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Animal Cruelty Hotline:

1-855-622-7722

For all other calls and inquiries
see our contact details.

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Questions about the BC SPCA help topics


Questions about the BC SPCA

The BC SPCA has a legal obligation to provide animal guardians with “an opportunity to relieve the animal’s distress.”

The objective of every investigation is to relieve and prevent the distress of an animal through education, cooperation and, if necessary, prosecution under the law.

Initially, an investigator may issue notices to a guardian that he must seek medical attention for his animal. Notices can also apply to an animal’s environment, such as building a raised and insulated shelter.

The investigator will give the animal guardian a time-frame for compliance, and if he or she fails to comply with notices, the investigator can either issue further notices allowing the guardian more time, or apply for a search warrant to seize the animal.

Acting under the law, the BC SPCA is not empowered to remove animals from private property without a search warrant unless those animals would not survive without immediate medical intervention.

Animals may be lacking adequate food, shelter and veterinary care, or even be sick and in pain, but unless they are in immediate danger of dying they are not in critical distress under the law.

Sad tethered up dog on a chain in a wooden kennel

Yes, some school programs will give you credit for volunteering with the BC SPCA.

Practicums at Wild ARC are available for university and professional training credits.

Practicums at the Vancouver Branch are also available to university students if registered through the University of British Columbia.

High-school work experience may also be available at your local BC SPCA branch. Contact them directly for details.

Veterinary and registered animal health technologist externships may also be available at certain BC SPCA Hospitals and Clinics. Contact them directly for details.

CFHS logoWe play an active role on national animal welfare issues as a member society of the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS). CFHS is the largest national animal welfare organization in Canada, representing more than 50 humane societies and SPCAs across the country. CFHS works to create a humane Canada by implementing solution-based strategies to end animal cruelty and improve animal protection.

The BC SPCA does not euthanize healthy companion animals entering our shelters. All medically and behaviourally healthy animals are placed in adoptive homes.

Every year we also take in thousands of animals suffering from physical and behavioural problems. We treat them and find them homes as well. Most animals are treatable.

We do not place a time limit on how long an adoptable animal can stay in one of our shelters. However, our goal is always to get animals into homes as soon as possible.

If an animal is being overlooked in one of our shelters, we will transfer them to a different branch to provide the best opportunities for adoption. Learn more about the Drive for Lives program.

A happy smiling dog with tongue out

Our euthanasia statistics

We euthanize fewer than 10% of the companion animals entering BC SPCA shelters yearly.

Our guidelines for determining treatability and adoptability are public: Asilomar & Adoptability Guidelines (PDF). As part of our commitment to transparency, we report annual euthanasia numbers using the Asilomar Annual Report. View our 2016 Asilomar Annual Report (PDF).

So… when would you euthanize an animal?

If an animal is suffering from a mental or physical illness or behavioural problem that cannot be treated in the shelter, or an illness that poses a serious public health or public safety concern, the animal may be euthanized.

Our community outlook

We believe that we are part of a larger community responsibility for companion animals. We are grateful to our supporters and adopters who open their hearts and their homes to help us place animals with medical and behavioural challenges. Over time, we hope to build resources so that we can help even more of these animals.

So… are you or aren’t you a no-kill sheltering organization?

The definition and use of the term “no-kill” are controversial. Some consider any shelter with a live release rate of over 90% to be “no-kill.” Our live release rate is over 90%, however, we do not use this term because we believe it divides animal welfare organizations. We do not believe it is useful or scientific in promoting shelter practices that best meet animal welfare standards. The term “no-kill” is best used to describe community goals, and not to describe individual shelters within a community.

Happy cat lying down getting a chin scratch

To adopt a pig or any other animal from the BC SPCA, please visit our adoptions page. But before you adopt a pig, please consider the diversity of pig needs, which are much different from the needs of a pet dog or cat. For example:

  • How big should you expect a mini, micro or teacup pig to actually grow?
  • cute pigletWhat kind of manners do pigs have – how do they behave?
  • Are pigs compatible with other pets?
  • What do pigs eat?
  • Who will be your pig’s vet, and does your local vet accept pig patients?
  • Should you get a pet pig spayed or neutered?
  • What type of house-training is required?
  • What costs are involved?

Get the answer to these and other important questions on our pet pig information page.

To adopt a chicken or any other animal from the BC SPCA, please visit our adoptions page. But before you decide to raise your own backyard chickens, please consider the following:

  • Does your municipality allow the keeping of backyard chickens?
  • What do chickens eat? What should you feed to chickens?
  • Do you have access to suitable veterinary care in your community?
  • What do you plan to do with your chickens once they stop laying eggs?
  • How will you protect your chickens from bad weather and natural predators?
  • What are you going to do with all that chicken poo?
  • What are the risks associated with owning chickens?
  • How do you transport a chicken? Do you know how to humanely catch a chicken?

Get the answer to these and other important questions on our urban chickens information page.

A farm must first be certified in the SPCA Certified program in order to be allowed to use the SPCA Certified label (the little red barn logo and claim statement) on certified food products. To become certified, the farm must undergo an annual on-farm assessment and third-party review to ensure compliance with SPCA Certified program standards (i.e. the program requirements).

BC SPCA Certified ProgramThe Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has approved use of the SPCA Certified label by SPCA Certified farmers on their certified products. However, certified farmers are not required to use the label, and some of them choose not to for various reasons.

The BC SPCA continues to work with SPCA Certified farmers to incorporate the program label on their certified product packaging, and continues to assist them in promoting their products via other channels (e.g. farm signs, websites).

