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Wild Animal Law of Canada


Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (NB)

(current to 01 June 2016)

Note Re Application of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act ('SPCAA')

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act defines 'animals' as "a non-human living being with a developed nervous system", and 'domestic animals' as "any animal that is kept under human control or by habit or training lives in association with man" [General Regulations ('G Regs') 2]. While most animals to which the SPCAA applies will be domestic animals such as cats, dogs and livestock, it is not limited in it's application to domestic only. For instance, the definition of 'pet retail stores' expressly refers to exotic animals and birds.

This law bears on the wildlife issues of:
  • SALE
The full current text of this legislation (including regulations) may be viewed at the New Brunswick statute website.


Table of Contents
1. Overview
2. Protections
(a) Overview
(b) Food, Water, Shelter and Care
(c) Humane Euthanasia
(d) No Fighting Contests
3. Shelters, Kennels and Pet Retail Stores
(a) Overview
(b) Exemptions
(c) Pet Establishment and Animal Registries
4. Enforcement

1. Overview

New Brunswick's SPCAA legislation is a typical version of SPCA legislation found throughout Canada at the provincial level. Essentially it establishes a Society which has police-type powers to enforce both the animal protection provisions contained in it, and other applicable animal welfare law (particularly the federal Criminal Code cruelty provisions: see that module).

Notable are it's 'pet establishment' licensing and registry regime. The registry regime in particular, requiring details of the acquisition of any animal, may be useful in enforcing federal WAPPRITTA laws (see that module).

2. Protections

(a) Overview

Several animal protection provisions in the SPCAA are located in prosecutable offence provisions. These are set out in this section [SPCAA 19]).

(b) Food, Water, Shelter and Care

"(A) person who has ownership, possession or care and control of an animal shall provide the animal with food, water, shelter and care", and more specifically [G Regs 4(1)]:
  • shall ensure that the animal has an adequate source of food and water;

  • shall provide the animal with adequate medical attention when the animal is wounded or ill;

  • shall provide the animal with reasonable protection from injurious heat or cold;

  • shall not confine the animal to an enclosure, area or motor vehicle that might reasonably be expected to threaten the animal’s health or well-being due to:

    . inadequate space,
    . unsanitary conditions,
    . inadequate ventilation,
    . the presence of another animal that may pose a danger to it,
    . lack of opportunity for exercise, or
    . a state of disrepair.
No conviction shall be made for violation of these standards (see note below) "for treating an animal in a manner" [G Regs 4(2)]:
  • consistent with a standard or code of conduct, practice or procedure specified in Schedule A of the General Regulations (this Schedule lists several codes of practice for the care and treatment of various animals, mostly domestic animals),

  • consistent with generally accepted practices or procedures for such an activity, or

  • otherwise reasonable in the circumstances.
Note: G Regs s.4(2) cites standards set out in s.18(2) of the Act, whereas it should be s.19(2) of the Act.
(c) Humane Euthanasia

"(A) person who destroys or assists in the destruction of an animal shall do so in a humane manner". There is an exception for emergency situations or "when the provision of veterinary services are impracticable", then the animal may be killed "by use of a firearm in a manner that does not cause unnecessary pain or panic to the animal" [SPCAA 20].

Standards for what constitute euthanasia "in a humane manner" are set out in Schedule B of the General Regulations [G Regs 5].
Note: G Regs s.5 cites standards set out in s.19(1) of the Act, whereas it should be s.20(1) of the Act.
(d) No Fighting Contests

No person shall in any manner conduct, promote or participate in any contest involving fighting between animals and all such contests are prohibited [G Regs 6].

