Lean About Cruelty and Neglect

Learn About Cruelty and Neglect

Rescue and Investigation Services (RIS) has trained OSPCA agents and inspectors who investigate suspected cruelty and/or neglect of an animal. In cases of neglect or cruelty, the animal(s) concerned may be removed from the owner’s premises if they are in immediate distress. Agents or inspectors “remove” animal(s) with strict adherence to regulations under the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Ontario SPCA) Act. They may also lay charges where wilful neglect or abuse can be proven. Charges are laid under the Criminal Code of Canada, primarily sections 444 through 447, or the OSPCA Act.

Distress as defined in the OSPCA Act:
“Distress” means the state of being in need of proper care, water, food or shelter; or being injured, sick or in pain, or suffering; or being abused or subject to undue or unnecessary hardship, privation or neglect.

Bill 50 was tabled in the Legislature by the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services in 2008 and is the most comprehensive amendment adopted since the provincial animal welfare legislation’s inception in 1919. The Provincial Animal Welfare (PAW) Act changes took place in March 2009 and it toughens and modernizes the Ontario SPCA Act; creating new provincial offences and imposing stiffer penalties for those convicted of animal abuse.

Key changes in the amended Ontario SPCA Act or Provincial Animal Welfare (PAW) Act include:

  • Establishing new provincial offences against animal cruelty, including causing or permitting distress.
  • Providing judges with greater flexibility to impose stiffer penalties, including jail time, fines up to $60,000 and a potential lifetime ban on animal ownership.
  • Providing inspection powers to the Ontario SPCA; allowing investigators to inspect premises where animals are kept for the purposes of exhibit, entertainment, boarding, sale or hire.
  • Permitting the Society to apply for the custody of an animal victim while a case is still before the courts.
  • Expanding the standards of care to be applicable to all animals, not just dogs and cats.
  • Requiring veterinarians to report suspected animal abuse or neglect with protection under the law.
  • Making it an offence to train an animal to fight with another animal or to own animal fighting equipment.
  • Making it an offence to harm a law enforcement animal, such as a dog or a horse.

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