Below are some commonly used words within animal welfare that you may come across while browsing the site.
Animal cruelty: Animal cruelty generally falls into one of three categories: neglect, intentional cruelty or sexual abuse. Examples include starvation, dehydration, confinement without adequate light or ventilation, failure to seek veterinary care when an animal is in need of medical attention, inadequate shelter, dog fighting, illegal slaughterhouses and puppy mills.
Animal hoarding: Animal hoarding or collecting is an obsessive/compulsive disorder in which an individual amasses a large number of animals (sometimes more than a 100); fails to provide for the animals' most basic physical and social needs, including food, water, shelter, veterinary care, and sanitary living conditions; and is usually in extreme denial about the abysmal living conditions of their animals, and dwelling. Often this neglect results in the animals' starvation, illness and death. Hoarding, technically, can be considered a crime, as it is a form of neglect.
Backyard breeder: An owner whose pet may have an unplanned litter by accident, or who breeds on purpose. Common reasons cited include: making extra money, mistakenly believing every dog should have a litter, letting the children witness "the miracle of birth," or because they think their dog would make cute puppies. The animals involved are generally not tested for health or genetic problems, and typically there is no thought to where the puppies will go. They are the single greatest cause of pet overpopulation. Many are sold locally through newspaper ads.
Cock fighting: An illegal blood sport in which two roosters, trained to severely injure and/or kill one another, are placed beak to beak in a small ring and encouraged to fight to the death. Usually wagers are made on the outcome of the match with the surviving bird being declared the winner.
Dog fighting: An illegal blood sport that pits dogs against one another for spectator entertainment, and often betting. The sport was popular in England in the 1700s, and many modern breeds were developed from these fighting dogs' lines. Fighting dogs are trained, and genetically predisposed, to fight to the death, rather than to display normal submissive signals that would allow two dogs to resolve a disagreement quickly and safely.
Ear cropping: The cropping of a purebred dog's ears to conform to a breed standard. While ear cropping surgery is usually performed by veterinarians, it is frequently done by untrained individuals in unsterile environments and without anesthesia. Today a number of countries consider cropping to be cruel and ban it entirely.
Feral cats: The offspring of strays or abandoned domestic cats who have reverted to a wild state; the offspring of feral cats who have lived in a wild state for some generations; or domestic cats that have been abandoned or run off and gone wild. Feral cats live in family groups called colonies.
Illegal slaughterhouses: Illegal, unlicensed slaughterhouses kill animals without any care or concern as to the method used. A screwdriver, dull knives and axes are just some of the inhumane tools of the illegal slaughter business. Additionally, these underground facilities don't employ sanitation programs, thereby placing anyone eating this meat at risk of serious food poisoning. In Ontario, if you are killing an animal for consumption other than for you and your immediate family, it must be done at a licensed abattoir, in a humane fashion, and inspected by a government inspector.
Intentional cruelty: Cruelty involving physical harm or injury inflicted on an animal. In cases where animals survive, veterinarians often recommend euthanasia due to the extent of the animal's injuries or the extreme suffering involved. Animal abuse is often a precursor to human-directed violence and an indicator of family crisis.
Leghold trap: The steel-jaw leghold trap is most often used to trap wild animals who are killed for their fur, such as bobcat, lynx, wolf, coyote, fox, beaver, muskrat, mink and otter. Trapped animals usually do not die instantly, and are left to suffer intense pain, exposure to severe weather, predatation by other animals, psychological trauma, dehydration and starvation. Leghold traps are indiscriminate - capturing any animals that trigger them including threatened and endangered species, raptors (such as eagles and hawks), and domestic dogs and cats.
Neglect: Neglect is the failure to provide adequate water, food, shelter or necessary care. Examples of neglect include: starvation; dehydration; inadequate shelter; parasite infestations; failure to seek veterinary care when an animal is in need of medical attention; allowing a collar to grow into an animal's skin; confinement without adequate light, ventilation, space or in unsanitary conditions; and failure to trim hooves or nails resulting in excessive growth (e.g. hooves curling upwards). In some cases neglect is simply a result of the owner's ignorance, and can be rectified by law enforcement authorities, like the Ontario SPCA, educating the owner and issuing orders to improve the animal's living conditions. In more severe cases, circumstances may require the Ontario SPCA, or other law enforcement authorities, removing the animals immediately to provide urgent medical care.
Ontario SPCA Act: The Ontario SPCA Act is the provincial legislation that gives Ontario SPCA and affiliated Humane Society investigators their policing powers to act on reported instances of animal cruelty, issue orders to improve an animal's living conditions and to remove animals from specific circumstances.
Ontario SPCA Branch: The Ontario SPCA's 25 Branches are located across the province and are directly administered by the Provincial Office in Newmarket.
Ontario SPCA Affiliate or Affiliated Humane Society: In order to gain animal cruelty investigative powers in their local communities, thirty-one Humane Societies are affiliated with the Ontario SPCA and empowered by the Ontario SPCA Act. While affiliates operate independently from the Ontario SPCA and are administered at the local level by their own individual Board of Directors, all affiliated Humane Society investigators are trained, licensed and overseen by the Ontario SPCA Chief Inspector. They participate in any number of activities and initiatives common to the entire network of Branches and Affiliates - and are given access to certain services and benefits by belonging to the larger group.
Puppy mill: The National Companion Animal Coalition defines puppy mills as a high-volume, sub-standard dog breeding operation, which sells purebred or mixed-breed dogs, to unsuspecting buyers. Characteristics common to puppy mills include: sub-standard health and/or environment issues; sub-standard animal care, treatment and/or socialization; sub-standard breeding practices which lead to genetic defects or hereditary disorders; and erroneous or falsified certificates of registration, pedigree, and/or genetic background. Note: These conditions may also exist in small volume or single-breed establishments.
Stray: A currently or recently owned dog or cat who may be lost. The animal is usually well socialized but may become wary over time. A stray's kittens or pups may be feral.
Tail docking: The cutting of a purebred dog's tail to conform to a breed standard. While tail docking surgery is usually performed by veterinarians, it is frequently done by untrained individuals in unsterile environments and without anesthesia. Today a number of countries consider cropping to be cruel and ban it entirely.