Government of Nova Scotia Government of Nova Scotia Nova Scotia, Canada


Inspection, Compliance and Enforcement

Farm Animal Welfare

The Department of Environment is responsible for the Farm Animal Welfare Program. The program includes enforcing the farm animal welfare provisions of the Nova Scotia Animal Protection Act and sections of the Criminal Code of Canada.

If you witness a farm animal in distress, you can report the incident and animal welfare inspectors will respond.

Farm animals

The Animal Protection Act defines farm animals as:

  • cattle, horses, sheep, swine, poultry, yaks and goats,
  • game farm animals including cervids, wild boar, bison, buffalo, ratites, llamas and alpacas,
  • foxes, chinchilla, mink, rabbits and waterfowl raised for agricultural purposes, and
  • any animal designated as a farm animal by the Minister

Farm animal welfare inspectors

Farm animal welfare inspectors investigate reports of animals in distress throughout the province. An animal is in distress if it is:

  • in need of adequate care, food, water or shelter or in need of reasonable protection from heat or cold appropriate to the animal;
  • injured, sick, in pain or suffering undue hardship, anxiety, privation or neglect;
  • deprived of adequate ventilation, space, veterinary care or medical treatment;
  • abused;
  • subjected to cosmetic surgery as defined in Section 27;
  • kept in conditions that are unsanitary or unsafe so as to impair the animal’s health, safety or well-being;
  • kept in conditions that contravene the standards of care prescribed by the regulations;
  • subjected by any person to being trained for or engaged in animal fighting; or
  • subjected to circumstances prescribed by the regulations.


  • An animal is deemed to be in distress if it is abandoned by its custodian in a manner that is likely to cause distress.
  • “critical distress” means distress in an animal of such nature that immediate veterinary treatment cannot prolong the animal’s life; or prolonging the animal’s life would result in the animal suffering unduly.”

Reporting an animal in distress

Farm animal in distress

To report a farm animal in distress, you can call or email.

Phone: 1-877-9ENVIRO (1-877-936-8476)

Email: (monitored from Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 4:30pm)

If an animal is in critical distress after office hours, contact RCMP or municipal police for assistance.

Before you start

When you report an incident, you’ll need to provide:

  • your name and contact details—your details remain confidential, but you may be required to testify in court
  • date and time of the distress
  • nature and severity of the distress
  • location of the distress (civic address is preferred)
  • number and species of animals involved
  • when known, the owner of the animals in distress

Pets in distress

To report a companion animal (pet) in distress, contact the Nova Scotia SPCA at 1-888-703-7722 or use their complaint form.

Wildlife and Fish emergencies

To report a wildlife or fish emergency, contact a conservation officer at 1-800-565-2224 or use their complaint form.

Codes of Practice

Farm Animal Welfare Inspectors use the National Farm Animal Care Council  (NFACC) codes of practice as part of their assessments of farm animal welfare.
It is recommended that owners and caregivers review the applicable NFACC codes of practice for the species in their care.

These codes are written with farming in mind, but there is also valuable advice for those who have farm animals as pets.

Transportation of Animals

Transportation of farm animals falls under federal jurisdiction and is governed by Part XII of the Health of Animals Regulations.

It should be noted that the regulations have been updated, with the new regulations coming into effect in Feb 2020. For information on the updates go to Transportation of Animals-Regulatory Amendment - Interpretive Guidance for Regulated Parties.

Contact us

For general, non-urgent inquiries about the Farm Animal Welfare Program, please email or call 902-424-3600 during regular business hours.

Related information

Animal Protection Act (PDF)