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Wild Animal Law of Canada


Animal Health and Protection Act (Newfoundland)

(current to 01 May 2016)

Note Re Application of the Animal Health and Protection Act (AHPA)

Newfoundland's Animal Health and Protection Act (AHPA) is primarily aimed at domestic animals [animals are defined as "non-human vertebrates: AHPA s.2(1)], however it also applies to non-indigenous wildlife, such as exotic companion animals or those in facilities such as circuses or zoos. For these purposes, "companion animals" includes (in addition to dogs and cats) "an animal kept for companionship or bred or raised for sale for companionship and not for an agricultural purpose", but not "wild life and fish as defined in the Wild Life Act" [AHPA s.2(1)]. Only it's 'animal health' provisions [addressed in s.1 below: AHPA s.2(1)], apply to indigenous wildlife [for indigenous wildlife generally, see the province's Wildlife Act) module].

The full current text of the Animal Health and Protection Act and it's Regulations may be viewed at the Newfoundland statute website.


Table of Contents
1. Animal Health
2. Protections
(a) General
(b) Specific Protections
. Care Standards
. Fighting of Animals
. Transportation
. Keeping Animals
. Docking of Tails
. Animal injured or killed by motor vehicle
3. Euthanasia
(a) Accepted Methods of Euthanasia
(b) Prohibited Methods of Euthanasia
(c) Conflicts Between Codes and Standards of Euthanasia
4. Civil Liability and Nuisance
(a) Civil Liability
(b) Offence
(c) Destruction Order
5. Prohibitions on Keeping Breeds, Classes or Species of Animals

1. Animal Health

The animal health part of the AHPA [Part 1] applies to all animals, including indigenous wildlife, and more specifically to "honey bees and other invertebrates" [AHPA 4(1)]. This includes fish that are companion animals and "fresh water fish and fish which run up from the sea into inland water" [Wildlife Act, s.2(b)], but excludes "fish or aquatic animals that are subject to the Fish Inspection Act or the Aquaculture Act" [AHPA 4(2,3)] (see the Fish Inspection Act module).

For health purposes, inspectors have typical regulatory enforcement authority for: inspections of animals and places (for potential infectious or contagious diseases), detention on entry to the province of affected animals, entry and warrant powers, seizure and detention of animals, demanding of documentation and requiring the assistance of owners [AHPA s.5,6,68, AH Regs s.4]. For these purposes, an infectious or contagious disease may be located in "an animal, animal product, animal by-product, waste material, bedding, food, water, drugs or other thing related to an animal", in an animal's enclosure, in "premises where an animal is kept or maintained" or in the natural environment [ARD Regs s.2(2)].

The Minister has powers to designate animal health areas for purposes of disease control, to dispose or an animal, and to require the destruction of animals believed to be diseased and award compensation for animals destroyed [AHPA s.7, [AH Regs s.3(1)].

Where an "owner, breeder, importer of, or dealer in an animal" or a veterinarian, suspects or notices that an animal has or appears to have an infectious or contagious disease as per the ARD Regs Schedule then they shall immediately report it to the Chief Veterinary Officer ('CVO') [ARD Regs s.3(1-2)]. Similarly, where laboratory testing of "an animal, honeybee hive, animal by-product, animal product, waste material, bedding, food, water, drugs, or other thing related to an animal, or a specimen of it" produces a positive result then the manager of that laboratory must also report that to the CVO [ARD Regs s.3(3)].

The CVO may order the disposal, destruction or quarantine of an animal believed to have an infectious or contagious disease [AH Regs s.3(1,3), 5].

2. Protections

(a) General

Subject to the specific protections (and exemptions) set out in (b), below, the AHPA generally prohibits anyone from causing or an owner permitting an animal to be in distress, which is defined as "the state of being in need of proper care, water, food or shelter, being sick, injured, abused or in pain or of suffering undue or unnecessary hardship, privation or neglect" [AHPA 2(1), 18(1-3)]. For these purposes, 'owner' "includes a person who has custody, charge or possession of that animal or who is the owner of property, a house, premises or part of a premises where an animal is kept or permitted to live or remain" [AHPA s.2(1)].

