TIMMINS – After the OSPCA ended its role in enforcing animal welfare laws in June, officials at the Human Society say they had to step up.
"Especially here in northern Ontario, where we tend to be lacking in terms of a lot of resources and a lot of different things. We felt that it was our job to step up to continue providing these services for the animals," said Alicia Santamaria, Timmins and District Humane Society.
The Humane Society now oversees the Northern Animal Welfare Unit, which has inspectors stationed in municipalities across the region, many of which having transferred from the OSPCA.
Santamaria says it's more of a temporary solution as the Ontario government works out its new plan.
The Solicitor General's Office recently proposed legislation with hopes to streamline the animal welfare process and impose stricter penalties.
"Our proposed enforcement model will protect animals and introduce the strongest penalties in Canada, for offenders," explained Sylvia Jones, Ontario Solicitor General.
Among other things, the proposed changes would more than double current fines and increase some jail sentences.
With the current legislation over a decade old, Santamaria says the government's action is overdue.
"I personally believe that we're headed in a really positive direction, as far as animal welfare goes," she says.
Moreover, some pet owners have mixed feeling about the legislation.
"Animal cruelty laws are appropriate. I don't think they should be increasing the fines. Fines should be dictated by your income," says one pet owner.
If passed, the proposed legislation will go into effect in January 2020.