3. Shelters, Kennels and Pet Retail Stores

(a) Overview

The SPCAA regulates, by a mandatory licensing regime, what it calls 'pet establishments' [SPCAA 24], which includes the following [PE Regs 2,4]:
  • Animal Shelters: "a premises that provides stray, abandoned or abused animals a sanctuary or where permanent or temporary adoptive homes are sought for animals";

  • Kennels: "a premises where dogs are bred or boarded for consideration"; and

  • Pet Retail Stores: "a premises where dogs, cats, rodents, reptiles, amphibians, pet fish, pet and exotic birds, or other exotic animals are kept for sale."
(b) Exemptions

The following premises are exempt from the pet establishment licensing regime and related provisions [PE Regs 3]:
  • grooming establishments;
  • training operations;
  • veterinarian clinics that board animals for clinical purposes only;
  • research and educational facilities;
  • premises that board or sell livestock;
  • a stable that boards horses or a riding stable;
  • a zoo or a circus; and
  • any other premises as the society may determine.
Note: While by virtue of PE Regs 3 these facilities are exempt from the application of the Pet Establishment Regulations, technically they are not exempted from the basic requirement of licensing set out in SPCAA 24. However since the definition of 'pet establishment' is reserved to this Regulation, the net effect of the exemptions seems to be to effectively exempt them from the licensing regime.
(c) Pet Establishment and Animal Registries

The Society is required to maintain a registry of all licensed pet establishments [PE Regs 13] (this does not yet appear to be accessible online).

Additionally, each pet establishment is required to maintain in it's premises an animal registry [PE Regs 17(1)]. Details required in each animal registry include, where applicable [PE Regs 17(2)]:
  • where an animal is acquired "whether by sale, lease, loan, trade, adoption or gift":

    . the date of acquisition,
    . the name and address of the person, agency or organization from whom the animal was acquired,
    . the name of the first owner of the animal if different from the name of the person from whom the animal was acquired,


    . a description of the animal, including:
    - date of birth
    - breed or combination of breeds
    - any identification tag
    - any tattoo
    - microchip or other identifying object
    - reproductive status
    - vaccination history.

  • where the animal is acquired by birth, a description as set out above;

  • where the animal dies, the date of death;

  • where the animal 'departs' (apparently includes purchase), the date of the departure and the "name and address of the person, agency or organization who acquires the animal". A description of the animal as set out above shall be provided to whoever acquires it.
This information must be maintained on the premises for a minimum of three years (it is unstated, but logically this means three years after death or departure) [PE Regs 17(3)].

4. Enforcement

As is the case with most 'SPCA' statutes, the New Brunswick Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (the "Society") and it's local branches [SPCAA 5] is essentially a police body, and for that purpose has many characteristics of a police agency.

'Animal Protection Officers' (APOs) may be appointed for purposes of enforcing the SPCAA [SPCAA 8]. APOs have the general authority of a peace officer, including specific powers to [SPCAA 11,15,16,17,18,29]:
  • enter and inspect premises licensed pet establishments and "any building, place or premises, except a dwelling house, that the animal protection officer has reason to believe is being used for or in connection with a pet establishment" (warrants are required for entry of a dwelling place: SPCAA 30);

  • after taking reasonable steps to find the owner of a motor vehicles, an APO may enter it, with force if necessary, and to attend to and seize the animal, if they have "reasonable grounds to believe that an animal is confined in a motor vehicle and is in distress or is deprived of reasonable protection from injurious heat or cold";

  • demand that a licensee produce of non-financial documents and records "relating to the establishment, operation or maintenance of a pet establishment";

  • "seize an animal that is being kept in a pet establishment if the animal requires immediate attention", is "found running at large";

    Seized animals may, in various circumstances, be either retained, reclaimed or destroyed. Destruction is authorized if "in the opinion of an animal protection officer, ... it is unlikely that the animal will recover from its injuries, or ... it would be inhumane to allow the continued pain and suffering of the animal". Unclaimed animals become the property of the Society, which can then deal with them as any owner, which includes euthanasia for any reason.
The other primary enforcement mechanism of the SPCAA is prosecution of offences. In addition to general offence provisions [SPCAA 26], the Act contains several specific offences which are listed above in s.2 (Protections'). In addition to any other penalty imposed on conviction of an offence the court may also ban the owner from possession of animals for whatever period of time the court specifies [SPCAA 27].

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Last modified: 16-11-20
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