What is the structure of the Ontario SPCA and Humane Society?
The Ontario SPCA and its affiliate communities across the province provide care and shelter for tens of thousands of animals each year. The Society is managed by a voluntary provincial Board of Directors. 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 and Humane Society Provincial Office and its communities funded?
The Ontario SPCA and Humane Society and its communities are charitable organizations that rely on the generosity of their 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 (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 the Ontario SPCA communities.
What are the Ontario SPCA and Humane Society’s core values?

The Ontario SPCA and Humane Society 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 team members 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.

Does the Ontario SPCA and Humane Society accept owner-surrendered animals?

Ontario SPCA and Humane Society 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 have a dog, 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 behaviour in your area. Seek out “positive” trainers that will teach you how to motivate your pet 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.

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

“Animal welfare,” as defined by the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, is a human responsibility that encompasses all aspects of animal well-being, including proper housing, management, nutrition, disease prevention, responsible care, humane handling, and, where necessary, humane euthanasia. As an animal welfare organization, we believe that humans can interact with animals in entertainment, industry, sport and recreation, but that the interaction should include provisions for the proper care and humane management of all animals involved.

We use scientific and legal arguments to promote and advocate for the protection of animals from cruelty. “Animal rights” is a philosophical view that seeks to end the exploitation of animals and animal use industries, including the slaughter of animals for consumption, animal research, animals used in entertainment or education, service animals, working animals and companion animals. Animal rights groups typically avoid working with organizations involved in these practices and may employ confrontational methods to promote change.

We work cooperatively and collaboratively with pet owners, farmers, landowners, producers, veterinarians, and breeders on issues that affect animals, and we actively work with municipal and provincial governments to ensure animals are provided with every possible protection under the law.

The Ontario SPCA is proud to be Ontario’s largest animal welfare organization, and one of the most responsive animal welfare organizations in Canada. Partnerships, based on professionalism, openness and understanding foster a spirit of goodwill and trust that helps us achieve changes that may otherwise not be possible.

What is the difference between an animal centre and an affiliate?

The Ontario SPCA’s unique relationship with its animal centres and affiliate societies is critical to its life-saving work. Animal centres, formed by the Ontario SPCA, are administered by the Ontario SPCA provincial office in Stouffville. Affiliate societies, which include humane societies and SPCAs, operate more independently from the Ontario SPCA and are administered at the local level by their own individual Board of Directors.

To maintain an affiliate status, the organization must ensure that its policies, bylaws and goals are reflective of the Ontario SPCA and pay an annual membership fee. By affiliating with the Ontario SPCA, affiliate societies gain the benefits of belonging to a province-wide network that brings animal welfare organizations together for the purposes of learning from each other, sharing best practices, and working in partnership to help more animals. Affiliates also gain access to many of the programs and services of the provincial organization.

In addition, the Provincial Office provides animal centres and affiliates with animal care education opportunities; administrative and financial support; legal services; public relations, marketing and fundraising assistance; information and resource sharing; and leadership on community and provincial animal welfare issues and shelter operations.

Animal centres and affiliate societies are funded by the communities they serve. As charitable organizations (and non-government agencies), they rely on the generosity of their supporters, including individuals, associations and businesses. Donations made to the Ontario SPCA provincial office are used to support and strengthen the activities and initiatives of the entire network of centres and affiliates.

By uniting as “One voice for animal welfare in Ontario,” the Ontario SPCA and its animal centres and affiliate societies are able to accomplish many lifesaving feats that would otherwise be impossible to accomplish. The future for animal protection is bright as we continue to find new ways of working together and sharing our strengths!

What is the animal welfare philosophy of the Ontario SPCA and Humane Society?

The Ontario SPCA and Humane Society 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 animal centres including high-volume spay/neuter services, adoption programs like Meet Your Match, animal fostering, animal transfer programs, spay/neuter and animal wellness services, humane education for the prevention of cruelty, and animal rescue and relief services.

The Ontario SPCA and Humane Society 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.

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 the 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 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 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 aspca.org.

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

Report animal welfare concerns 24/7 by calling 1-833-9ANIMAL (1-833-926-4625).

If you are unsure about who to call when there is a concern for an animal, call 310-SPCA (7722). Our  team is there to help you find resources for animals in need.

Working Cat Program

One of the goals of the Ontario SPCA when rehoming animals is to find the right home for each animal in its care. Sometimes community cats, which some people refer to feral cats, end up in our centres and cannot be returned to their original colony site for various reasons. The cats require alternative homes due to their lack of socialization.

