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PAWS Dicta - Dogs

. Pryde v. Chief Animal Welfare Inspector

In Pryde v. Chief Animal Welfare Inspector (Div Court, 2022) the Divisional Court sets out straightfoward procedures, and reviews some of the dog standard of care provisions, of the animal welfare PAWS regime, here involving removal of dogs and in the context of the owner's judicial review:
[1] The Provincial Animal Welfare Services Act, 2019, S.O. 2019, c. 13 (the “PAWS Act” or the “Act”) establishes a comprehensive scheme for protecting animals in Ontario. Animal Welfare Services Inspectors (“AWS Inspectors”) appointed under the Act may, by consent or warrant, enter and search a place if they have reasonable grounds to believe it may contain an animal in distress. An AWS Inspector may, at any time, provide necessaries to an animal to relieve it from distress. They may also remove animals and retain them. The Respondent, the Chief AWS Inspector, supervises AWS Inspectors and is responsible for regulatory enforcement under the Act: see Chief Animal Welfare Inspector v. Jackson, 2022 ONSC 872 (Div. Ct.).

[2] The Applicants operate a sled dog and horse-riding business in Oro-Medonte Township (the “Moonstone” property) and Severn Township (the “Severn” property) in Ontario. In early 2021, AWS Inspectors inspected the Applicants’ sled dog business and issued various orders for improvements to the living conditions of their sled dogs (“sled dogs” or “dogs”) pursuant to Act.

[3] The Applicants appealed the orders to the Animal Care Review Board (the “Board”). By decision dated June 23, 2021, Vice Chair Marisa Victor of the Board confirmed all but one of these orders, which she varied. (the “Compliance Decision” [2021 ONACRB 12 (CanLII)]).

[4] The Applicants and the Respondent unsuccessfully sought reconsideration of the Compliance Decision [2021 ONACRB 18 (CanLII)].

[5] On September 23, 2021, AWS Inspectors conducted a follow-up inspection. They determined that the Applicants had not complied with the Compliance Decision. AWS removed about 230 dogs in the custody of the Applicants from the premises. AWS subsequently decided to retain the dogs.


PAWS Act Provisions

[25] The Inspectors’ removal decisions flowed from the Inspectors’ observations and conclusions that the Applicants’ dogs were “in distress” because they were not receiving the proper standard of care respecting tethers and the condition of their dog houses.

[26] The Act defines “distress” in s. 1 as follows:
“distress” means the state of being,

(a) in need of proper care, water, food or shelter,

(b) injured, sick, in pain or suffering, or

(c) abused or subject to undue physical or psychological hardship, privation or neglect.
[27] O. Reg. 444/19 is the Regulation to the Act (the “Regulation”). Subsection 1(5) of the Regulation provides that, where the Regulation requires that a standard of care be “adequate and appropriate” or “necessary”, the standard should be read as being “adequate and appropriate or necessary to the specific animal, having regard to its species, breed and other relevant factors.”

[28] At the time of these events, the prescribed standards of care for dogs that live outside were found in s. 4 of the Regulation as follows:
4.(1) Every dog that lives primarily outdoors must be provided with a structurally sound enclosure for its use at all times.

(2) The enclosure must be weather-proofed and insulated.

(3) The size and design of the enclosure must be adequate and appropriate for the dog.

(4) A chain, rope or similar restraining device used to tether a dog that lives primarily outdoors,

(a) must be at least three metres long;

(b) must allow the dog to move safely and unrestricted, except by its length; and

(c) must allow the dog to have access to adequate and appropriate water and shelter.


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Last modified: 01-01-24
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