Press releases

Press releases

New Organization Emerges to Champion Animal Welfare across Ontario 

June 23, 2021 

For Immediate Release 

A group of several humane societies has formalized their partnership as the Ontario Animal Welfare Network (OAWN)A Collaboration of Leading Community SPCAs & Humane Societies. The OAWN formed after years of informal collaboration between the humane societies to share best practices, lend support and help individual organizations grow — all with the goal of helping animals.   

The group consists of 11 humane societies and SPCAs who together serve more than 30% of Ontario’s population:  

Guelph Humane Society 

Hamilton/Burlington SPCA 

Humane Society of Kawartha Lakes 

Humane Society of Kitchener Waterloo & Stratford Perth 

Humane Society London & Middlesex 

Lincoln County Humane Society  

Oakville & Milton Humane Society 

Ottawa Humane Society 

Sarnia & District Humane Society 

Sault Ste. Marie Humane Society 

Windsor/Essex County Humane Society 

“This collaboration has been tremendous,” says OAWN member Steve Ryall. “When I joined Humane Society London & Middlesex as Executive Director, it was hugely helpful to be able to draw on the experience of other leaders across the province.”    

The group provides leadership on animal welfare matters, advocates for animals and works to bring humane societies and SPCA’s in Ontario together collaboratively. Since 2016, OAWN has unofficially partnered to strengthen individual organizations in the interests of animal welfare. “This has been an amazing partnership that was missing in Ontario,” says Windsor/Essex County Humane Society Executive Director Melanie Coulter. “If I need to run an idea past someone, if I need a policy or a recommendation for a supplier, I have colleagues across the province to turn to.”  

Beginning with just 5 members, OAWN has grown to 11 members and continues to advocate, educate and collaborate. 

Those interested in learning more about the Ontario Animal Welfare Network are invited to visit  

Media contact:   

(905) 682-0200

Kevin Strooband:  Executive Director, Lincoln County Humane Society 

Press releases

New Campaign Launches to Promote Animal Welfare in Hamilton and Burlington

Monday, April 19, 2021: The Hamilton-Burlington Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (HBSPCA) announced today that it is launching the #WeCare4AnimalWelfare campaign to inform the community of the Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare and the services it provides to help the community care for the welfare of their animals. 

“As the leading provider and advocate for animal welfare services in our community we felt it was critical to educate the public about the Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare and the range of services we provide to help our community care for the welfare of their animals,” said Melanie Barlow, CEO of HBSPCA.

While some of the HBSPCA services are well known such as Animal Adoption and Spay/Neuter, a recent stakeholder survey revealed that other critical services offered for animal welfare are less known such as free/low-cost vet care for pets belonging to our most vulnerable citizens, end of life care and bereavement counselling, animal surrender, microchip and vaccination clinics, and protection for animals who are abused or neglected.

The #WeCare4AnimalWelfare campaign provides the public with information on HBSPCA services and highlights the 5 Freedoms of Animal Welfare including freedom from hunger and thirst, freedom from discomfort, freedom from pain, injury and disease, freedom to express normal behaviours and freedom from fear and distress. 

The campaign features Frankie and Peppermint and will be on social media, in the HBSPCA newsletter, on the website and other promotional material.

“As our community struggles through this pandemic we must care for the welfare of our animals and let our vulnerable citizens know that we are here to help them care for the welfare of their constant companions,” said Melanie Barlow, CEO of HBSPCA. 

For interviews contact:

Melanie Barlow, CEO 

(905) 574-7722

Press releases

$74,904 PetSmart Charities® of Canada Grant to HBSPCA Funds Access to Basic Veterinary Care


Hamilton, ON (November 25, 2020) – Life continues to get better for cats and their families every day in Hamilton.  PetSmart Charities of Canada has granted $74,904 to the Hamilton/Burlington SPCA (HBSPCA) to help chronically under-resourced pets and their people access basic veterinary care.

“We are humbled by the trust PetSmart Charities of Canada has in the HBSPCA Team for 6 years now to keep pets and their people together,” says Marion Emo, CEO. “This year, the grant will fund access to affordable spay/neuter surgeries, and health and wellness clinics for vulnerable pets in partnership with social service agencies in Hamilton. Proactive and preventative care for pets prevents illness and disease, reduces costs and keeps pets at home where they belong.”

