Animal Advocates Watchdog

Deputy Minister, Agriculture, Food and Fisheries responds to Dr Geist's letter

----- Original Message -----
From: Webmaster, AGF AGF:EX
To: ''
Sent: Tuesday, March 22, 2005 11:47 AM
Subject: Ref: 73448 British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

File: 0280-30
Ref: 73448

Valerius Geist, Ph.D.

Dear Dr. Geist:

Thank you for your e-mail to the Honourable John van Dongen, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, dated February 1, 2005. The e-mail forwards a copy of your e-mail of the same date to the Honourable Geoff Plant, Attorney General, relating to the British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. I am responding on behalf of Minister van Dongen.

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act authorizes designated officials of the Society to take action to assist animals that they believe are in distress under the Act and to investigate alleged offences involving the treatment of animals. Under the Act, animals are in distress if they are not provided with adequate food, water, shelter or veterinary care. The Society also has policies in place to guide its enforcement personnel in determining whether it is necessary to take animals into custody in particular situations.

The Act does not involve government in the day-to-day operations of the Society. It does not instruct the Society or its enforcement officials when they must take action or how they must dispose of matters; these matters are determined by the operational judgement of the Society and its officials. In particular, the Act does not authorize the Provincial Government to intervene in specific cases in order to direct disposition of the case.

While the Act does not involve the Provincial Government in the Society's day-to-day operations, it does contain a number of "oversight" mechanisms to ensure that the Act's enforcement powers are exercised in a manner that properly respects individual rights. The Act:

· requires the Society to send copies of all bylaws relating to enforcement to the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries and authorizes the Lieutenant Governor in Council to disapprove of any such bylaw;

· limits access to the Act's enforcement powers to authorized agents of the Society who are also appointed as special provincial constables under the Police Act;

· requires enforcement officers to obtain warrants before entering private property; and,
· reserves the decision to lay charges under the Act to provincial Crown Counsel.

A person who is not satisfied with the actions of the Society's enforcement personnel may take their concerns to the provincial office of the Society. Inquiries should be directed to:

Craig Daniell, General Manager

Cruelty Investigations

British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

1245 East 7th Avenue

Vancouver, British Columbia V5T 1R1

Telephone: 604 647-1322

Complaints about the actions of the Society's enforcement personnel may also be made under the Special Provincial Constable Complaint Procedure Regulations. A copy of the Regulation for your information is available at: Section 3 of the Regulation describes the procedure that must be followed to make a complaint. Any questions regarding the procedure should be directed to:

Kevin Begg, Director

Police Services Division

Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General

8th Floor 1001 Douglas Street

Victoria, British Columbia V8V 1X4

Telephone: 250 356-5483

Your e-mail refers to a particular case involving a prosecution under the Act, and makes a number of allegations concerning the conduct and outcome of the proceeding. It would not be appropriate for me to make any comment on your allegations. If the people who were the subject of the prosecution share your concerns, my suggestion would be that they consider seeking legal counsel to advise them on how they might pursue those concerns.

Thank you for taking the time to write and share your concerns.

Yours truly,

Rory McAlpine
Deputy Minister

pc: Honourable John van Dongen
Honourable Geoff Plant

Messages In This Thread

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The resignation of Phyllis Gregg, the BC SPCA director for Kitimat, November 2004
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Deputy Minister, Agriculture, Food and Fisheries responds to Dr Geist's letter