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‘PAWS’ and Think Twice Before Leaving Your Pet in a Hot Car
Enforcing Bill 136, Provincial Animal Welfare Services Act, 2019
TORONTO — The Ontario government is urging everyone to take the necessary precautions to keep their pets safe and protected during the hot summer months...and they've got the legislation in place to back it up.
Summer temperatures inside a vehicle can quickly become hotter than the temperature outside even if windows are left slightly open. Pets can be put at risk of serious illness and possibly death due to heat exposure as a result of being left in a vehicle. If pets cannot leave the car and go with their owners, then leave them at home where they will be safe, cool, and comfortable.
“Animal owners have a responsibility to provide the proper care for their pets. Leaving a pet unattended in a hot car is irresponsible and can put an animal’s life in danger,” said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. “It is important that we take the necessary precautions to protect our pets from the heat. I am proud that Ontario is the first jurisdiction in Canada to implement a full provincial animal welfare enforcement system to enhance animal safety and ensure strong penalties for those who commit acts of animal cruelty.”
The Provincial Animal Welfare Services (PAWS) Act came into effect January 1, 2020 and allows police, First Nations constables and provincial animal welfare inspectors to enter motor vehicles to help pets in distress. The legislation also has the strongest penalties in the country for people who violate animal welfare laws, including causing distress to an animal.
If an individual sees an animal in a hot car in distress and is concerned the animal's life is in danger, call 911 immediately as this is an emergency. Members of the public should not attempt to enter a vehicle in these situations.
The new animal welfare team will include specialists who will inspect zoos, aquariums, livestock and horses, and Crown attorneys will receive specialized training.
OSPCA Will No Longer Enforce The Law
In March 2019, the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which has enforce animal cruelty laws for 100 years, told the province it would no longer do so.
The OSPCA said it would instead focus on its shelter operations and other initiatives.
The agency’s abdication followed a court decision last January that declared the OSPCA’s enforcement powers unconstitutional. The judge said the province erred when it gave police powers to the charity without imposing reasonable standards of transparency and accountability.
The Bill proposes the following penalties for violations:
- Individual offenders committing minor offences under the Act can be fined up to $100,000, a maximum of imprisonment term of 1 year, or both
- Individual offenders for major offences can be fined up to $260,000, a maximum imprisonment term of two years, or both
- Corporations for minor offences can be fined up to $250,000
- Corporations for major offences can be fined up to $1,000,000
- A minimum penalty of $25,000 for certain offences, such as causing distress of an animal resulting in death
• Unlike humans, pets have a limited capacity to deal with the heat, and they can quickly become overwhelmed, leading to a heat stroke.
• Excessive panting, increased drooling, weakness, muscle twitching, and vomiting are all examples of visible signs of distress that may indicate heat stroke in animals.
• The most dramatic rise in temperature occurs within the first 10 minutes that a vehicle is idle. Even at an outdoor temperature of only 25ºC, the inside temperature of a car can reach 34ºC in as little as 10 minutes and up to 50ºC by the time an hour has passed.
• In these emergencies, fire services may also assist in rescuing distressed pets in motor vehicles.
• Cruelty to any animal is not tolerated in Ontario. If you think any animal is in distress or being abused, call 1-833-9-ANIMAL (264625).