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Cruelty Investigations

The Nova Scotia SPCA is empowered under the provincial Animal Protection Act to investigate complaints of animal cruelty; help secure the arrest, conviction and punishment of all persons violating the Act; and, when necessary, seize animals from situations of cruelty or neglect.

The Nova Scotia SPCA encourages individuals to report all suspected cases of abuse or neglect. Without the assistance of the public, our mission to prevent cruelty to animals, help animals in need, and prosecute offenders would be nearly impossible.

Download Animal Protection Act Brochure

The Nova Scotia SPCA Inspectors work on the front line seven days a week, 365 days a year, rescuing animals that have been in an accident, abused or abandoned. Last year we intervened on behalf of 3984 animals, investigated 1214 cases and removed 697 animals from harm.

We investigate complaints from Yarmouth to Sydney and everything in between. The Nova Scotia SPCA is responsible to enforce the Animal Protection Act for the whole of Nova Scotia.

To Report Cruelty:

The objective of the Nova Scotia SPCA is to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals in Nova Scotia. The SPCA has enforcement powers under the Animal Protection Act that extend to companion animals. Our Cruelty Hotline 1-888-703-7722 is available 24 hours-a-day 7 days-a-week. You can also submit an online complaint form.

The Department of Agriculture handles all farm animal welfare complaints. In some cases, Agriculture and the SPCA will collaborate on cases that involve both farm animals and companion animals. Agriculture also handles farmed fish in collaboration with Fisheries. Complaints or inquiries can be made by calling 1 (877) 936-8476 (1-877-9ENVIRO) or email

The Department of Natural Resources addresses not only wildlife, but also issues permits for zoos and inspects animals involved in an entertainment environment. On occasion, Natural Resources and the SPCA will collaborate on matters related to animals involved in entertainment or display. Complaints may be filed by calling your local Department of Natural Resources office.


Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture addresses sustainable fisheries, aquaculture and the food industry. Complaints may be filed by calling (902) 424-4560. Fish ponds are addressed by Pictou Fisheries’ Biologist, Jason LeBlanc by calling (902) 485-7029.

Canadian Food and Inspection Agency

The Canadian Food and Inspection Agency (CFIA) addresses all matters concerning the transportation of livestock, food safety, including regulations for slaughter. They also address the importation of pets into Canada. Complaints may be filed by calling (902) 426-2110.

Police and the RCMP

All police officers in the province have the authority to enforce the Animal Protection Act. After hours, the police may consult with SPCA by calling the Provincial RCMP Telecommunications Centre in Truro at (800) 272-9670. To contact the police in the event of an animal cruelty emergency, contact your local police service. In HRM, contact (902) 490-5020.

Restricted Legal Powers

The Nova Scotia SPCA is authorized under the Animal Protection Act to protect all animals from abuse, neglect and abandonment. We are the only charity with the legal powers to help animals in need, and bring animal offenders to justice. However, our legal powers are limited and some situations that may appear distressing are actually not against the law. We can only investigate and take action in those cases whereby people have breached the Animal Protection Act.

What Complaints does the Nova Scotia SPCA Investigate?

We investigate a wide variety of complaints involving companion animals. The most common are in relation to the failure to provide adequate food, water, veterinary treatment or shelter. The Animal Protection Act defines physical, health and behavioural needs of animals; the SPCA investigates breaches of these needs. For more information on what we are able to enforce:

Information We Require to Investigate

In order to prevent malicious and unnecessary complaints, the Nova Scotia SPCA will not accept anonymous complaints. Our Inspectors require reasonable grounds to suspect that an animal cruelty offense has been committed. It is essential you provide contact details so they can confirm the facts and gather more information. Your contact details remain strictly confidential and are protected in accordance with the Privacy Act. It would be helpful if you could also gather the following information before calling us:

  • Description of the animal(s) involved
  • Details of the condition of the animal and why you believe there has been cruelty or neglect
  • Precise address / description of where the animal(s) are
  • Name and address of the person you believe may be responsible for the cruelty and neglect
  • Name, address and contact details of any other witnesses who may be able to help

Priorities and Limited Resources

Last year we received thousands of calls and attended thousands of callouts. We received many more calls for help than this, but due to our limited resources we cannot send an Inspector to investigate every complaint made. We must prioritize cases based on urgency and seriousness. When you call us we will ask you a series of questions so your call can be prioritized according to its urgency. We cannot always attend all cases immediately and we can’t always respond as quickly as we’d like to. Please be patient and if the situation is worsening then please contact us with this update.