Protection & Investigations Series Part 2: Medical Neglect

medical neglect

Medical neglect is one of the more complex issues investigated by Calgary Humane Society Peace Officers. CHS has seen a steady increase of cases in recent years: 115 in 2010, 139 in 2011, 149 in 2012 and 192 in 2014.

With a pet, comes the responsibility of providing veterinary care. Annual physical exams are recommended and are a great way to ensure your pet is in good health. Illnesses and other issues are more likely to be caught if you are taking your pet to a vet on a regular basis.

Veterinary clinics are businesses and are not likely to offer payment plans, deferred payments or pro bono work. It is important to have a plan in advance of a health crisis as there is usually very limited time for planning when that crisis occurs. Options can include a pet insurance plan or a pet health bank account that you deposit money into each month.

When an animal becomes sick or injured, the owner or caretaker is legally obligated to relieve that distress. Options include:

  • Providing recommended treatment at associated cost
  • Surrendering ownership of the pet to Calgary Humane Society to take on required care
  • Having the animal euthanized by a veterinarian

Euthanasia can be a difficult decision, especially when a pet is in geriatric decline. It is important that older animals are seen by a veterinarian annually for quality of life assessments.

The inability to say goodbye or make the decision on euthanasia can extend pets’ suffering and create an offense under the Animal Protection Act.

Grooming and dental care can also be neglected to the point of medical distress. While seemingly aesthetic, proactive measures such as clipping nails, cutting hair and dental cleanings will help your pet avoid the pain associated with embedded nails, skin irritation or abscessing/rotting teeth. When these issues hinder basic needs such as eating, drinking, eliminating or mobility, an Animal Protection Act offense is being committed.


Reporting abuse: If you witness an act of abandonment, abuse or neglect of an animal, you can report it to the Calgary Humane Society’s Protection and Investigations Department by calling (403) 205-4455. Our dispatchers will create a file to be investigated by a Peace Officer. Abuse in progress after hours may be reported to the Calgary Police Service at (403) 266-1234.