Changes announced by the OSPCA could result in a better run organization.

A press release from the 146-year-old service outlines a new model that would see the OSPCA work closely with law enforcement in a support role. This is a change from the investigative role held previously, where front-line OSPCA staff would investigate claims of animal cruelty and lay charges independently of the police.

A provincial court ruled in January that it is unconstitutional for the government to pass laws that give a private charity policing powers without oversight.  This decision is being appealed by the Ontario government.

At the end of the month, the investigating falls to local, provincial and federal law enforcement.

Daryl Vaillancourt is Chief of Humane Programs and Outreach for the OSPCA. He says the projected change will take a lot of pressure off his organization in the initial investigative stages.

“To help visualize it the Ontario Provincial Police as an example, they have I believe over 8,000 constables throughout the province,” he explains. “We’ve been relying on a little over 60 investigators and we’re actually calling that a provincial-wide service and that is not the case.”

Vaillancourt says day-to-day operations will not change drastically at the OSPCA as investigations were a small part of what the organization does.

“If you look at the OSPCA globally only 20 per cent of the business that we do on a daily basis is related to the investigative services,” he explains. “The other 80 per cent is the from the sheltering, the adoptions, the rehoming along with our Northern Dog Program, Animal Smart,  and we have spay-neuter clinics.”

If someone sees cruelty to an animal and wants to make a report, Vaillancourt says it will be business as usual until the end of March. He says they have offered a longer transitional program to the government that would take service to the end of June.

In that time period people can still contact the OSPCA with any animal cruelty complaints, but after March it will be local police taking the information and then calling in the newly named SPCA Enforcement Support Services as needed.

“So we are going to be able to be in a position to collect and process forensic evidence, we will be able to build cases against animal abusers and onsite support for the animals,” says Vaillancourt.

He also stresses that at the current time, no lay-offs are anticipated, meaning all those working out of the Bracebridge OSPCA will continue in their roles.  Investigations in Parry Sound were overseen by the Muskoka division of the organization.