To ensure the highest animal welfare standards are being met on farm, your best bet is to ask for, and look for, the SPCA Certified label on food products.

Get a list of current SPCA Certified farms or find a retail location near you.

BC SPCA Certified Program The SPCA Certified program is a farm animal welfare certification program developed by the BC SPCA to improve the lives of animals raised on farms in Canada. If you can’t find SPCA Certified foods in your area, below is a quick guide on what labels you can look for instead, and what each label means.

Feel free to print and distribute our egg labelling brochure (PDF), our egg label poster (PDF) and our dairy and meat labelling brochure (PDF).

Best:

Certifications such as SPCA Certified, Animal Welfare Approved (AWA), Global Animal Partnership (GAP) and Certified Organic are audited by a third-party to verify the farmer is raising the animals to a higher standard of animal welfare than what is commonly accepted in the farming industry. Third-party certifications ensure you get what you pay for when it comes to animal care standards.

  • SPCA Certified: Animals must be free from confinement housing (raised as free-run or free-range). Painful practices are limited or eliminated. Enrichment in the animals’ environment allows the animal to perform positive natural behaviours (e.g. rooting, grooming, play, exercise). SPCA Certified has been reviewed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and permitted for use on food packaging and marketing materials in Canada.
  • Animal Welfare Approved (AWA): Animals must be free from confinement housing, have outdoor access and the ability to engage in natural behaviours.
  • Global Animal Partnership (GAP): A 5-step animal welfare rating program. Higher steps require farms to meet strict welfare standards. Lower steps (1-2) facilitate transition of conventional farms, but allow harmful practices as a result.
  • Certified Organic: Includes some animal welfare provisions, such as free-range requirements.

Find SPCA Certified retailers near you!

Good:

Labels like free-run, free-range and pasture-raised are not third-party certified; however, they do include higher animal welfare standards.

  • Cage-free (PDF):The animals were not housed in cages. Usually applies to egg-laying chickens or eggs, but may also apply to pigs or pork (sometimes called ‘crate-free’ or ‘stall-free’ for pork).
  • Free-run: Cage-free, indoor housing. Only applicable to egg-laying hens. Not applicable to turkeys or broiler chickens (raised for meat), as all Canadian turkeys and broiler chickens are raised free-run unless the label says free-range or organic (both of which are also cage-free). Not applicable to pork as only the parent pigs are housed in crates or stalls, not the young pigs sent to slaughter for meat.
  • Free-range: Cage-free with some outdoor access, weather permitting. The quality of the outdoor environment for grazing or foraging is not guaranteed. If you see this label on pork, be sure to ask whether the parent pigs are housed in stalls (crates), or if they are allowed to roam around outside too.
  • Pasture-raised: Cage-free with access to a seeded outdoor pasture, weather permitting.
  • Grass-fed, or grass-fed and finished: Animals usually have access to pasture and a diet made up of grass and forage. If you see the grass-fed (PDF) label used on beef or sheep products, be sure to ask if it was also grass-finished. Some animals are initially raised on pasture, then sent to a crowded dirt feedlot for finishing on grain, which can lead to a host of other animal welfare problems.

Avoid:

Avoid claims that imply animal welfare benefits but actually provide little or no improvements, and no certification to verify the claim.

These labels include: Animal Care Certified, enriched colony, Comfort Coop, nest-laid, animal-friendly, country fresh, naturally raised, non-medicated, raised without antibiotics (PDF) (or antibiotic-free), raised without the use of hormones (or hormone-free), vegetable-fed, grain-fed and Born-3.

These claims have no verification, certification or proof behind their labels but allude to improvements in animal welfare. When in doubt, always choose a third-party certified food product.

To give adopters more adoption locations and to help more animals find their forever homes, the BC SPCA partners with local pet retailers and veterinary clinics that host offsite adoption centres.

Offsite adoption centres are a great option for people that are not comfortable with visiting a shelter. View a list of our adoption partner locations.

Veterinary clinics or other retailers interested in becoming an BC SPCA satellite adoption site are invited to call the BC SPCA at 604-681-7271.

If you are looking for a furry friend to adopt, search our online database of adoptable animals.

Fluffy cute cat looking up into the camera lens

kids playing board gameKids ages 7 to 12 are welcome to celebrate their birthday at these select BC SPCA locations: Kelowna, Maple Ridge, Nanaimo, Port Coquitlam, Richmond, Surrey and Victoria.

Looking to host an animal-themed birthday party at home? Check out our Pinterest page for ideas!

No, buying an animal you have never seen in person can be dangerous (PDF). In pictures and descriptions, the animal might appear to be cute, happy and healthy. However, once you’ve exchanged money and the animal is shipped to you, you might be in trouble – search for animals to adopt from your local BC SPCA shelter instead.

Curious cute black puppy dog lying on carpet indoors next to a basket

Issues related to buying an animal you’ve never met

  • The animal might not be socialized to people or could have behaviour problems. This means they could bite or scratch and might never enjoy your company!
  • An animal that looks healthy can be deceiving. They could have worms, parasites or even genetic diseases (PDF) with high costs and long-term heartache.
  • What if the animal isn’t a good fit with you and your family? Are you prepared to put them through the process of being returned? What would you do instead?

puppy in pet store cage

If you’re buying from a rescue, make sure you meet the animal in person – even if you have to drive for many hours to do so. Ask the rescue some key questions to make sure this animal is a good fit for you and your family.

If you’re buying from a breeder, visit the breeder’s home and facility. Do not trust pictures or scans of documents, these can easily be falsely created.

Read our position on the sale of pets from pet stores (PDF).

Puppy dog looking sad behind a gate cage

What are the concerns with buying from a pet store?

