Animal welfare complaints, investigations on the rise in Saskatchewan

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Animal welfare complaints, investigations on the rise in Saskatchewan
WATCH ABOVE: Questions are being raised if animal welfare is getting better in Saskatchewan or worse after another abuse case, this time in Prince Albert. – Jul 17, 2018

It’s a heart breaking case out of Prince Albert: a little dog that was found so critically malnourished it died less than two days later, leaving many to question if animal welfare is getting better in the province or worse.

On Sunday, images of the bony little chihuahua first surfaced after the Prince Albert SPCA took to Facebook.

In the post, the organization pleaded for the public’s help in finding the dog’s owners so they could possibly permanently remove the animal from its environment.

They called the dog Gabe after it came into their care the day prior, and said he had been admitted to intensive care. He was unable to walk, had lost some of his vision and was rejecting food.

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In a follow-up post, the organization announced that Gabe died early Monday morning.

“We’ve certainly been in Prince Albert SPCA’s shoes where we have animals come in and we’re doing the best we can, but it is quite common that animals come in in such bad shape that sometimes they’re beyond saving,” said Jasmine Hanson, the education coordinator with the Saskatoon SPCA.

According to Hanson, cases like these are much more common than most people think.

“We receive maybe three to five animals per month that [are] in a condition that Gabe was in,” Hanson said.

“Either severely malnourished, very ill, very injured, they may have infection, they may not be groomed for a long time and are in very bad shape.”

Last year, Animal Protection Services of Saskatchewan received 700 complaints. Here is a snapshot of the total number of cases from January to March in the last five years:

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Officials with the agency said numbers overall are on the rise, but they’re not sure that animal welfare has worsened or if people just know who to call to file a complaint.

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“Well over half of our complaints in any given year are related to dogs,” said Kaley Pugh, executive director with Animal Protection Services.

“There’s a lot of people that have dogs in this province and people tend to be very passionate about dogs.”

Numbers can also vary from one year to the next, because not only does the the organization field complaints about companion animals, they conduct livestock investigations, too.

Depending on the weather and feed situation, Pugh explained, animals come spring can be worse for wear.

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Roughly 50 per cent of all investigations go unfounded and the agency has a legal obligation to give an owner time to follow any requirements set out by the agency in order to remedy a situation.

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“If they don’t do that, we have further avenues like potential seizure of animals, potential charges under the Animal Protection Act,” Pugh added.

Only two to three per cent of all cases will result in a charge and head to court.

The Saskatoon SPCA also reminds people that they can reach out and surrender an animal at any time if they are unable to care for it.

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