Criminal Code

Some animal cruelty offenses may be prosecuted under the Criminal Code. This federal law prohibits cruelty to animals that is willful or without lawful excuse. To review the full text of the Criminal Code, see

Canada’s federal laws as they pertain to animals remain virtually unchanged since the 1800s. The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (of whom the Saskatchewan SPCA is a member) has concerns with the Criminal Code as it is now, which lists animals under the property section of the code. This means that harming an animal is an offense in the sense that someone’s property is being harmed.

There is no allowance in the law for intrinsic value of an animal, that is, that it has value and the ability to feel pain aside from just being property. It also makes it very difficult to prosecute cases where the animal being abused is stray, or is being abused by its owner, who then is, in effect, only damaging his/her own property.

Another concern with the Criminal Code is the lack of severity of the penalties.

The maximum fine under federal law is $2000.00, maximum prison sentence of six months, maximum prohibition on owning animals is two years.