EDMONTON – National animal law organization Animal Justice is seeking an independent external investigation into an incident that occurred at the Edmonton Humane Society. According to a statement issued by the Humane Society, it left three cats in a transport vehicle for 22 days between March 27 and April 18. When they were discovered, the cats were dehydrated, starving, and suffering from urine burns on their paws. They survived.
The incident appears to contravene the provincial Animal Protection Act, which prohibits causing distress to animals, and requires that animals be provided with adequate food, water, and shelter. The Animal Protection Act is a regulatory statute, meaning liability for a violation is assumed without proof that the person intended the consequences.
“No one doubts the Edmonton Humane Society’s commitment to animal protection, and their regret over this incident,” said lawyer Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice. “However, serious questions remain. The Edmonton Humane Society is responsible for investigating animal neglect. It is an obvious conflict of interest for the Humane Society to investigate itself over an apparent violation of the laws it enforces. An external agency, such as the police, must be called in immediately to investigate and determine whether charges should be laid.”
“When police forces are alleged to have committed illegal acts, it is standard practice for external agencies to investigate to ensure investigative independence and police accountability. This serious incident requires much more than the private internal review that was conducted.
“More broadly, this incident highlights the troubling lack of public accountability when it comes to the enforcement of animal protection laws. Humane societies and SPCAs are private charities, yet are tasked with enforcing public laws with little oversight. In no other area of law enforcement does this model still exist.”
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