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Provincial legislation

All of the provinces and territories have animal protection laws. They vary widely in terms of which animal welfare issues are covered and the level of protection provided. The degree to which the laws are enforced, and who is responsible for enforcement of the laws, also varies significantly from one jurisdiction to the next.

There is some overlap between these provincial or territorial laws and the animal cruelty section of Canada’s Criminal Code, in that some of the offenses deemed illegal in provincial and territorial laws are also listed as criminal in the Criminal Code. In cases of animal abuse, enforcement officials may choose to lay charges under the provincial or territorial law, the Criminal Code, or both.

In general, provincial laws usually have broader, stronger protections for animals than the Criminal Code and include specific standards of care that animal owners must adhere to (which the code does not). Because of this, enforcement officials in provinces that have broad, comprehensive animal welfare legislation tend to lay charges under the provincial law more frequently than under the Criminal Code.

You can find the titles and links to the full text of the laws for each province and territory below. To find out more about enforcement of the various laws, you may contact the provincial or local SPCA or humane society.

A comparison of provincial animal protection laws

Read a comparison of the provincial and territorial animal protection laws in the 2015 Canadian Animal Protection Laws Rankings, from the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

Animal Protection Act
Animal Protection Regulation

British Columbia
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act

Animal Care Act

Newfoundland and Labrador
Animal Health and Protection Act
Animal Protection Standards Regulations
Animal Protection Regulations

New Brunswick
Society for the Prevention of Cruelty Act
New regulation for pet establishments

Nova Scotia
An Act to Protect Animals and Aid Animals that are in Distress

The Dog Act

Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act

Prince Edward Island
Animal Health and Protection Act

Animal Health Protection Act

Animal Protection Act

Northwest Territories
Herd and Fencing Act
Dog Act

Animal Protection Act

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