Q&A: Get the inside scoop on the Ontario SPCA Provincial Dog Rehabilitation Centre 

by | Dog Care Interesting |

Construction of the Ontario SPCA Provincial Dog Rehabilitation Centre is currently underway, with an anticipated opening of late 2022. We spoke to Megan Holmes, Animal Behaviour Coordinator with the Ontario SPCA and Humane Society, who answered the top five questions we receive about this new centre.

Q: What type of rehabilitation will take place at the Ontario SPCA Dog Rehabilitation Centre?

A: Imagine a place where dogs who have experienced emotional and mental challenges can go for behavioural support and rehabilitation. That place is the Provincial Dog Rehabilitation Centre, and it will be purpose-built with the special needs of challenged dogs in mind.

The rehabilitation centre will be staffed by experts with training in dog behaviour who will put evidence-based dog behavioural research into practice to change the lives of dogs who need additional support. The centre will contain a number of unique features, including aquatherapy for physical rehabilitation and exercise, and a real family living room to help dogs practice living in a home environment. For some dogs, this may be their first opportunity to experience the comforts of a home, which will help get them ready for adoption.

Q: What are some common issues that the Provincial Dog Rehabilitation Centre can help dogs overcome?

A: Common behavioural issues that require more intensive work to rehabilitate include fear-based issues, such as fear of strangers or new environments, separation anxiety and touch sensitivity. Dogs can also have challenges with being reactive, which can include dogs who react to being on a leash, for example, or dogs who guard toys or food. 

Q: How will dogs be selected to attend the Ontario SPCA Provincial Dog Rehabilitation Centre?

A: Candidates for the Ontario SPCA Provincial Dog Rehabilitation Centre will be determined on a case-by-case basis to ensure we have the capacity and resources to meet that dog’s unique needs.  

Q: Are there similar rehabilitation centres elsewhere?

A: The Dog Rehabilitation Centre will be one of the first facilities of its kind in Canada, and one of only a handful in North America. One of the best-known dog rehabilitation centres is the 

ASPCA® Behavioral Rehabilitation Center in North Carolina.

The Provincial Dog Rehabilitation Centre is a unique partnership between the Ontario SPCA and Humane Society and the Peterborough Humane Society. It will fill a critical and significant gap in current services by addressing the individualized needs of dogs most difficult to adopt. This unique partnership will bring together three facilities under one roof for a one-of-a-kind complex in Ontario. The Peterborough Animal Care Centre will be 24,000 sq. ft and will be home to the Peterborough Humane Society’s Adoption & Education Centre and Regional Spay and Neuter Clinic, as well as the Ontario SPCA’s Provincial Dog Rehabilitation Centre.

 Q: As someone who has dedicated their career to animal behaviour, what are you most excited about when the Provincial Dog Rehabilitation Centre opens?

A: The Ontario SPCA Provincial Dog Rehabilitation Centre is an exciting step forward in animal wellness! It will allow us to provide a more concentrated focus on the specific needs of animals who have behavioural concerns.

This facility will be designed with the unique needs in mind to help dogs who need more support than a regular animal centre can provide. Many of these dogs linger in animal centres, growing more and more unadoptable. Without the dedicated time, resources or specialized staff needed to offer one-on-one behaviour rehabilitation, it makes it very difficult for dogs experiencing challenges to find their forever home.

I look forward to seeing this centre come together and the work that it will do for animals across Ontario!

Together, we can turn things around for dogs facing challenges, and help them get the fresh start they deserve. To make a donation to help get the Ontario SPCA Provincial Dog Rehabilitation Centre to the finish line, visit ontariospca.ca/dogrehab