Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services :: About Animal Welfare

Animal Welfare

Improved Animal Welfare

The Provincial Animal Welfare Act, came into force on March 1, 2009. This Act significantly updates the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, and marks the first wide-ranging changes to Ontario’s animal protection laws since 1919.

Changes include:

New Protection and Investigation Powers

The new Act:

  • Creates standards of care for all animals.
  • Gives the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) the authority to inspect premises , other than homes, where animals are kept for the purposes of exhibit, entertainment, boarding, sale or hire.
  • Allows the OSPCA to seize dead animal remains or take samples for an investigation.
  • Establishes the right for the Society to keep a seized animal when charges have been laid and where there are reasonable grounds to believe the animal may be harmed if returned to its owner.

New Provincial Offences

  • Causing or permitting distress to an animal.
  • Causing harm to a law enforcement service animal.
  • Training or allowing animals to fight other animals, or owning or possessing equipment or structures used in animal fighting.
  • Failing to comply with standards of care for all animals.
  • Obstructing an OSPCA inspector or agent.
  • Making a knowingly false complaint to the OSPCA.
  • Failing to comply with an Animal Care Review Board decision.

Stronger Penalties

  • Creates suitable penalties for the new offences including jail of up to two years, fines of up to $60,000 and a potential lifetime ownership ban.

Protection of Existing Practices

  • Makes exceptions for hunting and fishing, farming, and veterinary practices

Mandatory Reporting

Requires veterinarians to report suspected animal abuse or neglect and protecting them from personal liability for doing so.

Clarification of Existing Legislation

  • States that an adult is responsible where a minor “owns” an animal and clarifies personal responsibility where an organization or commercial entity owns an animal.
  • Clarifies the OSPCA’s ability to enter premises, other than homes, without a warrant, when they have reasonable grounds to believe an animal is in immediate distress.
  • Clarifies that an OSPCA order remains in force while it is being appealed to the Animal Care Review Board.
  • Allows the Animal Care Review Board to award costs of interim animal care, or the costs of complying with an order, to either party involved in an appeal.

Coordination with Municipal Authority

  • In the event of a conflict between the OSPCA Act and a municipal by-law, whichever provision affords the greatest protection to animals would take precedence.

Forms related to the amended OSPCA Act

Form 1 - Information to Obtain Warrant (Animal In Distress)

Form 2 - Warrant (Animal In Distress)

Form 3 - Information to Obtain Warrant (Enter and Inspect)

Form 4 - Warrant (Enter and Inspect)

Form 5 - Information to Obtain Telewarrant (Animal In Distress)

Form 6 - Telewarrant (Animal In Distress)

Form 7 - Information to Obtain Order To Keep Animal

Form 8 - Order to Keep Animal

Form 9 - Order to Return Animal

Form 10 - Application For Order to Return Animal

Form 11 - Report to a Judge or a Justice of the Peace

Form 11A - Application For Order Of Disposition

Form 12 - Application For Prohibition Order (Animals)

Form 13 – Restitution Order

Form 14 - General Order