Canada's first-ever sector report on humane societies and SPCAs exposes under-funding

OTTAWA, Oct. 13, 2016 /CNW/ - For the first time ever, we have a clear picture of Canada's sector of humane societies and SPCAs, thanks to a new national report just released by the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS).

"Our humane societies and SPCAs take on the lion's share of the work of caring for and protecting our most vulnerable animals – including sheltering, humane education, advocacy, public outreach and law enforcement," says Barbara Cartwright, CEO of CFHS. "Across the country, our sector investigated an estimated 103,000 cruelty complaints in 2014, and this report reveals some hard truths about the struggles we are facing – particularly when it comes to funding. Humane societies and SPCAs are the only organizations responsible for law enforcement that are so drastically underfunded."

In Canada, only a small handful of agencies and organizations are empowered to enforce the law. Chief among them are municipal police, provincial police and the RCMP. But there are also specialists in this country who, by virtue of their expertise, are mandated to enforce certain laws and regulations – like the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Canada's humane societies and SPCAs.

In seven of 13 provinces and territories (Alberta, BC, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, PEI and Quebec), humane societies and SPCAs have the responsibility of enforcing provincial and federal animal cruelty laws. Unlike police, humane societies and SPCAs are underfunded by the government to carry out their duties under the law. Despite this, they are still expected to stay on top of the avalanche of demand from the community while seeking donations from the public in order to do the work.

"In order to protect animals and our communities, we need an engaged government, a committed public and well-funded humane societies and SPCAs," says Cartwright. "All levels of government must step up their support to improve the picture for animals in Canada – the federal government in particular."

Copies of Humane Societies and SPCAs in Canada: A comprehensive look at the sector and high resolution graphics are available to the media upon request.


  • More than 40% of Canada's humane societies and SPCAs are empowered to enforce provincial and federal animal protection and cruelty legislation.
  • CFHS estimates that 103,000 investigations were carried out by Canada's humane societies and SPCAs in 2014.
  • Less than 50% of the costs of enforcing provincial or federal animal cruelty legislation are covered by government funding despite our mandate to enforce the law.
  • 45% of the total sector revenue of $187.8 million comes directly from donations, of which 85% is contributed by individual donors. The result is that the responsibility of protecting animals in Canadian society is falling mainly to individual donors and the charities they support.
  • 93% of Canada's humane societies and SPCAs operate animal shelters. In 2014, these organizations spent an estimated $118.4 million sheltering more than 278,000 animals.
  • 67% of responding Humane Societies and SPCAs deliver humane education programs in their communities.
  • Canada's 125 humane societies and SPCAs employ close to 2,000 staff, supported by an estimated 26,000 volunteers.

Canada's sector of humane society and SPCAs consists of 125 charitable organizations located in every province and territory that are dedicated to animal sheltering, animal protection and enforcement, humane education and advocacy.

As the national voice for animal welfare, CFHS represents humane societies and SPCAs across Canada, driving positive, progressive change to end animal cruelty, improve animal protection and promote the humane treatment of all animals.

Humane Societies and SPCAs in Canada: A comprehensive look at the sector was prepared by the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS). This ground-breaking report provides the first comprehensive analysis of the Canadian sector as a whole. In this report, CFHS has identified key attributes of Canada's humane societies and SPCAs, based on the most recent data available. We analyze their contributions to Canadian society, the volunteer and financial support they receive and some of the challenges they face.

This report was funded by CFHS, a major donor and five of our member societies. We thank Animal Welfare Agency South Central Ontario (AWASCO), British Columbia SPCA, Montreal SPCA, Ottawa Humane Society and Toronto Humane Society in helping to make this report possible.


SOURCE Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS)

For further information: For media interviews, contact: Luna Allison, Communications and Marketing Manager, Canadian Federation of Humane Societies,, 613-224-8072 ext. 12


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