Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Regulations regarding Animal Rescues in Nova Scotia

in 2014 the Minister of Agriculture Keith Colwell committed to meeting with the animal advocate community in Nova Scotia once a year regarding the animal protection laws and in December 2014 new regulations were passed in the province making the tethering of dogs 24/7 illegal, along with other things to protect animals in Nova Scotia like the banning of dogs being allowed in the back of trucks and requiring that any animal that is bought or sold must be accompanied by a certificate of health from a veterinarian.

We met again with Minister Colwell in January 2016 to see how the new regulations were going and he asked our group if there was anything we thought could be added to the regulations to make it a better document - and I suggested that perhaps we could add regulations around animal rescues.

Minister Colwell gave us until December 2016 when we meet with him again to write these regulations.

Currently Nova Scotia is just like everywhere else and anyone can say they are starting a rescue, start fundraising and never take in a rescue - or - people can be running a rescue - and start fundraising for an animal that they haven't actually had surrendered to them - or adopt out animals that haven't received any veterinarian care at all - or adopt out animals that are sick.  These are all things that happened with rescues here in Nova Scotia and are highly un-ethical - and when it happens paint all rescues with the same brush.

There are also businesses out there who try to masquerade as rescues - puppy fllippers - who SAY they are a rescue - when in fact they are businesses - and there are businesses out there - who are registered as businesses at the Registry of Joint Stocks - who have "RESCUE" at the end of their business name - who solicit for fundraising - which is just so wrong on many levels.

When an animal needs help in Nova Scotia - they should all land into the same soft arms no matter which rescue they happen to be taken into - and that's currently not happening.  And having a standard code of ethics, and regulations that the NS SPCA will enforce will help that.

There are a lot of great rescues in Nova Scotia - run by single individuals, and by groups of people - we all do it because we want to help animals.  Any rescue that is doing it for the right reasons will welcome these regulations.

Recently a small group of rescues met with the Nova Scotia SPCA to go over what the regulations should look like - and as well - the NS SPCA is looking at adding another layer - they are looking at adding a certification process which will be completely voluntary that a rescue can apply for where they can get a "seal of approval" from the NS SPCA.

At this point -- the NS SPCA has taken over the writing of the regulations - and they are going to submit what they believe can get passed to Minister Colwell by the fall.  Their concern is that there might be an election soon - and if there is - we might lose this  window to have these regulations added on a timely basis.

I wrote what I would like to see in the regulations but I know probably very little of it will make it into the final document - I put everything in there that I wanted - the "Five freedoms"; a section on positive dog training so that rescue dogs never have a shock collar put on them; a line making Nova Scotia dogs a priority; and that dogs receive required veterinary care.

If you would like input on the proposed regulations - you can contact me at dogkisser@gmail.com and I will forward your concerns to the NS SPCA.

Here is what I wrote that I hope the NS SPCA will take into consideration:

Regulations respecting Animal Rescues in Nova Scotia

These regulations will not be a certification process for animal rescues in Nova Scotia

Registration will be through the Nova Scotia Joint Stock Registry that is already in place through their Society registration process

Animal Rescue for the purpose of these regulations is a person, organization or other legal entity operating in Nova Scotia that engages in the activities of transferring ownership of a domestic animal and does so on a not-for-profit basis.

Animal is a cat or a dog 

Rescues will adhere to the “Five Freedoms”

  1. Freedom from Hunger and Thirst
    • By ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigour;
  2. Freedom from discomfort
    • By providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area;
  3. Freedom from pain, injury or disease
    • By prevention or by rapid diagnosis and treatment;
  4. Freedom to express normal behaviour
    • By providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animals; own kind;
  5. By ensuring conditions and treatment to avoid mental suffering.

