Kendra Coulter, Associate Professor in Labour Studies, recently wrote pieces published in the Huffington Post and the Ottawa Citizen about the need for Ontario to improve enforcement of animal cruelty laws.
More than a week has passed since the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) shared the troubling news that it plans to move away from investigations into suspected animal cruelty that involve horses and farm animals. Understandably, people are upset and concerned. They are looking for answers — and leadership.
In Ontario, primary enforcement of animal cruelty laws is legally mandated to the OSPCA and its affiliate humane societies, which are charities. Around 70 officers investigate a staggering 16,000 complaints each year.
The Ontario government provides a small amount of funding for enforcement, but research I conducted with University of Windsor criminologist Amy Fitzgerald has found that the front-line animal cruelty investigations workforce is too small, stretched too thin and routinely works with inadequate resources, including for officer safety and communications (not to mention very low pay). Plus, as a charity, the OSPCA is not subject to the same level of oversight and accountability as police forces or other public agencies.