National hotline

National Animal Cruelty and Neglect Hotline Needed, Advocates Say

Ontario has some of the toughest penalties for animal abuse and neglect in the country.

“Most people love animals and in particular we want to intervene when we see someone harming an animal,” says Dr Kendra Coulter.

Coulter, a professor at Huron University College at Western and a fellow at the Oxford Center for Animal Ethics, believes there is a need to clarify how people report animal abuse and neglect nationally.

“Who to call can be quite confusing across Canada can vary by type of animal, time of day, time of week,” says Coulter. “And that’s because there’s a cross-section of different organizations that will be responsible for responding.”

Ontario made sweeping changes in 2020 to how animal abuse is reported and investigated, centralizing reporting and investigation responsibilities.

“Before 2020 it was the SPCA that enforced cruelty and negligence laws, then on January 1, 2020 the review was transferred to the Ministry of the Solicitor General,” says Kent Lattanzio, director of operations of the London Animal Care Centre.

Coulter agrees, but thinks this model needs to grow.

“The Ontario model of having a dedicated provincial team is a solid and appropriate solution for the province, because the principle is that there will be equitable service regardless of the community and it is funded by the government, because it it’s a kind of law enforcement.

London Animal Care Center officers report suspicious behavior during rule breach investigations

“There are no immediate incidents of cruelty, but they might notice an animal being neglected, and our officers will contact the department and say, hey, that’s what we noticed. Could you, s ‘please take a look at it?’” said Lattanzio.

“We want animals to have the protections given to them by law,” adds Coulter.

You can visit the The Solicitor General’s page to learn more about how to report animal abuse and neglect.