Who we are
Through its province-wide network of close to 50 Communities, the Ontario SPCA is one of the largest, most responsive animal welfare organizations in the country, providing care and shelter for tens of thousands of animals every year.
The Ontario SPCA is unique amongst animal welfare organizations in Ontario: the Ontario SPCA Act mandates the Society to enforce animal cruelty laws and provides Society Branch and Affiliate investigators with police powers to do so.
The Society's programs and services include:
- Sheltering and Adoptions
- Humane Education
- Reducing Pet Overpopulation
- Emergency Rescue and Treatment
- Reuniting Lost Pets with their Owners
- Spay/Neuter Services
- Rescue & Relief™ Services
- Provincial Animal Welfare Legislation Enforcement
The Ontario SPCA's mission is to facilitate and provide for province-wide leadership on matters relating to the prevention of cruelty to animals and the promotion of animal welfare.
The vision of the Ontario SPCA is to be the recognized authority on animal welfare issues and making a measurable difference for animals. The Ontario SPCA is an integral part of each community, promoting mutually beneficial human-animal interactions, and is viewed as a desirable organization for volunteerism and support.
The future that the Ontario SPCA is working to create includes:
• All Ontarians respect and appreciate animals
• Ontario has no homeless animals and no animal abuse
The Society's goal is to be a strong, unified and collaborative organization dedicated to the cultivation of a compassionate Ontario for all animals.
Established in 1873, the Ontario SPCA (the Society) is privileged to be Ontario's animal welfare charity. In its role as a charity, the Ontario SPCA provides a variety of mission- based programs and resources focused on providing for animal welfare including community-based sheltering, shelter health & wellness, high-volume spay/neuter services, animal rescue & relief, animal advocacy, Indigenous partnership programs and humane education.
Since 1919, the Ontario SPCA has been entrusted to maintain and enforce animal welfare legislation in Ontario. The authority for the Society to maintain and enforce legislation was created under provincial statute. Provincial animal welfare legislation falls under the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services and, while in need of updating, is in keeping with the Society’s mission and generally reflects our role in animal protection. The Province of Ontario provides $5.75 million annually for maintenance and enforcement of animal welfare legislation province-wide. The Ontario SPCA provides the best possible service permitted within the funding allotted.
In the Society’s work in legislation enforcement, on behalf of the provincial government, Ontario SPCA Peace Officers are not classified as First Responders therefore, emergency situations are referred to police or the appropriate First Responders’ agency.
At law, the relationship of the Ontario SPCA and its Affiliate Societies exists solely through legislation and our work in maintaining and enforcing animal welfare laws on behalf of the Government of Ontario. The relationship is proprietary to the Ontario SPCA and is entered into and maintained on a voluntary basis by both the Society and each Affiliate. As registered charities, each organization remains autonomous and is overseen by the Charities Directorate of the Canada Revenue Agency. As animal welfare charities, we often work together or lend support to broaden the impact of our efforts. This work is voluntary and neither the Ontario SPCA nor its Affiliate Societies are obliged to participate.
There are pieces of legislation - municipal, provincial and federal - that govern the treatment of animals, including the Dog Owners' Liability Act and Breed Specific Legislation, both of which fall under the Ministry of the Attorney General. While the Ontario SPCA acknowledges that there are pieces of legislation and regulations that exist to protect people from animals, the Society’s focus remains the protection of animals.
When any piece of legislation is incongruent with the mission of the charity, the Ontario SPCA undertakes courses of action to best protect the interests of animals and animal welfare. An example of this would include the safe transfer of an adoptable pit bull to a geographic area where pit bulls may be legally owned. The Ontario SPCA does not participate in enforcing legislation that puts at risk the welfare of animals.
There are many agencies with the authority to enforce animal welfare legislation. Where legislation conflicts with the mission of the charity, the Ontario SPCA declines to enforce such legislation or to participate in any process that is incongruent with the Society's status as a charity or its mission of providing for the welfare of animals.
As a charity, the Ontario SPCA exists, and has a duty of care, to protect animals.
What is the Animal Welfare Philosophy of the Ontario SPCA?
The Ontario SPCA is an open admission, For Life, organization; we strive to accept all animals.
When entering one of our facilities, each animal is given his/her own animal care plan. The animal’s best interests are always at the forefront of all decisions we make, including adoption, foster care, veterinary care, transfer to other adoption centres or rescue groups or, in some cases, euthanasia.
Our staff are professionals who work in this field because they love animals, and the decisions they make are made for the good of the animal and of the communities that they will live in.
Our Animal Welfare philosophy leads us to focus on optimum solutions for animals in our care including high-volume spay/neuter services, adoption programs like Meet Your Match™, animal fostering, animal transfer programs, humane education for the prevention of cruelty, enforcement of the Ontario SPCA Act and Rescue & Relief™ Services.
The Ontario SPCA works in partnership with many organizations to ensure that optimum animal care strategies are available for communities across Ontario and we extend our programs and resources to Animal Welfare organizations across the province and around the world.
What is a “No Kill” facility?
The term ‘no kill’ can be a contentious one in animal sheltering and the term is used differently by different groups.
A true ‘no kill’ facility is one where animals are kept alive at any cost, and no animal is euthanized, regardless of state of health (including emotional health) or temperament.
Unfortunately, many of these facilities do not recognize that emotional and behavioural suffering is just as damaging as physical suffering, and/or will adopt out animals with aggressive temperaments who are a danger to the community.
For example, if an animal is physically healthy, but is showing signs of emotional distress in the form of behaviours caused by living in a kennel or cage for years, a true ‘no kill’ facility would keep the animal alive, without consideration for the emotional and behavioural suffering this animal is experiencing.
Ideally, the animal would be provided with in-shelter enrichment and/or the opportunity to go to foster care to alleviate the emotional distress, but this isn’t always an option for many facilities. Unfortunately, many of these facilities are more like ‘warehouses’ for animals, rather than safe havens.
There are other groups who refer to themselves as ‘no kill’, who actually will euthanize animals, thereby negating the term ‘no-kill’. Often these groups euthanize only for health related reasons and often only in the case where the animal could not live without on-going physical suffering.
Again, these can be places that do not recognize or treat emotional or behavioural distress or suffering.
There are also ‘limited admission’ facilities that often also refer to themselves as ‘no kill’.
These facilities pre-screen the animals admitted into their shelter, usually choosing not to admit animals who suffer from minor-to-major behavioural problems, aggression, or suffer from any illness.
These groups often take only the ‘easiest to adopt’ animals, thereby allowing them to say they are ‘no kill’ simply because the animals they take in are ‘easy’ animals to adopt back out again. Other animals who do not meet the admission requirements are simply referred to other facilities.
If a shelter has a “no kill” policy, it is important for the public to ask the shelter to define the “no kill” policy, so that the public may understand which definition the shelter is practicing.
The ASPCA has a similar philosophy towards “no kill” facilities:
”The ASPCA believes that unwanted pets deserve a dignified, painless death rather than suffer from such cruelties as malnutrition, disease or trauma, outcomes commonly associated with an unwanted and/or uncared-for existence. Similarly, long-term housing of individual dogs and cats in cages without access to exercise or social activities is not an acceptable alternative. Euthanasia must be understood for what it is: a last-step, end-of-the-road option to spare animals further hardship and suffering.”
For more information on the ASPCA, please visit www.aspca.org.
Ontario SPCA Financials
View the complete set of 2017 financial statements here.
View the 2017 Annual Report here.