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PAWS (Provincial Animal Welfare Services Act)
Legal Guide

Ch.8 - Enforcement Search, Seizure and Powers

  1. Overview
  2. Searches
    (a) Warrant Searches
    (b) Warrantless Searches
    (c) Computer Use During Searches
  3. Other Search and Seizure Methods
  4. Police Officer Assistance

1. Overview

The PAWS regime has a second round of search and seizure provisions, on top of the 'Protective Search, Seizure and Powers' set out in Ch.6. These provisions are intended to support offence prosecution under the POA (Provincial Offences Act) [Ch.9: "Offences"] (and eventually, if and when they are effective, 'administrative penalties' as set out in Ch.10).

In this chapter, 'place' "includes any land, building, vehicle or vessel" [PAWS 1(1)].

2. Searches

(a) Warrant Searches

Search warrants may be obtained by AWIs under Part VIII of the Provincial Offences Act [PAWS 41(1)].

(b) Warrantless Searches

If the AWI "has reasonable grounds to believe that there is in any place any thing that will afford evidence of an offence under this Act but that the time required to obtain a warrant would lead to the loss, removal or destruction of the evidence, the animal welfare inspector may, without a warrant, enter and search the place" [PAWS 41(2)]. This provision does not apply to "a place, or a part of a place, that is being used as a dwelling" [PAWS 41(3)].

(c) Computer Use During Searches

During either a warrant or a warrantless search [as above in (a-b)] an AWI may [PAWS 41(4)]:
. use or cause to be used any computer system or other device that contains or is able to retrieve information for the purpose of examining information contained in or available to the computer system or other device; and

. produce or cause to be produced a printout or other output from the computer system or other device.

3. Other Search and Seizure Methods

PAWS also allows for the following search and seizure methods:
  • Test Warrants

    "(A)ny investigative technique or procedure or to do any thing described in the warrant" [PAWS 42].

  • Production Orders

    "(P)roduce documents or copies of documents, certified to be true copies, or produce data, or ... prepare a document based on documents or data already in existence and produce it" [PAWS 43].

  • Seizures

    AWIs lawfully in any place may, with or without a warrant, seize any animal or thing that he or she has reasonable grounds to believe [PAWS 44(1-2)]:
    . has been obtained by the commission of an offence under this Act;

    . has been used in the commission of an offence under this Act;

    . will afford evidence of the commission of an offence under this Act"
    There are additional provisions (cited here) that facilitate seizure and forfeiture of animals [PAWS 44(3-12), Reg 447/19, s.4(1-2)].

  • Forfeitures

    On conviction of any animal fighting offence [under PAWS 16], any animal seized is forfeited to the Crown [PAWS 45(1)]. There are provisions which enable a "person who claims an interest in the animal, and who is not the person who was convicted" to apply to court for release of the forfeited animal to themselves [PAWS 45(4-6), Reg 447/19, s.5].

    On conviction of possession or ownership of fighting equipment [PAWS 16(3)] or fighting structures [PAWS 16(4)], possession or breeding of prohibited animals [PAWS 18] or possession or breeding of restricted animals [PAWS 20], "the animal or thing is forfeited to the Crown in right of Ontario" [PAWS 45(2)].

    These forfeitures apply in addition to any other penalty [PAWS 45(3)].

    Even in case of a non-conviction (no charges or an acquittal), forfeiture by POA court proceeding can also apply where possession of an animal is an offence. This can occur in cases of animal fighting [PAWS 16(3) or (4)], prohibited animals [PAWS 18] or restricted animals (with no authorization) [PAWS 20] [PAWS 46(1-2)].

  • Requiring Self-Identification

    Where an AWI has reasonable grounds to believe that a person is contravening any of the following provisions, they may "require the person to provide his or her name and address" [PAWS 47]:

    • causing or permitting distress in an animal [PAWS 15(1-2)];

    • animal fighting [PAWS 16];

    • harming law enforcement or service animal [PAWS 17]; or

    • prohibited animal possession or breeding [PAWS 18].

    "If the person refuses to give his or her name or address" the AWI has arrest powers, with or without the assistance of a police officer [PAWS 47(2-5)].

4. Police Officer Assistance

An AWI may call upon police officers for assistance in exercising any of the powers referred to in this chapter [PAWS 48(1)]. AWIs and police officers "called to assist the inspector, may use whatever force is reasonably necessary to exercise any of the powers" referred to in this chapter [PAWS 48(2)].


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Last modified: 23-04-23
By: admin