“HBSPCA has proven to be a trusted community ally, and we are proud to once again partner to provide vital resources to pets in need,” said Dani LaGiglia, regional relationship manager at PetSmart Charities of Canada. “The organization’s holistic approach and collaborative efforts will continue to remove the barriers to affordable pet health and wellness care throughout Hamilton and surrounding communities.” While pets and people together are a wellness combination, PetSmart Charities of Canada has long recognized the variety of barriers to accessible veterinary care in Canadian communities including but not limited to language, culture, poverty, or access to transportation.

Food bank usage in Hamilton reflects poverty. The 2019 Hunger Report (Feed Ontario) showed Hamilton having the 2nd highest food bank usage per capita in all of Ontario in 2018 with 12,300 (12 in every 100) people making 111,828 food bank visits. That same report shows, for Hamilton, that ODSP income was $486 less than the monthly Market Basket Measure and that Ontario Works income was $922 less than the same measure. Little has changed and the Times of COVID have exasperated pet families’ situations.

“Although some say that people should have pets only if they can meet their full cost of care,” reflects Karen Reichheld, Senior Manager, Animal Care, “we know that animals make a difference in people’s health and well-being every day.  There are people who get up every morning because they have a pet companion who is their best friend. Isolated seniors agree to hospital care only when their pet companions are fostered and provided basic veterinary care. And the relationships between differently abled persons and horses are restorative. Pets and people are a healing combination”.

The grant will subsidize co-pay spay/neuter surgeries and health and wellness clinics commencing June 2021.

Contact information: Marion Emo, CEO. 905-574-7722 ext. 310.

About the Hamilton-Burlington SPCA

The Hamilton/Burlington SPCA (HBSPCA) keeps pets and their people together, helps pet owners be the pet parents they want to be and rehomes neglected and abandoned animals for second chance lives.

Charitable Registration # 11923 6750 RR0001




About PetSmart Charities® of Canada

PetSmart Charities® of Canada is committed to finding lifelong, loving homes for all pets by supporting programs and thought leadership that bring people and pets together. Through its in-store adoption program in all PetSmart® stores across Canada, PetSmart Charities of Canada helps to find forever homes and families for more than 30,000 shelter pets each year. PetSmart Charities of Canada also provides grant funding to registered Canadian charities aligned with its mission. Each year, more than 500,000 generous PetSmart shoppers help pets in need by donating to PetSmart Charities of Canada using the PIN pads at checkout registers inside PetSmart stores. In turn, PetSmart Charities of Canada efficiently uses more than 90 cents of every dollar donated to fulfill its role as a leading funder of animal welfare in Canada, granting more than $21.7 million since its inception in 1999. PetSmart Charities of Canada is a registered Canadian charity, a member of Imagine Canada and is independent from the PetSmart business in Canada. To learn more visit

Follow PetSmart Charities on Twitter: @PetSmartChariTs

Find PetSmart Canada & PetSmart Charities of Canada on Facebook:

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See PetSmart Charities on YouTube:

Press releases

Leadership Transition at the Hamilton/Burlington SPCA


Hamilton, ON (Monday, November 23, 2020) The Board of Directors of the Hamilton/Burlington SPCA (HBSPCA) is pleased to announce the appointment of Melanie Barlow as incoming President and CEO effective November 30, 2020.

Melanie succeeds Marion Emo who will be leaving her role at the end of November following a remarkable eight-year tenure of building partnerships to support improved access to care and rehoming for animals at risk in our community.

“On behalf of the Board of Directors, I am delighted to welcome Melanie Barlow as the incoming CEO at the HBSPCA on November 30”, says Kim Ciavarella, Chair. “Melanie’s knowledge of the community we serve, her understanding of vulnerable populations and her program leadership will support HBSPCA’s service to community well into the future”.

“At the same time, we say good-bye to Marion Emo who has led our organization through extraordinary changes in the animal welfare sector locally, provincially, and nationally. Marion’s steadfast leadership has truly reflected the principle of being in service to community. Marion and her extraordinary team of staff and volunteers have expanded access to animal well-being for chronically under-resourced pet families with the support of community partnerships and grants”.

