The Government of Ontario is introducing legislation to better protect animals from abuse and neglect. The new Provincial Animal Welfare Services (PAWS) Act will impose the toughest penalties in Canada for the protection of animals, if the legislation is approved. “All animals in Ontario deserve safety, protection and compassion and we welcome the announcement,” says Rick Perciante, Executive Director, Oakville & Milton Humane Society (OMHS).”

 “The new legislation includes aspects of what we and other shelters suggested to government, however additional protections are required. So we have more work to do and look forward to continuing discussions with the government moving forward,” he adds. 

 An animal that had been deemed under distress, or whose owner had contravened standards of care under the old Act, had been subject to a maximum fine of $60,000. That distress fine has been increased to $130,000 for a first offence and $260,000 for a subsequent offence, both with the potential of two years in jail. The changes come after the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals announced earlier this year that it would no longer investigate and enforce animal cruelty laws, as it had done since 1919.

 The proposed new animal welfare system was developed based on input from municipalities, police, industry, technical experts, veterinarian organizations, animal sheltering and advocacy organizations, and the public.