Animal Protection Law

Icon of a book Provincial and Federal Laws

All Canadian provinces and territories have animal protection laws. These laws all deal with animal welfare issues and animal protection. However, they vary in a number of ways:

  • The level of protection they provide for animals
  • The issues that are addressed
  • The degree to which the laws are enforced
  • Who is responsible for enforcing the laws.

Animal protection is also covered by the animal cruelty section of Canada’s Criminal Code. In some provinces or territories, these laws overlap. Some offenses that are illegal in provincial and territorial laws are also criminal in the Criminal Code. This means that enforcement officials can lay charges under provincial or territorial law, the Criminal Code, or both. However, because provincial laws usually provide broader and stronger protection for animals than the Criminal Code, enforcement officials tend to lay charges using the provincial law.

Enforcement in Alberta

The Alberta SPCA’s Peace Officers are entrusted to enforce the Animal Protection Act in all areas in Alberta with the exception of the cities of Edmonton and Calgary. In response to reports of suspected animal abuse and neglect, Peace Officers travel throughout the province to help ensure that all animals are treated humanely. 

Investigating Abuse

The Alberta SPCA relies on the public to let them know about any domestic animal abuse or neglect. Alberta SPCA Peace Officers investigate all complaints received about animals in distress. However, the Animal Protection Act requires there to be reasonable and probable grounds to believe there may be an offence. A call from a witness or neighbour provides such grounds for investigation.

Icon of an internet link Check out some of the frequently asked questions about investigations (Alberta SPCA)

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