Lawyer slams Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Amendment Act

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      A lawyer with an interest in animal welfare says she’s “disappointed” with proposed changes to provincial law aimed at preventing cruelty.

      “I don’t know where this is coming from on the part of the government,” Rebeka Breder, a board member with the Vancouver Humane Society, told the Straight by phone. “The bottom line is that this does not help animals in any way or further the protection or welfare of animals in British Columbia. If anything, I find that it impedes it.”

      On March 6, Don McRae, B.C.’s minister of agriculture, introduced Bill 24 for first reading in the legislature. The crux of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Amendment Act is the creation of a new appeal process.

      “Many of you remember, when we brought forward the amendments to this act in spring 2011, we discussed the possibility of increasing oversight to the BCSPCA decision-making,” McRae said in comments recorded in Hansard. “The ministry has reviewed this issue with the BCSPCA and considered the input of the public on this issue as well. Today, I am pleased to introduce the amendments to the act that will increase transparency and accountability for decisions related to taking animals into custody, with an independent appeals process that will be led by the B.C. Farm Industry Review Board. The board has a successful history as an administrative tribunal, independent of government, in its general supervision of B.C.-regulated marketing boards and commissions.”

      Breder said she agrees with the concept of independent oversight, such as the municipal animal court in San Antonio, Texas. However, she said putting the B.C. appeal process in the hands of FIRB raises some legal red flags.

      “If someone, say the SPCA, wanted to appeal a FIRB decision to the court by way of judicial review, the courts will normally defer to the decision of a tribunal, because it expects that—because the members are appointed by governments—they are experts in their own field,” Breder said. “And the courts generally don’t like interfering with tribunal decisions, because they start off with the premise that they are experts, much more than the court system.”

      However, she maintained that FIRB members are not experts in “general animal-welfare issues”.

      Comments

      5 Comments

      Ladybug73

      Mar 9, 2012 at 11:34am

      The FIRB website quotes "right to farm" has no humane handling or protocols. The BCSPCA seizes many "livestock" a year, most recently 150 or so pigs. One has to wonder how FIRBs position on the "right to farm" and the use of the following terms will go to serve the rights of animals

      British Columbia Broiler Hatching Egg Commission
      British Columbia Chicken Marketing Board
      British Columbia Cranberry Marketing Commission
      British Columbia Egg Marketing Board
      British Columbia Hog Marketing Commission
      British Columbia Milk Marketing Board
      British Columbia Turkey Marketing Board
      British Columbia Vegetable Marketing Commission

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      martin c

      Mar 9, 2012 at 1:39pm

      Regardless who the oversight body is, one is needed. Currently we live with a law that allows spca unchecked power, and once they ‘have’ an animal, the only recourse or appeal available is through the Supreme Court of BC. As unbelievable as it sounds, the spca has the subjective power to, after four (4) days (”abandoned” animal), or after fourteen (14) days (an authorized agent is of the "opinion" that an animal is in “distress”) dispose of the animal, and the former owner ceases to have any rights and interests.
      The most important change that Bill 24 brings would be that the spca could no longer take ownership of, and dispose of, the seized animal while there is an appeal in process.
      Cute puppy pictures, like the one above, should not trump the concept of innocent until proven guilty, especially in regards to an unaccountable organization such as the BC SPCA.

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      Sandra D. Sutherland. Q.C.

      Mar 10, 2012 at 5:31pm

      I support Bill 24 - Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Amendment Act, 2012 on behalf of the animals. Bill 24 provides an appeal process that will save animal lives and ensure fair treatment. Bill 24 should be supported by everyone who cares about the welfare of animals.

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      animal lover

      Mar 13, 2012 at 12:07am

      response to previous comments...word to the wise...this means animals will have to stay in the shelters longer...how does that help them?
      4 days for abandonment n 14 days if seized? how is that not fair? its a different story if someone gets sick n goes to the hospital then spca can offer compassionate board until next of kin can be found...seized, so a constable was granted a warrant by a judge by submitting evidence n swearing on oath that the owner has failed to relieve an animals distress in a reasonable amount of time!??? so why should the owners get more understanding n not the animals? this is taking a step back in animal cruelty laws...

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      mark m.

      Mar 13, 2012 at 12:13am

      to the second comment-thats legal jargin it doesnt mean they are going to destroy the animal it just means they can put it up for adoption. wouldnt sooner be better? dangerous dog cases can be held up to 2 years in some animal control facilities...how sad. is this what bc wants? abused n abandoned animals having to wait longer to be put into a new home? cmon people think!

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