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Simon Shields, Lawyer

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Wild Animal Law of Canada

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Animal Health Act (Ontario)

(current to 15 September 2016)
Note Re Application of the Animal Health Act

While the Animal Health Act broadly defines an 'animal' as "any creature that is not human" [AHA 2], it is overwhelmingly concerned with control of disease amongst domestic animals, particularly livestock. It has peripheral application to wild animals insofar as they may come under it's provisions, for example by being treated by a veterinarian.

This law bears on the wildlife issues of:
  • PROTECTION
  • HUMAN HEALTH
  • EXTERMINATION
The full current text of the Animal Health Act and it's Regulations may be viewed at the Ontario statute website.

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The Animal Health Act ('AHA') is all about detecting and reporting animal disease and related 'hazards' to provincial veterinary authorities. For these purposes 'hazard' means [AHA 2]:
“hazard” means,

(a) a disease or a biological, chemical, physical or radiological agent or factor,

(b) a condition of a premises or conveyance or the environment in which an animal, animal product, animal by-product, input, waste material, fomite, vector or any other thing is kept, housed, processed, raised, grown, displayed, stored, assembled, sold, offered for sale, slaughtered, transported or disposed of, or

(c) any other thing prescribed as a hazard,

where in the absence of control, the disease, agent, factor, condition, environment or other thing, as the case may be, adversely affects or is likely to adversely affect the health of any animal or is likely to cause, directly or indirectly, significant harm to human health, but does not include any thing prescribed as excluded;
.The several different categories of hazard are listed in the Reporting of Hazards and Findings Regulation ('RHF Regs').

Reporting duties are created as follows [AHA 7-9]:
  • on everyone, for listed 'reportable hazards' present or suspected in animals;

  • on laboratory operators, for listed 'immediately notifiable hazards' and 'periodically notifiable hazards';

  • on veterinarians, for findings that reflect "a serious risk to animal health, human health or to the safety of food or other products derived from animals that humans may consume or use" [RHF Regs 17].
The AHA provides for the typical array of inspectors [AHA 17] with necessary authorities (including for making compliance and quarantine Orders) [AHA 19-21], and veterinary officials [AHA 4-6], for purposes in inspection and enforcement. Where the Chief Veterinarian of Ontario is of the opinion that a listed hazard "is significant because of its potential to spread or otherwise pose a threat to animal or human health" then they may Order that the animal be destroyed [AHA 25].
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