  • You don’t know where the animals came from. What if they were living in filth and their mothers were abused or neglected? They might have costly genetic (PDF), health and behaviour problems their entire lives. Learn more about good and bad breeders.
  • Many stores carry animals that they have no expertise or knowledge to care for. These animals are not given the Five Freedoms. Many just want a safe place to hide and rest and enough space and things to do. Often, cramped housing conditions don’t meet even their most basic needs.
  • When animals are transported to the pet store, they are often in cramped containers. Many animals, especially small animals like fish and gerbils, will die during transport.
  • If you buy from a pet store, you are creating a space for another animal to be brought in, continuing a cycle of pain and suffering.

What happens to pet store animals who aren’t sold?

Just like with inventory in retail, animals go on sale. If the animal is marked down and no one purchases her, the store may give the animal away or try to return her to the breeder. After a very low cost sale of an animal that has high care costs, the store will think twice and will not purchase another, be it a puppy, turtle or gecko.

Cute rat in cage with hands over bars looking over opening of cage

Are you worried about the well-being of an animal you saw in a pet store?

If you believe an animal you have seen may be in distress, call the BC SPCA Provincial Call Centre at 1-855-622-7722.

The BC SPCA does not certify or recommend rescue groups.

What makes a shelter or rescue reputable?

They assess the animal’s behaviour

  • An adoption matching process helps to ensure the animal is the right match for you and your lifestyle.
  • The animal has had a behavioural assessment or close behaviour monitoring to learn about what they need and identify any behavioural problems. They can provide a record of it.
  • Ideally, they know if the animal is a good fit for a household with cats, dogs and young children.

They consider the animal’s health

  • The rescue provides adequate veterinary care prior to your adoption. You should expect a cat or dog to be spayed or neutered, vaccinated, de-wormed and given permanent identification. Rabbits should be spayed or neutered.
  • Health and medical records provided show an ongoing relationships with a veterinarian or veterinarians.
  • The rescue does not exceed its capacity to provide humane care for animals. All animals receive proper care, cleaning, feeding, exercise and enrichment.
  • Housing for the animals is clean and sanitary, with space to move around and act naturally.

They address the adopter’s concerns

  • A return policy states they are willing to accept the animal back at any time if the adoption does not work out and this is clearly written somewhere.
  • The rescue is transparent about medical and behavioural problems and expected future needs.

Questions to ask before you foster or adopt an animal through a rescue

  1. What is the animal’s history?
  2. What are his or her medical and behavioural issues? Does he or she have separation anxiety or aggression?
  3. Is the animal house trained?
  4. What happens if it doesn’t work out?

If the animal is from another country, ask what diseases and parasites he or she has been tested for. Be sure to reach out to a veterinarian and discuss the risks for the animal itself and the animals they might come in contact with in your home or in public.

If fostering, ask:

  • How long am I expected to foster for?
  • What do you provide and what am I expected to pay for?
  • What do I do if there is a medical emergency? If I have a problem, who do I contact?

The BC SPCA believes that all animals should enjoy, as a minimum, five essential freedoms, which were first described by the Farm Animal Welfare Council of the UK:

  1. Freedom from hunger and thirst
  2. Freedom from pain, injury and disease
  3. Freedom from distress
  4. Freedom from discomfort
  5. Freedom to express behaviours that promote well-being

Happy mixed breed dog lying down being pet by smiling woman

What does animal welfare mean?

The BC SPCA is an animal welfare organization, which means we believe the use of animals for human purposes is justified as long as their welfare is ensured. Animal Welfare means an animal’s quality of life, and it is affected by animals’ physical health and the feelings they experience.

Animals experience good welfare when they are able to experience positive feelings (arising from pleasurable activities and the fulfillment of behavioural needs) and when they are free from poor physical health and negative feelings (such as pain, discomfort, hunger, thirst, fear and frustration).

Animals that are healthy, pain-free, comfortable and unstressed are said to have good welfare.

Close up shot of cute wild common barn owl with sideways tilted head

Dairy products have presented a challenge to our SPCA Certified program because of the way milk is collected. A bulk milk truck collects milk from many farms, pooling (combining) all of the milk into the same tank before bringing it to the processor where it may be pooled again before packaging. In addition, the processor does not have control over which farm’s milk it receives.

SPCA Certified logoUnder this system, dairy products from certified and non-certified farms cannot be distinguished, and therefore, cannot be labeled as SPCA Certified.

To solve this issue, a number of farms need to sign on to a program and work with a milk processor and the BC Milk Marketing Board to implement a system where specific tanker trucks are designated to pick up milk from certified farms.

To jump start this, consumers need to ask for a specialty milk product (like SPCA Certified), giving the processor reason to initiate the discussion with the Milk Marketing Board and the farmers.

This happened with organic dairy products, which is the reason you see more of them in the grocery store. Organic dairy producers have their own milk trucks to prevent mixing of organic milk with non-organic milk, but again, the truck collects milk from many organic farms before emptying the tank.

SPCA Certified farmers want to be able to label their milk and other dairy products as such, but since it can’t be separated from the other non-SPCA-Certified milk, it is not possible unless the farmer processes his/her own milk into fluid milk products, cheeses, butter, etc. To date, the dairy industry has not been willing to designate separate trucks to only a few SPCA Certified dairy farms. So, to produce SPCA Certified labelled milk and other dairy products, we would need to certify a larger group of producers whose milk would go into the same truck.

