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Manitoba brings back animal care act

Manitoba’s government has reintroduced amendments to its Animal Care Act that are meant to put the brakes on shipments of unfit livestock.

Most of the amendments, which were first introduced during the legislature’s last session in September and were reintroduced Monday, are meant to crack down on unlicensed dog and cat breeding operations.

Agriculture Minister Rosann Wowchuk told the Manitoba Co-operator in September that rules pertaining to the movement of livestock will be the biggest change introduced for farms.

Under the new proposal, loading or transportation of animals unfit for transport will be prohibited. Unloading or acceptance of such animals at commercial animal markets and “assembling stations” will also be prosecuted.

The amendments will also require veterinarians to report any cases of abuse or neglect, and will protect veterinarians from liability if they do so in good faith.

“The animal protection officers will have more powers,” Wowchuk told the Co-operator’s Bonnie Baltessen in September.

Specifically, the amended Act gives the province’s chief veterinary officer authority to issue orders that would require owners to take action to relieve an animal in distress, or to carry out their duties under the Act toward their animals.

It will also provide expanded powers to enter and inspect premises and give animal protection officials specific authority to take abandoned animals into custody, including animals left behind in rental properties, animals not retrieved from kennels and other temporary caregivers, and animals that are “apparently ownerless.”

Other amendments will include the ability to apply for an order restricting the number of type of animals that may be owned or controlled by a person, in cases where the person might not have been convicted of an offence, but is clearly hoarding animals on his or her property.

“These changes are in line with measures other provinces have taken to strengthen animal care in their jurisdictions,” Wowchuk said in the province’s release Monday.

The amendments also double the maximum fines for first and subsequent offences under the Act, to $10,000 and $20,000 respectively, and double the maximum prison term to 12 months for a second offence.

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