ontario spca

Ontario SPCA says it will no longer enforce animal cruelty laws

Ontario's animal welfare agency has announced that it will no longer investigate and enforce animal cruelty laws. 

The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has told the government that it does not plan to sign a new contract with the province after their current funding agreement expires on March 31. 

This announcement comes a few months after an Ontario Superior Court found the OSPCA's  enforcement powers unconstitutional. 

The 146-year-old provincial private charity has had police powers since the OSPCA Act became law in 1919, allowing them to prosecute offenders, search homes, and seize animals to enforce any laws pertaining to animal cruelty. 

The OSPCA currently receives around $5.75 million a year from the provincial government—an amount which the Stouffville-based organization has long stated is not enough to enforce laws (which makes up for 20 percent of its services) while simultaneously running shelters. 

Pulling back from its current duties, the OSPCA says it will continue to provide enforcement services for an extra three-month transition period. 

"We have struggled to meet the need and have struggled with both Officer safety and, at times, conflicts with our charitable mission," said OSPCA Chief Executive Officer, Kate Macdonald. "It is simply not in the interests of animals or this charity to continue along the same path." 

That means that by the end of the June, the organization will no longer run their call centre that respond to animal cruelty tips, nor have teams to investigate animal cruelty cases at places like zoos and aquariums.

In its place, the OSPCA is drafting up recommendations for a new Ontario Animal Protection Act that will potentially see the government shift responsibilities to its own police force. 

"Enforcement is the responsibility of government, one that we can confidently support by offering animal protection services to enforcement agencies," says MacDonald. 

"Being an outside agency, we have been woefully under-resourced to provide legislation enforcement."

Lead photo by cocoparisienne

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