Another challenge is the requirement that all SPCA Certified dairy cattle have access to pasture or a deep bedded pack, because many dairy farms currently are not set up that way. The large majority of non-organic dairy farms do not let their cows outside, nor do they have any pasture land or barns that can accommodate a bedded pack. Only organic dairy farms are required to let their cows outside, and even then, it doesn’t have to be every day. Some organic dairy cows are still housed tied up in stalls.

The SPCA Certified program has contacted the organic dairy industry to determine the level of interest in having organic cattle become SPCA Certified as well, since they are already collecting organic milk with separate tanker trucks. To date, there has been no success in these efforts.

Food from farms certified for animal welfare practices are a niche market that a pooled milk system is not set up for. Until we can find a way to keep certified milk separate (like they do with organic milk), the system is better suited to cheeses, yogurts and other dairy products that can be processed separately and do not need to be pooled together.

We are sorry to hear that your adopted animal is not working out. Please don’t feel bad!

Please contact the BC SPCA location from which you adopted the animal and the staff can make arrangements for you to bring your animal back. You will be asked to fill in some information that will help us to find the animal a new home.

Cute small rabbit half out of a tunnel

Addressing the cat overpopulation in B.C. is a major focus of our strategic plan. We are responding to the issue of feral and free-roaming cats across the province with six key initiatives. These include carrying out large scale spay/neuter programs and working with municipalities to implement cat-related bylaws. You can help by taking action in your community!

Caged rescued feral stray cat

We’re sorry to hear that you’re experiencing this. In most instances you would contact your city/municipality. Depending on where you live, your noise complaint may be taken care of by general by-laws or may fall specifically under the animal control by-laws.

The BC SPCA is opposed to the use of any animal or its tissues for dissection in education. When training animal professionals like veterinarians or technicians, dissections may be appropriate in certain circumstances.

At any educational level, we believe students should not be compelled to perform or watch animal dissection. We support students’ ability to opt out of animal dissection assignments. Alternatives to dissection, such as computer simulations and models, should be available to students.

The BC SPCA encourages developing techniques that result in the replacement, reduction and/or refinement of animal experiments or procedures. We urge governments, universities and other research institutions to make greater efforts to use non-animal alternatives.

Read our full position statements on animals used in science and use of animals in teaching.

The BC SPCA is not able to provide details on active investigations into animal cruelty cases, as doing so may compromise any potential charges or other legal actions we may take.

Close up shot of green eyed cat looking sad

While the BC SPCA is the only animal welfare organization in BC that can recommend charges under both the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCA Act) and the Criminal Code of Canada, it is up to Crown Counsel to prosecute and for the judge to determine sentencing upon conviction.

Penalties for individuals convicted under the PCA Act or Criminal Code are as follows:

  • A person who commits an offence under the PCA Act is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $75,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or to both.
  • Under the Criminal Code, a person who commits an offence directly related to one of the sections on animals: is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than five years; or an offence punishable on summary conviction and liable to a fine not exceeding $10,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than 18 months or to both.

As BC SPCA Special Provincial Constables enforce the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCA Act), they must act in accordance with the legislation. The PCA Act does not permit BC SPCA Special Provincial Constables to search for evidence or remove animals without a warrant.

Many investigations can be conducted without a search warrant. Upon respectful request, animal guardians will usually permit us to view their animals and, if the animals are in distress, guardians often comply with notices provided.

It is only when our Special Provincial Constables are denied access to the animals, or if the guardians are unable or unwilling to comply with notices and relieve the distress of the animals, that it is necessary to obtain a search warrant. In order for a warrant to be granted, there must be reasonable grounds to do so and there must be animals in distress or an offence committed against them.

The only time BC SPCA Special Provincial Constables may remove an animal without a warrant is when the animal is in critical distress and not located within a dwelling house.

PCA Act: Authority to enter without a warrant

14 (1) In this section, “critical distress” means distress in an animal of such a nature that
(a) immediate veterinary treatment cannot prolong the animal’s life,
(b) prolonging the animal’s life would result in the animal suffering unduly, or
(c) immediate veterinary intervention is necessary to prevent the imminent death of the animal.
(2) An authorized agent who believes on reasonable grounds that there is an animal in critical distress in any premises, other than a dwelling house, or in any vehicle, aircraft or vessel, may enter the premises, vehicle, aircraft or vessel without a warrant for the purpose of taking any action authorized by this Act to relieve that critical distress.

Further, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states that everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search and seizure. If the BC SPCA performed an unreasonable search, it would have serious consequences for the outcome of the case, the animal(s) involved and the Special Provincial Constables performing the search.

The BC SPCA is the only animal welfare organization that can investigate animal cruelty as established by the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and the Constitution and Bylaws of the Society (PDF). We are guided by our Code of Ethics (PDF).

Cruelty Investigation Officers

Animal Control agencies enforce city/municipal animal by-laws and, in some cities/municipalities, operate their own shelter. By-laws may include stray dogs, leash laws and licensing.

In some BC SPCA shelters, we are contracted by the city/municipality to enforce the by-laws or kennel stray dogs and/or cats. Find your local shelter to determine what services we provide in your community.

Please call the BC SPCA Provincial Call Centre at 1-855-6BC-SPCA (1-855-622-7722) to report animal cruelty.

 

Yes. All calls are kept confidential and our animal protection officers will not release your information to the person you are reporting.

The only time your information could be released is in the event of a court order, legal proceedings or if we ask you to provide a statement to obtain a search warrant.

Providing us with your contact information allows our animal protection officers to contact you with additional questions, if necessary. If you wish to be contacted regarding the outcome of the investigation, we can only do so if we have your contact information, otherwise no follow-up information will be available to you at any time.

