The early years in Regina
The Saskatchewan Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Saskatchewan SPCA) was created by an act of Legislature in 1928 as a way “to prevent cruelty to dumb animals of all kinds and to inculcate the principles of and the desire for better and more humane treatment of dumb animals.”
Prior to 1928, the Saskatchewan SPCA was active for over a decade in Regina, operating as the Regina SPCA. The focus was primarily on humane education, with lessons being taught in Presbyterian Sunday schools. In an effort to educate the community at large, the Saskatchewan SPCA also released an instructional manual for the proper care of animals. During this time, the investigation of reports of animal cruelty was left to the police. In 1922, members of the (Regina) SPCA took the first steps to organize a provincial chapter under the Benevolent Society Act. The hope was that a Saskatchewan SPCA, with branches throughout the province, would further the humane work of the organization.
After its inception, the Saskatchewan SPCA remained centralized in Regina for many years. Early members of the Saskatchewan SPCA executive included local doctors, lawyers, veterans, and a provincial judge. The Saskatchewan SPCA continued to make humane education a priority. An investigator was hired to work four hours a day and Dr. L.L. Hewitt of Regina was the first official veterinarian for the Saskatchewan SPCA.
The growth of local SPCAs and Humane Societies
In the early years, the Saskatchewan SPCA functioned as an umbrella organization for creation of local (city) branch humane societies. In the mid-1960s, branches were opened in Moose Jaw, Lloydminster and Prince Albert.
The Saskatchewan SPCA served as the Regina Branch, until the Regina Society for the Humane Care of Animals was incorporated in 1964, separate from the Saskatchewan SPCA. In 1968, the Saskatoon Branch was incorporated as a separate organization, the Saskatoon SPCA.
In 1975, the Yorkton Branch of the Saskatchewan SPCA was established. Approximately three years later the Yorkton Branch was incorporated as an independent organization, the Yorkton Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Even after local societies incorporated separately, they were able to appoint representatives to sit on the board of directors of the Saskatchewan SPCA. This process was later revised with local society representatives serving in advisory capacity to the provincial Saskatchewan SPCA board. Today, each local society operates independently, with no representation on the Saskatchewan SPCA board of directors. While all organizations are separate and autonomous, there is ongoing cooperation and communication between societies working to improve animal welfare.
Enforcement of animal cruelty legislation
Beginning in the 1970s, the Saskatchewan SPCA handled enforcement of The Animal Protection Act in all areas of the province. We employed skilled Animal Protection Officers to investigate reports of animal cruelty in locations outside the four largest cities (Saskatoon, Regina, Prince Albert and Moose Jaw). We devoted considerable effort to building a strong and effective enforcement program but were always keenly aware that there was more we could be doing to prevent animal cruelty.
In 2014, our Board of Directors made the decision to not renew our contract with the Ministry of Agriculture for enforcement of The Animal Protection Act. Enforcement is now handled by a separate organization — Animal Protection Services of Saskatchewan. Our Board felt the time was right to focus on education and other areas where we can have the greatest impact on animal welfare.
Partners in prevention
Having given up our role in enforcement, we now have the opportunity to devote all of our resources to education and the prevention of animal cruelty.
The Saskatchewan SPCA continues to work with Animal Protection Services, as well as local SPCAs and Humane Societies, rescue groups, veterinarians, industry, government, producers and pet owners. We all have a role to play in animal welfare. Working together, we can share ideas and develop workable solutions to the challenging task of ensuring that all animals are treated humanely, throughout their lives.
A growing and evolving animal welfare organization
Looking to the future, the Saskatchewan SPCA is developing new programs and expanding existing ones. We want to make a real and lasting difference in the welfare of companion animals and livestock in Saskatchewan.
In 2005, the Saskatchewan SPCA held its first Animal Welfare Conference. This educational conference continues to be held annually. Speakers from across Canada and the U.S. share their insights on a wide variety of topics, ranging from dog bite prevention to the humane transport of livestock to fundraising ideas for animal shelters.
The Saskatchewan SPCA is working to raise awareness of the complex relationship between interpersonal violence and animal abuse. The Society is working to establish closer ties with human service agencies in order to better serve the needs of both the animal and the humane victims of violence.
In 2016, we announced a new initiative, aimed at creating a certification and registration program for animal rescue groups operating in the province. We look forward to working with stakeholders from the animal welfare sector to create an effective program that helps ensure all groups provide proper care to their animals.