Northwest Territories residents now have stricter guidelines protecting their canine companions now that the new NWT Dog Act has come into effect.
As of May 15, the updated Act has been implemented which enforces stricter guidelines and penalties for any persons deemed to be committing an offence.
Bonnie Dawson has been working towards an updated NWT Dog Act for three years, and is thrilled that the document has finally passed.
“While this new Dog Act pertains only to dogs in the NWT it is a victory, it is historical,” said Dawson on her blog.
“The NWT has never had an Act protecting the dogs up here. The original Act protected humans from dogs.”
The new act will see a fine up to $2,500 and/or up to three months in jail for the initial offence.
For second or subsequent offences, a fine up to $10,000 and/or imprisonment not exceeding six months.
Previously, the act carried a $25 fine or a 30-day jail term.
“To all of you who have given your support to myself and to the dogs here, thank you,” she said.
“My work towards a Comprehensive Act will continue, monitoring and reporting all animal cruelty incidents will continue.”
Dawson said that there is still lots of work to be done, but it is a major milestone and an improvement for the NWT. In her eyes, the next step is for a full animal protection act to come into effect for the Northwest Territories.
The news also coincides with the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s annual report on Canadian animal protection laws.
Previously the NWT has been ranked “one of the best places to be an animal abuser.”
This year, the NWT was ranked 11 out of 13, an improvement from last year’s last place tie with Nunavut.
Nunavut placed at the bottom again this year and Ontario led the pack in first place.
It was also highlighted in the report that the NWT has made improvements to have harsher sentencing for anyone found abusing or neglecting a dog.
The full 2011 report, along with past reports can be found online at www.adlf.rdsecure.org.