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Are we doing enough to protect animals in rescue organizations?

By: Allison Chorney

  |  Posted: Monday, Jun 03, 2013 12:18 pm

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With recent news stories about alleged animal neglect at a Southern Alberta animal rescue sanctuary, I can’t help but wonder why rescues organizations aren’t held to stricter standards.

Currently, there is no legislation in place specifically for animal rescue organizations and the only “rules” theses places have to follow are from the outdated Animal Protection Act and Animal Protection Regulations.

Though the Alberta SPCA, a registered charity dedicated to the welfare of animals, has peace officers appointed by Alberta’s Solicitor General to enforce the Animal Protection Act, they generally don’t provide enforcement to jurisdictions with other legally appointed peace officers, according to an Alberta Veterinary Medical Association (AB.VMA) pamphlet.

The result of this is the absence of an overarching regulatory organization that has responsibility over animal rescue operations in Alberta.

According to Roland Linef from the ASPCA, there are about 300 rescue organizations in Alberta, but he added there are most likely more out there that the ASPCA is simply not aware of.

As an animal lover, I have to assume people don’t get into animal rescue with the intent of causing animals harm. However, there are certainly cases where, for whatever reason, animals in rescue facilities are neglected or mistreated.

This made me wonder if there is no legislation specifically governing the animal care provided in rescue organization, how difficult is it to become a rescue group in the first place?

Sadly, the answer is it is not hard at all.

“Unfortunately, in the province it is way too easy for someone to open their door and say ‘I’m a rescue shelter,’” said AB.VMA Interim Registrar Darrell Dalton.

Linef, who added there are no regulations in place to become a rescue organization, echoes this thought.

The process to become a registered charity, however, is more complicated and requires paperwork and expenses; so many rescue groups simply do not apply for charity status.

So there are no regulations to become an animal rescue and no legislation to govern how they are run?

This, in my mind, is completely unacceptable. Animals in these shelters come from already horrible conditions and are supposed to be shown kindness and cared for with their best interests in mind.

I am shocked and saddened to learn in this day and age where Airdrie had 7,156 licensed dogs in 2012 and our neighbours in Calgary have the largest number of off-leash areas and the largest amount of combined off-leash area in the country, we continue to allow animal rescue organizations to go unchecked.

I suggest to you all, to do your research before donating or promoting a rescue organization. Call the ASPCA and ask if there have been investigations or charges laid against the organization.

We have several really good rescue groups in the area but we still need to be diligent and protect these helpless creatures as best we can.


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