This week, OFA partnered with Ontario Sheep to host an informational session on the new Standards of Care for Outdoor Dogs.
When the Provincial Animal Welfare Services (PAWS) Act came into effect January 1, 2020, it brought with it an updated, more uniform approach to delivering animal welfare enforcement in Ontario. The PAWS Act and its regulations aim to ensure that all animals are protected and treated in a humane manner. Protections include setting out prohibitions against causing or permitting distress to an animal, basic standards of care that apply to all animals covered under the Act, and additional standards of care that apply to animals in certain circumstances. This includes dogs that live outdoors, which experience specific health and welfare challenges compared to their indoor counterparts.
Many livestock farmers use livestock guardian dogs (LGDs) to protect their animals from predators. These dogs live outside with the animals year-round. On May 18, 2022, the Ministry of the Solicitor General joined Ontario Sheep Farmers (OSF) and the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) to host an information session on the new Standards of Care for Outdoor Dogs. OSF and OFA were joined by Tiffany Landau, Manager of the Animal Welfare Policy Unit, and Nicole Rogers, Director of the Community Safety and Animal Welfare Policy Branch, both with the Strategic Policy, Research and Innovation Division of the Ontario Ministry of the Solicitor General. Nicole and Tiffany presented the new requirements for dogs kept outdoors, and engaged in a Q&A session afterwards.
A dog “kept outdoors” is a dog that is outdoors for more than 60 minutes without its owner or custodian present. New regulatory standards require that shade, shelter and protection from the elements be provided, including a providing a dog shelter that meets specific requirements set out in the regulations. LGDs and dogs with access to a structurally sound building used to house livestock do not require a dog shelter. LGDs are exempt from the dog shelter requirements as they are likely to receive protection from the elements and shelter from living alongside the livestock. Dogs that have access to a building that is housing livestock, such as a barn, are likely to receive warmth and protection through their access to a barn which is warmed by livestock and do not require a shelter.
Additional standards include that food must meet daily caloric requirements, be free of contaminants including dirt, and must be fit for consumption. Water must be available at all times, cannot be frozen, and is replaced at least once every 24 hours. Daily health and welfare checks are needed, and grooming must be provided as necessary. The regulations set out the maximum amount of time that a dog may be tethered outdoors in a 24-hour period. Tethers used to constrain dogs must meet certain length, and collar and harness requirements. Housing pens must meet certain size requirements, and their use must not cause undue distress. Pen and tether areas must provide enough space for natural behaviours, and be cleaned as necessary. Any dog tethered outdoors for 23 hours in a 24-hour period must be taken off the tether for at least 60 continuous minutes to allow for exercise and enrichment.
Complete requirements for dogs kept outdoors can be found here. These new requirements come into effect July 1, 2022.
The recorded info session can be accessed in the near future on OSF’s YouTube channel:
For additional information, please refer to the following documents: