Animal welfare in Canada

What’s the difference between a humane society/SPCA, rescue, municipal pound, and satellite adoption centre?

Humane Society/SPCA
This generally refers to an organization dedicated to the betterment of animal welfare. They usually run a shelter and an animal adoption program to find new homes for abandoned, mistreated and/or surrendered animals. They also conduct education in their community and are often mandated to enforce provincial and federal animal cruelty laws.

Refers to the physical building where animals are held when they are being put up for adoption. Usually run by an organization such as a humane society, SPCA or municipal animal services. Good shelters not only do comprehensive physical exams on all the animals that they receive, but they also do temperament testing to ensure that all animals available for adoption will be safe members of the community.

Rescue organization
This is an animal rescue organization that is usually run out of an individual’s home or by a network of individuals fostering animals until they are adopted. Some may concentrate on a certain breed of dog or cat.

This is a municipal animal shelter. Some municipalities contract their local humane society or SPCA to provide the pound service and some are run independently from the humane society. Pounds generally take in stray animals and keep them on average three business days to give owners a chance to claim their lost animals. Many pounds will then offer the animals for adoption.

Satellite Adoption Centre
A satellite adoption centre is a pet store or other location that does not sell cats and dogs, but instead displays cats and dogs that are available for adoption from a Humane Society, SPCA or rescue organization. Interested adopters must be approved under the same screening process that the shelter organization has in place for all the animals it adopts out.

Benefits of adopting from a reputable shelter or rescue organization

  • Adoption fees usually include spaying/neutering, micro-chipping, vaccinations and a full checkup by a vet. If you were to purchase each of these services yourself at a
    private vet clinic, you would likely spend up to $1,000 or more.
  • Extensive health and temperament testing is conducted to ensure the animals are physically and behaviourally ready for a new home.
  • These shelters have purebred animals and mixed breeds, as well as young, adolescent and older animals.
  • You are helping to reduce the pet overpopulation problem in your community by giving a home to an animal in need.

Is there an organization that oversees all the humane societies or SPCAs in Canada?

There is no such organization that oversees all animal shelters in Canada. However, there are national organizations who work with many shelters, and provincial organizations who do have local branches. Humane Canada does not direct or oversee the policies or operations of its member organizations.

Do you have any statistics on animal shelters in Canada?

Humane Canada surveys animal shelters operated by humane societies and SPCAs across Canada on an annual basis. You can access the most recent reports here.

Is there a low-cost spay/neuter clinic near me?

Humane Canada doesn’t operate any spay or neuter clinics in Canada. However, there are a number of spay/neuter clinics across the country that offer these services, usually at a reduced cost. 

Typically, spay/neuter clinics are run by provincial animal welfare organizations, local animal shelters, rescue groups or by municipalities. 

In recent years, there has been an increased focus on the importance of spay/neuter and many organizations have expanded their spay/neuter initiatives to grow trap-neuter-release programs and introduce mobile spay/neuter clinics, which are mobile veterinary clinics that go on the road to provide spay/neuter surgeries in multiple communities. These mobile clinics reduce barriers that some people face in bringing their companion animal to a clinic.

Thanks to increases in government funding and organizational and charitable grants, low-cost spay/neuter is becoming increasingly accessible in communities across Canada. If you’d like to work with your municipality to create an accessible spay/neuter initiative for your community, go here to access our accessible spay/neuter toolkit.

Low-Cost Spay/Neuter Clinics in Canada:
The clinics below are those that are known to Humane Canada. The following should not be considered a comprehensive list — many clinics open or close each year.

Alberta Spay Neuter Task Force
Central Alberta Humane Society – Prevent Another Litter Subsidy (PALS)
Edmonton Humane Society – Prevent Another Litter Subsidy (PALS)
Medicine Hat SPCA – Low Cost Spay/Neuter Program

British Columbia
BC SPCA – Prince George Spay/Neuter Clinic
BC SPCA – Kamloops Spay/Neuter Clinic

Winnipeg Humane Society – Subsidized Spay and Neuter Assistance Program (SNAP)

New Brunswick
Oromocto and Area SPCA – PAL and SNIP/SNAP Program

St. John’s SPCA – Preventing Unwanted Pets Program (PUP)
St. John’s SPCA – Spay and Neuter Assistance Program (SNAP)

Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia SPCA – Spay & Neuter Services

Hamilton/Burlington SPCA – Community Assistance Program & TNR
Lincoln County Humane Society Animal Clinic
Ottawa Humane Society – Mobile Spay/Neuter Clinic
Thunder Bay & District Humane Society
Toronto Humane Society
Windsor/Essex County Humane Society Veterinary Clinic
Kitchener Waterloo Humane Society (Spay Neuter Assistance Program/TNR Program) 
Kitchener Waterloo Humane Society TNR Program
Stratford Perth Humane Society (Spay Neuter Clinic/TNR Program)
Stratford Perth Humane Society TNR Program
The East Village Animal Hospital – London
The East Village Animal Hospital – Kitchener 

Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island SpayAid

Montreal SPCA – Sterilization Clinic
SPA De Quebec – Stérilisation Ciblée
SPA Estrie – Clinique de Stérilisation

Regina Humane Society – Spay & Neuter Program

Humane Society Dawson – Spay & Neuter Incentive Program (SNIP)