Investigations and Inspections

The Montreal SPCA’s Investigations and Inspections Department

Montreal SPCA inspectors are charged with enforcing the provisions of the Criminal Code dealing with crimes against animals. As for Quebec’s provincial animal welfare legislation, namely the Animal Welfare and Safety Act and the Regulation respecting the safety and welfare of cats and dogs, it is exclusively enforced by inspectors from the Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation du Québec.

The territory covered by the inspectors includes the Island of Montreal, Laval and part of Montérégie, Lanaudière and the Laurentians, which is nearly the entire territory within an hour and a half drive from the Montreal SPCA.

Every year, the Montreal SPCA’s Investigations and Inspections Department receives thousands of complaints and reports. In 2017, over 30,000 animals of a range of species received a visit from our staff and 1,400 new investigations were opened. In total, the inspection team removed 416 animals from their environments, and its investigations resulted in about twenty convictions. On average, every inspector handles approximately thirty active cases at any given time.

Photo Inspection dept

© Marilyn Gelfand Photo

If you witness animal abuse, please report it!

Leave us a message at (514) 735-2711, extension 2230, or send us an email at In the event of an emergency, call (514) 735-2711, extension 0. All complaints are treated confidentially.

For incidents outside of the territory covered by the Montreal SPCA’s investigations and inspections department:

Contact the Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation du Québec: at 1-844-ANIMAUX (1-844-264-6289) or at All complaints are treated confidentially.


What constitutes an infraction?

The following acts or omissions constitute infractions:

  • Hitting, strangling, stabbing, burning or poisoning an animal
  • Training an animal to fight
  • Trapping an animal using a method that causes pain
  • Abandoning an animal without ensuring that someone else will properly care for them
  • Failing to provide an animal with veterinary care when injured, ill or suffering
  • Failing to provide an animal with food or water
  • Keeping an animal in a place that is soiled, unsafe or does not provide sufficient space or lighting
  • Failing to provide an animal with protection from excessive heat, cold or inclement weather conditions
  • Failing to provide a dog who lives mainly outdoors with a doghouse that is waterproof, raised off the ground and in good condition
  • Using a collar that hampers an animal’s breathing or causes the animal pain or injury
  • Failing to groom an animal and trim his or her claws on a regular basis

What happens during a visit by an inspector?


© Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals

The primary goal of a visit is to determine whether the owner or the person with custody of the animal is complying with the law. In the event of non-compliance, various measures can be taken by an inspector, including:

  1. Issuing recommendations aimed at improving the animal’s welfare
  2. Giving the owner or person with custody of the animal a formal written notice stating the non-compliance issues observed, along with a deadline for correcting the situation
  3. Seizing the animal in order to remove them from the premises
  4. Submitting a file to the Directeur des poursuites criminelles et pénales (commonly referred to as “the Crown”) in order for charges to be laid.

Any animal seized by an inspector and placed in the SPCA’s custody continues to belong to the owner. Unless the owner agrees to surrender the animal to the SPCA, the animal can only be made available for adoption following a court order, which can take several months or even years.

What are the consequences of an infraction?

Anyone who contravenes the Animal Welfare and Safety Act or the Regulation respecting the safety and welfare of cats and dogs faces fines ranging from $1,000 to $62,500. In the event of a subsequent offence, the offender may also be sentenced to up to 18 months’ imprisonment.

As for the Criminal Code provisions dealing with crimes against animals, possible penalties in the event of non-compliance are more varied. They can include fines, a probation period during which the offender has to abide by certain conditions, community service or a maximum prison term of five years.

Additionally, both the Criminal Code and the Animal Welfare and Safety Act allow for the possibility of prohibiting someone who has been found guilty of mistreating an animal from owning animals in the future.



© Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals


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