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The Impact of OSPCA Changes on GHS

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Your questions answered...


What is going on with the enforcement of animal cruelty and neglect investigations in Ontario?

An unexpected decision from the Ontario SPCA in early March, announced that they will end their work in investigating and enforcing animal cruelty laws in Ontario. An agreement between the Ontario SPCA (OSPCA) and the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services (now the Ministry of the Solicitor General) was announced on April 1st. This transitional period ensures that GHS can continue enforcing the Ontario SPCA Act at least until June 28, 2019.


What will happen after June 28?

Unfortunately, at this time we don’t fully understand what this means for the Guelph Humane Society (GHS) or for animals in our community. GHS is actively advocating for a system that is committed to helping ensure that no animals are left behind after June 28, 2019 and that results in a stronger animal welfare system in Ontario. We are working closely with the local police and OPP, as well as other community partners who have a vested interest in animal welfare in Guelph and Wellington County


What does this mean for animals in our community?

Under the Ontario SPCA Act, only OSPCA agents and police officers have the authority to investigate and enforce animal cruelty laws. OSPCA agents in Guelph and Wellington County are employed through the Guelph Humane Society, and their authority is appointed to them by the OSPCA. As June 28, 2019, this means that GHS and other affiliated Humane Societies will have no enforcement authority to protect vulnerable animals as a result of the OSPCA’s withdrawal of service. While police do have authority under the Act, our OSCPA agents hold highly specialized skills in assessing animal welfare and identifying distress. GHS is concerned that our OSPCA’s officers’ inability to continue their work will put animals in our community at risk.


What’s the difference between the Guelph Humane Society and the OSPCA?

The Guelph Humane Society (GHS) is an independent animal welfare organization that relies solely on donor support to provide medical care and housing to over 3,000 animals every year.

The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) is a government directed organization partially funded through tax dollars. The OSPCA is responsible for administering the Ontario SPCA Act, which grants them the power to investigate cases of animal cruelty and potentially lay charges against an owner/caregiver.


What can you do to help?

Call your MPP directly. Let them know the urgent need to save animals lives.  We are asking our supporters to reach out to their local MPP to express the importance of keeping animals in Guelph and Wellington County safe. GHS would like the provincial government to allow our officers to continue their important and specialized work in the interim while they create a new enforcement framework. Talk to friends, family and co-workers, ask them to continue to spread the word that animals need our help.

Let’s be the voice for animals and stand up by continuing this conversation with your local MPP. Go here to find out your MPP for your region: https://www.ola.org/en/members/current/contact-information

Template for letter or email 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 June 28, 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.”


Didn’t the court rule on this matter already?

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 to end their role in animal cruelty investigations abruptly.


Please continue to call us at 519-824-3091 or email investigations@guelphhumane.ca if you have a concern about an animal in our community.


More information:

Adrienne McBride





Links to more information on this ongoing news:

News Release –  https://guelphhumane.ca/news/

Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act – https://www.ontario.ca/laws/statute/S08016

Find your local MPP – https://www.ola.org/en/members/current/contact-information