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Rule change helps SPCA to deal with seized animals

Apr 22 2012

The B.C. SPCA is applauding last-minute changes to a government bill on animal cruelty, which the organization says will give it more financial security in caring for animals.

The changes would allow the SPCA to recover “interim costs” from owners who are appealing the seizure of their animals for safety or protection reasons.

“We’re actually really pleased,” said CEO Craig Daniell. “With this particular amendment, a lot of our concerns have been addressed — not all of the concerns, but some of our biggest.”

Last month, the government introduced changes to animal cruelty laws that would allow owners to appeal the SPCA’s seizure of their animals to the B.C. Farm Industry Review Board, instead of to the B.C. Supreme Court.

But the SPCA warned that the farm review board can take months to hear cases, and the organization could be hurt financially by having to house and care for seized animals, without compensation, during the lengthy wait.

“This is a big deal because these cases, depending on how complicated they are, are very, very expensive,” said NDP critic Lana Popham. “It may not just be a cat that’s seized; it could be a herd of horses that take a lot of expense. The government currently does not fund any of that for the SPCA, even though they are required to house these animals.”

Popham suggested the changes to Agriculture Minister Don McRae, who used them to amend his own bill in the legislature Thursday.

It’s rare for the Opposition to convince the government to change a bill while it’s being debated in the legislature.

But McRae said the changes were “common sense” to him.

“I think it would be disrespectful, when there’s good ideas that would make a bill a little stronger, not to work with anybody,” McRae said.

“I’m very pleased to be able to include those. It’s an example of two parties coming together to work on a good bill.”

The Opposition NDP said it would now support the bill and vote for its passage into law.

rshaw@timescolonist.com

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