 

Yes. When you make a report with one of our call centre operators, let them know that you would like to report anonymously and they will not take your personal information.

All of our calls are confidential and the only time your information could be released is in the event of a court order, legal proceedings or if we ask you to provide a statement so that we can obtain a search warrant.

Providing us with your contact information allows our animal protection officers to contact you with additional questions, if necessary. If you wish to be contacted regarding the outcome of the investigation, we can only do so if we have your contact information, otherwise no follow-up information will be available to you at any time.

Sleepy relaxing golden retriever dog curled up on a couch indoors

The BC SPCA does not have the lawful authority to close facilities, businesses or operations. Our Special Constables must investigate in accordance with the PCA Act and follow procedures and protocols for investigation, which include working with the owners to relieve animals of any distress. If the owners are unable or unwilling to relieve distress, our constables may apply for a warrant to seize the animals.

If the animals in question are not in distress or the owner has taken the necessary steps to relieve the distress, the BC SPCA has no lawful authority to remove the animals.

The animal protection officer may check back in with the owners to view the animals within a set time period, however our officers cannot continually monitor a particular animal (and owner) without reasonable grounds to do so. We rely on members of the public to be our eyes and ears and to report concerns to us if/when they observe any animals in distress.

When the BC SPCA seizes an animal, the animal guardian is provided with a Notice of Disposition, which details the procedure for disputing the seizure. Anyone wishing to dispute a seizure must do so in writing within 14 days of receiving the Notice of Disposition. If the animal guardian does not dispute the seizure within 14 days, the BC SPCA will gain custody of the animal. However, the animal guardian will be responsible for the costs of care of the animal while in our care.

If the animal guardian disputes the seizure, the BC SPCA’s Chief Prevention and Enforcement Officer will review and consider the case, and will decide whether to return the animal (based on the animal’s best interests) under some type of care agreement.

If the decision is made to refuse to return the animal, the animal guardian has the right to appeal the decision to the BC Farm Industry Review Board.

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCA Act) is the provincial animal welfare legislation that outlines required standards of care. The BC SPCA was created under the auspices of the PCA Act, and that’s what gives it the power to investigate and take action on animal cruelty cases. It also details the BC SPCA’s constitution and powers of inspection and enforcement.

Cruelty investigative Department staff in uniform walking dog outdoors on misty day

The BC SPCA is the only animal welfare organization in B.C. with the authority to enforce laws related to animal cruelty. In 2008, we successfully campaigned for amendments to the Act that significantly increased protection for abused and neglected animals in B.C.

We continue to propose and support amendments to strengthen the Act. For example, in July 2015, the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture announced a new regulation to adopt the Codes of Practice for the Care and Handling of Dairy Cattle into the PCA Act, specifically outlining what is considered a ‘generally accepted practice’. The inclusion of the Codes complemented our work with the BC Dairy Association, the BC Milk Marketing Board and the dairy industry to improve the welfare of dairy cattle.

In February 2017, the BC SPCA applauded the government of B.C’s move to target irresponsible dog and cat breeders. The proposed amendments to the PCA Act would enable the B.C. government to regulate commercial breeders through either a registration or licensing system that will help ensure commercial cat and dog breeders are treating animals with the respect and care they deserve.

The BC SPCA derives its powers to investigate and take action in instances of animal cruelty from the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCA Act).

We are the only animal welfare organization in BC that has the authority to enforce laws relating to animal cruelty. Our Cruelty Investigations team can also recommend charges under both the PCA Act as well as the Criminal Code of Canada to Crown Counsel for the prosecution of individuals who inflict suffering on animals.

In order for us to recommend charges to Crown Counsel, it must be in the public’s interest to prosecute, and there must be a substantial likelihood of conviction. Ultimately, it is Crown Counsel’s decision on whether or not charges are pursued.

Sad dog outdoors tethered on a chain

Investigating reports of animal cruelty and seizing animals in distress is both rewarding and challenging. It’s a job that requires a unique set of skills and the right personality type.

The best way to find out if it’s the right job for you is to start by working in a BC SPCA shelter to gain experience shadowing Special Provincial Constables and participate in initial investigations.

Currently, we employ 30 full-time, one part-time and four auxiliary Special Provincial Constables throughout the province. Should an opening become available, the job opportunity will be posted on our website.

To learn more, download a description of qualifications, experience and skills required to become a Special Provincial Constable (PDF) with the BC SPCA.

Step 1 – Gathering information

When the BC SPCA Provincial Call Centre (1-855-622-7722) receives a cruelty complaint, a call centre operator will gather information from the caller, including but not limited to:

  • The caller’s name, phone number and address (this information is kept confidential): While we do accept anonymous reports, contact information is very important in the event that the animal protection officer who investigates the complaint has any questions or difficulty locating the property. Also, if legal action is pursued, we may require a statement.
  • The person of interest’s information: Address and name (if known) as well as physical description and whether the caller believes they might be violent.
  • A detailed description of the animal(s) and the concerns. Also location of animals if different from the person of interest’s address.
  • Date and time of the incident or when the animal was last observed.

All of these questions are necessary to ensure we provide the animal protection officers with as much information as possible to assist them in their investigation.

Step 2 – Investigating the complaint

An animal protection officer will review the complaint and attend the premises.

Our response time will depend on the number and priority of calls at the time, as well as the location of the animals reported. The officers will attend as soon as they are able, however it is important to remember that the BC SPCA is a non-profit organization with only 30 full time officers for the whole province.

If the animal protection officer attends and finds the complaint to be unfounded, we will close the file with no further action. If the complaint is valid and there are animals in distress, the officer must give the owner the opportunity to relieve the distress within a reasonable period of time. In doing so the officer would issue the owner with notice(s).

