons relating to their disability:
. a member of the College of Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists of Ontario.
. a member of the College of Chiropractors of Ontario.
. a member of the College of Nurses of Ontario.
. a member of the College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario.
. a member of the College of Optometrists of Ontario.
. a member of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario.
. a member of the College of Physiotherapists of Ontario.
. a member of the College of Psychologists of Ontario.
. a member of the College of Registered Psychotherapists and Registered Mental Health Therapists of Ontario.