Ottawa

Ottawa Humane Society reinstated, but still without policing powers

The Ottawa Humane Society has been reinstated as a member of the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals after a court ruling Monday, but the agency remains powerless to investigate cases of animal cruelty and neglect.

Ottawa Humane Society and OSPCA told to work out differences at board meeting

The Ottawa Humane Society had its powers to investigate and enforce cases of animal cruelty and neglect taken away in June after a dispute with the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. (Ottawa Humane Society)

The Ottawa Humane Society has been reinstated as a member of the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals after a court ruling Monday, but the agency remains powerless to investigate cases of animal cruelty and neglect.

In June, the OSPCA suspended the OHS' membership and its powers— halting the investigative operations of the society's enforcement agents in cases of animal cruelty and neglect — after a dispute between the two organizations over the OSPCA's governance practices.

The OHS and six other welfare agencies took the OSPCA to court to get that membership and those powers restored, and got a partial victory on Monday, having their membership, if not their powers, restored.

The judge also ordered the OSPCA to hold a board meeting in November which the OHS can now attend, so that they can resolve their differences.

The OHS had argued in its affidavit that the dispute began in June 2015, when the society raised concerns about the OSPCA's meeting practices, including the ban on employees of humane societies from running to become elected directors of the OSPCA.

Humane Society says OSPCA changed rules with no notice

Then, in April of this year, the OHS says it was informed that the OSPCA's board of directors had voted to swap out an existing bylaw for a new one, which stripped the rights of Ottawa Humane Society staff (and the staff of all other affiliates) to be directors of the OSPCA.
Bruce Roney, executive director of the Ottawa Humane Society, said the OSPCA revoke the society's status and the powers of its agents in response to a governance dispute. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)

Bruce Roney, the head of the Ottawa Humane Society, said earlier this year his organization and other affiliates received no prior notice of the change. After writing the OSPCA seeking a reversal in June, Roney said the OSPCA board suspended the OHS's affiliate status.

Melanie Coulter, the executive director of the Windsor Essex Humane Society, said her group and the five other welfare agencies joined the OHS in its fight because they thought what happened to the agency set a bad precedent.

"When these steps were taken and Ottawa lost its status... we all lost our voice provincially," she said.

"That was the concern. Where would it lead? So we had to take a stand now."

The court-ordered board meeting will take place between Nov. 21 and 25. If the two sides can't come to an agreement, a February court date has been reserved to hear the dispute.

Since the OHS was suspended, the OSPCA has been handling complaints of animal cruelty and neglect in Ottawa.

With files from Simon Gardner

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