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The Ottawa Animal Advocate

Animal Welfare in Ontario: Tentative Optimism for a Better Future

Dog, rabbit and cat

The OHS is optimistic that the future of Ontario’s animals looks much brighter, following recent, if tumultuous, developments in animal welfare in the province. On Oct. 29, the province introduced Bill 136, which would create a new provincial animal welfare system under the new Provincial Animal Welfare Services Act (PAWS). The Act, which is expected to come into effect in January, is championed by most animal welfare organizations across Ontario.

The Act creates a specialized team of provincial inspectors to enforce animal cruelty laws in Ontario, allows for more timely intervention for animals in immediate distress, including dogs in cars, and introduces stiffer penalties for cruelty offences, among other improvements.

Additionally, the province's new cruelty and abuse reporting system provides a vast improvement over the OSPCA's previous regime and, thereby, better protection for Ontario’s animals.

While a recent court of appeal judgement struck down a lower court’s ruling that the OSPCA's enforcement role was unconstitutional, both courts were in agreement about the requirement for transparency and accountability in all law enforcement bodies. This goal was achieved with the introduction of the new PAWS Act, which finally gives Ontarians what we have been demanding: a responsive animal welfare system that is publically accountable and which effectively replaces the OSPCA.

As with the previous legislation, the effectiveness of the PAWS act will ultimately depend on the resources devoted to its enforcement. Additionally, this legislation relies on many regulations, yet to be crafted. The OHS will continue to work with sister Ontario humane societies to advocate with the provincial government for the resources required to give the legislation the teeth it needs, to protect Ontario’s animals.

Pets are a Part of a Healthy Community

woman and dog on a cafe patio

The OHS Dog-Friendly Business Program helps to better integrate pets into everyday life. The biggest challenge with this program is that many businesses are unable to participate due to industry regulations. Some of these regulations are both restricting for pet owners, and damaging to businesses that would be able to safely accommodate dogs on their premises.

That's why the OHS is excited to learn the Province of Ontario is considering legislation to pull back regulations which prevent pets on patios where low-risk foods are served alongside drinks. The majority of dog owners know what their dogs are able to handle and the vast majority of those won’t bring them to their local patio or brewery. For those that do, the OHS Dog Friendly Business Program provides a set of suggested guidelines to address the occasional situation that may arise.

Those who don't want to drink beer with a dog nearby would have options, as the proposed legislative change would make being dog-friendly voluntary, allowing each business owner to accept or reject dogs on their premises (other than service dogs, which must be accepted by law).

The reality is that dogs are integrated into our everyday lives, this includes stores, bars and restaurants in many parts of the world. And both the community and the dogs are better for it.

Results: OHS Rodeo Survey

Cowboy riding an unwilling bull

Last month, we asked you to provide your thoughts on rodeos, how the OHS should be addressing them and your overall knowledge of the rules and regulations. Nearly 200 people completed the survey and the results were overwhelmingly positive — for the animals, not the rodeos.

Over 91 per cent of respondents have a negative or very negative overall view of rodeos. Over 96 per cent of respondents support restricting events at rodeos to eliminate the ones causing the most distress to animals. When asked whether rodeos should be reformed or banned, 64 per cent indicated they would prefer banning them altogether.

It's clear, based on these results, that Ottawa’s animal welfare community is passionate about the wellbeing of rodeo animals. The OHS will continue to fight against the cruelty animals in the entertainment industry face.

Wildlife in the Winter

Emergency graphic for how to help wild life

Winter is a wonderful season for spotting wild animals that are harder to see in other months. With less foliage in the forests and less readily available food sources, some animals seem to be even more prevalent in the winter than in other seasons. People may be concerned about animals surviving in the winter months in Ottawa, but unless sick or injured, wild animals are very capable of caring for themselves in the frigid weather — they have adapted to handle all of our seasons.

Non-migratory birds often suffer the most difficulty over the winter months, so here's what can you do to help them:

  • Buy a heated bird bath, or add a heating element to an existing bird bath;
  • Provide nesting boxes and windbreaks;
  • Leave your gardens, leaves and brush piles out;
  • Put out brushed pet fur for squirrels or birds to nest with; and,
  • Put out a bird feeder to give them access to supplemental food over the winter.

If you have any concerns regarding the health of a bird, please contact the Wild Bird Care Centre at 613-828-2849 or visit

Hi, I'm Jingle!

Jingle sitting with a tree and treats

I've been sent to watch over all the animals at the OHS to ensure they all have a very Merry Christmas! Santa is keeping an eye out on all you good girls and boys, hoping that you will step up to give homeless animals a second chance this cold, blustery winter. Follow my adventures as I meet the animals in the care of the Ottawa Humane Society: visit my special page where you can see all the animals I meet who need a little extra help this December!

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