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Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)


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  • WHO TO CALL WHEN YOU HAVE A CONCERN ABOUT AN ANIMAL

    • Who should I contact if I witness or suspect animal abuse?

      To report suspected animal abuse call the Ontario SPCA at 310-SPCA (7722) or email cruelty@ospca.on.ca, or contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), your local Ontario SPCA Branch, affiliated Humane Society or police.
    • Who do I call about free-roaming dogs or stray cats?

      If the animal is a stray please call your local animal control department found in the yellow pages. If the animal has been abandoned by its owners please call your local Ontario SPCA Community or the
  • ANIMAL CARE SERVICES AT THE ONTARIO SPCA

    • How long can an animal stay at an Ontario SPCA Community?

      Ontario SPCA Communities keep the animal as long as space permits and an adoptable animal remains physically and mentally healthy.
    • When I adopt a dog or cat, what does the adoption fee include?

      Depending on the Ontario SPCA Community the adoption fee can include: Vaccinations Identification (e.g. microchip) Deworming Spay or neuter (dogs and cats) Carry box for cats
    • What is the Ontario SPCA's euthanasia policy?

      The Ontario SPCA takes the issue of euthanasia very seriously. It is only done when there is no other humane option available. Reasons the Ontario SPCA euthanizes include: terminal illness or injury where there is no possibility of recovery, behavioural problems that pose a threat to other animals or humans, stray or feral overpopulation, disease transmission, and old age where the quality of life is impaired by major loss of functions. Sadly, in some cases animals may be euthanized due to shelter overcrowding. Overcrowding threatens the lives of all the animals in our care due to stress, weakened immune systems and increased risk of disease transmission. This requires us to make difficult decisions about euthanasia based on health, physical, emotional and psychological suffering, and the best interests of the hundreds of animals receiving lifesaving care in a facility. We ask that pet owners place identification on their animals in the form of ID tags, licenses or microchips. We also ask that all pets be spayed or neutered. The pet overpopulation crisis can be managed with this one simple procedure. For more information on the benefits of having your pet spayed or neutered, visit www.fixyourpetc.ca. Also, please contact your local shelter to learn more about adopting an animal, or fostering pets to help provide a temporary home to animals in need.
    • How many animals do Ontario SPCA Communities care for?

      Each year more than 50 Ontario SPCA Communities provide care for tens of thousands of animals.
    • How much does it cost to care for each animal?

      The average cost to care for each animal varies from several hundreds of dollars to thousands of dollars depending on the condition of the animal brought to the shelter, any medical treatment or foster care required, and how long it takes the animal to be adopted.
    • Does the Ontario SPCA accept owner-surrendered animals?

      Ontario SPCA Communities do accept owner-surrendered animals with a nominal surrender fee that covers a small portion of the animal's care while at the shelter. If you're considering surrendering your pet because you feel unable to deal with their behaviour, we encourage you to seek advice and training to work with behaviour problems before making a final decision. Most behaviour problems arise due to miscommunication between the owner and the pet (for example, pushing or yelling at a dog for jumping up only encourages more jumping), or when a certain need of the pet is not being met (inadequate exercise can lead to hyperactive and destructive dogs). If you are a dog owner, you may wish to visit the Canadian Association of Professional Pet Dog Trainers' website to help find trainers in your area. (Please note: The Ontario SPCA does not endorse any individual trainer and encourages people to choose positive trainers who use methods that do not cause pain or suffering to dogs, but help foster a trusting relationship.) Veterinarians may also provide helpful advice or refer you to someone specializing in animal behavior in your area. Seek out "positive" trainers that will teach you how to motivate your dog to do the behaviours you'd like in a "positive" manner that enhances your relationship with your pet and builds trust. Avoid trainers who advocate the use of force, yelling, threats, punishment and violence. With a little patience and effort many behaviour problems can be resolved and you can be rewarded with a well-behaved animal and years of love and companionship.
  • ONTARIO SPCA GENERAL OPERATIONS

    • Accessibility at the Ontario SPCA

      In fulfilling our mission, the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals strives at all times to provide its goods and services in a way that respects the dignity and independence of people with disabilities. We are also committed to giving people with disabilities the same opportunity to access our goods and services and allowing them to benefit from the same services, in the same place and in a similar way as other customers. Comments and feedback regarding the way the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals provides goods and services to people with disabilities or to request a copy of our Customer Service Policy can be made by email to our Human Resources coordinator at jjordan@ospca.on.ca or by phone at 905-898-7122. To learn about the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (2005) legislation and standards, visit the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario

    • What is the structure of the Ontario SPCA?

