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Wild Animal Law of Canada


Animals for Research Act (Ontario)

(current to 15 September 2016)
Note Re Application of the Animals for Research Act ('ARA')

The Animals for Research Act ('ARA') does not, by virtue of it's definition of 'animal' alone ("a live, non-human vertebrate") [ARA 1(1)], restrict it's application to either domestic or wild animals. However, the two primary policy purposes behind the ARA are regulation of (1) animal research and of (2) stray cat and dog pound systems, the latter both as they relate to supplying animals for research and generally to stray animal management. So the cat and dog pound system bears only on domestic animals and is thus of no concern to this wild animal legal guide.

The research aspects of the ARA, while technically applicable to both wild and domestic animals, are as a practical matter concerned mostly (though not exclusively) with either stray domestics or with supply-facility-bred animals being used in research. While there are provisions in the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act ('FWCA') for the capture and possession of native wildlife for "educational or scientific purposes" [FWCA 39] and while the ARA does address it's interface with the FWCA [ARA 2.2 (no supply facility license required when supplying wildlife)], there is little evidence that native wild animals are used in research on any significant scale. The ARA can also of course apply to imported wild animals, though again the scale of this is little known as the research industry actively shrouds itself in secrecy.

This law bears on the wildlife issues of:
  • SALE
The full current text of the Animals for Research Act and it's Regulations may be viewed at the Ontario statute website.

Table of Contents
1. Overview
2. Research and Supply Facilities
(a) Supply Facilities
(b) Research Facilities
3. Research Activities
(a) Generally
(b) Animal Care Committees

1. Overview

As noted above, the Animals for Research Act ('ARA') contains both a regulatory regime for research activities using animals, and establishes an animal pound regime whereby municipalities collect and dispose of stray cats and dogs. Since the pound system deal with domestic animals, which are beyond the purview of this module, the focus here is on regulation of research activities.

For these purposes, 'research' means "the use of animals in connection with studies, investigation and teaching in any field of knowledge, and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, includes the use of animals for the performance of tests, and diagnosis of disease and the production and testing of preparations intended for use in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of any disease or condition" [ARA 1(1)].

For enforcement purposes, the Minister shall appoint a veterinarian as chief inspector, and other inspectors, who "have exclusive authority to initiate proceedings to enforce this Act and the regulations" [ARA 18(1)]. These inspectors have typical police authority including such things as entry of premises (including pounds) and vehicles, inspection, demand of documents and similar [ARA 18(3,4].

Note that animals possessed by registered research facilities or by licensed supply facilities, are exempt from the provisions of the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty Act (OSPCAA), except some provisions as they apply to orcas alone [ARA 1.1].

2. Research and Supply Facilities

(a) Supply Facilities

For ARA purposes, a 'supply facility' means "premises, other than a research facility, that are used for the breeding and rearing of animals pursuant to a contract between the operator thereof and the operator of a research facility" [ARA 1(1)].

Operation of a supply facility may only be done under license, with exceptions for the following animals: "cattle, fish, goats, horses, poultry, reptiles, sheep, swine or game wildlife as defined in the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1997" (see the FWCA module for the latter) [ARA 2]. Animals bred and reared in supply facilities must be kept separate from other owned animals therein [ARA 13].

(b) Research Facilities

For ARA purposes, a 'research facility' means "premises on which animals are used in research and includes premises used for the collecting, assembling or maintaining of animals in connection with a research facility" [ARA 1(1)]. Research facilities must be registered under the ARA [ARA 4,5].

Animals purchased or otherwise acquired for use in research facilities may only be obtained from [ARA 14]:
  • the operator of a registered research facility;

  • the operator of a pound (cats and dogs);

  • the operator of a supply facility who holds an operator's license for the same;

  • the operator of a supply facility who is exempt from the licensing requirement respecting certain animals [as per (a) above].

3. Research Activities

(a) Generally

Research itself is subject to the following rules:
  • research facilities are required to file reports "respecting animals used in the research facility for research" [ARA 15];

  • animals "used in a registered research facility in any experiment that is likely to result in pain to the animal shall be anaesthetized so as to prevent the animal from suffering unnecessary pain", and analgesics must be supplied by the operator for the period of it's recovery from any procedure used in an experiment [ARA 16];

  • detailed transportation staandards for animals "that are used or are intended to be used by a research facility" are set out in full in the Transportation Regulation;

  • operation of supply and research facilities, including standards for enclosures (rooms, cages and tanks), temperature, ventilation, hygiene, staffing, food and water, disease control, primates, exercise, and euthanasia are subject to detailed rules set out in the Research Facilities and Supply Facilities Regulation.
(b) Animal Care Committees

For each research facility there must be established an 'Animal Care Committee' ('ACC'), with at least one veterinarian on it which shall be responsible for co-ordinating and reviewing the activities and procedures relating to the care of animals, the standards of care and facilities for animals, the training and qualifications of personnel that are engaged in the care of animals, and procedures for the prevention of unnecessary pain including the use of anaesthetics and analgesics [ARA 17].

ACCs may, where they believe that an ARA offence has been or will be committed re anesthetics and analgesics [as in (a) above], make Orders (1) "that any research in connection with such offence or possible offence be stopped or not proceeded with" and (2) "that where such research has caused, in any animal, severe pain or illness that cannot be alleviated" that such animal be euthanized [ARA 17(4)].

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