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Ontario proposes tougher animal welfare system

Ontario is introducing legislation to better protect animals from abuse and neglect.

Government officials say they are the the strongest penalties proposed in Canada.

The proposed Provincial Animal Welfare Services, or PAWS, would include:
Giving inspectors necessary powers to help animals in distress and to hold owners accountable
Significantly increasing penalties for serious, repeat and corporate offenders
Improving oversight and ensuring increased transparency and accountability, including establishing a one-window complaints mechanism for the public
Establishing a multi-disciplinary advisory table made up of a wide range of experts, including veterinarians, agriculture representatives, academics, animal advocates and others to provide ongoing advice to the ministry to improve animal welfare

As well as the proposed legislative changes, the system will be strengthened by hiring more provincial inspectors to ensure better coverage across the province, including specialists in livestock, agriculture, horses, zoos and aquariums.

The proposed new animal welfare system was developed based on input from municipalities, police, industry, technical experts, veterinarian organizations, animal sheltering and advocacy organizations, and the public.