CORNER BROOK Newfoundland and Labrador has been recognized for the vast improvement in its animal protection laws, but Judy Mahoney says the true impact has yet to be realized.
The president of the Bay of Islands SPCA has praised the province's new Animal Act, recognizing it as one of the best in the country. That view was shared recently by the Animal Legal Defense Fund's 2012 Canadian Animal Protection Laws Rankings.
Newfoundland and Labrador is ranked fifth, the best of the middle tier in the country, just shy of Nova Scotia, Ontario, British Columbia, and No. 1 Manitoba. Along with British Columbia, it was recognized as the most improved.
"Newfoundland and Labrador showed significant improvement this year, moving a number of spots up to the very top of the middle tier," the report stated. "The province broadened its range of protections, made veterinarian reporting of suspected abuse mandatory, enacted new animal fighting provisions, and drastically increased maximum penalties (the maximum fine went up from $500 to $50,000)."
Mahoney said the province recognized its old legislation was insufficient, and resolved that with the new Act. She said the act is positive for animals, in that everything starts with laws and legislation, but also for organizations looking out for their well being.
"It gives organizations, like the SPCA and all animal welfare organizations, the support, having that solid legislation behind it," she said. "It is a very positive thing."
The SPCA president said it will take some time for the new changes to become effective. She said it will also increase its impact with a greater emphasis on enforcement, including what she hopes will be the training and funding of inspectors — formerly classified as special constables — in the province.
She also said it will take a couple of cases to increase the public awareness, but she said people are already recognizing the laws and potential criminal consequences are more severe.
Natural Resources Minister Jerome Kennedy was unavailable for comment Tuesday.