On January 2, 2019, a decision was made in Superior Court which will impact the enforcement of provincial animal welfare legislation in Ontario.
In the case of Bogaerts vs the Attorney General of Ontario, the court has ruled that it is unconstitutional for the Government of Ontario to permit a charity to provide enforcement of welfare legislation. The ruling has been suspended for a one year period to allow the Government of Ontario time to determine how they would like to proceed with animal welfare enforcement across the province.
In statement online, the Ontario SPCA said:
“The Ontario SPCA respects the decision of the court. This is an issue for the Government of Ontario to address. The Ontario SPCA will continue to provide animal protection services while the government determines how they wish to proceed. Should you have a concern for the welfare of an animal, call 310-SPCA (7722) and we will respond accordingly.
“The Ontario SPCA remains committed to our mission of protecting and preventing cruelty to animals. As a charity, the Ontario SPCA provides a variety of mission-based programs and resources focused on providing for animal welfare including community-based sheltering, shelter health and wellness, high-volume spay/neuter services, animal rescue, animal advocacy, Indigenous partnership programs and humane education.”
Following the announcement, Brian Shiller, general counsel to The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, released a letter to help clarify the decision. In it, he says there was “no allegation that the Ontario SPCA was at fault for anything regarding the subject-matter of the application and the court did not criticize any conduct on the part of the Ontario SPCA in its administration of the Ontario SPCA Act.”
He continued, “The Ontario SPCA has never rejected the idea of provincial oversight and is prepared to consider any reasonable options put to it by the province to continue its animal protection work.”
Click here to read the letter in its entirety.