      Shelters: The Ontario SPCA is comprised of more than 50 Communities providing care and shelter for tens of thousands of animals each year. Inspectors and Agents: The Society Inspectors and Agents, who investigate cases of animal cruelty and neglect, have the same powers as police officers when enforcing animal protection laws. Under the Ontario SPCA Act, first decreed in 1919, the Society may intervene directly to rescue animals at risk. This unique authority is both our privilege and our strength. Board of Directors: The Society is managed by a voluntary provincial Board of Directors. This board has representation from appointees of Ontario SPCA Communities who have been elected at the Annual General Meeting. The Board of Directors is responsible for the Society's operations, policy decisions and budget control. Members bring with them a variety of expertise and experience and also serve on advisory committees that concentrate on specific aspects of the Society's work, recommending courses of action to the full board.
    • How are the Ontario SPCA Provincial Office and its Communities funded?

      The Ontario SPCA and its Communities are charitable organizations that rely on the generosity of its supporters, including individuals, associations and corporations. The Ontario SPCA is not a government organization.
    • What is the difference between the Ontario SPCA and Ontario Humane Society (OHS)?

      The Ontario SPCA (or Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) and the Ontario Humane Society are the same entity. Humane Society is a common term and is used by some of Ontario SPCA Communities.
    • Who do I contact if I have a complaint about an Ontario SPCA Order or the removal of an animal?

      Any Ontario SPCA Orders, or the removal of an animal under the authority of the Ontario SPCA Act, are actions that may be appealed to the Animal Care Review Board of Ontario. The Animal Care Review Board is an independent tribunal, with members appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council. An animal owner or custodian who considers themselves aggrieved may take advantage of this route of appeal. This is outlined in the Ontario SPCA Act, subsection 17.(1): The owner or custodian of any animal who considers themself aggrieved by an order made under subsection 13 (1) or by the removal of an animal under subsection 14 (1) may, within five business days of receiving notice of the order or removal, appeal against the order or request the return of the animal by notice in writing to the chair of the Board. R.S.O. 1990, c. O.36, s. 17 (1); 1993, c. 27, Sched.; 2006, c. 19, Sched. F, s. 3 (1). This information is clearly printed on all relevant Ontario SPCA forms, and includes the contact information for the Chair of the Animal Care Review Board.
    • What are the Ontario SPCA's core values?

      The Ontario SPCA believes that: The Ontario SPCA must act to prevent cruelty and to encourage consideration for all animals. No animal should suffer. All animals should have a good quality of life and should be treated with compassion. The Society must advocate for improved animal welfare and protection. Those who abuse or neglect animals should be appropriately penalized. All animal welfare organizations should work cooperatively for the benefit of animals. The Society should set high standards for animal care, protection and shelter. The Society must educate the public on animal welfare. Dedicated and committed volunteers and staff are essential to the success of the Society. All those who contribute to the success of the Society deserve recognition and appreciation. The Society should serve the whole province.

    • Animal welfare and animal rights – what’s the difference?

    • What is the difference between a Branch and an Affiliate?

    • 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 shelters 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.


      For more information on our Animal Welfare programs and services, please visit our website, www.ontariospca.ca



      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 Multi-year Accessibility Plan

      Ontario SPCA Multi-year Accessibility Plan

       

      This 2014-2021 accessibility plan outlines the policies and actions that the Ontario SPCA will put in place to improve opportunities for people with disabilities with a focus on preventing and removing barriers to accessibility. This multi-year plan will be reviewed at least once every five years and will be posted on the Ontario SPCA website.  It will be provided in accessible format upon request.  The multi year plan is a living document and will be updated as required to ensure accessibility for all.

       

      Statement of Commitment

      The Ontario SPCA is committed to treating all persons in a way that allows them to maintain their dignity and independence. We believe in integration and equal opportunity. We are committed to meeting the needs of people with disabilities in a timely manner, and will do so by preventing and removing barriers to accessibility and meeting accessibility requirements under the Accessibilities for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (“AODA”).

