Animal Welfare Services

Animal Welfare Services (AWS) within the Ministry of the Solicitor General is responsible for enforcing the Provincial Animal Welfare Services Act.

The chief animal welfare inspector and provincial animal welfare inspectors, including inspectors with specialized expertise in livestock, zoos, aquariums, and equines, provide enforcement across Ontario. They carry out inspections, respond to concerns, conduct investigations, as well as provide outreach and education on animal care best practices. Provincial inspectors also follow a standard code of conduct.

Calls made to AWS are received through the Ontario Animal Protection Call Centre (OAPCC) at 1-833-9-ANIMAL , available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

To ensure animals remain protected, provincial inspectors work, as appropriate, with:

  • police officers
  • First Nations constables
  • veterinarians
  • livestock stakeholders
  • local humane societies
  • other ministries, such as the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry

Provincial inspectors follow a standard code of conduct and if they visit you on-site, they will:

  • introduce themselves
  • explain why they are attending on-site, such as for an inspection or for an investigation

Upon request, provincial inspectors will also provide identification.

Who to call

These contacts can be used if you are concerned about an animal in Ontario.

1-833-9-ANIMAL (Ontario Animal Protection Call Centre)

Call this number if an animal (for example, a pet, farm animal, or wild animal in captivity) is in distress or being neglected. This includes animals that:

  • are injured, in pain, sick, suffering or abused
  • lack proper care, water, food or shelter

The Ontario Animal Protection Call Centre offers TTY (teletypewriter) service for those individuals with a speech impairment or hearing disability.

Local animal control

Call your local animal control to report:

  • wildlife that is in need of assistance, injured or deceased
  • wildlife or a domestic animal that is roaming on public property
  • a dog attack (such as a bite) or an animal behaving in a way that poses a risk to the safety of people or other animals
  • a pit bull (banned under the Dog Owners Liability Act)
  • an animal-related noise complaint

911 (Emergency)

Call 911 in an emergency when any life is in immediate danger, such as when there is:

  • an animal attack resulting in serious injury to people or other animals that requires emergency medical attention
  • a dog or cock fighting ring underway
  • an act of animal cruelty underway, such as beating or torturing of an animal
  • an animal left unattended in a hot or cold vehicle

What happens when you call 1-833-9-ANIMAL

If you report an animal that is in distress, being abused or neglected:

  1. The Ontario Animal Protection Call Centre will file an incident ticket and connect you with the appropriate local contact.
  2. Based on the location and nature of the incident, the call centre may flag the ticket for further investigation with the appropriate authorities, such as a provincial inspector or the local police.
  3. After the appropriate authority reviews the incident ticket, they may investigate on-site or involve other authorities as needed. Authorities may contact you directly if they need more information.

The Ontario Animal Protection Call Centre is unable to provide updates on calls or investigations. The authorities may contact you if they need more information.


Ontario has the strongest provincial penalties in Canada for animal abuse and neglect. The Provincial Animal Welfare Services Act covers offences, including:

  • causing or permitting distress to an animal
  • causing harm or attempting to cause harm to a law enforcement or service animal
  • promoting, arranging or receiving a financial benefit from animal fighting events
  • training animals to fight other animals
  • owning or possessing equipment or structures used in animal fighting
  • failing to follow any applicable standards of care
  • obstructing an inspector or agent

Violating these laws can result in sentences such as:

  • up to two years in jail
  • fines of up to $130,000 against an individual on a first offence, or up to $500,000 against a corporation on a first offence
  • a lifetime ban on animal ownership
  • other penalties

Individuals can also be charged with animal cruelty under the Criminal Code.

Our goal is to ensure that Ontario’s animals are always protected and treated in a humane manner.

Provincial Animal Welfare Services Act

The Provincial Animal Welfare Services Act (PAWS Act) came into force on January 1. The PAWS Act and its regulations help ensure that animals are protected and treated in a humane manner.

Protections include setting out basic standards of care that apply to all animals covered under the act, as well as specific standards of care that apply to animals in unique circumstances.

Basic standards of care that apply to all animals covered under the act include requirements for:

  • adequate and appropriate food, water, medical attention and care
  • ventilation, light and protection from the elements, including harmful temperatures
  • sanitary conditions and space to enable natural movement and exercise
  • pens or enclosed structures
  • humane euthanasia to minimize pain and distress to animals
  • transportation in a manner that ensures an animal’s physical safety and general welfare

Animals in unique circumstances

Ontario has additional standards of care for:

  • dogs kept and tethered outdoors
  • marine mammals including:
    • cetaceans (for example, whales, dolphins and porpoises)
    • pinnipeds (for example, walruses and sea lions)
    • sea otters
  • wildlife in captivity
  • primates in captivity

PAWS Act exceptions

Learn about exceptions in the PAWS Act around causing distress and standards of care, such as hunting wildlife.

Making an appeal

You can file an appeal to the Animal Care Review Board if a provincial inspector:

  • issued you an order
  • removed your animal(s) under the PAWS Act
  • issued you a decision that your removed animal(s) would be kept in the chief animal welfare inspector’s care
  • issued a bill, called a statement of account, for costs associated with removing your animal(s), such as food, transportation, veterinary care or sheltering


If you are filing an appeal, you must do so within 10 business days after being served with any of the following:

  • an order
  • a notice of animal removal
  • a notice of decision to keep an animal in the chief animal welfare inspector’s care
  • a statement of account

There is no fee to file an appeal with the Animal Care Review Board. For more information, please visit the Animal Care Review Board’s website.

Making a complaint about a provincial inspector

Provincial inspectors are directly accountable to the chief animal welfare inspector, who is accountable to the Solicitor General of Ontario.

If you have a complaint about a provincial inspector’s conduct, please complete the complaint form.

Contact us

To send any general questions or comments about animal welfare or to request a hard copy of any document on this webpage, contact

Important: Do not submit animal-related complaints or concerns to this email address. Please call 1-833-9-ANIMAL if you believe an animal is in distress or being neglected.

Related legislation


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