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N.S. clarifies province’s animal protection powers

Nova Scotia will amend its new Animal Protection Act to clarify the province’s powers of seizure and custody as well as its inspectors’ powers and duties.

The amendments announced Wednesday include confirmation that tests, taking samples, seizing carcasses, requiring records be produced, and taking photographs or other recordings can be conducted in the course of a provincial investigation.

The changes to the Act, which was proclaimed in January this year, will also give inspectors clear authority to give directions and to require a producer to comply with those directions.

The amendments will also allow the province ag department to take ownership of farm animals deemed abandoned if an actual owner doesn’t claim his or her animals within a specified period of time.

An Animal Cruelty Appeal Board will also be allowed to order the ag department or SPCA to arrange adoption or euthanasia for a seized animal.

“These changes are about acting in the best interest of the animal,” Agriculture Minister John MacDonell said in a release. “At the end of the day, we want to ensure the owner has the tools and information they need to properly care for their animals.”

The provincially-appointed Animal Cruelty Appeal Board will set up panels to hear appeals from those “aggrieved” by the seizure of their animal, the province said.

Until an appeal board is in place, the province said Wednesday, an amendment will require the provincial ag department to maintain custody of a seized farm animal until a decision has been made on a judicial review, if an owner files for one.

This amendment “will ensure fair treatment of animal owners while limiting the cost of maintaining seized animals,” the province said. It will also ensure clear title goes to a new owner when seized animals are adopted.

“We are eagerly awaiting the appeal board,” MacDonell said. “Until that time, we now have clearer guidelines that protect both the animals and animal owners.”

The appeal board’s members are to be named this spring by provincial Governor-in-Council. Other supporting regulations for the Act are also expected to be in place by then.

Leighann Hartnett, a provincial inspector, said in the province’s release that the planned changes “will help us better manage investigations and, in the long run, ensure animals at risk receive the best possible response.”

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