Step 3 – Resolving the issue

If the owner complies within the provided time period, we will close the file. If the owner does not comply within the time period, the animal protection officer may either issue new notices, provide additional time (depending on the circumstances) or apply for a warrant to seize the animal(s).

Dog from puppy mill cruelty before and after

The BC SPCA helps:

  • Companion animals such as dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters and gerbils
  • Farm animals such as goats, sheep, chickens, pigs and horses
  • Wild animals such as sea otters, birds of prey, skunks, raccoons and squirrels
Wild otter swimming in the ocean near rocks with paws up to mouth
Photo credit: Stef Olcen

A ban (or prohibition) on owning animals is one of the most effective ways to prevent someone who has been convicted of animal cruelty from simply acquiring more animals.

Prohibitions are enforced in part through public reporting and in part through BC SPCA Special Constable monitoring. Given the media attention that often follows a person’s conviction of animal cruelty and ban on owning animals, we often find that neighbours or people living in the same community as the former animal owner are more than happy to report to us should this person obtain new animals. Our constables also do random inspections when possible.

If you are aware of someone who has a ban and you know that they also own or care for an animal, please call the BC SPCA Provincial Call Centre: 1 (855) 6BC SPCA (1-855-622-7722).

Learn more about our cruelty investigations.

While the BC SPCA regularly works in partnership with animal rights organizations, and we enjoy a mutual respect for each other’s work, our philosophies differ. The BC SPCA is an animal welfare organization, not an animal rights organization.

The goal of animal rights organizations is to end all use of animals by humans, including use of animals for food, clothing, in entertainment, in research and as pets.

As an animal welfare organization, the BC SPCA acknowledges that many Canadians rely on domesticated farm animals for food. Our farm programming exists to improve the lives of animals being raised on farms to ensure they reach the end of their lives as peacefully as possible. We encourage people who choose a diet consisting of meats, dairy products or eggs to choose only products raised to the highest standards of animal welfare.

BC SPCA Certified ProgramThe SPCA Certified program is an evidence-based program developed by the BC SPCA to ensure that animals raised for food are treated as humanely as possible throughout their lives via the five freedoms outlined in the BC SPCA mission statement.

Leading by example, our internal BC SPCA food policy ensures that only qualifying higher welfare animal products are served at BC SPCA events, and that vegan and vegetarian foods are available.

Yes, you can adopt horses from the BC SPCA. Horses come into the care of the BC SPCA as a result of cruelty investigations. These horses are rehabilitated on-site at the BC SPCA Good Shepherd Barn or in foster homes across the province.

Viewings are by appointment. A completed adoption application (PDF) and a home check are required as part of the adoption process.

Adoption fees vary from $250 to $750, or more. Basic medical exams are performed by a veterinarian when horses are in our care; however, it is recommended that potential adopters carry out pre-purchase exams when considering horse adoption.

The BC SPCA recognizes and values the interconnectedness people share with all animals.

cute pigletAs an animal welfare organization, we acknowledge that many Canadians rely on domesticated farm animals for food. Therefore, we work to increase public awareness about farm animal welfare issues, promote individual actions that lead to improved farm animal welfare, and press for evidence-based changes to provincial and national laws.

Our farm programming improves the quality of life of animals being raised on farms to ensure they reach the end of their lives as peacefully as possible. We encourage people who choose a diet consisting of meats, dairy products or eggs to choose only products raised to the highest standards of animal welfare.

Learn more about farm animal programming at the BC SPCA and how you can take action and get involved.

It costs the BC SPCA $25 per day to care for a horse. In addition to this, there are other costs of care:

  • Intake exam and blood work when necessary: $150+
  • Hoof trimming every 4-6 weeks: $40 per trim
  • Internal and external parasite treatment/control: $20
  • Castration of intact male horses: $500
  • Other medical care/medications as needed

horse and pony outside at barn

Horses and farm animals come into the BC SPCA’s care through cruelty investigations. Sadly, they are usually in poor condition. In many cases they require extensive nutritional and medical rehabilitation due to starvation and health issues.

The BC SPCA has the extremely difficult challenge of finding care for these horses and adopting them out to experienced, permanent homes. In 2015 the Cruelty Investigations Department opened the Good Shepherd Barn in Cloverdale and the Kelowna Recovery and Adoption Barn to accommodate horses and farm animals involved in cruelty investigations. A third farm animal facility is being planned for Nanaimo. The BC SPCA does not have the resources to take in surrendered horses and farm animals at this time.

We rely heavily on donations to provide foster homes and boarding facilities for horses in our care. Other expenses include food, veterinary and farrier care during rehabilitation and recovery from injuries or illness.

person walking with horse outside

The short answer is, yes. The SPCA Certified program has been approved to sell in all Costco locations across Canada. SPCA Certified eggs are available at Costco, but you may not see the SPCA Certified red barn logo on Costco egg cartons.

egg cartonCostco works with many different animal welfare certification programs to ensure their eggs are raised to high standards. Costco’s ‘Kirkland Signature Organic Eggs’ are cage-free and sourced from farms certified under one of Costco’s approved animal welfare certification programs, such as SPCA Certified.

Most small farmers cannot produce enough eggs to supply a retail giant like Costco, which sells a lot of eggs! By pooling eggs from a number of different farms, Costco can continually supply eggs certified to animal welfare standards in large quantities. With so many certifications going into each carton, it’s not possible to include all the program logos on the cartons.

If you would like to learn more about which labels Costco has approved for their ‘Kirkland Signature Organic Eggs’, please visit the Costco website.

