The applicant, The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty (the “Society”), sought an Order against the respondents, the former branch of the Society, requiring the respondents to vacate and turn over possession of all property with respect to an animal shelter located at 401 East Broadway, Sydney, Nova Scotia. The issue before the Court was whether it should grant the applicant’s motion for an interim injunction, pending a final hearing on the merits of the application, based on the tripartite test for interim injunctions.
Administrative law – Decisions of administrative tribunals – SPCA – Associations and clubs – Governance – Animals – Seizure and disposition of animals – Remedies – Interlocutory injunctions – Judicial review – Applications
Society for the Prevention of Cruelty v Cape Breton Human Society,  N.S.J. No. 164, 2012 NSSC 128, Nova Scotia Supreme Court, March 22, 2012, P.J. Murray J.
The Provincial Society passed a resolution in November 2011 terminating the former branch of the Cape Breton Branch of the Society. Prior to the dissolution, the Society had several concerns with respect to the operation of the Cape Breton Branch shelter. The Society issued corrective (action) notices which the Society maintained were confirmed and agreed to by the respondents. The allegations concerned animal policy violations, customer service, supervision of animals, including failure to provide veterinary care and testing, cleaning, euthanasia, adoption screening and intake methodology. The respondents were asked to address the concerns immediately and provide an action plan which was not done and thus ultimately led to the dissolution of the Cape Breton Branch.
The applicants sought: (1) an Order that the former members of the Cape Breton Branch of the Society for Prevention are no longer members of the board of directors of that branch and (2) the property formerly owned by the Cape Breton branch is now owned by the Provincial Society for Prevention. The Respondents contested the application on a number of fronts but had not yet filed their materials. The issue before the Court was whether it should grant the applicant’s motion for an injunction pending a final hearing on the merits of the application.
The parties agreed that the test for granting an interlocutory injunction is laid out in RJR-MacDonald v. Canada,  1 S.C.R. 311. The Court found that the applicant established a serious issue to be tried on the merits including ownership of the shelter, thereby satisfying the first part of the test. The Court also found that the applicant established irreparable harm would ensue if the injunction was not granted, satisfying the second part of the test, on the basis that animal welfare cannot be measured in monetary terms. The Court also found that the Society is the principal animal welfare agency in Nova Scotia which is dedicated to animal welfare and legislatively recognized as playing a special role in this area. On this basis the Court found that this view tipped the balance of convenience in the applicant’s favour for the time being thus finding that the third part of the test had been met by the applicant. Accordingly, the Nova Scotia Supreme Court granted the applicant’s injunction.
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