A first of it’s kind study is highlighting the poor working conditions at the OSPCA.
The study has put a spotlight on how different working conditions are at the OSPCA compared to other police service counterparts.
The OSPCA has 91 officers investigating some 18,000 complaints of animal cruelty all across Ontario each year. Roughly 62 per cent of officers are women.
Kendra Coulter, a London native who is an associate professor at Brock University and the lead author of the report, said most officers work alone and have shoddy equipment.
“Most of them do not have two-way radios or any means to immediately contact their co-workers or supervisers or other emergency service workers, and they will lose regular cellphone service on a regular basis, and almost none of them have partners so they’re out doing all this work on their own,” said Coulter.
Coulter and co-author Amy Fitzgerald, a criminologist at the University of Windsor, collected data from cruelty investigators working with the OSPCA through a survey and focus groups.
Policy and financial analysis are also included within the report.
Coulter adds unlike other organizations, the OSPCA relies on donations to fund itself.
The researchers note the irony of OSPCA investigation officers being empowered to obtain warrants, seize animals, lay charges and perform other enforcement duties while the agency they work for has charitable status.
“No other law enforcement agency in Ontario is reliant on donations for operations, or staffed by more women than men,” said Coulter.
The key findings outlined in a release include:
· Most OSPCA officers must work alone, and some are responsible for geographic regions that take five hours to cross
· Officers do not have two-way radios and those in remote regions are regularly without even cell phone service
· Officers experience many kinds of disrespect, including verbal and physical abuse, on the job
· The $5 million that the Ontario government provides the OSPCA each year only covers less than one third of the agency’s protection budget. “Animal cruelty investigation work in Ontario is still dependent on private donations,” says the report, adding that police, conservation, fisheries and food inspection officers are fully funded through public funds, “and are understood to be providing a public service.”
“The fact that so many officers make animal cruelty investigation their career, and stay for years or even decades despite the very challenging conditions, is a clear indication of their commitment. But these workers and the animals of our province deserve better,” said Coulter.
The full report, “Difference Makers: Understanding and Improving the OSPCA’s Animal Cruelty Investigation Work,” can be found at humanejobs.org