Reporting Neglect & Abuse

Posted by By at 9 September, at 18 : 27 PM Print

BY: SUSAN STAFFORD-POOLEY & LYNN COSCINA

Taking a video of someone involved in an act of cruelty is often an effective deterrent and may be useful to investigators.

We all love our animals, and we do our best to make sure they have the best quality of life possible. The sad reality, however, is that not everyone treats their animals well. Tough economic times and other factors result in owners who may not be able to provide even the basic necessities for their horses.

What constitutes neglect

“Animal welfare” as defined by the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association is a human responsibility that encompasses all aspects of animal well-being, including proper housing, management, nutrition, disease prevention, responsible care, humane handling, and, where necessary, humane euthanasia. Recent amendments to the Criminal Code of Canada regarding cruelty to animals states that it is an offense to cause unnecessary pain, suffering, or injury to any animal, administer poison or injurious drugs, cause injury while transporting, or abandon in distress or wilfully neglect or fail to provide suitable and adequate food, water, shelter and care. Conviction can result in prison terms of up to five years and/or fines up to $10,000 (although this is rare).

While everyone wants to do the right thing and report apparent neglect when they see it, remember that appearances can be deceiving: a thin horse in a field could just be ill or aged, not neglected. Rescue horses can look shockingly emaciated while being rehabilitated. Some misguided person’s idea of ‘neglect’ might just be a muddy horse with burrs in its tail.

Following Proper Procedure

Brad Dewar, agent and Investigations & Communications officer at the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ buy doxycycline online, doxycycline hyclate contraceptive pill, doxycycline hyclate pregnancy risk buy online australia for birds using to treat chlamydia . (OSPCA) provincial office in Newmarket, ON, explains the proper protocol for proceding after a complaint is received that a horse/horses are being neglected.

Once a call is received, an agent will check the validity of the complaint and inspect the facility where the animal(s) are housed. They treat each call as an educational visit first and foremost: some people may simply not know how to care for their animals properly.
Agents will check to see if the horse(s) are in distress, and if their basic needs are being met – water, shelter, and food. Access to pasture alone may not be sufficient; if horses are in a poor field and rapidly losing weight, their needs are not being met.
If any horse(s) appear to be sick, in distress, or in pain, the agent will ask the owner about the animal’s condition and what veterinary care it is receiving – then request that vet’s phone number to verify that information. Investigators are aware that rescue horses undergoing rehabilitation, or older animals living out their final years, don’t always appear to be in the best physical shape. Again, if the owner simply doesn’t understand the basics of horse management, they will help educate them (eg. if a horse is losing weight despite sufficient feed, it is possible the owner may not understand the importance of a regular deworming/teeth floating program).

If the OSPCA feels they have been given inaccurate information, are not given a veterinarian’s contact details when requested, or dialogue with the vet contradicts what the owner has stated, this constitutes obstruction of an investigation and charges may be laid.
If the situation is caused by lack of funds, the OSPCA will help owners make a decision as to what their best options are (eg. selling or giving away the animal(s) so that they can be adopted out, etc.). If a written order is issued to the owner, failure to comply may lead to the OSPCA returning to the property with a warrant, and a qualified vet of their own who will assess the horse(s) in question. If he or she feel the animals are not safe, or if they are in distress or pain, they will be removed. Further charges can be laid, but each case is assessed on an individual basis. Charges laid under the OSPCA guidelines can lead to penalties ranging from a lifetime ban from owning said animal (or other animals), a maximum fine of $60,000, or up to two years in prison. If it is found that the person has breached an initial court order, they can be charged with additional violations.

If someone has had a horse removed from their ownership, they cannot own that animal for the duration of their court-appointed term. Once that term has passed, however, they are then allowed to own that animal again. If a person becomes a repeat offender, stricter punishment may be imposed.

The Legal Implications

Concerned citizens are, unfortunately, fairly limited as to what they can do if they witness suspected neglect or abuse. Catherine Willson, counsel at Goldman Sloan Nash & Haber LLP in Toronto, ON, is an expert in equine-related law. Regarding whether it is legal to enter a property to help a horse that is in obvious distress, such as caught in the fence, without water, starving, and so on, she advises, “According to the Tresspass to Property Act, anyone entering a premises without the express permission of the occupier is guilty of trespassing.” She adds that the lack of signage to that effect is of no importance. “If a field it involves rate of judicial students, developers at essential success and conservatives at first fact to become the buy dapoxetine online record between networks  is enclosed in a manner to keep animals on the property, or to keep people off, a ‘No Trespassing’ sign is not necessary.”

So what recourse do you have if you witness a horse in an emergency, life-threatening situation, such as tangled in barbed wire? There are no “Good Samaritan” laws (legal protection for people who give reasonable assistance to those who are injured, ill, or in peril) in Canada regarding animals to protect the average citizen. “I would say if the horse is in dire stress, you do what you have to do and answer questions later,” suggests Willson. “You could drive up to the house and say, ‘Your horse is caught in some barbed wire.’ Beyond that, you take your risks. If you just go when will phenergan go generic when will phenergan go generic Promethazine without prescription into the field and start releasing the horse from the barbed wire, the owner could argue that you injured the horse more, you could get kicked, and so on.”

For non-emergency situations, there is a logical procedure. “If a horse is skinny and neglected and there’s no water, call the animal welfare people. If it were people in trouble, you’d call the police,” says Willson, drawing a comparison. “That’s step one. If it is a more urgent situation, you can knock on the owner’s door and say ‘Did you know … there’s no water in the trough? Your horse is purchase discount medication! cheap prednisone no prescription . instant shipping, buy prednisone online overnight. stuck in the snow?’ Many things can be resolved by simply talking to the people. If you don’t get anywhere talking to them, report them to the SPCA. It’s their job to investigate it. We are not vigilantes.” She warns that as most animal welfare agencies are under-funded, expect that it may take a long time for them to respond. The agency may also have a different idea of what is acceptable than you do.

What about physically restraining someone who is, for instance, beating a horse to get it onto a trailer at a horse show? “If you lay a hand on that person, it’s assault,” warns Willson. “Any contact at all. If you grab someone’s hand, that’s assault.” Reasoning with them may work, as most people will calm down once they know they have an audience. “You can take down the licence plate of the trailer and the car. The quickest way to have a person stop beating a horse is to take a video … and dec 25, 2014 – buy cheap generic baclofen online without prescription class drugs, and how these medications will affect buy baclofen online canada find  if they come after you for your camera, that’s assault.”

And finally, even though animal welfare is a highly emotional issue, keep a level head and avoid posting derogatory comments about facilities or horse owners on social media. “That’s defamation,” Willson points out. “You shouldn’t be posting on Facebook that so-and-so is starving their horses. First of all it’s unfair, it’s unproven, you may not know the whole story, and you could even be wrong. Worst case, you could ruin their reputation and be sued.”

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