Cruelty Laws

The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act is the law in Ontario governing animal welfare law enforcement. That Act gives the government’s Chief Inspector the authority to appoint humane societies to investigate animal cruelty.  The Windsor/Essex County Humane Society’s animal protection team investigates approximately 800-1000 animal welfare concerns every year.  The government of Ontario is working to create a new animal welfare act, but at present you can continue to report suspected cruelty, neglect, or abuse of an animal to us, and an inspector will investigate.

Our cruelty investigations work is supported by donations from our community, and we appreciate what you do to make it possible. Please note that while the Act references the Ontario SPCA, the OSPCA (a separate organization from the Windsor/ Essex County Humane Society) has withdrawn from the Act’s enforcement in Ontario.   

Under the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act:

1.0 In this 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, deprivation or neglect; (“detresse”).

Inspectors and Agents to Have Power of Police Officer
11.0 (1) For the purpose of the enforcement of this or any other act or law in force in Ontario pertaining to the welfare of or prevention of cruelty to animals, every inspector and agent of the Society has and may exercise any of the powers of a police officer.

Standards of Care
11.1 (1) Every person who owns or has custody or care of an animal shall comply with the prescribed standards of care wtih respect to every animal that the person owns or has custody or care of. 2008, c. 16, s. 8.


Causing Distress
11.2 (1) No person shall cause an animal to be in distress. 2008, c. 16, s. 8.

Permitting Distress
11.2 (2) No owner or custodian of an animal shall permit the animal to be in distress. 2008, c. 16, s. 8.

Training, Permitting Animals to Fight
11.2 (3) No person shall train an animal to fight with another animal or permit an animal that the person owns or has custody or care of to fight another animal. 2008, c. 16, s. 8.

Owning Animal Fighting Equipment, Structures
11.2 (4) No person shall own or have possession of equipment or structures that are used in animal fights or in training animals to fight. 2008, c. 16, s. 8.

Harming Law Enforcement Animals
11.2 (5) No person shall harm or cause harm to a dog, horse or other animal that works with peace officers in the execution of their duties, whether or not the animal is working at the time of the harm. 2008, c. 16, s. 8.

Veterinarians’ Obligation to Report
11.3 Every veterinarian who has reasonable grounds to believe that an animal has been or is being abused or neglected shall report his or her belief to an inspector or an agent of the Society. 200, c. 16, s. 8.

Inspection – Placed Used for Animal Exhibit, Entertainment, Boarding, Hire or Sale
11.4 (1) 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. 200, c. 16, s. 8.

Under the Criminal Code of Canada
If the humane society or the police initiates a charge against someone, it does so in the name of the Crown and all evidence is presented to a Crown Attorney for prosecution.

Sections of the Criminal Code of Canada dealing with cruelty to animals are s.444, s.445, s.446, s.447.