Ministry of the
Solicitor General

About animal welfare

Animal welfare

Cruelty to any animal is not tolerated in Ontario.

If you believe that an animal is in distress, or to report suspected animal abuse:

The OSPCA is an independent, charitable organization that enforces animal welfare laws in Ontario. The OSPCA also receives annual funding from the province to support its enforcement of animal welfare laws.

It is an offence to:

  • cause or permit distress to an animal
  • cause harm to a law enforcement animal
  • train or permit animals to fight other animals
  • own or possess equipment or structures used in animal fighting
  • fail to comply with standards of care applicable to most animals
  • obstruct an OSPCA inspector or agent

Ontario has basic standards of care that apply to most animals to ensure they have:

  • adequate food and water
  • general and medical care
  • adequate environmental and social living conditions
  • protection from harm
  • humane treatment

Ontario also has additional standards of care for animals in unique circumstances like dogs that live outdoors and marine mammals such as cetaceans (whales, dolphins, porpoises), pinnipeds (walruses, sea lions) and sea otters. In addition, it is prohibited to buy and breed orcas (also known as killer whales) in Ontario.

Violating these laws can result in sentences that may include up to two years in jail, fines of up to $60,000, and a lifetime ban on animal ownership, as well as other penalties.

Our goal is to ensure that Ontario’s animals are protected and treated in the humane manner that the people of Ontario expect.

Animal Care Review Board

The Animal Care Review Board hears appeals from individuals whose animals have been seized or who have been issued orders by the OSPCA.

Related legislation