Humane societies getting short-changed by government: report

Canadian Federation of Humane Societies says financial support from governments is inadequate

OTTAWA – The long-suffering agencies that look after animal welfare in Canada say they are being kept cooped up by a lack of government support – forcing individual donors to take up the slack.

A new report from the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies says 45 per cent of the $187.8 million in revenue collected by member agencies in 2014 came from donations – with 85 of those donations coming from individuals.

The report says that while more than 40 per cent of humane societies and SPCAs are empowered to enforce provincial and federal animal protection and cruelty legislation, less than half their costs are covered by governments.

Of the government money that goes to humane societies, two-thirds comes from municipalities, with the federal government contributing just one per cent.

The report says the country’s 125 humane societies and SPCAs employ about 2,000 people who are supported by about 26,000 volunteers.

In 2014, those groups spent $118.4 million to care for more than 278,000 animals.

That same year, the report said, municipalities contributed $25.6 million, provinces kicked in about $13 million and the federal government provided a paltry $271,000.

“We see clearly that financial support from provincial and federal levels of government is inadequate,” the report said.

As a result, agencies have to devote significant resources to fundraising, diverting money from the primary goal of sheltering and protecting animals and working on public education.

“The result is that the responsibility of protecting animals in Canadian society is falling mainly to individual donors and the charities they support.”

In 2014, the agencies spent an estimated $10.8 million on animal protection or cruelty enforcement, but recouped only $4.5 million in government funding.

The societies said animal welfare, protection and enforcement tie into a variety of public safety issues and should be a shared responsibility, especially since there are clear links between animal abuse and other forms of violence.

“The creation of a humane Canada depends upon a strong animal protection sector, a committed public and an engaged government,” the report concludes.