The Ontario SPCA believes in finding an alternative home for these feral cats by giving them “jobs” as working cats! These cats are healthy, spay/neutered, vaccinated, microchipped and ear tipped to indicate they have been spayed/neutered. Working cats are not suited to be indoor pets and, as unsocialized animals, they have no desire to be lap cats. What they need is a new rural outdoor home, such as a barn, stable, garage, or warehouse.

As former street cats who are used to outdoor life, working cats are not typical indoor pets and have no desire to be lap cats. However, what they lack in social skills they make up for when it comes to keeping vermin problems under control. For the small cost of a bowl of cat food and water daily, veterinary care and shelter, they’re ready to go to work.

How much does it cost to adopt a working cat?
The adoption fee is waived. You will be responsible for ongoing veterinary care (as necessary), food, water and shelter.
What do I do when I bring the cats home?
When you bring the new cat(s) home, they will need to be confined to an escape-proof room or enclosure like a tack room, garage, or XXL dog crate for 2-4 weeks while they acclimate to their new surroundings. You will feed/water and clean the litter pan daily and provide a hiding spot during the confinement period. After this period of confinement, the cats will usually accept their new home and may be released. You will continue to provide daily food and water and allow them access to shelter such as your barn or garage.
Are they all spayed or neutered?
Yes. All working cats come spayed or neutered, current on vaccinations, microchipped, ear tipped and treated for worms and fleas.
Will I be responsible for future vaccinations and health concerns?
Any cat you adopt from the Ontario SPCA and Humane Society will be current on vaccinations. Following adoption, you will be responsible for keeping vaccinations up to date and for monitoring the animal for any future health concerns that may come up. The best way to have feral cats vaccinated or examined by a veterinarian is with the use of a humane live trap.
Do you have any friendly working cats?
The cats in the working cat program are not social, friendly cats or suited to be pets. They have no desire to be “lap cats” and cannot be touched, or may take a very long time to become trusting enough to pet. We strongly encourage adopters to offer cats in this program an independent outdoor life complemented by appropriate care and shelter like a barn or garage. On occasion, we may have a semi-feral cat go through our program that needs a special home – if you are interested in taking on a more “social” cat, please indicate this on your application.
What do working cats require?
The cats require shelter in a permanent building or structure like a barn, warehouse, stable, or garage in a suitable area where they will be safe. The property should ideally be away from busy roads. Daily food and water must be provided, as well as any future medical care needed. The cats must also be kept confined for the initial 2 to 4-week relocation period to ensure a successful transition to their new home.
How long will it take to get my working cat(s) after I submit my application?
Unfortunately, because we never know when we will receive a feral cat for our program, and we try to match each cat to the most appropriate home, we cannot guarantee a time frame.
Can I come to look at, or select, my working cats?
No; the Ontario SPCA and Humane Society does its best in selecting working cats and matching them with their appropriate home based on the individual needs of each cat.
Do you adopt out working cats during the winter months?
If there is an appropriate shelter for the cat, we will adopt out cats during the winter months at our discretion.
What would happen if we brought our working cat home and it wasn’t the right fit?
We always do our best to match cats with the most appropriate home. However, until the cat settles into its new environment, we are unable to determine whether the relocation will be successful. If the cat isn’t adjusting well to its new surroundings, please contact us. If the cat needs to be brought back to us, we understand and will always accept the cat back into our care. We would also consider a request to adopt another working cat if this were the case.
Ready to adopt working cats?
Fill out the application here!
For more information, you may also contact us at workingcats@ospca.on.ca
Accessibility at the Ontario SPCA and Humane Society

In fulfilling our mission, the Ontario SPCA and Humane Society 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.

For comments and feedback regarding the way the Ontario SPCA provides goods and services to people with disabilities, or to request a copy of our Customer Service Policy, email our Human Resources department at hr@ontariospca.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.

Ontario SPCA and Humane Society multi-year accessibility plan
This 2014-2021 accessibility plan outlines the policies and actions that the Ontario SPCA and Humane Society 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 an 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 and Humane Society 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 and Humane Society 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.

The Ontario SPCA and Humane Society will provide training to employees, volunteers, and other team 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. We will take the following steps to make sure existing feedback processes are available to people with disabilities upon request 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 and Humane Society 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.
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 inquiries will be accepted through written (email or letter) or verbal (telephone) or other formats if this does not meet the needs of an individual.
– A response will be provided within 10 working days of the request using the requested format.


Thank you so much for all you do

Thank you so much for all you do every day to rescue animals in need. I can’t imagine the terrible situations that you see every day.  It is great that you have the heart to help. Keep up the good work.