For many individuals, their pets are like family. But because of their very nature, municipalities may have several laws in place to help ensure they don’t become a nuisance in the neighbourhood or a danger to the community. It’s important to note that there may be different laws for different types of pets.
Municipalities can pass laws that require animals to be licensed. Some classes of animals may cost more to licence than others. Fees may also vary depending on the sex of the animal. It may cost you more to licence an animal that has not been neutered, or who has not been vaccinated against rabies.
Municipalities may also pass laws that require animals to be properly restrained and not run-at-large. There may be restrictions on the number of animals that may be kept. Many municipalities have so-called "pooper scooper" laws that require owners to clean up after their pets. Your municipality may also have a law that deals with dogs creating a nuisance by howling or barking.
Owners may be ordered to keep a dangerous animal confined or muzzled, carry adequate liability insurance and post a sign warning of the presence of a dangerous animal on their property. A judge could also order that the animal be destroyed. Failing to comply with an order can result in a fine or even imprisonment.
Owners of domestic animals must take reasonable steps to guard against any injury their animal might predictably cause. Owners may be liable for damages caused by their negligence. Municipalities deal with dangerous dogs and set out the process for declaring a dog or other animal to be dangerous.
Sometimes people choose to keep wild animals as pets. Owners of wild animals will be liable for any injury or damage caused by them. There may also be local laws that govern how and where wild animals may be kept as pets. Municipalities can prohibit people from keeping certain animals within their municipalities. For example, in the City of Saskatoon people are prohibited from keeping many wild or exotic animals on private property, including skunks, weasels, monkeys, alligators, venomous reptiles and some species of snakes.
The Animal Protection Act, 2018 aims to prevent cruelty to animals and gives approved humane societies certain powers. Animals that are found in distress may be taken away from their owners to receive proper care, such as food, shelter or medical attention. The owner of the animal may be required to pay any related expenses before the animal will be returned. If an owner cannot be found, or if the owner fails to pay the expenses, the animal may be sold or given to another person.
Individuals charged with an offence under the Act could face a fine of up to $25,000, two years in jail, or both. Owners who willfully neglect to provide adequate food, water, shelter or care may also be charged with a criminal offence and can be fined up to $2,000, jailed for up to six months, or both.
To find out more about the specific laws that are in place in your area, contact your municipal council. Your local humane society or veterinary clinic may also have additional information.
PLEA can provide you with information to help you understand many legal matters you, a family member or friend may be facing.