Melanie and Marion will be working closely together over the next while to ensure a smooth transition. Both are committed to engaging staff and stakeholders during leadership change and sustaining service continuity every day.

Melanie was born and raised in Burlington and has been a Hamilton resident for twenty-three years.  With experience in the corporate, education and non-profit sectors her most recent role was as Executive Director at Ancaster Community Services, a local charitable and social services organization. Melanie is a proud owner of an adorable Brussels Griffon.

“I am thrilled to be joining the HBSPCA and to be a part of a community-minded team of staff, volunteers and Board Members. The support that the HBSPCA receives from donors is a testament to the incredible work that is done to support pets and their people and advance a humane community.”

The HBSPCA currently has an active staff of 22 and an annual operating budget of $2.3M. Its Companion Animal Hospital on site at 245 Dartnall Road served more than 6,000 animals last year.

For information contact Marion Emo. CEO. 905-574-7722 ext. 310.


The Hamilton/Burlington SPCA is a donor based charitable and non-profit animal welfare organization. Our mission is keeping pets and people together, supporting pet families and leaving no animal at risk behind. Discover the miracles that happen everyday at

Press releases

The Times of COVID are Changing and the Hamilton/Burlington SPCA is Getting Ready.

The Times of COVID are Changing and the Hamilton/Burlington SPCA is Getting Ready.

Hamilton, ON (Thursday May 14, 2020) – The Hamilton/Burlington SPCA is readying new ways of work as Ontario communities open up for services and business.

“The Premier stated today that businesses should open only if they are ready,” stresses Marion Emo, CEO. “and we are getting ready. The health of our Staff is a priority, as is the safety of the public we serve. We are confident too that our donors who have supported the animals generously these last two months expect no less of the charity they support”.

For the next while, the HBSPCA will remain closed to the public. Service to community continues as it has for several weeks given the HBSPCA has been a priority service. These services include  Receiving animals at risk identified by Provincial Inspectors and as asked.  Receiving animals requiring emergency care.  Receiving emergency surrenders and surrenders of animals otherwise at risk for neglect and abandonment.  Supporting pets and their families with end of life support to alleviate pain, distress, and discomfort at the end of life.  Offering compassionate boarding for pets belonging to persons who might be hospitalized for COVID-19 treatment and for whom there are no pet care alternatives.  Providing no contact adoptions for pet companions ready for their forever home.  Supporting our customers with telemedicine support and pet behavioural advice to keep people and pets together.

The HBSPCA has already started working on a post COVID-19 Emergency State recovery plan guided by distancing and other directives of local and Provincial public health authorities. The HBSPCA is ensuring a robust supply of personal protective equipment, re-assessing patient flow in the Companion Animal Hospital, and changing up staff and public flow pathways in the building. Protective barriers are being installed in the hospital and adoption center. Web cams will enable meaningful staff meetings without face-to-face gatherings for the time being. Classes, clinics and fundraisers will resume only when it is safe for the public to gather in numbers greater than 5 persons.

“There is no time like the present to make changes that may have been contemplated and are now demonstrated to work well.” M. Emo goes on to say. “For instance, no contact adoptions
P. (905) 574-7722 | W. | E. 245 Dartnall Road, Hamilton, Ontario L8W 3V9

will be a feature of our service going forward. They will not replace on site adoptions; however, the outcomes have been positive for both adopters and re-homed pets”.

“We are exceptionally grateful for the support of our donors especially since the advent of the COVID-19. Donors are supporting innovative service, new service, and the requisites for safe service, all to advance a humane community, at all times. And for this we sincerely thank them”.

To learn about access to programs, including spay/neuter surgery, our new online e-boutique, online dog obedience classes and no contact adoption, please message or visit our website at

Media Contact: Marion Emo, CEO. 905-574-7722 ext. 310

About the Hamilton/Burlington SPCA: The Hamilton/Burlington SPCA (HBSPCA) keeps people and pets together, helps pet owners be the pet parents they want to be and rehomes neglected and abandoned animals for second chance lives. Activities include, among others, education, pet visiting for people’s well-being, low cost spay neuter services, and pet companion health checks and surgeries for pets belonging to some of the most vulnerable citizens in our community and for whom their pet is their best or only friend. We invite you to check out the miracles that happen every day at Charitable Registration # 11923 6750 RR0001.