Animal associations

Lack of after-hours service calls for animal cruelty in Saskatoon

Animal Protection Services of Saskatchewan (APSS) has taken over animal protection law enforcement in Saskatoon, but will not respond to evening or weekend calls.

The Department of Agriculture has appointed the APSS to enforce animal cruelty violations for the city of Saskatoon beginning July 1, according to city council documents.

“All animal welfare concerns from City residents coming through the City Animal Services hotline are now forwarded to APSS triage numbers on business days between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The APSS website also offers the ability to report animal welfare concerns via an online submission form.

The lack of evening and weekend service means no one is available to respond to complaints of animal cruelty after hours.

Previously, the Saskatoon SPCA oversaw sheltering, pound and animal protection services for the city. Funding for the animal protection work was provided by a temporary grant from the city and by donations.

“The grant was not intended to reflect the cost of providing the services, but rather to simply provide support to the SPCA, which is like other grant programs offered by the City,” a council report said.

The SPCA wrote a letter to the city asking for additional funding and said it was having financial problems, according to the report.

They also contacted the Department of Agriculture with a request for funding. However, the ministry rejected the request, citing “the magnitude of the funding request as a barrier to reaching a deal,” the report said.

As a result, the Saskatoon SPCA informed the Province and City that they will no longer be involved in the enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act. Their enforcement role ended on April 1, but the organization continues to operate a municipal pound and provide adoption services.

“With respect to animal cruelty investigations, the City recognizes the importance of these services and the need for investigations in this area. However, these investigations are conducted under the Animal Welfare Act, 2018 which is provincial legislation and responsibility for these investigations has not been delegated to the City under this legislation,” the report states.

The report also says the Department of Agriculture has contacted Saskatoon police to see if it can take over the job for a temporary period until staff can be hired and trained to take over.

“The Service responded to the Ministry that although municipal police officers have the authority to act as APO [Animal Protection Officers] under the law, they were not properly equipped to take on this work.

“With the SPCA no longer providing law enforcement, effective April 1, 2022, the department has hired two retired Conservation Officers to take over the work of APOs in Saskatoon during the transition period, until APSS be able to hire and train law enforcement personnel in Saskatoon, which is expected to begin in July 2022.”

According to the report, there are no plans to offer after-hours or weekend services.

The SPCA investigated 865 cases of animal abuse or neglect in 2021, according to the organization.