Learn where you can find local food retailers carrying SPCA Certified foods.

 

The BC SPCA supports the initiative to establish evidence-based standards and clear expectations for the practice of slaughter without prior stunning. Nonetheless, since slaughter without prior stunning has been scientifically demonstrated to cause unnecessary suffering, the BC SPCA position is that governments should take more substantial action by eliminating the practice in Canada, or at the very least, by requiring immediate post-cut stunning of every animal.

The BC SPCA believes that the methods used to kill any animal must be humane. Read more about the BC SPCA’s position on humane killing (PDF) and farm animal welfare (PDF).

Unfortunately, our constables have no inspection powers in slaughterhouses and can only attend to investigate if we receive complaints from someone who has witnessed animal cruelty directly. Also, because these ritual slaughter practices are legally permitted under B.C.’s and Canada’s meat processing laws, they are also effectively exempt from prosecution under the B.C. Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, as they constitute “reasonable and generally accepted practices.”

Developments began in 2016 to create national standards to address this issue and a public consultation period was held in early 2017 to gather feedback on the proposal. The BC SPCA was told that our position statement on the issue was considered, and we will continue to fight for tougher standards to prevent suffering of these animals.

This is an issue that would be really important for government to hear from you on personally. We suggest writing to the Provincial and Federal Agriculture Ministers and copying in your local MLA and MP. It’s always really important that they hear directly from their constituents on these issues.

Yes, some BC SPCA shelters may be able to provide temporary care for your pets under certain emergency circumstances. Contact your local shelter to discuss options, including how they can help. Please note that our ability to help you may be affected by the current number of animals in our care and the resources available at the shelter.

person holding dog outside sunnyOur sympathies for the loss of your loved one. If there is an animal left after a death, you have a few options including trying to find a new home for the animal. If you need the help with that, a local BC SPCA shelter may be able to help you.

We empathize with your situation; unfortunately, it isn’t uncommon. Many animal guardians face difficult decisions when pets require serious medical care.

If you are seeking assistance to spay or neuter your animal, learn about low income spay/neuter programs in B.C.

The BC SPCA Vancouver Animal Hospital offers an assistance program for kitten cat with cast on looking uplow income people. If you qualify for financial aid, it will cover up to 33% of the cost of services provided at the clinic (not including exams, lab work, medication, vaccines or diets). Please note, however, that the BC SPCA does NOT provide financial aid to have procedures done at other vet clinics. For more information, please email spcahosp@spca.bc.ca.

If you are not in Vancouver, you can contact your local BC SPCA to see if they are aware of any initiatives in your area that assist low-income pet guardians with medical expenses.

For immediate short-term help, you can apply for financing through programs such as Petcard.

Our recommendation for a long-term/preventative solution is to look into insurance coverage. With pet health insurance, you’ll be able to remove the stress and worry of unexpected medical costs and provide your pet with the best medical care possible, at a low monthly premium.

We sincerely hope you are able to get the assistance you need.

No, at this time, we do not have gift cards available at the BC SPCA.

The quick answer is yes! However, you still have to meet our four non-negotiable factors and the animal needs to be matched to the person receiving the animal as a gift. Please visit your local BC SPCA shelter or check out our adoptable animals. Learn more, watch our video on giving pets as gifts:

yellow dog on laptopPlease see our adoptable animals for the status of an animal you may have seen.

Please note, even though this website is live and updates frequently, we cannot ensure the animal is still available for adoption when you arrive at the shelter. There is a chance the animal may have been adopted by the time you arrive, or another party might be going through the adoption process at the time.

Fostering an animal means you take a BC SPCA animal into your home and care for them for us. While they’re in your home, we provide you with food and medical care until the pet is available for adoption. Foster families help animals recover from illnesses/injuries or provide them with socialization and love.

If you are unsure about adopting an animal, or unable to make the commitment at this time, fostering can be a great way to bring animals into your life.

While fostering is temporary, many foster families fall in love with the animal in their care and decide to adopt them.

injured dog

Some general things we look for in foster families:

  • Length of commitment from a couple of days to several weeks
  • Ability to spend time with the animal every day
  • Daily monitoring of the animal as needed
  • Ability to accommodate time to transport the animal, as needed, for appointments, treatments and weigh-ins

kitten with bottle

Fostering opportunities

  • Nursing dog with puppies
  • Nursing cat with kittens
  • Orphaned kittens or puppies
  • Sick or injured animals needing medical care
  • Animals needing help with behaviour issues
  • Puppies and kittens too young to be in the shelter

If you are 19 years of age or older, you can apply to become a foster guardian. Learn more about our program, download fostering for the BC SPCA (PDF) and watch the video below.

Dog adoption fees include:

  • An in-shelter physical performed by staff
  • Temperament assessment
  • Behaviour profile
  • First round of standard shelter “core” vaccinations (does not include rabies)**
  • Flea and other external parasite treatments as required
  • Routine deworming and other internal parasite treatments as required
  • Spay or neuter surgery (a voucher may be provided for pediatric surgeries at select locations)
  • Microchip identification implant and lifetime registration with the BC Pet Registry*
  • Certificate for a free veterinarian examination (at participating veterinary clinics & select locations)
  • Sample bag of food and coupon provided by Hill’s Pet Nutrition as fed in shelter
  • Six week free trial of pet insurance provided by Petsecure Pet Health Insurance
  • Medical treatment if required while in our care
  • Daily in-shelter care and monitoring

*All BC SPCA dog adoptions include a microchip and lifetime registration with the BC Pet Registry. Registration is $45 for lifetime protection which will be added on top of the adoption fee.

