Complaint Filed Against Alberta SPCA Raises Animal Welfare Concerns

OKOTOKS, AB — A formal complaint regarding the inaction of Alberta SPCA peace officers in the case of dead and dying cattle has been filed by an Okotoks resident under Alberta’s Peace Officer Act. The resident has asked not to be identified for fear of violent retaliation from the animals’ owners.

In late December and throughout January, the resident reported to the Alberta SPCA two herds of dead and dying cattle without access to food, water, or shelter. Although the Alberta SPCA has investigated, the animals remain under the care of the neglectful owner. The resident has been advised by the Alberta SPCA that they will be taking no further action and not pursuing charges.

Now, the resident has written to Alberta SPCA’s Director of Animal Protection Services to file a formal complaint under Alberta’s Peace Officer Act. If action is not taken to hold the owner accountable and prevent this cruelty from occurring again in the future, the resident may appeal to Alberta Justice and Solicitor General’s Director of Law Enforcement.

Provincial animal welfare law requires owners to ensure animals have adequate food, water, and shelter, as well as “reasonable protection” from the cold. It is also unlawful to cause or permit animals to be in distress. Peace officers are given wide latitude to take any necessary action to relieve the animals’ distress.

“Since seeing these animals in late December, I haven’t slept well,” said the resident. “It has been as cold as minus 28 here at night this week, and I wonder how many survived. In my 61 years, I have never witnessed such devastation. Every day that passes is another day with no help for them, and this weighs heavily on me.”

The resident reached out to national animal protection law organization Animal Justice for assistance when Alberta’s SPCA failed to act.

“This devastating and ongoing urgent situation illustrates how the law is stacked against animals,” said Animal Justice’s director of farmed animal advocacy Anna Pippus. “Even in the face of clear and compelling evidence of potential violations of Alberta’s animal protection laws and a formal complaint from a competent witness, law enforcement fails animals. Only the Alberta SPCA is authorized to take action to protect animals from neglect and hold offenders accountable. They have not only a legal but a moral obligation to do so.”

Last week, 30,000 cows were killed in a blizzard in Texas, making international headlines and raising questions about the treatment of animals raised for food.

To view a version of the complaint with identifying details redacted, please click here.