Animal Protection Services



Ontario SPCA investigators may enforce any law pertaining to the prevention of cruelty to, and the welfare of, animals. This includes legislation pertaining to animals within the Criminal Code of Canada the principal tool used by investigators to bring cases of extreme cruelty and neglect to court; the Ontario SPCA Act  the provincial legislation that gives Ontario SPCA investigators their policing powers to act on reported instances of animal cruelty.


What is Animal Cruelty?

Animal cruelty generally falls into two categories: neglect, or intentional cruelty. Neglect is the failure to provide adequate water, food, shelter, or necessary care. Examples of neglect include: starvation; dehydration; inadequate shelter; parasite infestations; failure to seek veterinary care when an animal is in need of medical attention; allowing a collar to grow into an animal’s skin; confinement without adequate light, ventilation, space or in unsanitary conditions; and failure to trim hoofs or nails resulting in excessive growth (e.g. hoofs curling upwards). In some cases neglect is a result of the owner’s ignorance, and can be rectified by law enforcement authorities, like the Ontario SPCA, educating the owner and issuing orders to improve the animal’s living conditions.

If an owner fails to make the required changes, Ontario SPCA investigators can remove the animal to ensure they receive the necessary care. In cases where the owner no longer wants responsibility for the animal, the owner may surrender ownership to the Ontario SPCA or an affiliated Humane Society. In more severe cases, circumstances may require the Ontario SPCA, affiliated humane societies, or other law enforcement authorities to remove the animals immediately to provide urgent medical care.

Equally disturbing as neglect is the brutality of intentional cruelty, involving deliberate physical harm or injury inflicted on an animal. Regretfully, cases of animals being beaten, burned, poisoned or stabbed to death are not uncommon.
In some cases neglect or cruelty is the result of people using animals as tools for commercial profit, such as in the cases of puppy mills, dog fighting, cock fighting and illegal slaughterhouses.


How to Recognize Animal Cruelty

Look for these common signs of neglect or intentional cruelty witnessed by Ontario SPCA investigators:

  • Wounds on the body.
  • Severely overgrown nails (often curling under) or hooves (often curling upwards).
  • Patches of missing hair.
  • Extremely thin, starving animals with ribs or backbone protruding.
  • Infected eyes that have been left untreated.
  • Limping.
  • Animals who are repeatedly left alone without food and water. Often they are chained up in a yard.
  • Animals who have been hit by cars and have not received veterinary attention.
  • Animals who are kept outside without shelter in extreme weather conditions. Tropical birds especially cannot tolerate cold temperatures.
  • An owner kicking, hitting or physically abusing an animal.
  • Animals who cower fearfully or act aggressively when their owners approach.
  • Severe flea or tick infestations left untreated.
  • Animals left in a car on a hot or cold day.
  • Animals crammed into tiny cages in overcrowded conditions.
  • Abandonment (often when pet owners move or by unprofitable farmers).
  • Reptiles with dull, darkened skin, tremors, gaping mouth and excessive saliva, or experiencing difficulty climbing.
  • Aquatic and amphibious creatures kept in tanks with murky water.
  • Illegal trapping of wild animals or animals left for extended periods in traps.
  • Excessive scratching of the head area, shaking of the head and dirt or discharge in ears indicative of a possible ear infection.
  • Chronic diarrhea or vomiting.
  • Animals kept in dirty conditions including being forced to stand in their own urine and excrement.
  • Swellings, such as tumors or abscesses, left untreated.
  • Rabbits with a severe head tilt.
  • Slaughter by untrained individuals.


Reporting Animal Cruelty

The Ontario SPCA investigators provide frontline protection for animals across Ontario by responding to nearly 16,000 animal cruelty complaints each year and rescuing injured, abandoned and abused animals.

Empowered by the Ontario SPCA Act, Inspectors and Agents relieve animal suffering and distress by issuing orders, removing animals and laying charges under the Criminal Code of Canada and the Ontario SPCA Act where circumstances warrant. Under the Act, Inspectors and Agents have the same authority as police officers when enforcing animal-cruelty laws.

The Ontario SPCA operates on a complaints basis. This means that you can help animals by being aware of at-risk animals in your community and by reporting cases of suspected animal cruelty to your nearest Ontario SPCA Community, police, Crime Stoppers or police.

Help the investigating officer by providing as many details as possible, including the type of cruelty witnessed, the date of the incident, where it took place, and who was involved. All information remains confidential.


Who to Call

To report suspected animal abuse in Brantford or Brant County, please contact us directly at (519) 756-6620 or the Ontario SPCA at

310-SPCA (7722), 1-888-668-7722 ext. 327, or email, or contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).


The information provided in this section is compiled from the Investigations section of the Ontario SPCA website

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