Nova Scotia proposes tough new fines for animal abusers

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METRO HALIFAX

Senior veterinarian Dr. Ross Ainslie, left, gives Trooper a checkup with Melissa Cullen at the Fairview Animal Hospital.

Now this is news to wag your tail about.

The NDP government has introduced legislative amendments targeting people who abuse animals, in the hopes of sending a message to Nova Scotians that such cruelty will not be tolerated.

Minister of Agriculture John MacDonell announced the changes to the Animal Protection Act at the Fairview Animal Hospital Monday.

“Looking at legislation across the country, we’re right up there with the stiffest anywhere,” he said.

Fines for animal abusers will now range from $25,000 for a first offence to as much as $75,000 for a third offence.

Another amendment would make it an offence to sell a dog that hasn’t been certified in good health by a veterinarian, in attempts to put an end to puppy mills.

The definition of what qualifies as “distress” for an animal would also be clarified to make a reference to anxiety, and situations where pets are kept in poor conditions.

Other changes clarify the authority of the minister to develop regulations with respect to the care for animals and the shelters they use.

“I think it’s a pretty bold move for government to make such large changes to a piece of legislation,” said Nova Scotia SPCA executive director Kristen Williams, who attended the announcement.

Williams said she is looking forward to working with the province to develop the regulations in the months to come.

“We’re on the ground and we’re enforcing the law, which is why I’m very interested in participating … because I want to make sure the government’s intentions are met, as well as our own,” Williams said.

The minister said there are no current plans to give the SPCA more funding for enforcement, but hinted that could change.

“Once we get this laid out, and we know what the lay of the land is, we’ll take a look at that,” he said.

MacDonell said he hopes the bill can get through Province House within a month, but the regulations may not be in place until next year.

Organizations: Fairview Animal Hospital, Province House

Geographic location: Nova Scotia

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