Animal Protection

Investigating Neglect and Abuse

We rely on the public to let us know about any domestic animals that they suspect are being abused or neglected. Our Peace Officers investigate every complaint we receive about animals in distress. Under the law, we can only investigate if we have reasonable and probable grounds to believe there may have been an offence under the Animal Protection Act. Normally, a call from a neighbour or witness constitutes such grounds for investigation.

If you believe an animal is in distress we ask you to report the situation, even if you have called in the past. In the case of livestock as well as pets kept outdoors, the condition of these animals can deteriorate quickly, particularly if they are in poor shape during extreme weather.

Frequently Asked Questions About Investigations

We rely on the public to inform us if they suspect an animal is being abused or neglected. Most often this is done through calls to our toll-free reporting line 1-800-455-9003.

Our Peace Officers investigate every complaint we receive about animals in distress. Under the law, we can only investigate if we have reasonable and probable grounds to believe there may be an offence under the Animal Protection Act.  Normally, a call from a neighbour or witness constitutes such grounds for investigation. 

If someone is found guilty of an offence under the Animal Protection Act, the courts may impose conditions that allow our Peace Officers to enter the property to check on the well-being of any animals. When such conditions are ordered, we perform regular checks. Without such an order, we must rely on complaints from the public to investigate. 

It’s up to the courts to prohibit someone from owning animals if they have been convicted of an offence under the Animal Protection Act.  The Alberta SPCA can put forward a prohibition order request if we believe the guilty person will continue to mistreat animals. The final decision, however, is up to the courts.

Animals that are seized are moved to a caretaking facility. When large numbers of animals are seized, they may be taken to a commercial facility that has the capacity to hold and care for them. After a holding period (specified by the Animal Protection Act), new homes may be found for the animals, or in some cases the animals may be sold.

If someone is found guilty of an offence under the Animal Protection Act, the court assesses the fine. The maximum fine under the Act is $20,000. In addition, the court may prohibit the guilty party from owning or caring for animals, or limit the number of animals they may own.

By law, an SPCA or humane society that seizes animals is entitled to recover the expenses incurred in caring for the animal. Under Section 7(4) of the Animal Protection Act, “The balance of the sale proceeds remaining… shall be paid to the former owner of the animal.”

Anyone who believes an animal may be abused or neglected is encouraged to call our toll-free phone number 1-800-455-9003. We encourage the public to call whenever they have reason to believe animals are in distress, even if they have called in the past. The conditions of animals can deteriorate quickly, particularly if they are in poor shape during extreme weather events. 

Report an Animal
in Distress

1-800-455-9003

What happens when you Call?

When you call our Animal Distress Line 1-800-455-9003 we open up a file similar to a police investigation. In order to do so, we need timely, first-hand details to proceed.

What Should you Expect

We open up a file similar to a police investigation. In order to do so, we need timely, first-hand details to proceed. When calling, we will ask for a few simple questions.

When Do We Seize Animals

Alberta SPCA Peace Officers sometimes need to take animals into protective custody. When they do so, the officers will post a notice at the former location of the animals stating the reason for the seizure.

Investigating Neglect & Abuse

Our Peace Officers investigate every complaint we receive. We can only investigate if we have reasonable and probable grounds to believe there may have been an offence under the Animal Protection Act.

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