Animal Welfare Laws

Within the past month, I wrote to the Honorable Christy Clark in regards to changing and modifying legislation within BC’s animal welfare laws. After only seven days I received my first response back from her office. I was told my concerns would be shared with the Minister of Agriculture, the Attorney General and the Minister of Justice and that they would follow up with me on any legislative changes. After receiving the initial email, I thought, “Mmmhmm sure you’ll do these things…” I was skeptical because I have sent my fair share of concerns to other authoritative bodies (Mayor of Burnaby, Vancouver, Richmond, etc) and have heard ZERO from any of them.

Yesterday, a sweet surprise was awaiting my in my email inbox. A strange looking email I wasn’t sure if I should open because the subject looked to be a case file number. The email stated:

Dear Ms. Schreiber:

Thank you for your recent email, addressed to the Honourable Christy Clark, Premier, regarding back yard breeders and potential animal cruelty in British Columbia. As Assistant Deputy Minister, I am pleased to respond.

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCAA) creates an offence for causing distress to any animal. It also establishes the British Columbia Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BCSPCA) and authorizes the BCSPCA to assist animals that are in distress. The PCAA gives the BCSPCA authority to take necessary actions to assist animals that are in distress and to investigate alleged offences involving animals and prepare those cases for consideration by provincial Crown Counsel; however, the PCAA does not authorize the Province to direct the BCSPCA in its operational activities.

On-going changes to the PCAA demonstrate the Province’s commitment to animal welfare in British Columbia. Since 2008, there have been significant improvements to the PCAA. The most notable changes include:

  •    an expanded definition of “distress” to include not only deprivation with respect to food, water, shelter, ventilation, light, space, exercise, care or veterinary treatment but also:

– keeping animals in unsanitary conditions;
-not protecting animals from exposure to excessive heat or cold;
-animals that are injured, sick, in pain or suffering; or,
-abused or neglected animals;

  •    institution of the highest penalties for animal abusers in Canada: animal abusers, if convicted, can now face up to 2 years imprisonment, a $75,000 fine and a life-time ban on owning any animal;
  •    an expanded scope of prohibitions to include abuse perpetrated by anyone, not just the animal’s owner;
  •    a requirement for veterinarians to report suspected animal abuse or neglect; and,
  •    an increase to the time in which charges can be laid for offences under the PCAA from six months to three years.

Animal welfare is an issue that touches all of us and the Province strongly supports initiatives that improve animal welfare and the good work being done by the BCSPCA.

Thank you for writing and sharing your concerns with me.


Melanie Stewart

Assistant Deputy Minister (Agriculture)

Needless to say I am very pleased with these changes and I hope my fellow BC animal lovers are happy with these changes. I still wish they would govern animal breeders but Rome wasn’t built in a day! Christy Clark, if you ever see this, THANK YOU and your staff for taking my concerns seriously, for following up with me, and for setting a good example for other politicians to follow. People are the voice and we need our issues addressed, and your office has done this. Next election–you have my vote:)


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