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Animal Rights

Municipal Laws

Unlike provincial and federal laws, which are geared towards protecting animals from cruel treatment, municipal bylaws mainly relate to animal control. As the specific bylaws vary from municipality to municipality, you will need to get in contact with your town office or visit the town’s website to find the particular bylaws that apply to you. Generally, municipal bylaws dealing with animals include regulations about:

  • Maintaining a system for impounding animals seen as strays or violating bylaw regulations
  • Animal licensing systems, with fees and tag registry
  • Limiting the number of animals a citizen has
  • Restricting animals from entering some public areas, such as shopping centres
  • Barking, howling, meowing, or any other excessive noise made by pets
  • Owners’ responsibility to clean up their pet’s waste

Provincial Laws

In 2010, the House of Assembly of Newfoundland and Labrador passed the revised Animal Health and Protections Act, which applies all across the province, except for some limitations on Labrador Inuit communities. This law aims to protect animals against cruelty and assist those in distress by extensively outlining acts that are prohibited. Consequences for violating the law could be as severe as imprisonment for up to six months or fines of up to $50,000.

The general responsibility of the owner is to ensure an animal in his or her control is not in distress. This means providing proper care, water, food, and shelter; tending to sickness, injuries, and pain; and preventing unnecessary hardship, privation, abuse, or neglect. Other provisions include:

  • It is the owner that is liable for any damage an animal makes to a person, other animals, goods, or property (s.34).
  • You cannot use an animal for fighting, or allow one to be used for that purpose (s. 20).
  • You cannot personally confine or permit an animal to be confined in an enclosed space, including a motor vehicle, without adequate ventilation (s. 22). In no circumstances are animals to be confined in trunks, not including vans, SUVs, and hatchbacks (s. 23).
  • If dogs are not safely penned or tethered, they must be on a leash or being used for lawful hunting or working with sheep (s. 32).
  • Choke collars and ropes tied directly around animals’ necks are not permitted (s. 24).

Inspectors (which include RNC and RCMP officers) who reasonably believe there is an animal in distress have the authority to assess the situation and, if necessary, take the animal into protective custody (s. 13). The owner may be liable for any expenses related to transportation, food, care, shelter, or veterinary treatment (s. 15).

The Animal Health and Protections Act does not have specific provisions for wild animals, which come under the Wild Life Regulations under the Wild Life Act. Anyone in possession of a live wild animal is obligated to apply in writing to the Minister of Environment and Wildlife for a permit immediately (s. 82).

According to the Highway Traffic Act, failure to exercise reasonable caution when approaching an animal on a public road or highway could make you liable for a fine up to $180 (s. 139).

These provisions are not exhaustive. For more information, the complete Animal Health and Protections Act can be found online. For the Wild Life Regulations, click here.

Questions and Answers

Adoption and Rescue Centres

Whether you're interested in adopting or just have questions, the following contacts may be useful: