Why Has The Ontario SPCA Announced A Plan To Stop Investigations Of Animal Cruelty Involving Horses & Farm Animals?

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Photos from OSPCA, Facebook

There seems to be confusion and controversy brewing around the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA).

Per the Canadian Press Service, the local animal welfare agency has stated that it needs to restructure, beginning with stopping investigations into animal cruelty cases involving farm animals and horses.

Lack of funding and years of financial losses are reportedly the reasons for OSPCA’s controversial need to restructure.

The organization wants to shift the investigations to the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

The government, which reportedly pays the OSPCA $5.75 million each year to handle all animal welfare issues, was not aware of the change that some insiders are calling “immanent.”

Under their current agreement, OSPCA is responsible for maintaining “a call center to respond to animal cruelty tips, a major case team to investigate complex cases, a registry of zoos and aquariums and specialists to investigate those facilities.”

OSPCA is also tasked with maintaining animal cruelty coverage of First Nations, an indigenous American Indian community in Canada, as well as Northern Ontario.

The OSPCA Act also gives the OSPCA officers the power to impose legal charges for both provincial offences and animal cruelty charges, as well as the authority to “inspect premises where animals are kept for the purposes of exhibit, entertainment, boarding, hire or sale.”

WAN contacted Melissa Kosowan of the OSPCA communications department to try to gain some clarity on the situation.

Kosowan sent WAN the following official statement:

“The Ontario SPCA would like to assure the public that we continue to investigate animal welfare concerns relating to livestock and horses.

In addition to the charitable programs the Society provides for the welfare of animals, the Ontario SPCA and Humane Society is under contract by the Province of Ontario to enforce provincial animal welfare legislation. The Society is here to serve animals and we want to do what’s in their best interest. To do that, we need to consider adjustments to provide the best possible protection of animals within funding provided by the Government of Ontario.

One consideration includes restructuring our role in cases that occur with large animals in rural areas. Our hope is to become a supporting agency to the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) to provide urgent and ongoing care to animals while Ministry personnel focus on enforcing government legislation.

As these discussions have yet to occur, we cannot provide additional details at this time. However, the Ontario SPCA has always been a resource for animals across the province; this restructuring will identify ways animals can be better supported within the resources provided by the government.”

Meanwhile, as per CBC News, Ottawa police said in a statement that “officers have the authority to investigate animal cruelty complaints and lay charges, but would not address whether officers have the proper training to investigate those complaints.”

“Investigating abuses of livestock is specialized and it’s unlikely most police forces across the province have that type of training,” Ottawa Humane Society executive director Bruce Roney told the media outlet. “Police certainly have their hands full with human crimes and always in that situation, we’re worried that crimes against animals will be given a low priority.”

While Roney has had his own issues with the OSPCA taking away the Ottawa Humane Society’s powers to investigate animal cruelty in 2016, his current concerns regarding this situation seem to be valid.

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