It is hoped that the head of the Committee for the NS SPCA who's been working very hard to draw up amendments that they'd like to make to the Animal Cruelty and Prevention Act is going to get to present to the Law Amendments Committee at some point this afternoon - so that is how I found out that the Law Amendments Committee is working on Bill 186 today - the bill to change the Animal Prevention and Cruelty Act here in Nova Scotia - it needs a lot of work, that's for sure!!
I went to the "Hansard" for the Debates and Proceedings to see if they had talked about the bill - and it has passed second reading - and some pretty interesting things were said actually - especially for those of us who have a special interest in feral cats and tnr - there are a couple of MLA's who want to get programs started in their ridings!!! Isn't that fabulous!?! And they want veterinary students to start up mobile spay and neuter clinics. Who knew that MLA's were that smart! haha! Here's the text of the debate - (and here's wishing good luck to the NS SPCA's representative at the legislature later today!)
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.
MR. CLARRIE MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I certainly want to have a brief opportunity this afternoon to speak to Bill No. 186, an Act to Protect Animals and to Aid Animals that are in Distress. I agree with much, or even most, of what has already been said in relation to this bill from a positive perspective. I, too, feel this bill is, in fact, a good bill and is very badly needed.
Now, Mr. Speaker, from a personal perspective I have been associated with farm animals from a very early age. My grandfather, who was a coal miner, lived next door to me and had a small farm where he always had at least one, two, and maybe on a few occasions three cows, a horse or two, and certainly other farm animals - pigs, goats, chickens and what have you. As an animal lover, an animal advocate, and the owner of many animals at this very moment (Interruptions)
MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Could the chatter just come down a little so the member for Pictou East can be heard.
MR. MACKINNON: I currently have six cats and two dogs. Of those eight animals, seven of them were strays. Now, why I have gotten up to speak about this bill today is because there is a problem within my riding and I am sure that this is a problem that is province-wide. We are talking about cruelty to animals in this bill and on a number of occasions, very recently on one street in my hometown, there were two cases of kittens being left at the roadside - a whole litter of kittens being left at the roadside. Sometimes these are left close to homes where they know the people love animals. This is fundamentally cruel. One woman that I had a discussion with recently in my riding about this issue has actually made a hole in the back of her old garage and she is feeding a whole litter of kittens who have now become almost fully grown. She does not have the money to go out and have these animals neutered, to have these animals spayed.
Mr. Speaker, on the same street there is another woman who is in fairly difficult financial circumstances who also had a litter of kittens left at her driveway. She, in fact, has placed a pool underneath the steps of this very modest home that she has and she has some blankets under her steps where these kittens are in fact living and, of course, we have winter coming on. She is feeding those, as was the other woman on the same street. Now, I don't want to belabour this kitten situation because we certainly know that HRM has been talking about a cat issue for a long, long time, but there is a situation that does exist in many parts of the province where animals are being left. People like my wife and I, in fact, are taking some of these strays and trying to do something with them.
The situation is one that has no easy answers. Having lived in Louisbourg, in Cape Breton, there were many feral cats, particularly close to the waterfront. This, of course, is in the Speaker's riding, Cape Breton West, and my wife and I lived there for a number of years. You really have to commend some of the local residents in that community. They have, in fact, pooled their money and have made an arrangement with a veterinarian to have a lot of these animals neutered. When they get some of these feral cats and do have them neutered, a little clip is made in the ears to know which ones have in fact been fixed. Here's a situation where some local people are in fact dealing with this issue.
Now one of my constituents came up with an idea - I really don't know how well this would be accepted by veterinarians or whether it is in fact a 100 per cent positive idea, but it was her idea. I believe as the representative of Pictou East, I should be putting forward some of these ideas in the House. That idea was in fact that perhaps by using student veterinarians to have a mobile clinic and this would be training for veterinarians who are still in the student mode. So it's an idea that has been put forward by a constituent and I throw that out and certainly wonder as I'm speaking about the merits of it and would certainly like to talk to the minister at some point about this idea.
Mr. Minister, I would like to have the time to sit down with you and discuss this idea and a couple of others that are in fact on the go as well. I don't want to hold this bill up and I just decided at the last moment to stand up and talk about this issue which I have become aware of a long time ago but certainly it was brought home on one street. I won't identify the street because perhaps some more litters will be dropped off in that area, but the fact that people with warm hearts and people who love animals are in fact going above and beyond the local call of duty in looking after some of these strays and the ferals that do exist within the province.
I certainly hope that there will be input on this bill at Law Amendments Committee and I requested only a couple of moments to speak on this issue and at this time will take my seat and look forward to it going on to Law Amendments Committee at a later date. Thank you.
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.
MR. CHUCK PORTER: Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to rise in my place today and put on the record how important this is to the people from where I come from. We have certainly a lot of farmers and things like that and veterinarians that are now going to be a little more responsible for the recording process. More importantly, we have an SPCA group out home like the honourable member across the way was talking about and looks after a number of animals, the strays that come in. A couple of times a year actually, they take the time to hold fundraisers; that's how much it means to them. This has been something that's been going on for some time.
I just wanted to say that, again, this is very important to Hants West and to the people of the province. They wanted to make sure that their support was shown for this bill. We look forward to it getting to the Law Amendments Committee and back and certainly put through the House. With that I will take my seat. Thank you.
MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable minister it will be to close the debate.
The honourable Minister of Agriculture.
HON. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I want to acknowledge the comments that members opposite and colleagues on this side of the House made regarding this important piece of legislation. We have taken notes and staff will be reviewing the concerns with the minister, but we do want to say on behalf of the government on this side of the House, we do appreciate the support in bringing the bill to this stage of being passed through the Nova Scotia Legislature. I do want to note that the member for Halifax Clayton Park brought forward a concern that is a concern to many of us and that is the welfare of some animals, pups and dogs that are allegedly being sold without receiving the necessary care and welfare they deserve. It certainly is a concern of ours and previous to the member speaking, I want to say we have, at the department level, brought that concern forward and are discussing that. Possibly through the regulations, we can as well dig in a little bit there and try to put something forward that will address that concern.
It is a difficult issue, we know there's a case now before the courts - at least one case before the courts - obviously the outcome of that case will certainly have an impact on others across the province. Anyway, at this point, I just want to move this bill for second reading and we will welcome others that will have comments and advice, maybe possible amendments at the Law Amendments stage as the bill progresses. Thank you.
MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 186. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.
The motion is carried.
Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Law Amendments.