       

      Accessible Emergency Information

      The Ontario SPCA is committed to providing the customers and clients with publicly available emergency information in an accessible way upon request. We will also provide employees with disabilities with individualized emergency response information when necessary.  Upon hire all employees and volunteers complete the confidential “Potential Emergency Response Barriers – Individual Plan Assessment” form which will determine if an individualized emergency response plan is required and will assist with the development of an individualized emergency response plan.  This form includes a mechanism to obtain consent to share this information with those designated to provide assistance in the event of an emergency.

       

      Training

      The Ontario SPCA will provide training to employees, volunteers, and other staff members who deal with the public on our behalf on Ontario’s accessibility laws and on the Human Rights Code as it relates to people with disabilities. Training will be provided in a way that best suits the duties of employees, volunteers, and other staff members.

       

      The Ontario SPCA will take the following steps to ensure employees and volunteers are provided with the training needed to meet Ontario’s accessibility laws by January 1, 2015.

      • Presently, all employees and volunteers receive training, and are required to sign off, on the Ontario SPCA’s Customer Service Policy, AODA, a current requirement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (Current and operational)
      • By January 1, 2015 all employees and volunteers will receive training on the Human Rights Code  as it relates to people with disabilities and all receiving training will be required to sign off on this training  (Training to be developed and implemented by January 1, 2015)
      • Both the customer service training and the Human Rights Code training is mandatory for all employees and volunteers
      • Training will be provided on any changes to the prescribed policies on an ongoing basis

       

      Information and Communications

      The Ontario SPCA is committed to meeting the communication needs of persons with disabilities. We will consult with people with disabilities to determine their information and communication needs.

       

      We will work with our vendors to ensure all new websites and content on those sites conform with WCAG 2.0, Level A by January 1, 2014 (completed) and will take the necessary steps to ensure that all websites and content conform with WCAG 2.0, Level AA by January 1, 2021.

       

      We will take the following steps to make sure all publicly available information is made available upon request by January 1, 2016.

      - Publicly available information will be available in at least 2 formats. For example material provided in a written format can also be provided verbally.
      - We will accommodate any requests for alternate formats of information in a timely manner with the maximum response time being 10 working days of the request

      Feedback

       

      We will take the following steps to make sure existing feedback processes are available to people with disabilities upon request by January 1, 2015

      - All feedback and inquires will be accepted through written (email or letter) or verbal (telephone) or other formats if this does not meet the needs of an individual
      - Response will be provided within 10 working days of the request using the requested format

       

      Employment

      The Ontario SPCA is committed to fair and accessible employment practices. The Ontario SPCA will accommodate people with disabilities during the recruitment and assessment process and when hired.

      The Ontario SPCA will communicate our fair and accessible employment practices to staff and the public, as requested by January 1, 2016.

      - Hiring managers will be informed through meetings and documentation on accommodating throughout the recruitment process
      - Job postings will include contact information for applicants requiring accommodation within the recruitment process and will indicate that job and workplace accommodations are available upon request
      - During the recruitment process, the Ontario SPCA shall notify job applicants, when they are individually selected to participate in an assessment or selection process that accommodations are available upon request in relation to the materials or processes to be used.  Human resources will provide support to Managers responding to accommodation requests.
      -If a selected applicant requests an accommodation, suitable accommodation in a manner that takes into account the applicant's accessibility needs due to disability will be arranged
      -Offers of employment will include accommodation language

       

      The Ontario SPCA will take the following steps to develop and put into place a process for developing individual accommodation plans and return to work policies for employees that have been absent due to a disability.

      - Develop and have in place a return to work process for its employees who have been absent from work due to a disability and require disability-related accommodations in order to return to work
      –share this process with all employees - outline the steps The Ontario SPCA will take to facilitate the return to work of employees who were absent because their disability required them to be away from work
      -use documented individual accommodation return to work plans

       

      The Ontario SPCA will also provide accommodation and consider an individual’s disability within performance management and career development initiatives.

