Cruelty Laws

The Ontario SPCA (OSPCA) is the provincial body responsible for the administration of the Ontario SPCA Act. That Act gives humane societies the authority to investigate animal cruelty. The Windsor/Essex County Humane Society is affiliated with the OSPCA; this affiliation gives our cruelty officers the authority under the Act to investigate cases of animal cruelty. Both we and the OSPCA are separate registered charities and we each govern our own operations. 

While you may have heard that there are changes to the responsibility for investigations in Ontario coming, please note that the Ontario SPCA has extended the provision of these services by the OSPCA and affiliates until the end of June 2019.  Until that time, you can continue to report suspected cruelty, neglect, or abuse of an animal to us, and an officer will investigate.

Our cruelty investigations work is supported by donations from our community, and we appreciate what you do to make it possible.

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”).

3.0 The object of the Society is to facilitate and provide for the prevention of cruelty to animals and their protection and relief therefrom.

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.

Inspectors and Agents of Affiliates
11.0 (2) Every inspector and agent of an affiliated society who has been approved by the Society may exercise any of the powers of an inspector or agent of the Society under this Act.

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 Ontario SPCA, 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.

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