Seizure of Livestock
An individual contacted this Office regarding the seizure of livestock by the Department of Agriculture and alleged they were treated unfairly by department staff throughout the inspection and seizure process.
When the Department of Agriculture was initially contacted regarding this file, they declined to cooperate with an investigation as they did not believe this Office had jurisdiction to review the matter. The question of jurisdiction was scheduled to be heard at the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal; however, the Office was able to come to an agreement with the department prior to the court date and the investigation by this Office commenced.
In reviewing the information obtained through the investigation, the Office determined that department staff acted within their authority under the Animal Protection Act in responding to the complaints, issuing notices to address the identified deficiencies, and ultimately seizing the animals. Further, the investigation revealed multiple opportunities were provided to the complainants to rectify the issues and departmental staff provided resources to assist in achieving compliance.
The Animal Welfare Division had transitioned from the Department of Agriculture to Nova Scotia Environment (NSE) during the period the complaint was received. It was identified during the investigation that policies for the Animal Welfare Division had not been finalised. Further, this Office was made aware that the inspection team had limited resources with only two inspectors responsible to respond to farm animal welfare complaints for the entire province. In March 2017, this Office issued two recommendations to NSE involving the development of policy for the division and an assessment of the workload of the division to ensure it is adequately resourced. NSE has accepted and implemented these recommendations.