New provincial animal bylaws may be in the best interest of cats and dogs, but without extra resources the Region of Queens Municipality says they are essentially unenforceable.
The new draft of the Standards of Care for Cats and Dogs was discussed in council on May 12 causing councillors to question the Region’s ability to enforce new bylaws.
“It is not only challenging, it’s going to be impossible. You have one by-law enforcement officer that controls unsightly premises, parking, solid waste investigations,” says Kathleen Rafuse Chief Administrative Officer for the Region of Queens.
The Region of Queens Municipality has one bylaw officer for the entire county.
Should the draft become law, dogs would no longer be allowed to be tethered for 24 hours straight. The new laws would mean that dogs could only be tied 12 hours and then would have to be brought inside for a minimum of seven hours before being allowed outside again.
The draft also includes standards for outdoor shelters and enclosures for dogs and transportation guidelines. The draft states that animals may not be transported outside the passenger compartment of a vehicle (except in station wagons and other hatchback styled vehicles) unless it is in a secured container.
The container also has specific requirements such as being “durable and maintained in good repair” and “large enough for the animal to turn around normally while standing, to stand and sit erect, and to lie in a natural position.”
Although the Department of Agriculture is responsible for the regulation of animal protection and prevention of cruelty, most bylaws regarding animals are enforced by municipal employees.
Councillors voted to prepare a response to the Minister of the Department of Agriculture respecting the draft. The response will express council’s support for stronger regulations on the protection and prevention of cruelty to animals but also their concern for existing municipal staff and their ability to take on additional responsibilities.
“In theory it is great that somebody wants to look after animals and ensure that they are properly cared for but potentially maybe it should go to an entity such as (Department of Natural Resources) or the Department of Agriculture that have the resources much more than our unit to actually enforce the regulations,” says Rafuse.
Keith Colwell, Minister of the Department of Agriculture says that should the draft pass into law, the enforcement of the new standards is optional for municipalities. RCMP officers are also able to respond to cases involving animals. The Nova Scotia SPCA has also been empowered to investigate claims of cruelty, seize animals, and help secure arrests.
“It’ll be totally voluntary on (the municipality’s) part. In some cases it will make sense for municipalities and in other cases it won’t,” Colwell.
Colwell says the proposed laws provide the SPCA, RCMP, and bylaw officers with more power in dealing with animal cruelty complaints.
The draft will be amended in the legislature and then it will be put before the Cabinet. Colwell says the hope is to have the draft put into regulation by this fall.