Ontario to Create ‘Special Investigations Unit’ for Animal Welfare

Addressing the press while at the High Park Zoo, the minister of community safety, Madeleine Meilleur, mentioned on Friday morning that the Ontario government has committed to disperse $5.5-million a year to the Ontario SPCA to create a “special investigations unit that will lead enforcement of zoos and aquariums and puppy and kitten mills.”

It was explained that OSPCA will also use the cash to form call centers that will work 24/7 to help enforce animal welfare rules. Additionally, it was announced that a voluntary registration regime will be set up for the 60 zoos and aquariums in Ontario.  Ms. Meilleur stated that “a fair and just society must protect the animals who live among us,” while llama and geese looked on from a pen behind her.  The chairperson of the Ontario SPCA, Rob Godfrey, later commented on the announcement, alleging that it is “a watershed moment. He alleged that “it is our job to protect those in our society who do not have a voice,” adding that “we will now have a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week call centre to take calls of abuse and neglect. It is this minister and this government that have taken the first step.”

Mr. Godfrey elucidated that OSPCA will be tasked to perform schedule inspections at zoos and aquariums twice a year. Additionally, he explained that surprise inspections will also be conducted. Ms. Meilleur said the province would establish standards of care for all marine mammals in captivity.

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