The organization hopes the ag ministry will take them over
By Diego Flammini
Ontario could see a change in the way livestock welfare investigations are handled.
The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) wants to distance itself from handling livestock cases and take more of a supporting role.
Funding shortages and financial losses have led the organization to suggest several changes, including having OMAFRA take over the primary duties for livestock cases.
The OSPCA’s expenses in 2017 were nearly $14 million, the organization’s 2017 financial report says. Its income was about $11.5 million, which was divided between donations and fundraising ($7 million), municipal contract fees ($2.4 million) and shelter and veterinary revenue ($2.1 million).
The OSPCA also receives about $5.75 million each year from the provincial government to set up infrastructure like a call centre and respond to animal cruelty tips. Under the OSPCA Act, the organization can lay provincial offence and criminal animal cruelty charges.
“One consideration includes restructuring our role in cases that occur with large animals in rural areas,” the organization said in a statement yesterday. “Our hope is to become a supporting agency to OMAFRA to provide urgent and ongoing care to animals while Ministry personnel focus on enforcing government legislation.”
OMAFRA doesn’t have the same enforcement authorities under the Act.
Producers have mixed views on the OSPCA’s proposal.
Doug Duffin, a beef producer from Middlesex County, would welcome the change.
“I think the OSPCA handling livestock investigations in the past has been a little tainted, so I think it would be an ideal time to start fresh with potentially new investigators,” he told Farms.com. “Some of the OSPCA officers have been overzealous in the past, so if we can reset a little bit, I think it would be a good thing for us.”
Other producers, like Brad Found, a hog farmer from Durham County, aren’t concerned about who carries out the investigations. Rather, he’s focused on how they’re performed.
“As long as the person doing the investigation is properly trained and understands how livestock is raised, there shouldn’t be an issue who does it,” he told Farms.com.
Found also stressed the need for a partnership between the investigators and industry groups.
“Whoever looks after these cases needs to work with livestock groups, as well as Farm and Food Care,” he said. “They need to use all of the available resources to make sure the investigation is conducted properly.”
Farms.com has reached out to OMAFRA for comment.
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