May 31, 2019

Animal Cruelty Investigations in Ontario: Stunning New Developments

I have been reporting for the past while that in March, with just a few weeks’ notice, the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) announced it would no longer be enforcing animal cruelty investigations in Ontario and set a hard deadline for the end of June. I further reported that the OSPCA refused the province’s request to extend the work until new legislation could be introduced early next year.

Since the announcement, the OHS has taken a number of actions, on our own and with our partners to support the development of a viable and effective animal protection model for the long term. In the short term, we have met with local police and the city about the transition and are working with the city to develop training program for police—at no cost to the police.   

Without OSPCA support, to transition to a new model, the Solicitor General’s office announced that local humane societies would be empowered to continue enforcement. But according to a release from the Solicitor General’s office, “…the OSPCA has attempted to block these helpful affiliates by contravening existing legislation. This is extremely disappointing. Frankly, it puts animals in harm’s way.”

This was a stunning development.

That the OSPCA, with its animal welfare mandate, would stand in the way of a viable transition to a new model to protect animals is inexplicable. Then, former OSPCA chair, Rob Godfrey, penned an editorial in the Toronto Sun, alleging an answer: that the OSPCA’s interest is in money and power, not animal welfare. According to Godfrey, “The OSPCA believes the government will have no choice but to download animal cruelty enforcement to local police and in turn, the local police will have no choice but to purchase the services of the OSPCA. In the end, abused and neglected animals lose and the taxpayer pays a hefty price.”

The Solicitor General has now taken the extraordinary action of introducing amendments to the OSPCA Act to circumvent the OSPCA in order to protect animals. It is expected that the legislature will pass the amendments in days, not months.

So, let’s be clear: the Ontario legislature is passing emergency legislation to block the OSPCA in its attempt to block humane societies from protecting animals.

Let that sink in.

Bruce Roney
President and CEO