New Article Discusses Animal Law Enforcement in Calgary from the Perspective of Bylaw Officers

Dawn Rault, Cindy L. Adams, Jane Springett, & Melanie J. Rock, “Animal Protection, Law Enforcement, and Occupational Health: Qualitative Action Research Highlights the Urgency of Relational Coordination in a Medico-Legal Borderland” (2022) 12:10 Animals 1282.

Abstract: Across Canada and internationally, laws exist to protect animals and to stop them from becoming public nuisances and threats. The work of officers who enforce local bylaws protects both domestic animals and humans. Despite the importance of this work, research in this area is emergent, but growing. We conducted research with officers mandated to enforce legislation involving animals, with a focus on local bylaw enforcement in the province of Alberta, Canada, which includes the city of Calgary. Some experts regard Calgary as a “model city” for inter-agency collaboration. Based on partnerships with front-line officers, managers, and professional associations in a qualitative multiple-case study, this action-research project evolved towards advocacy for occupational health and safety. Participating officers spoke about the societal benefits of their work with pride, and they presented multiple examples to illustrate how local bylaw enforcement contributes to public safety and community wellbeing. Alarmingly, however, these officers consistently reported resource inadequacies, communication and information gaps, and a culture of normalized disrespect. These findings connect to the concept of “medico-legal borderlands,” which became central to this study. As this project unfolded, we seized upon opportunities to improve the officers’ working conditions, including the potential of relational coordination to promote the best practices.