On 5/11 2010 the Ontario SPCA began to kill every animal in their York Region Shelter in Newmarket, Ontario Canada. A total of 350 animals were to be euthanized, because of a ringworm infestation. Only because of a huge public outcry and the support of M.P.P. Frank Klees and the media, were some animals saved.
Disclaimer: OSPCA Truth is not affiliated with the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA). OSPCA Truth is a public advocate site whose mission is public awareness and to lobby for a governmental review of existing legislation to provide Provincial oversight and accountability. Information published on OSPCA Truth is protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The Provincial Animal Welfare Act, came into force on March 1, 2009. This Act significantly updates the Ontario Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals Act, and marks the first wide-ranging changes to Ontario’s animal protection laws since 1919.
The Act gives virtually unlimited powers to the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) with little or no accountability.
– For the purposes of the enforcement of this Act or any other law in force in Ontario pertaining to the welfare of or the prevention of cruelty to animals, every inspector and agent of the Society has and may exercise any of the powers of a police officer.
- No person shall hinder, obstruct or interfere with an inspector or an agent of the Society in the performance of his or her duties under this Act.
- An inspector or an agent of the Society may, without a warrant, enter and inspect any building or place used for animal exhibit, entertainment, boarding, hire or sale, either alone or accompanied by one or more veterinarians or other persons as he or she considers advisable, in order to determine whether the standards of care prescribed for the purpose of section 11.1 are being complied with.
Changes to the Act were primarily made to address issues with ‘roadside zoos’ and other abuses. Unfortunately the Act does not address any accountability in the event that the OSPCA acts in a questionable manner.
The Act was spearheaded by the current Liberal Government and specifically by MPP Rick Bartolucci, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, which is the Government department to which the OSPCA ‘reports’.
At the time that the Bill was being debated in the Ontario Legislature, many people testified and debated about the very concerns that we all now see. In the end, nothing was done to implement proper accountability or reduce powers and the Bill was passed by the government. The debates and discussion (here) are long, but there are a few stories worth reading:
Richard Hervieux’s story – 2007 (His horses taken, fines levied and Mr. Hervieux arrested.) Read it here.
Marina Korchounov’s Story – 2006 (Family Dog seized) Read it here.
Sunny Reuter’s Story – 2003 (Dog seized and killed) Read it here.
There are many other stories about issues with the OSPCA, going back many years, but for the most part, the public has not heard them.
Here are some of the concerns brought forward when Bill 50 was being debated:
“There is nothing new about the problems with the OSPCA and the system under which it operates. They just aren’t widely known by the public.”
- Leslie Ballentine, former Ontario Farm Animal Council (OFAC) executive director, 2006.
“In essence, the OSPCA operates a powerful, private police force, which answers to no one other than themselves, and it is time they were made accountable to the province and to society.”
- Carl Noble – former OSPCA Director – July 2008
“I’m more and more concerned, the more I hear deputants today, that the OSPCA seems to be some kind of rogue organization with no accountability, no oversight from anybody, and, for those who are caught by the OSPCA, no right of appeal. I’m extremely concerned.”
- M.P.P. Cheri DiNovo – July 2008
“While we understand the challenging nature of an SPCA inspector’s duties, it is unclear to us, as specialists in dog breeding and animal care, why the decision was taken to provide all “powers of a police officer” to individuals not trained to assume this role.”
– Ms. Lee Steeves – Canadian Kennel Club – July 2008
“That these are fundamental violations of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms by an elected government, which has taken an oath of office to uphold the laws of the land, supply good government, protect the people and their rights; has deliberately and with malice aforethought broken the contract of trust with the people that was created through the democratic election process—and the elected government of Ontario is itself placing upon the people what constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.”
- Diana Shore – Landowner & Farmer – West Lincoln, ON – July 2008
“Most controversial, I think, is that I don’t think that the OSPCA should be in charge of doing the enforcement. I think that there’s a serious problem with that. I think that if the province was serious about animal cruelty investigations, they’d have a police officer body that would be in charge of doing animal cruelty investigations, and they would bring in the OSPCA as experts in the area of distress. I say this because the OSPCA, I would argue, has conflicting ideas between enforcement and what they say in their policy, which presents a real problem for people who are subjects of the enforcement.”
- Liz White – Director of Animal Alliance of Canada – July 2008
“The OSPCA is a broken, out of control organization that has lost sight of its mandate to ensure the humane treatment of animals and has become a marauding gang of bullying intimidating enforcers who are encouraged to abuse their power and authority in the interest of fund raising and have a penchant for abusing animal owners with wrongful criminal charges, unwarranted animal seizures and absurdly high life ruining bills.”
- Jack MacLaren – President – The Ontario Landowners Association – January 2009
As early as 2006, protests to remove their powers were being made. This was BEFORE Bill 50!
The truth is that flawed legislation has meant no accountability.
The legislation MUST be changed to ensure that abuses cannot take place without accountability.