       

      Design of Public Spaces

      The Ontario SPCA will meet the Accessibility Standards for the Design of Public Spaces when building or making major modifications to public Spaces. Currently many of our public space are made accessible through:

      - Accessible washrooms
      - Accessible Kiosks
      - Accessible doorways and automatic opening doors
      - Lower counter to facilitate accessible devices

       

      The Ontario SPCA will notify the public of any service disruptions in accessible parts of our public spaces and will offer alternative services.

       

      For more information on this accessibility plan, please contact Human Resources at 1-888-668-7722 ext 341 or email dschepens@ospca.on.ca

  • OTHER FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

    • What are the Ontario SPCA By-Laws?

    • How do I make a complaint against an Ontario SPCA Agent/Inspector?

      Defining a Complaint

       

       1. Conduct of an Agent or Inspector

       

      Making a Complaint

       

      Only the person directly affected by the incident or whose animals were directly affected may make a complaint. Anyone from the public making a complaint should first speak with the officer’s direct Supervisor as a complaint may be resolved with some simple clarification.

       

      A complaint must be in writing and must be signed by the person making the complaint and contain all of their true particulars (name, physical address & phone number). The complaint may be written in a letter but the Public Complaint Form must also be completed. All complaints must go to the Chief Inspector or Public Complaints Committee.

       

      Branches and Affiliates that receive a completed formal complaint at their office may either provide the person with the information below so they may forward it themselves, or receive the complaint and forward it within 5 business days, noting the date it was received.

       

      Off-Duty Complaints

       

      A complaint may be filed about the conduct of an off-duty officer; however, there must be a connection between the conduct and either the duties of an Agent or Inspector or the reputation of the Society.

       

      Time Limits

       

      A complaint must be filed within 20 business days after the incident happened. Complaints made after the 20 business day criteria may be investigated depending on the nature of the concern.

       

      Receiving a Complaint

       

      A complaint may be received by mail, or email addressed to the:

       

      Office of the Chief Inspector
      Ontario SPCA Provincial Office
      16586 Woodbine Avenue
      Newmarket, ON
      L3Y 4W1
      rmarks@ospca.on.ca
        
      OR
       Public Complaints Committee
      Ontario SPCA Provincial Office
      Investigations Department
      16586 Woodbine Avenue
      Newmarket, ON
      L3Y 4W1*
      *(For complaints about the conduct of the Chief Inspector or any other correspondence intended for the Public Complaints Committee)

       

      The Chief Inspector will ensure that a member of the Public Complaints Committee is advised immediately of any correspondence intended for the Committee.

       

      If a complaint regarding the conduct of the Chief Inspector is received by the Committee the Chief Executive Officer of the Ontario SPCA must be notified immediately and will then continue to be part of the complaint process.

       

      The complainant will be notified in writing that the complaint has been received. These notifications will be mailed within 5 business days of receiving the initial complaint.

       

      Complaints that also allege criminal behaviour must be handled by the Police. The Chief Inspector or Public Complaints Committee will involve the Police when necessary.

       

      Complaints that are filed with the Human Rights Commission will be handled by the Commission and this process does not apply.

       

      Informal Resolution

       

      Less serious complaints about an officer's conduct may be resolved by way of an informal resolution. This involves the Agent/Inspectors supervisor, speaking with the complainant and resolving the issue or bringing the complainant and subject Agent(s) or Inspector(s) together to hear each other's concerns. Such a resolution requires the mutual consent of the complainant and subject Agent(s) or Inspector(s), and the approval of the Chief Inspector or Committee. An informal resolution of a complaint is an option that is available at any time during the process; i.e., before, during or after an investigation. A Record of Resolution will be completed for this option and act as the written decision.

       

      Withdrawing a Complaint

       

      A complaint may be withdrawn at any time by forwarding a written letter or email to the Chief Inspector or Public Complaints Committee however; the Chief Inspector or Committee may continue to deal with the complaint if it is felt that the allegation should be investigated further.

       

      Dealing with the Complaint

       

      The Chief Inspector or Committee may decide not to deal with the complaint for one of three reasons:

       

      • Complaint was filed more than 20 business days after the occurrence which led to the complaint
      • Frivolous, vexatious or made in bad faith
      • Complainant or animals were not directly affected by the incident

       

      It must be determined within 20 business days of receipt of the complaint how a matter is to proceed and written notification will be mailed to the complainant advising that the matter is in fact proceeding.

       

      Download the Public Complaint Form Here.

