All of the provinces and territories have animal protection laws. They vary widely in terms of which animal welfare issues are covered and the level of protection provided. The degree to which the laws are enforced, and who is responsible for enforcement of the laws, also varies significantly from one jurisdiction to the next.
There is some overlap between these provincial or territorial laws and the animal cruelty section of Canada’s Criminal Code, in that some of the offences deemed illegal in provincial and territorial laws are also listed as criminal in the Criminal Code. In cases of animal abuse, enforcement officials may choose to lay charges under the provincial or territorial law, the Criminal Code, or both.
In general, provincial laws usually have broader, stronger protections for animals than the Criminal Code and include specific standards of care that animal owners must adhere to (which the Criminal Code does not). Because of this, enforcement officials in provinces that have broad, comprehensive animal welfare legislation tend to lay charges under the provincial law more frequently than under the Criminal Code.
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act
Animal Care Act
Society for the Prevention of Cruelty Act
The Dog Act
Prince Edward Island
Animal Health Act
Animal Protection Act (link to updated legislation coming soon!)
To find out more about enforcement of the various laws above, contact the provincial or local SPCA or humane society for the jurisdiction in question.