Saskatoon police take more animal welfare calls since SPCA halted animal protection law enforcement

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A new report from city council raises concerns about the response to animal cruelty complaints in Saskatoon.

The Department of Agriculture has appointed a non-profit agency called Animal Protection Services of Saskatchewan (APSS) to enforce animal cruelty violations starting July 1, as the Saskatoon SPCA withdrew from animal protection services after the provincial government turned down a request for funding.

However, APSS only operates Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. CST, according to a City Council report.

This means no one is available to respond to animal cruelty complaints after hours or on weekends, when people could call the SPCA 24/7 to report animal abuse. .

“This change in level of service has resulted in an increase in calls to the Saskatoon Police Department to respond to some of the animal cruelty and welfare complaints,” the city council’s chief executive officer told Monday. City of Saskatoon Community Services, Lynne Lacroix.

Other cities, including Regina, Edmonton and Calgary, offer cruelty investigations and animal protection services seven days a week. The APSS website has a form For people to report animal abuse.

According to the report, there are currently no plans to offer after-hours or weekend service similar to what was previously provided by the SPCA.

The police do not have the capacity to enforce the animal protection law

Saskatoon police received 62 calls for animal-related or animal protection services from April 1 to May 31 of this year, according to the report.

“A number of these calls involved regulatory issues and were properly referred to the Saskatoon Animal Control Agency (SACA),” the report said.

“But several other calls were about animal neglect or animals in distress like a dog locked in a car, an issue that will get worse as the summer weather continues and is of no significance in the current jurisdiction. application of the SACA.”

Only one of the calls was related to animal cruelty, the report added.

Saskatoon SPCA said it investigated 865 reports of suspected animal abuse or neglect in 2021.

The Saskatoon SPCA ceased animal protection law enforcement services on April 1 due to a lack of funding. (Submitted by Saskatoon SPCA)

Department staff told the city that concerns about animal cruelty or animal protection outside of weekday hours should be referred to Saskatoon police, according to the report.

In a statement to CBC, police said they will always investigate cases of animal cruelty, but do not have the equipment, training or shelter agreements in place to respond and enforce. animal protection law.

Funding issues

The Saskatoon SPCA previously oversaw shelter, pound and animal protection services. Animal welfare work has been partially supported by the City of Saskatoon with a temporary grant and through donations.

According to the report, the grant was intended to provide support to the SPCA and was “not intended to reflect the cost of providing the services.”

The report states that in the fall of 2021, the SPCA approached the city for additional funding, indicating that it was experiencing financial difficulties.

The organization also applied for funding from the Ministry of Agriculture, but the ministry declined due to “the magnitude of the request for funding”, according to the report.

Without the funding the SPCA needed, she told the province and city she would withdraw the Animal Welfare Act.

“It comes down to funding because we have a limited number of staff and to cover those hours 24/7, huge funding is needed for that,” said the SPCA’s Acting Chief Executive Officer. Saskatoon, Trina Mortson, in an interview Monday.

Saskatoon SPCA Acting Executive Director Trina Mortson said she can no longer investigate animal cruelty cases due to a lack of funding. (Radio Canada)

The organization continues to operate a municipal pound and provide adoption services.

According to the city council’s report, the city “recognizes the importance” of animal protection services and the need for investigations.

“However, these investigations are governed by the Animal Welfare Act … which is provincial legislation and responsibility for these investigations has not been delegated to the City under this legislation,” the report said.

The Department of Agriculture says it views animal welfare as a shared responsibility.

“Collaboration continues to be important when it comes to effective investigation and enforcement,” the department wrote in a statement.

“The Department of Agriculture continues to work for the safety and welfare of all animals in Saskatchewan and looks forward to continuing to work in conjunction with all agencies in the City of Saskatoon to improve animal welfare. animal.

The province also noted that it had doubled funding for the APSS to $1.6 million in the 2022-23 budget to expand animal welfare law enforcement services.

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