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Simon Shields,
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Wild Animal Law of Canada

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Animal Health Act (Alberta)

(current to 01 August 2016)

Note Re Application of the Animal Health Act ('AHA')

In the AHA, an "animal" is any species of animals other than humans, so it clearly applies to wildlife. While traditionally legislation like this is particularly focussed on disease vectors to domestic animals such as cattle, the AHA is also concerned with disease risk to other animals, and to humans.

This law bears on the wildlife issues of:
  • EXTERMINATION
  • HUMAN HEALTH
  • PROTECTION
The full current text of this legislation (including regulations) may be viewed at the Alberta statute website.

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Table of Contents
1. Overview
2. Reportable and Notifiable Diseases and Related Duties
3. Enforcement

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1. Overview

The Animal Health Act is a disease monitoring and control statute, directed primarily (but not exclusively) at domestic livestock. It's primary operative categories are 'reportable' and 'notifiable' diseases, as explained in s.2.


2. Reportable and Notifiable Diseases and Related Duties

'Reportable diseases' are diseases that are either prescribed by Regulation Schedule 1, Reportable and Notifiable Diseases Regulation ('listed reportable diseases') or that "require() the implementation of control measures or eradication measures to minimize the risk of the disease spreading" because it [AHA 3]:
  • may cause products derived from a diseased animal to be unsafe or unfit for use or consumption,

  • may be a threat to animal health, public health or the health of other living organisms,

  • may be a threat to the economic interests of the animal industry, or

  • may be transmitted between animals and humans.
Notifiable disease are diseases that are either prescribed by Regulation (see Schedule 2 at the above link) ('listed notifiable diseases') or that the chief provincial veterinarian ('CPV') believes require monitoring for reasons of domestic or international trade, because it is a new or modified disease [AHA 4].

There are duties on all owners (including persons with custody, care and control of the animal) to report the presence of listed reportable diseases and listed notifiable diseases to the CPV within 24 hours [AHA 9(1,2)].


3. Enforcement

The AHA has the typical contingent of regulatory enforcement methods. These include appointed inspectors [AHA 6] who may examine animals on having reasonable and probable grounds of infection or exposure [AHA 10], may inspect vehicles transporting animals [AHA 37] and may enter premises for inspection (with warrants for dwelling places) [AHA 38]. Inspectors are not civilly liable for their enforcement-related actions unless they are conducted in bad faith [AHA 66].

Additionally, the Chief Provincial Veterinarian ('CPV') may declare quarantine zones, with conditions re facilities and treatment of animals, including destruction of animals, on having reasonable and probable grounds of infection or exposure [AHA 12,15]. The CPV may also declare surveillance zones of up to 10km around quarantine areas, also with terms and conditions [AHA 22]. The Minister may establish 'control zones' to contain a disease within Alberta, or on the borders of the province to "minimize the risk of a specific reportable disease present in an adjacent province, territory or state from entering Alberta" [AHA 31].

Generally, the CPV may order destruction of an animal if they have reasonable and probable grounds to believe there is infection or exposure, and may also destroy animals in quarantine with a reportable disease if allowing it to live would be cruel or inhumane [AHA 28].

Possession of imported animals with listed reportable diseases is prohibited [AHA 62], as is sale of an animal infected by or having been exposed to a reportable disease [AHA 65].

Lastly, there is a broad offence provision that allows for prosecution of AHA violations [AHA 67].
Law Society Number #37308N / Website © Simon Shields 2005-2018