The recent report Difference Makers: Understanding and Improving the OSPCA’s Animal Cruelty Investigation Work https://humanejobs.org is an important reminder of the challenges HBSPCA Agents face every day protecting animals at risk in the community. The report cites the working conditions of the Inspectorate in Ontario including the emotional stress of encountering animals in a range of circumstances and neglect, the potential threats to personal safety and the variable employment conditions.
The Inspectorate (Agents and Inspectors) who enforce the cruelty provisions in the Ontario SPCA Act are well prepared for their mandate protecting animals at risk and promoting responsible animal care. Our Agents are well prepared for the field: they are knowledgeable; their personal safety training is robust and refreshed annually; Agents are excellent communicators and know how to diffuse emotional and highly charged encounters. The Hamilton/Burlington Team is responsible to respond to all calls of animals in distress; decisions are made as to when it is appropriate to respond to calls two by two in some neighbourhoods and when to call police as back up. Dispatch always knows an Agent’s location. Agents are equipped with cell phones and batons, protective clothing and ammonia detectors. Agents’ starting wages are comparable with the Ontario SPCA; at the HBSPCA, health benefits are provided as is a pension plan.
Importantly, regular case and encounter debriefing among Protection Team Agents is key to sustaining empathy while building emotional resilience, sound decision making and personal safety at all times.