Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCA Act)
The BC SPCA derives its powers to investigate and take action in instances of animal cruelty from the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 372 (the "PCA Act").
What the BC SPCA is doing to strengthen these laws
In April 2008, amendments to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCA Act) significantly increased protection for abused and neglected animals in British Columbia. The BC SPCA actively campaigned for changes to the PCA Act for more than two years through its province-wide End Animal Cruelty campaign. Our not-for-profit animal welfare organization collected more than 50,000 petitions and donations in support of the campaign and our advocacy work.
The amendments have dramatically increased our ability to respond quickly and effectively in cases where animals are abused, abandoned or neglected. The amendments not only enable the BC SPCA to enter property more quickly to assist animals in distress, but will lead to stronger cases and an even more successful conviction rate for animal abusers.
The new legislation includes the following key changes:
Expands the definition of distress beyond "inadequate food, water and shelter" to include animals who are deprived of adequate ventilation, space, exercise, care or veterinary treatment. This is particularly significant in cases involving overcrowded puppy mills, animals deprived of veterinary care and other cases where officers have not been able to intervene unless an animal was in critical distress.
Enables BC SPCA constables to obtain a warrant to seize an animal using the telewarrant system - a life-saving change for animals in distress in remote locations. In the past officers in remote areas have sometimes been forced to delay helping an animal in distress because a judge was not available in the area to issue a warrant. With the ability to obtain a warrant via telephone, BC SPCA officers can enter property and act immediately to help an animal in distress.
Increases the maximum penalties handed down under the PCA Act to a fine not exceeding $75,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years, or to both. In the case of repeat offenders, such as puppy mill operators, the fines will now be a significant deterrent.
Increases obstruction of justice penalties in animal cruelty cases from $100 to $2,000. This provides a significant deterrent to individuals, such a pet stores owners and breeders who refuse to let the BC SPCA inspect their facilities and others who obstruct the investigation of an SPCA constable.
Enables BC SPCA constables not only to search for evidence but to seize evidence of an offence. Logistically it has been difficult in the past to obtain the two warrants needed to seize evidence (one PCA Act warrant to search the property and a second warrant under the Offence Act to seize the evidence). Any evidence found without the second warrant could not be used in the prosecution of an accused animal abuser. Under the new bill, evidence discovered under the PCA Act warrant would be admissible in court.
What you can do to help
Your support of the BC SPCA Cruelty Investigations Department will help our special provincial constables and animal protection officers continue life-saving work investigating reports of cruelty and bring abusers to justice. Visit spca.bc.ca/heroes to find our more about our Heroes Fund for Animal Protection, and how you can join the fight to end animal cruelty today.
You can also put your passionate belief that animal welfare laws must be strengthened to become even more effective to use. Visit spca.bc.ca/monty to learn more about our Monty Fund for Community Education and Outreach. The fund provides support for prevention of cruelty to animals through awareness and advocacy programs just like the End Animal Cruelty campaign. With your help, we can continue to actively campaign for further ammendments to the PCA Act and continue our fight to end animal cruelty.