Investigation and Prosecution of Animal Abuse and Neglect 101


Alex Janse, Crown Counsel, Ministry of Justice, Government of British Columbia
Marcie Moriarty, Chief Prevention and Enforcement Officer, British Columbia SPCA

This session will provide a top-level overview of how animal cruelty investigations and prosecutions are dealt with in Canada. Areas that will be covered will include:

  • Who is responsible for responding to animal cruelty complaints
  • What legally is considered to be animal cruelty/distress
  • Provincial versus federal law
  • The charge approval process
  • Penalties and typical outcomes

This workshop is designed for individuals who are not currently working in animal enforcement/prosecution but want to gain a better understanding of animal cruelty law and enforcement in Canada.

Key Learnings:

  1. Participants will gain an understanding of both provincial and federal legislation governing animal cruelty in Canada.
  2. They will be able to identify who has jurisdiction over animal cruelty cases and define what constitutes animal cruelty and neglect.
  3. They will also obtain a basic understanding of the investigative and prosecutorial process in animal cruelty cases.


With separate degrees in Animal Biology and Law, Marcie Moriarty draws on all aspects of her background and education as head of the BC SPCA's Prevention and Enforcement Department. Marcie was called to the bar in May 2003 and went on to practise civil litigation. Her passion for animal welfare and advocacy soon led her to a career with the BC SPCA in 2005 as General Manager of the society's Cruelty Investigations Department. During her time at the BC SPCA, Marcie has presented to numerous animal welfare and law students on the subject of animal cruelty law and co-taught an animal law class at UBC Law school. In 2012, Marcie took on her current role leading a department that combines both cruelty investigations, stakeholder relations and scientific programs. Read our interview with Marcie Moriarty here.

Alex Janse was called to the Bar in 2004. She joined the Kamloops Crown Counsel office in 2005. She has been Regional Animal Cruelty Administrative Crown for the Interior and Kootenays since 2008 and Animal Cruelty Resource Counsel for British Columbia since 2011. In 2016, she received an award from CFHS for Leadership and Innovation in Animal Cruelty Prosecution. She has prosecuted more than 100 animal cruelty files.