If you are concerned that an animal may be in distress, do not ignore it. Your actions could help save a life. In addition to protecting the animal, you may also be protecting children or adults at risk of being harmed. To report an animal in distress (including wildlife), please call the toll free Animal Cruelty Reporting Hotline at 1 (855) 6BC SPCA (1-855-622-7722). The call centre is open seven days per week; Mon to Fri: 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Sat & Sun: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. If this is an animal emergency outside of these hours, please contact your local police department or RCMP.
An animal is in distress according to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCA Act) if it is:
(a) Deprived of adequate food, water, shelter, ventilation, light, space, exercise, care or veterinary treatment,
(a.1) Kept in conditions that are unsanitary,
(a.2) Not protected from excessive heat or cold,
(b) Injured, sick, in pain or suffering, or
(c) Abused or neglected.
How to recognize an animal in distress
Please note, the following has been provided to assist the public in recognizing signs that an animal is in distress and requires assistance. Warning: graphic photos are included and viewer discretion is advised.
Thin and emaciated: Extremely thin, rib bones and hip bones are visible. This could indicate starvation or illness. (View Photo Example - caution: graphic)
Little to no access to shelter, food or water: All companion, farm and captive wildlife should have access to food, water and shelter from the elements.
Although the horse has access to cover from outside elements, he is forced to stand in several feet of waste which can lead to severe foot infection.
This dog was left outside at all times without access to clean water, food or shelter from the elements.
This cat was forced to live in this kennel at all times. Cat litter was used as bedding.
3. Wounded or injured: May have an obvious wound or be limping. Or a guardian physically abusing an animal by hitting or kicking.
4. Coat in poor condition: Could indicate a flea or tick infestation. View Photo Example - caution: graphic
5. Hair badly matted: Can cause distress to an animal. View Photo Example - caution: graphic
6. Overgrown or neglected nails or hooves: View Photo Example - caution: graphic
7. Untreated infections: View Photo Example- caution: graphic
Cruelty to farm animals
Cases where farm animals suffer as a result of "generally accepted management practices" cannot be prosecuted under the PCA Act. However, owners who allow their farm animals to be in distress as a result of inadequate basic care can be prosecuted.
Learn more about the BC SPCA's Farm Animal Welfare programs, and how the BC SPCA is working to improve the standards of care for farm animals.
Cruelty to wildlife
The PCA Act allows our Animal Protection officers to intercede whenever any animal, with the exception of species at risk or wildlife that are not in captivity, is found in a state of distress.