Assessment quarantine and veterinary care:
When an animal is surrendered to a private rescue, as soon as time permits they will:
  • Be examined by a vet/vet technician to examine the dog’s health
  • Evaluate each animal exercising good judgment in the placement of that individual animal to the best matching home/environment. Rescue groups will not knowingly place a vicious or dangerously unstable animal in an adoptive home.  Full disclosure of any known issues is provided to the adopter in writing at the time of adoption.
  • To always make the ultimate goal of our decisions the quality of life for the dog. At the point where quality of life cannot be obtained in the opinion of the rescue, the animal will be evaluated and euthanized by a veterinarian.
  • To provide appropriate routine veterinary care of all rescue animals including age appropriate vaccinations, spay or neuter, internal and external parasite treatments, flea preventatives, and any other veterinary care that is required to make the animal healthy and ready for their adoptive home
  • All animals adopted out must be supplied with a veterinary health certificate

Fostering and care of animals:
  • Rescue must carefully screen its own foster homes including home inspection, personal and vet references
  • Rescue shall ensure that all animals in their care are provided with proper nutrition, water, personal attention and exercise while in foster care
  • Foster families must sign a declaration that they have never been convicted of an offence involving animal cruelty or have an animal in their possession that’s been convicted of having a dog that’s attacked another dog

  • All rescues have a standard procedure that is followed for every adoption that includes a thorough application, a home visit and meet and greet with the animal and all members of the adoptive family before the rescue approves the home
  • Rescues have return policies in their contract that the animal must be returned to them should the adopter find themselves unwilling or unable to keep the animal. They are prepared to accept every returned animal no matter the circumstance.
  • Include the cost of spay/neuter in the adoption fee and complete the adoption.
  • Charge standard adoption fees – not based on popularity on breed of animal

  • Rescues will only take in the amount of animals and animals with health issues that they can financially handle
  • Rescues will only fundraise for animals once the animal has been officially surrendered to the organization

  • Rescues have a mission with a specific goal
  • Rescues have standard written policies by which they abide
  • Rescues will operate on a voluntary basis with no paid staff or formal employees
  • Rescues will ensure through notarization in their adoption contract that adoptive homes will only utilize positive methods in regards to training – and not aversive methods such as shock collars, prong collars or similar articles.
  • Written records will be maintained for each dog that comes into care that states:
    • Where the animal came from, with the name, address and phone number of surrendering party with their signed owner release document, or the shelter the animal came from with any original shelter documentation
    • The surrender contract will specifically state that the legal ownership of the animal is being transferred to the rescue. Upon signing the contract the person or facility surrendering the dog has no further legal or other claim to the animal.
    •  Information which identifies the adopter, date of adoption and name of rescue representative completing the adoption contract and the name of the foster home
    •  Documentation for any other type of discharge from the rescue program, such as transfer to another organization, euthanasia, etc. And identifying the receiving party, the date and circumstances
    • Contains a summary of all medical procedures performed on the animal, by whom and the dates
    • To keep all records, including the contracts, for a minimum of 10 years
  • To make animals needing rescue in Nova Scotia a priority
  • To act appropriately when accepting an animal that was found as a stray – to contact the local Animal Control Department, the Nova Scotia SPCA, and the Nova Scotia Lost Dog Network, and to have the animal scanned for a microchip to make sure the animal is not an owned animal
  • Rescues are absolutely not engaged in the breeding of animals


  1. I love what I have read here Joan the animals are so lucky to have you advocating for them and I pray your recommendations make it into law.

  2. First off animals are more than "a dog or a cat" you would need to broaden that description, domestic and pets include a variety of species all of which are subject to abuse and neglect and many of whom have rescue organizations already. Secondly why is it suggsfted they cannot have a staff? That is a limiting and unnecessary. Ensuring they are not-for-profit or volunteer-driven is one thing, but preventing a volunteer group from being able to hire someone, even if done so through fundraising efforts is asinine. It is a good base and the majority of it looks good but be careful not to create unnecessary boxes that inadvertently prevent animals from getting the best care.

    1. Tha Animal Protection Act only covers dogs and cats - so that's why these regulations will only cover those animals - you'll have to look to other laws in Nova Scotia to cover other animals

  3. Joan, thanks for everything you are doing to protect dogs and cats.