The Solicitor General of Ontario recently enacted the Provincial Animal Welfare Services (PAWS) Act, addressing animal welfare in the province. However, some stakeholders have encountered challenges due to uncertainties in interpreting and enforcing the legislation. They’ve faced legal actions from PAWS agents even when they believe they were compliant, and certain provisions within the act are unclear and hard to follow. Therefore, TIAO has communicated with the Solicitor General seeking clarification on these issues. Specifically, enforcement actions have negatively impacted Ontario’s dog sled operators.
One provision requires outdoor dogs to have continuous access to unfrozen water every 24 hours, using methods like heated water bowls, blankets, and in-tank heaters. Yet, the specific criteria for compliance and procedures during inspections is still unclear. This presents problems, particularly in northern Ontario where variable weather complicates providing constant, unfrozen water, compounded by inconsistent interpretation by PAWS agents. TIAO has asked for clarification from the Solicitor General’s office on this unfrozen water requirements, aiming to promptly inform stakeholders for better compliance with the legislation.