The Province introduced legislation today to give British Columbia the toughest animal cruelty laws in Canada with higher penalties and greater accountability, announced Minister of Agriculture Don McRae.
"Animal welfare is an issue that touches all of us," said McRae. "These proposed amendments to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act demonstrate that B.C. is reacting quickly and decisively to show that acts of cruelty against animals will not be tolerated in this province."
The amendments to the act originated from the reported mass killing of 100 sled dogs last April. The appointment of a provincially led Sled Dog Task Force and its subsequent report demonstrated a need to update the animal protection laws in B.C.
Proposed changes introduced in the legislature today are:
* Greater deterrence of future crimes through higher penalties.
* B.C. will now have the toughest animal cruelty penalties in the country with fines up to $75,000 and jail terms of up to two years.
* In addition, we are extending the statute of limitations for offences under the act from six months to three years.
* Holding owners, companies and others responsible for animals more accountable for the welfare of those animals.
* New ability for government to regulate specific activities pertaining to the use, care and protection of animals - including sled dogs and service animals such as dogs and horses used by police.
"The BC SPCA is pleased that the Government of British Columbia is moving quickly to implement a number of the recommendations made by the Sled Dog Task Force", said BC SPCA chief executive officer Craig Daniell. "While we have not yet seen a copy of the draft legislation, our organization is strongly supportive of initiatives that will increase penalties for animal abuse and extend the period under which offences may be brought. We look forward to providing further comment once we have had an opportunity to examine the bill."
The Province recently proclaimed April 23, 2011 as Animal Abuse Prevention Day. These proposed amendments will create the changes in law needed to help prevent animal abuse every day.
Ministry of Agriculture
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