The province introduced legislation today, May 27, that will improve the protection of animals in Nova Scotia. An Act to Protect Animals and to Aid Animals That Are in Distress will replace the Animal Cruelty Prevention Act. “A number of changes and improvements have been made to the act to ensure the welfare of animals in the province,” said Brooke Taylor, Minister of Agriculture. “The Department of Agriculture will look after all agriculture-related cruelty complaints while the SPCA will handle complaints concerning domestic animals.” The Department of Agriculture and the SPCA will each have a head inspector to oversee inspectors throughout the province. All inspectors will meet criteria established in the act, as well as qualifications and standards to be appointed a special constable by the Department of Justice. “The SPCA remains an independent society and will have the authority to do its work under the act as it relates to non-farm animals,” said Mr. Taylor. “The society will report to the department annually on its investigations, enhancing its accountability.” The new animal protection act will allow the minister to revoke the SPCA’s ability to enforce the act and designate another entity to fulfill that role if the SPCA fails to perform the duties set out in the legislation. “We are also establishing an Animal Cruelty Appeal Board to hear appeals of animal seizures and investigation issues,” said Mr. Taylor. “This is an opportunity for individuals to have the seizure of an animal reviewed by an independent board in a timely manner.” Other changes include requirements that annual meetings of the SPCA must be open to the public and veterinarians must report animal neglect or abuse to the SPCA.