The Stray Animals Act applies to all municipalities (rural, urban and northern). Council can appoint the administrator or clerk of the municipality or any other person as administrator of the Act.
All municipalities except northern municipalities may enact bylaws respecting wild and domestic animals and activities in relation to them. This provides those municipalities with the ability to regulate or prohibit a class or classes of animals within the municipality. Provincial legislation may be sufficient for local needs in many municipalities. There are provisions respecting dangerous animals in The Municipalities Act, which applies to municipalities other than cities and northern municipalities.
Northern municipalities are provided specific authority to declare any animal or class or classes of animal to be dangerous. A sample bylaw for northern municipalities is available on our Northern bylaws page, link below. Legislative provisions within The Northern Municipalities Act respecting dangerous dogs may meet local needs.
Legislative and regulatory resources include:
This information is not a substitute for legislation dealing with animal control. It is advisable to consult a solicitor on more complex situations.
Animal control is a municipal responsibility and is governed by a municipal bylaw. However control of dangerous animals is governed by legislation. Mandatory Controls have been increased and apply to all dangerous animals.
The municipality is responsible to pay to the finder, poundkeeper and other persons those fees to which they are entitled. However, the municipality cannot add these costs to the taxes.
The owner of a stray is liable to a proprietor for any damages caused by the stray to the property of the proprietor. The municipality does not have any responsibility to collect and remit such damage charges. This is a civil matter between the owner of the stray and the proprietor.
A "dangerous animal" is one that:
- without provocation and in a vicious manner, approached a person or domestic animal in an apparent attitude or attack;
- is known to attack without provocation;
- has bitten or attacked a person or domestic animal without provocation;
- is owned primarily for the purpose of fighting or is trained for fighting.
An animal will not be declared dangerous if the actions occurred while the animal was:
- performing police work; or
- working as a guard animal on commercial property, securely enclosed by a fence to prevent the animal's escape and children entering.
The legislation defines the term "owner" to mean any of the following:
- a person who keeps, possesses or harbours an animal;
- the person responsible for the custody of a minor if the minor is the owner of an animal;
- the parent of a minor living at home, who owns an animal.
Each of these individuals is considered the owner of the animal and as such is subject to liability and penalty provisions.
If an animal attacks a person or domestic animal while under the temporary care of a veterinarian, a humane society, or animal shelter, the temporary caregiver is exempt from liability as an owner unless there was negligence.
Reporting and Appeal Process
Contact your municipal office to report a dangerous animal. A judge may hear the complaint and the municipality may have implemented policies to enable citizens to report incidents involving animals which are alleged to be dangerous.
Once a complaint has been made, the animal owner is served notice of a hearing. If the owner does not appear at the hearing the court may proceed without the owner.
Once an animal is declared dangerous by the court, an order may be issued stating the terms under which the owner must keep the animal. For example, the owner may be required to do one or more of the following:
- keep the animal in the house or outside in a locked enclosure of specific dimensions and construction. If the owner removes the animal from the enclosure, it must be securely leashed and humanely muzzled and kept under the owner's control and supervision;
- obtain and keep in effect a minimum of $300,000 liability insurance to cover damage or injury by the animal;
- display a sign on the property visible from the street, warning of the presence of a dangerous animal;
- comply with provisions of federal legislation regarding the control of rabies vaccinations for the animal;
- notify a municipality if a dangerous animal is moved into that municipality.
In some cases, the court may order that a dangerous animal be tattooed, spayed/neutered, or in extreme cases, destroyed.
The owner of an animal declared dangerous can file notice of appeal with the appeal court within seven days of the order.
An order for destruction of an animal may be appealed to Court of Queen's Bench within seven days. If the judge on appeal overturns the order, the animal is released to the owner.
Offences and Penalties
The following situations are offences under the legislation and may result in a fine and/or imprisonment:
- owning an animal that attacks, bites, injures or kills a person or domestic animal without provocation;
- not complying with a court order specifying conditions for keeping a dangerous animal;
- owning an animal for purposes of animal fighting or training and encouraging an animal to make unprovoked attacks on people or domestic animal
A person found guilty of any of these offences may be liable to a fine of up to $10,000, imprisonment for up to six months, and an order for destruction of the animal.
If a peace officer or an officer designated by the municipality has grounds for believing that n animal is dangerous or has been ordered destroyed, the officer may, under certain circumstances, enter the premises to search for the animal and impound it. If the animal has been ordered destroyed, the officer may deliver the animal to the person appointed to destroy it.
For more information on responsible pet ownership practices, contact your local veterinarian or humane society or:
Saskatchewan Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
P.O. Box 37
Telephone: (306) 382-7722
Toll Free: 1-877-382-7722
Fax: (306) 384-3425
For more information on legislation regarding control of dangerous animals, and your municipality's animal control bylaws, contact your municipal office.