Where the animal is in such distress that it cannot "be relieved of its distress or live without undue suffering", then an inspector may destroy the animal. This determination may be made by either a veterinarian or alternatively by the unanimous opinion of an inspector and 2 other persons. In critical situations where these other persons are not available, then an inspector alone may make this determination [AHPA 14(1)]. Where reasonably possible, the inspector shall notify the animal's owner of the destruction [AHPA 14(2)].

Where a veterinarian believes on reasonable grounds "that an animal has been or is subject to neglect or abuse that compromises the animal's health, other than in the course of an accepted activity, shall promptly ... report his or her belief to the Chief Veterinary Officer" [AHPA s.27(1)].

(b) Specific Protections

Additional specific protective laws include:
  • Care Standards

    To further the goal of avoiding the spread of infection and contagion, "(a)nimals shall be transported, detained, maintained and kept in a place in a safe, clean and sanitary manner which ensures the healthy condition of animals" [AH Regs s.8].

  • Fighting of Animals

    No one shall "maintain or keep an animal for the purpose of fighting" or "allow or permit an animal to be used for the purpose of fighting." [AHPA s.20].

  • Transportation

    No one shall "transport, or permit to be transported, an animal in a motor vehicle outside the passenger compartment unless the animal is confined or secured in a body harness, or by means of another fastening, in a manner which is adequate to prevent the animal from falling off the vehicle or otherwise injuring itself or causing a hazard to other vehicles" [AHPA s.21].

    No one shall "confine, or permit to be confined, an animal in an enclosed space, including a motor vehicle, without adequate ventilation." [AHPA s.22]

    No one shall "transport, or permit to be transported, an animal in the trunk of a motor vehicle"- except for "a station wagon, passenger van, sport-utility vehicle, hatchback or another type of motor vehicle that does not have a trunk" [AHPA s.23(1,2)].

  • Keeping Animals

    No one shall "confine, or permit to be confined, an animal in an enclosed space, including a motor vehicle, without adequate ventilation." [AHPA s.22]

    No one shall "permit an animal to be hitched, tied or fastened to a fixed object" where a choke collar or choke chain forms part of the securing apparatus, or by means of a rope or cord tied around the animal's neck [AHPA 24(1,2)].

  • Docking of Tails

    Performing or permitting 'docking' (cutting the solid part of the tail) of any animal is prohibited except that "docking is permitted in a code or standard adopted in the Animal Protection Standards Regulations respecting the care of that animal" [no such codes or standards are yet set out in the AP Regs] or "the tail is surgically removed as a result of an injury to the animal or other medical necessity as determined by a veterinarian" [Animal Protection Regs 35/12 ('AP Regs'), s.8].

  • Animal injured or killed by motor vehicle

    A person who injures an animal while operating a bicycle or motor vehicle shall, where reasonably possible, stop and provide the care and attention to the animal that is necessary to relieve its pain and help its recovery. Where the animal is killed they shall "notify an inspector of that fact and provide the information that the inspector requires." [AHPA 28(1,2)].

3. Euthanasia

(a) Accepted Methods of Euthanasia

The AHPA uses the term "accepted activities" to describe approved methods of dealing with animals, and they are valid as long as they are "carried out in a manner that is consistent with the regulations" [AHPA s.2(2,3)]. Subject to detailed exceptions (outlined below), the 'accepted activities' of euthanasia of animals governed by the AHPA (domestics and non-indigenous wildlife), are the latest edition of the 'Guidelines on Euthanasia', published by the American Veterinary Medical Association[AP Regs, s.12(2-5) and the Animal Protection Standards Regs 36/12 ('APS Regs')].

There are numerous animal-specific or situation-specific exceptions to this standard, most of them relating to specific species of domestic animals. Those that relate to AHPA-governed non-indigenous wildlife are the following:
  • Codes and Standards re Research, teaching and testing [APS Regs, s.10];

  • Codes and Standards re Circuses [APS Regs, s.11]

    For these purposes, 'circus' means "a mobile place in which animals held and exhibited are made to perform behaviours at the direction of a human handler or trainer for the entertainment or education of members of the public and excludes a dog show, a horse show and a livestock fair" [APS Regs, s.2(1)].
(b) Prohibited Methods of Euthanasia

The following chemical and mechanical methods of euthanasia are prohibited: Prohibited methods of euthanasia [AP Regs 11(1,2)].