**Standard “core” shelter vaccinations for dogs include: distemper, adenovirus 2, parvovirus, parainfluenza and bordetella (kennel cough)

happy golden retriever lying on a cushion couch indoors getting pets from a man

Cat adoption fees include:

  • An in-shelter physical performed by staff
  • First round of standard shelter “core” vaccinations (does not include rabies or feline leukemia)**
  • Flea and other external parasite treatments as required
  • Routine deworming and other internal parasite treatments as required
  • Spay or neuter surgery (a voucher may be provided for pediatric surgeries at select locations)
  • Microchip identification implant and lifetime registration with the BC Pet Registry*
  • Certificate for a free veterinarian examination (at participating veterinary clinics & select locations)
  • Sample bag of food and coupon provided by Hill’s Pet Nutrition as fed in shelter
  • Six week free trial of pet insurance provided by Petsecure Pet Health Insurance
  • Their Hide, Perch & Go™ box (a cat’s personal temporary pet carrier)
  • Medical treatment if required while in our care
  • Daily in-shelter care and monitoring

*All BC SPCA cat adoptions include a microchip and lifetime registration with the BC Pet Registry. Registration is $45 for lifetime protection which will be added on top of the adoption fee.

**Standard “core” shelter vaccinations for cats include: rhinotracheitis, calicivirus and panleukopenia.

Pretty cat with spotted fur looking up lying down on the floor

Rabbit adoption fees include:

  • An in-shelter physical performed by staff
  • Spay or neuter surgery (a voucher may be provided for surgeries at select locations)
  • Microchip identification implant and lifetime registration with the BC Pet Registry*
  • Certificate for a free veterinarian examination (at participating veterinary clinics & select locations)
  • Medical treatment if required while in our care
  • Daily in-shelter care and monitoring

*All BC SPCA rabbit adoptions include a microchip and lifetime registration with the BC Pet Registry. Registration is $11.25 for lifetime protection which will be added on top of the adoption fee.

White rabbit being cuddled by girl

Small pet & bird adoption fees include:

  • An in-shelter physical performed by staff
  • Certificate for a free veterinarian examination (at participating veterinary clinics & select locations)
  • Medical treatment if required while in our care
  • Daily in-shelter care and monitoring

Two guinea pigs with fluffy hair

Horse adoption fees include:

  • An intake exam performed by a veterinarian
  • A nutritional assessment and individualized feed plan
  • Certificate for complimentary nutritional consult, bag of feed and treats from Otter Co-op (at participating stores & select locations)
  • Castration of intact male horses
  • Hoof assessment and regular trimming while in our care
  • Lice and other external parasite treatments as required
  • Routine deworming and other internal parasite treatments as required
  • Medical treatment if required while in our care
  • Daily in-shelter care and monitoring

Farm animal adoption fees include:

  • An intake exam performed by a veterinarian
  • A nutritional assessment and individualized feed plan
  • Castration of intact male farm animals
  • Hoof assessment and regular trimming while in our care
  • Lice and other external parasite treatments as required
  • Routine deworming and other internal parasite treatments as required
  • Medical treatment if required while in our care
  • Daily in-shelter care and monitoring

The average dog that comes into the care of the BC SPCA receives:

  • In-shelter physical
  • Temperament assessment
  • Behaviour profile
  • First round of standard shelter “core” vaccinations* (does not include rabies)
  • Flea and external parasite treatment as required
  • Routine deworming and other internal parasite treatment as required
  • Spay or neuter surgery
  • Medical treatment if required while in our care
  • Daily in-shelter care and monitoring
  • Housing
  • Feeding
  • Cleaning and supplies

Average cost of care for dogs based on an average length of stay of nine days: $445

*Standard “core” shelter vaccinations for dogs include: distemper, adenovirus 2, parvovirus, parainfluenza and bordetella (kennel cough)

A beautiful moment between a dog and a woman lying on a carpet indoors cuddling

The average cat that comes into the care of the BC SPCA receives:

  • In-shelter physical
  • First round of standard shelter “core” vaccinations** (does not include rabies)
  • Flea and external parasite treatment as required
  • Routine deworming and other internal parasite treatment as required
  • Spay or neuter surgery
  • Medical treatment if required while in our care
  • Daily in-shelter care and monitoring
  • Hide, Perch & Go™ box
  • Housing
  • Feeding
  • Cleaning and supplies

Average cost of care for cats based on an average length of stay of 18 days: $455**

**Standard “core” shelter vaccinations for cats include: rhinotracheitis, calicivirus and panleukopenia.

The BC SPCA charges adoption fees to help us offset the cost of caring for the animals. Learn more about our average cost of care for cats and dogs and find out what’s included when you adopt a pet from the BC SPCA.

Smiling dog outdoors wearing a collar with mouth open being pet and cuddled by a girl

The BC SPCA Drive for Lives program transfers more than 4,000 animals each year between our 44 locations in B.C. Depending on your location, and the location and status of the animal you’re interested in, we may be able to bring the animal to a shelter closer to you. Please contact your local shelter to learn more.

BC SPCA van on scenic road driving drive for lives

Every adoption is unique and the time it takes to adopt varies. Some animals can go home the same day if they are successfully matched. Visit our adoptable animals section to start your search today.

BC SPCA adoption fees for animals vary in different regions. Please check your local shelter for a list of adoption fees.

Young cute kitten being held cuddles up against girl

Due to the number of adoption queries we receive at our shelters, we are unable to keep wait lists for certain breeds of animals, puppies or kittens.

On our adoptable animals page, you can request an email notification when a certain breed of animal becomes available for adoption.

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