    • Who is responsible for a community's stray animals?

      The Ontario SPCA maintains and enforces the Ontario SPCA Act; a piece of provincial legislation providing for the welfare of animals. The Ontario SPCA Act is concerned with the prevention of cruelty and strives to protect animals from people. The Ontario SPCA Act is available on our web site at www.ontariospca.ca. The Municipal Act is a piece of provincial legislation which mandates municipalities to provide services within their local boundaries. These services encompass Animal Control and By-law Enforcement. Stray animals fall under the authority of the municipality, and the Animals for Research Act (ARA) is used to govern Municipal Animal Control practices. The Animals for Research Act is available at www.omafra.gov.on.ca. Many Municipalities enact animal control by-laws, including pet licensing. The intent is to protect people from animals, to provide for safe, clean communities and to have a system where lost pets can be recovered by their owners. Stray animals in a community fall under the jurisdiction of the Municipality. In some municipalities, the Ontario SPCA is contracted to provide Municipal Animal Control Services. In those cases, we are permitted, as an agent of the Municipality, to accept stray animals on behalf of the Municipality. In Municipalities where we do not provide Animal Control Services, it is not within the legal authority of the Ontario SPCA to accept stray animals. In these Municipalities, the Ontario SPCA will direct individuals to the organization providing Municipal Animal Control Services. There are very important reasons why we follow this protocol and why we encourage communities and individuals to follow the appropriate channels when managing stray animals. 1. The Ontario SPCA is a law enforcement agency. We maintain and enforce provincial legislation and we operate all areas of the Society within federal, provincial and municipal laws. 2. Stray animals fall under the jurisdiction of the Municipality. Only the Municipality, or the organization contracted by the Municipality to provide Animal Control Services, has legal authority over stray animals. When animal care decisions are required for stray animals, only the legal owner may lawfully make these decisions. 3. Stray animals are lost animals. To help reunite the owners with their pets as quickly as possible, it is important to go through proper channels.Municipal Animal Control is the first point of contact when you lose or find a pet. Ensure that your pet is licensed and has some form of identification (tag, microchip or tattoo), so that if your pet is found by or returned to the local Municipal Animal Control Services, they can contact you. Animal Welfare is a community responsibility and requires many agencies, organizations and the public, working together, in a lawful manner, to protect and care for animals. The Ontario SPCA is a province-wide resource in Animal Welfare and can help answer questions the public may have for animals in need. Please visit our web site at www.ontariospca.ca.
  • INVESTIGATIONS FAQ's

    • What is the responsibility of the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA) in regulating facilities in Ontario?

      CAZA is a national, membership-based organization that represents zoological parks and aquariums in Canada.

       

      While CAZA promotes the welfare of zoological parks and aquariums, CAZA is not a regulator. For more information, visit the web site at www.caza.ca.

    • Why do some zoo and aquarium facilities in the province fall outside of the Ontario SPCA Act?

      Some facilities have classifications that fall under different legislation.

       

      For example, the Toronto Zoo and the African Lion Safari are classified as research facilities and fall under the Animals for Research Act, which is overseen by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). For more information, visit the web site at www.omafra.gov.on.ca.

    • Does the Ontario SPCA inspect wildlife facilities like the Wye Marsh or Toronto Wildlife Centre?

      Both the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre and the Toronto Wildlife Centre are classified as wildlife facilities and fall under the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR). For more information, visit the MNR's web site at www.mnr.gov.on.ca.

       

      In order to provide or facilitate wildlife rescue and rehabilitation in Ontario, a Wildlife Custodian Authorization is required. This designation is granted by the MNR.

       

      Unique to the Wye Marsh is its designation as a Wetland Conservation site. This designation is granted through the federal government, so the Wye Marsh is also regulated through Environment Canada.

    • Why can't the Ontario SPCA close a facility when the treatment or condition of animals is in question?

      The Ontario SPCA maintains and enforces animal welfare legislation on behalf of the Province of Ontario. We do not license businesses nor do we oversee business operations. In Ontario, corporations are formed through the provincial government and business licenses are issued by municipalities.

       

      The role of the Ontario SPCA is to ensure that all animals, in any facility in Ontario that falls under Provincial Animal Welfare legislation, are meeting the Ontario standards of care and are free from distress.



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