A new agency formed mainly by former Saskatchewan SPCA staff has taken over enforcement of the province’s Animal Protection Act.
Effective April 1, Animal Protection Services of Saskatchewan began a two-year contract with the agriculture ministry to investigate potential cases of animal neglect or cruelty.
The SPCA served notice earlier this year that it would not renew its contract for those services because it preferred to concentrate on education and prevention.
Kaley Pugh, who had been the animal protection manager at the SPCA, is executive director of the new organization.
“For all intents and purposes, it’s actually very similar to how the Sask-atchewan SPCA operated,” she told reporters at the legislature.
“It’s a non-profit organization, has a volunteer board of directors, a lot of the same staff has moved over. It’s just that the primary purpose of this organization is solely enforcement of the Animal Protection Act.”
Agriculture minister Lyle Stewart said he is aware of at least three proposals to provide the service after the government sought requests.
“Ms. Pugh came forward with this proposal and it was clearly the best one that was presented to us,” he said.
Stewart said Pugh has probably the most experience in Saskatchewan in leading this type of work.
He said he was disappointed the SPCA chose to end its 40-year association with the ministry but noted animal welfare is a priority and the work will continue.
Pugh said the number of cases continues to increase, although this year has been quieter. She said that’s likely because the weather was generally milder and possibly because people were confused about who to call after they heard the SPCA was not renewing its contract.
Generally speaking, however, people are more willing to call than they were previously.
“I think part of it is just that the public is just less and less tolerant all the time of situations that they find to be a concern,” she said.
About half of the SPCA’s cases were dogs, 30 percent were horses and 20 percent were cattle. Cases involving sheep, bison, fish, birds, zoo animals and wildlife abuse made up a small percentage, she added.
The agriculture ministry will provide $610,000 a year for the new service to carry out its work. That is higher than previous years, but Stewart said a budget increase was planned even before he knew the SPCA was bowing out.
“The case load is increasing gradually, not dramatically I wouldn’t say, but SSPCA was down one inspector, so there’s clearly room for a little more staffing possibly,” he said.
“And it’s just more expensive to do business.”
Pugh said the new service has four staff and three vacant positions. Five of the jobs will be animal protection officers if she can fill the jobs, she added.
It is based in Saskatoon, and its board of directors includes representatives of livestock and veterinary organizations.
The new toll-free number to report animal welfare concerns is 844-382-0002, while the email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, visit www.animalprotectionservices.ca.