Ontario SPCA goes to court to get Animal Care Review Board role clarified

Board wasting taxpayer money with expanded mandate, Society says

TORONTO, Nov. 6, 2013 /CNW/ - The Animal Care Review Board (ACRB) was never intended to decide constitutional issues, says the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals - and the Society is taking the Board to court to get it back to its true mandate.

Lawyers for the Ontario SPCA will be appearing in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on Wednesday to argue that the ACRB erred in giving itself the power to hear constitutional cases.  The Ontario SPCA will also argue that taking on complex constitutional challenges will cause unnecessary delay and cost.

"Animals in distress don't need delay.  They need help, fast," said Connie Mallory, Chief Inspector of the Ontario SPCA. "What they don't need is a lengthy and complex constitutional hearing before the ACRB."

"If the Society is forced to take a pet in distress - or if we have to order an owner to care properly for the pet - we need to do that quickly.  And if our decisions are challenged, the review board needs to hear those challenges quickly.  That's what the Legislature intended when it set up the review board."

Clayton Ruby, chief counsel to the Ontario SPCA, stressed "the Society's mandate is to prevent cruelty to animals, and to protect them.  That often requires quick action.  That's why the Society is in court, reluctantly, to get a dangerous precedent overturned."

The case revolves around four dogs - Tammy, Crystal, Laya and Vicki.  Society agents wanted the dogs checked out by a veterinarian, but the dogs' owner objected and took the Society to the ACRB.  "The board is supposed to hear cases quickly, for the animals' sake," said Mallory. "But that isn't what happened here."

Instead, the hearing turned into a ten-day trial over four months, in which the ACRB decided to hear constitutional arguments. The Ontario SPCA ultimately won every single constitutional argument. While the Ontario SPCA did not object to having itself reviewed by the ACRB, "we did object to the board turning it into a protracted constitutional debate.  That was a waste of taxpayer money, and a waste of valuable time, too.  Most of all, it wasn't in the best interests of those four dogs," said Mallory.

If the Society is forced to argue constitutional points of law every time a case goes before the ACRB, animals - and the pet owners who are enduring separation from their beloved pets - will suffer more, said Ruby.  "That's not what the Legislature intended when it set up the Animal Care Review Board.  And that's why we are in court - to get the board back to its true mandate."

The Ontario SPCA and Humane Society has been protecting animals since 1873, and is Ontario's Animal Welfare organization. Ontario SPCA is mandated under the Ontario SPCA Act to enforce animal welfare legislation and the Act provides Ontario SPCA Agents and Inspectors with police powers to do so. Ontario SPCA's legal counsel, Clayton Ruby is one of Canada's foremost litigators, and a respected voice in animal welfare legal cases.

SOURCE: Ontario SPCA

For further information:

Alison Cross
Ontario SPCA - Provincial Office
across@ospca.on.ca
905 853 2108

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