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Best Interest of the Pig
November 6, 2008 permalink
The OSPCA acts with powers nearly identical to children's aid societies, only their pretext is protecting animals instead of children. Unlike victims of child protection, persons harmed by animal protection are free to speak their mind. An article copied below from the Orangeville Citizen mentions many of the complaints against the OSPCA. They show similarity to complaints, sadly never heard in the press, against children's aid.
Animal protectors have police power and enter private property without a warrant. A person accused by the OSPCA loses his animals first, then has the burden of proving his innocence. When an owner fails to cooperate with persons taking his animals, that is evidence of guilt. An owner can be charged for the cost of keeping his animals in a shelter.
A proposed change to the law allows the animal shelters to keep seized animals indefinitely in foster care, even after the owner has complied with orders of the court.
Not mentioned in the article, but reported by victims, the OSPCA and children's aid act in tandem, in one case raiding a home on alternate days and sharing information on the targeted family.
Landowner group at odds with the OSPCA
By DAN PELTON Staff Reporter
Members of the Ontario Landowners Association (OLA) were in a combative mood as they crowded into the Chipwood Park Pavilion, north of Shelburne, for their recent annual general meeting.
The targets of the OLA's derision were the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) and Bill 50, proposed provincial legislation that would broaden the agency's powers.
The OLA sees the new legislation as oppressive. Jim Turner, president of the Dufferin chapter of the OLA, says the OSPCA already has too much power. "They shouldn't be able to go on to somebody's property without either having an opponent or a warrant."
The Liberal government, on the other hand, sees the bill as something that is overdue and will bring Ontario up to date with the rest of Canada as far as ensuring the safety of animals is concerned.
Right now in Ontario, animal welfare is covered under the OSPCA Act, which was passed in 1919 and has had few revisions since.
Bill 50 has been tabled by the province's Community Safety and Correctional Services minister, Rick Bartolucci, who says it will take Ontario "from worst to first" in terms of legislation to protect animals
OSPCA Chief Inspector Hugh Coghill finds the OLA protest somewhat puzzling. "We've had warrantless entry since 1919," he points out. "Why hasn't anyone complained in the last 89 years?"
What could be a cause for concern is an aspect of the new legislation that allows OSPCA inspectors to enter a property if they have reasonable grounds to suspect that cruelty to animals is occurring. Currently, an inspector actually has to observe the cruelty before he or she can act.
As well, under the existing legislation, an animal that has been taken from its owner on the grounds of cruelty must be returned once it is considered to no longer be in distress and the owner has paid the necessary fines.
Under Bill 50, the OSPCA can apply for interim custody and keep the animal away from an owner it sees as unfit.
To underline the necessity of such a change, Mr. Coghill points to the case of a Windsor man who cut the ears off his dog to make it look tougher. Despite the obvious barbarity of his act, he was entitled to get his dog back after he had paid what he owed and the dog was considered no longer in distress.
Progressive Conservative MPP Garfield Dunlop, the party's community safety and correctional services critic, spoke at the Chipwood Park OLA meeting. He says Bill 50 is an important piece of legislation and suggests that partisan politics be kept to a minimum in order for it to succeed.
"Our party is a strong advocate of stiffer penalties for cruelty to animals," said Mr. Dunlop. "We've put forward private members' bills to address this." He feels representatives of the three parties have worked well together in organizing the legislation.
Terming it "an allencompassing bill," he said MPPs "are all trying to step up and get it right. I'm a supporter of the OSPCA but, as a critic, I have to see how we can find improvements."
He admits to being uncomfortable with the concept of warrantless entries and is also concerned that there may be problems with OSPCA inspectors having police powers while, at the same time, working for what is essentially a charitable organization.
His concerns are shared by Mr. Turner, who accuses the OSPCA of embellishing situations in order to raise its profile and increase its fundraising efforts.
While steadfastly maintaining that the OLA is in support of legislation that ensures the ethical treatment of animals, Mr. Turner feels, along with the majority of his fellow members, that people are being mistreated by the OSPCA.
"With the OSPCA, you're guilty right away, and then you have to spend your own money to prove you're innocent."
Mr. Coghill admits that until 2006, the OSPCA put an emphasis on enforcement. Since he took over as chief inspector that year, he says the goal of the agency is "to put less of an emphasis on enforcement and more on education."
As for the OSPCA's police powers, he says the agency does not have the authority to decide guilt or innocence. Its stance is to collect information and act on it. After that, the affected parties can appeal to the Animal Care Review Board, an independent tribunal appointed by the government.
If the board rules against them, they can appeal the decision in court.
Such was the case with Roy Bevan of Holstein, who had 16 sheep and two miniature horses seized by the OSPCA, who said the animals were malnourished and claimed the sheep were in bad need of shearing and the horses' hooves were too long and had not been clipped.
The Animal Care Review Board ordered the horses returned to Mr. Bevan and that he not be required to pay the OSPCA any costs of boarding the animals.
The sheep were another matter, however. The board ruled against Mr. Bevan, who appealed the verdict. The court of appeal heard that the sheep were ravenous and, three weeks after coming under the OSPCA's care, gained an average of 20 pounds each.
Mr. Bevan claims the sheep, after the confiscation, were fed five pounds a day of a high-protein feed that contained molasses designed to make the animals gain weight. "It's like having Thanksgiving dinner," says Mr. Bevan, "and then having five more."
The appeal court also found Mr. Bevan was showing a consciousness of guilt when the animals were seized, by refusing to co-operate with the OSPCA when they came to take his livestock.
Mr. Bevan asks why he should have been co-operative in the face of what he saw as a warrantless, unlawful entry. "If someone was breaking into my house, what should I do? Hold the door open for them so they don't scratch my TV when they're carrying it out?"
As for the OLA, Mr. Turner says it's a levelheaded organization dedicated to defending the rights of landowners, even though it does some outlandish things like tarring and feathering an OSPCA inspector in effigy during a recent protest in Sudbury.
"We're not just a bunch of rednecks. We check out each case and, if we feel there isn't anything we don't back it. We're not here to fly off the handle."
Source: Orangeville Citizen