The Saskatchewan SPCA’s Executive Director says there are some real positives to the provincial government’s updates on animal cruelty legislation, but there are still some concerns.
Frances Wach says some of the notable improvements include more clarity about what is an acceptable level of animal care, an updated list of codes and guidelines for livestock and pet care.
Veterinarians are now required to report situations of suspected animal cruelty, just like doctors are required to do with suspected child abuse.
Animal Protection Officers are able to inspect a broader range of animal care facilities.
That includes pet adoption facilities and places doing animal care services.
APOs can issue protection orders which outline specific actions owners must take to improve the care of their animals.
On the other hand, Wach says, the Animal Protection Officers are already dealing with a heavy workload and all of this just adds to it.
Other than Regina, Saskatoon and Prince Albert, the provincial APOs cover the rest of the province.
The skills and abilities of an APO should include training in animal health care, safety around animals, investigative procedures, driver safety, lone worker training, first aid, training in interpersonal skills in particular when dealing with difficult people and awareness on the link between animal neglect or abuse and interpersonal violence and how to deal with it.
For example, Wach says, if an APO is checking out a situation of animal neglect and knows and notices signs of child abuse, they could then report that to social services.
Wach says, “In order for animal protection legislation to be truly effective, all APOs must be provided with the resources they need to do their job properly, including consistent, ongoing training.”