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Wild Animal Law of Canada


Animal Protection Act (Saskatchewan)

(current to 15 August 2016)
Note Re Application of the Animal Protection Act ('APA')

While some provisions of the APA apply only to domestic animals (eg. Parts III and III.1 re dogs, cattle and service animals), the Act does not otherwise draw a distinction between domestic and wild animals (excluding only humans from it's application) [APA 2(1)(a)]. Therefore it's primary protective and euthanasia provisions do apply to wild animals, although the Wildlife Act ('WA') (see that module) provides that the APA applies to "to wildlife kept for breeding purposes on a wildlife farm, commercial wildlife farm or zoo pursuant to the Act" [Wildlife Act, Wildlife Regs 27]. As such, wildlife escaped from captivity would not appear to be covered by the APA, and would fall primarily under the WA.

This law bears on the wildlife issues of:
  • SALE
Note: Protection of the Wild Ponies of the Bronson Forest Act
While unrelated to the APA and of limited geographical and species application, the Protection of the Wild Ponies of the Bronson Forest Act ['PWPBFA'] prohibits anyone from 'willfully molesting, interfering with, hurting, capturing or killing any of the wild ponies of the Bronson Forest" [PWPBFA 3], subject to Ministerial order [PWPBFA 4]. It is an offence to violate these protective provisions [PWPBFA 5].
The full current text of this legislation (including regulations) may be viewed at the Saskatchewan statute website.

Table of Contents
1. Overview
(a) General
(b) 'Distress'
(c) Protective Provisions
2. Enforcement
(a) General
(b) APOs Finding Animal in Distress
(c) Disposition of Animals Delivered to Humane Society
3. Civil Liability

1. Overview

(a) General

Saskatchewan's Animal Protection is of the old-style SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) school. The only addition to this might be the species-specific care standards it adopts from non-profit and industry groups [see the link in s.1(b)].

Like most such SPCA statutes, the APA is essentially a police statute, directed at the prevention of animal cruelty. While it certainly applies to farm animals such as cattle, and to dogs and cats kept as pets (or strays therefrom), it also has application to wild animals in captivity (as per the above 'application' note).

(b) 'Distress'

The key animal welfare criteria, which conditions the application of most substantive provisions of the APA, is that of 'distress', which is defined as when the animal is [APA 2(2)]:
  • deprived of adequate food, water, care or shelter;

  • injured, sick, in pain or suffering; or

  • abused or neglected.
However, an animal will not be considered to be in distress where the animal is being handled "in a manner consistent with a standard or code of conduct, criteria, practice or procedure that is prescribed as acceptable" or "in accordance with generally accepted practices of animal management" [APA 2(3)]. The prescribed Code of Practice are set out in Part II of the Animal Protection Regulation ('AP Reg') [scroll down to the end] [AP Reg 3].

(c) Protective Provisions

It is prohibited for a person to cause an animal to be distress [APA 4(1)].

It is also prohibited for a "person responsible for an animal" to "cause or permit the animal to be or to continue to be in distress" [APA 4(2)]. For this purpose, a "person responsible for an animal" includes an owner, custodian or controller of the animal [APA 2(4)].

2. Enforcement

(a) General

Like most traditional SPCA legislation, the APA allows for the establishment of local Humane Societies, which are charged with enforcement of animal cruelty laws [APA 3(1)]. Humane Societies may very much be viewed as animal welfare 'police' as their appointed 'animal protection officers' (APOs) [APA 3(2)] have many of the traditional powers of peace officers. In addition to appointed APOs [Animal Protectdion Regulation 5 ('AP Reg')], RCMP officers and municipal police officers are, by virtue of those appointments, also APOs [APA 2(1)(b)].

For example, APOs may enter, for purposes of inspection and during ordinary business hours, any premises without warrant (entry of dwelling place requires a warrant or consent) "where animals are kept for sale, hire or exhibition for the purpose of enforcing this Part and the regulations" [APA 5(1),7].

As well, the APA contains a broad offence provision, which can include an Order banning the defendant from having custody or control of animals as ordered [APA 14].

(b) APOs Finding Animal in Distress

Where an APO finds an animal in distress (either in a public place or during a lawful inspection) and where the person responsible for the animal does not promptly take steps to relieve the animal’s distress or cannot be found immediately and informed of the animal’s distress, the APO may take any action that they consider necessary to relieve the animal’s distress, including [APA 6]:
  • taking custody of the animal;

  • arranging for transportation, food, water, care, shelter and veterinary treatment for the animal; and

  • delivering the animal into the custody of a humane society, or where there "is no humane society near the location where the animal is found or if the humane society does not have an appropriate facility in which to keep the animal", then to a caretaker;

    For these purposes a 'caretaker' is an individual who has an appropriate facility in which to keep an animal, and agrees to care for the animal [APA 2(1)(d)].

  • where the animal, in the opinion of a veterinarian or - where a veterinarian is not readily available - the APO, is in such distress that it cannot be relieved of its distress, destruction of the animal.

    In the case of destruction of the animal, the APO must first "take reasonable steps to locate the person responsible for the animal and to obtain that person’s consent to the destruction of the animal" [APO 9(1)].
(c) Disposition of Animals Delivered to Humane Society

Where an animal is delivered into the custody of a Humane Society, the Society shall attempt to notify the owner that the animal is in their custody, and in any event of whether the owner is notified or not, if the animal remains unredeemed three business days (days that the society is open for business) after it is delivered to the Society, then the Society may [APA 10-11]:
  • sell or give the animal to any person (cattle will typically be sold) (such sale or gifting conveys title in the animal to the new owner);

    Detailed procedures for such sales are set out in s.11 of the Animal Protection Regulation.

  • where the Society is unable to sell or gift the animal, or where "in the opinion of the humane society, the animal is not suitable to be sold or given away", the Society may destroy the animal in a humane manner (dogs and cats where not locally adoptable will normally come under these provisions).

3. Civil Liability

Where an animal is destroyed as per s.2(b) above, the person responsible for the animal "has no right or claim to any damages resulting from the destruction of the animal" [APA 12(3)].

APOs, veterinarians, caretakers, humane societies and officers or employees of a humane society, and the provincial Crown are not liable for any good faith behaviour done in the exercise or purported exercise of their powers or duties under the APA [APA 17(1)].

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Last modified: 16-11-20
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