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PAWS Dicta - Distress

. Pryde v. Chief Animal Welfare Inspector

In Pryde v. Chief Animal Welfare Inspector (Div Court, 2022) the Divisional Court accepted a lower ACRB decision that failure to meet an animal 'standard of care' (here for dogs) itself constituted 'distress':
[52] On the second issue there was no concession by the Applicants before the Board, but it is just as obvious that most of the dogs were “in distress” at the time of the removal. Being “in distress” is defined in s. 1 of the PAWS Act as being in need of proper care. The phrase “proper care” includes care in compliance with the minimum standards prescribed by the Act and its Regulation. This analysis was included, expressly, in the Enforcement Decision of Vice Chair Victor in June 2021, and was referenced by the Board as follows:
Given that the standards of care as set out in the regulation were not met, Vice Chair Victor found that this was not “proper care” and, therefore, the dogs… were in distress as defined in the Act. The respondents therefore submitted that the dogs continued to be in distress on September 23, 2021 because the standards of care were still not being met…. (Decision, para. 20, referencing Decision of Vice Chair Victor dated June 23, 2021 [2021 ON ACRB 12], paras. 35, 38, 66, 69 and 71).
The Board went on to adopt the reasoning of Vice Chair Victor at para. 33 of the Decision:
I find Vice Chair Victor’s June 23, 2021 Decision and Order persuasive and agree with her that if the standards of care as set out in the Regulation are not met, then such care is not proper for the purposes of the Act and, as a result, such improper care amounts to distress. (Decision, para. 33)
This finding is reasonable and accords with a plain reading of the PAWS Act. Owners are required to comply with the minimum standards prescribed in the Act and Regulation, and, if they do not, their animals are, by definition, “in distress”. The Applicants’ argument that their non-compliance caused no “distress” is an improper collateral attack on the Compliance Decision.


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Last modified: 01-01-24
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