Guelph, ON (March 14, 2019) – The Guelph Humane Society (GHS) wants to ensure animals in Guelph and Wellington County continue to be protected, following an unexpected decision from the Ontario SPCA last week to end its work in investigating and enforcing animal cruelty laws. The move will remove authority from OSPCA agents as soon as April 1, 2019, unless the provincial government accepts a three-month transition period offered by the OSPCA.
“This decision signals a crisis for animals in Ontario,” says Adrienne McBride, Executive Director of GHS. “GHS is the voice for animals in Guelph and Wellington County and we are very concerned that this decision will leave animals vulnerable.”
At this same time, a recent court case involving OSPCA is adding confusion to this issue because a judge ruled OSPCA enforcement powers, which have no oversight in Ontario, were unconstitutional. In the ruling, the provincial government was given 12 months to rewrite the laws to remedy the situation. This case is being appealed and is separate to the OSPCA’s decision.
Under the current enforcement framework, OSPCA agents in Guelph and Wellington County are employed through Guelph Humane Society, and their authority is appointed to them by the OSPCA. Under the Ontario SPCA Act, only OSPCA agents and police officers have the authority to investigate and enforce animal cruelty laws. McBride notes GHS staff have highly specialized knowledge that includes assessing animal welfare and identifying distress, as well as animal protection laws. In addition, GHS is already connected with the health, social services, veterinary and policing agencies within the community they serve.
“Our OSPCA officers have a positive working relationship with Guelph and Wellington police services, and we have worked alongside each other on many cases,” says McBride. “But investigations and enforcement represent the equivalent of 1.5 full-time positions at GHS. Our agents investigated more than 350 animal cruelty cases in the last year. Animals in Guelph and Wellington County need our officers’ expertise.”
GHS is asking their supporters to reach out to their local MPP to express the importance of keeping animals in Guelph and Wellington County safe. In addition, GHS is connecting with local MPPs (including Guelph MPP, Mike Schreiner) to request their support in asking the province to extend investigation and enforcement authority, as an interim measure, to affiliated humane societies such as Guelph Humane Society that have the capacity and interest in continuing this work.
“The government has a short time in order to create an alternative enforcement system so animals remain protected,” says McBride. “GHS has been protecting animals in Guelph and Wellington County for 125 years, and we would hope to continue in this capacity until a formal system for animal protection can be put in place.”
About the Guelph Humane Society
The Guelph Humane Society advocates for all animals, and in particular those animals whose lives it can influence, through care, education, community support, protection, and leadership. Founded in 1893, the Guelph Humane Society provides care and shelter for approximately 3,000 homeless, stray, injured and abused animals each year in Guelph and Wellington County. GHS is a registered charitable, non-profit organization that does not receive government funding. Visit www.guelphhumane.ca to discover more.
Guelph Humane Society
Dr. Shane Bateman
GHS Board Chair
SAMPLE EMAIL/LETTER TEMPLATE TO SEND TO YOUR MPP:
As a constituent in your riding, I am writing to express my concerns about the recent announcement that the Ontario SPCA (OSPCA) will no longer investigate and enforce animal cruelty laws as of April 1, 2019.
We need strong protection for animals, provided by those, like the Guelph Humane Society (GHS) OSPCA Agents, who have specialized knowledge on animal laws and are already well-connected with the health, social service and policing agencies within the community they serve.
Please extend investigation and enforcement authority, as an interim measure, to affiliated humane societies such as GHS, that have the capacity and interest in continuing this work until a long-term solution is found. Investigations and enforcement represent the equivalent of 1.5 full-time positions at GHS, who investigated 350 animal cruelty cases in 2018 alone. Animals in Guelph and Wellington County need our officers’ expertise while a long-term plan is being developed.
I appreciate your continued commitment to your constituents and hope an interim solution is found quickly.
More information and FAQs = https://guelphhumane.ca/the-impact-of-ospca-changes-on-ghs/