Ontario passes new animal welfare legislation with stiffer penalties

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TORONTO - Ontario has passed new animal welfare legislation that will be enforced by a specialized team of provincial inspectors.

The new law, named the Provincial Animal Welfare Services Act, comes into effect on January 1st and includes stiffer penalties for cruelty offences.

There will be about 100 inspectors across the province, but it remains unclear how much the initiative will cost.

Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said Thursday that the new law makes Ontario a national leader in protecting animals.

The new team will include specialists who will inspect zoos, aquariums, livestock and horses, and Crown attorneys will receive specialized training.

In March, the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which has enforce animal cruelty laws for 100 years, told the province it would no longer do so.