Additionally, where a person conducting euthanasia is required to comply with a code or standard set out in (a) above, then any prohibitions applicable within those codes and standards are also prohibited methods for AHPA purposes [AP Regs s.15(1,2)].

(c) Conflicts Between Codes and Standards of Euthanasia

The methods of euthanasia set out in (a) above are acceptable as long as they do not involve any of the prohibited methods set out in (b) above [AP Regs s.12(4)].

However, where an animal is being used for research, teaching or testing and there is a conflict between the general 'Guidelines on Euthanasia' mentioned in (a) above, and the more specific 'research, teaching and testing' code also set out in (a) above, then the more specific shall prevail [AP Regs 12(5)].

Euthanasia of indigenous wildlife (governed under the Wildlife Act: see that module) may be performed in accordance with that Act, although this will only have application when Part I (animal health) of the AHPA is invoked to require destruction of an animal, since otherwise the AHPA does not apply to indigenous wildlife [AP Regs 14].

Interpretation conflicts between Regulations (on the one hand) and code and standards (on the other) are resolved as follows [APS Regs s.3(3-5)]:
  • (w)here there is a conflict between a definition in a regulation and a definition in a code or standard, the definition in the regulation shall prevail;

  • unless otherwise provided for in a Regulation, (w)here there is a conflict between a regulation and a provision of a code or standard, the regulation shall prevail.
(d) Euthanasia in Critical Situations

Despite (a) to (c) above, "in a critical situation where an animal is in such distress that it cannot be relieved of its distress or live without undue suffering, a veterinarian is unavailable and there is no other reasonable way to relieve the animal of its distress", then euthanasia may be effected "through delivery by manual means of a blow to the head" [AP Regs, s.13(a)].

4. Civil Liability and Nuisance

(a) Civil Liability

Owners of companion animals (and livestock) "shall not permit the animal or livestock to cause a hazard to people, livestock operations, other animals, goods, property or the safe operation of motor vehicles" [AHPA s.31]. For these purposes, "hazard" includes "a danger or threat to life or property, or an impediment to the operation of a motor vehicle" [AHPA s.2(1)].

Owners of companion animals (and livestock) are liable "for damages or injury caused by that animal ... to a person, other animals, goods or property" [AHPA s.34(1)]. For these purposes, "injury" includes those "caused by wounding, worrying, terrifying or pursuing" [AHPA s.2(1)]. In such an instance the owner will be strictly liable, in that the plaintiff need not "show a previous propensity [SS: to be dangerous] in that animal ..... or the owner's knowledge of that previous propensity or to show that the damage or injury was attributable to neglect on the part of the owner" [AHPA s.24(3)].

(b) Offence

Where a companion animal "is a nuisance and not kept under proper control or has bitten or attempted to bite a person or has injured, worried or pursued livestock or has injured other animals", then any person may lay a complaint before a Provincial Court judge. For these purposes, "nuisance" means where the animal "has been shown to have trespassed upon land enclosed by a fence by breaking, going under or jumping over the fence", or to have "caused a hazard to people, other animals, livestock operations, property or to the safe operation of motor vehicles" [AHPA s.2(1)].

The judge, if satisfied of the truth of the allegations, "make an order that the owner of the animal destroy the animal or take such action that the Provincial Court judge considers necessary in the circumstances" [AHPA 36(1,3)].

(c) Destruction Order

With Ministerial authorization, an inspector may destroy a companion animal "found at large or kept contrary to this Part" [AHPA s.37]. The inspector may also take custody of such an animal and provide it with "necessary transportation, food, care, shelter and veterinary medical treatment", excepting where it is at large in an area where this is permitted [AHPA 38(1,2)].

5. Prohibitions on Keeping Breeds, Classes or Species of Animals

The Minister may by order prohibit "the keeping of a breed, class or species of animal within the province at large or an area specified in the order", violation of which is a prosecutable offence [AHPA 40(1), 41(1)].

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