A Brock University Labour Studies professor and internationally recognized researcher on animal welfare issues said a Monday announcement leaves the handling of animal-related investigations at a crossroads.
The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals sent a letter to Ontario Community Safety Minister Sylvia Jones Monday saying it would not renew its contract to provide animal welfare investigation and enforcement services in the province.
The current contract expires at the end of this month, and OSPCA CEO Kate MacDonald and Board chair Catherine MacNeill wrote that the organization would limit its role in investigations to providing animal shelter, forensic evidence collection and veterinary services.
Brock Professor Kendra Coulter, Chancellor’s Chair for Research Excellence and Chair of the Labour Studies Department, says the OSPCA’s decision “will have an unprecedented impact on animal well-being in the province.”
“At this juncture, there are a number of paths the government could take, and a pressing need for clarity and thoughtful leadership,” says Coulter, who has been studying the OSPCA and different approaches to animal cruelty investigations since 2015. “Enforcement could get better or it could get worse, depending on how the provincial government responds.”
In 2016, Coulter released a study which concluded that OSPCA enforcement officers are underequipped compared to their police service counterparts and face many instances of disrespect on the job.