The Provincial Animal Welfare (PAWs) Working Group on Animals in Emergencies provided resources for municipal emergency planners to coordinate additional response plans.


As many of you are aware, AMO maintains a close working relationship with the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services (MCSCS). AMO has provided input on major recent issues, including programs associated with the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act and the province’s new standardized approach to managing incidents, the Incident Management System. This update provides you with information on a new initiative to enhance capacity related to animals in emergencies.

AMO is participating in the Provincial Animal Welfare Working Group on Animals in Emergencies. The PAWs Group consists of provincial government ministries and other stakeholders with related responsibilities and interests. The group is dedicated to supporting the inclusion of animals in emergency planning throughout Ontario.

Your Community Emergency Management Coordinator (CEMC) may have already received some of the following information. Presentations on animals in emergencies were made at the recent round of Emergency Management Ontario (EMO) sector meetings that involved CEMCs and other municipal officials, and there was a tremendous amount of interest expressed in this timely and important subject.

Dealing with animals in emergencies is inevitable. Municipalities will have to cope with this situation whether it’s planned for or not. The PAWs Group can help you to achieve a planned response.

The PAWs Group - Your “One Stop Shop”

The PAWs Group is the “one stop shop” for information on animals in emergencies in Ontario. In 2008, the group was formed by EMO and the Public Safety Division of MCSCS.

  • EMO operates in support of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act to promote effective emergency management through the province.
  • MCSCS administers the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, the legislation that authorizes the OSPCA to enforce any animal welfare-related law in Ontario. The OSPCA and the PAWs Group coordinates many of the PAWs Group’s initiatives.
  • Additional members of the PAWs Group include AMO, other provincial ministries (including the ministries of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs; Natural Resources; and Municipal Affairs and Housing) and key stakeholders such as the College of Veterinarians (CVO), Ontario Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA), the Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians (OAVT), the Animal Shelter Administrators of Ontario and the Red Cross.
In addition to serving as a vehicle for sharing information, new ideas and best practices, the PAWs Group offers four new resources to help municipalities integrate animals in emergency planning: 

(1) Access to OSPCA expertise:
  • The OSPCA is your province-wide source for assistance in planning for animals in emergencies. If your CEMC does not already have a contact at your local OSPCA branch or affiliated humane society, please talk to Connie Mallory, the OSPCA’s Senior Regional Inspector in charge of Emergency Management (her contact information is below).
(2) A Municipal Planning Template:
  • The Municipal Planning Template - which has been made available to your CEMC - is for your municipality’s use, however you see fit. It is flexible enough to accommodate a range of municipality types and local requirements. It won’t provide all the answers, but it will certainly help ask the right questions to effectively integrate animal-related considerations into your municipal emergency plan. 
  • Your local OSPCA representative can help your CEMC review this template and put it to use.
  • The template was developed primarily through a joint effort of the City of Kingston and the OSPCA. In the spirit of sharing best practices, the PAWs Group is circulating it throughout the province. 
  • In the near future, the PAWs Group will circulate Ontario municipal emergency plans that are based on or make use of the template. That commitment to help share best practices will be ongoing.
(3) The PAWs Volunteers Program:
  • The PAWs Volunteers Program involves dedicated veterinary medical professionals (veterinarians, veterinary technicians, etc.) and students of those professions who are prepared to participate (such as in exercises), help plan for and respond to emergencies. Your CEMC can access local PAWs Volunteers through your local OSPCA contact.
(4) Access to advice regarding related funding under the federal Joint Emergency preparedness program (JEPP).
  • Your CEMC can contact EMO directly for additional information and assistance.
Animals in Emergencies - Some Ontario Facts

More than 60% of Ontario households have at least one pet and most consider their pets to be family members. In a recent survey, 70 % of dog owners and 62% of cat owners said they would risk their lives to save their pets.

Over the last few decades, the primary animal-related lessons learned by emergency management professionals are:
  • if it’s too dangerous for people, it’s too dangerous for animals;
  • it is inevitable that you are going to have to deal with animals in emergencies, planning for this inevitability is better than not planning for it; and,
  •  including animals in emergency preparedness can help save the lives of both people and animals, minimize negative impacts and assist in recovery.
For more information about EMO or general emergency management questions, please ask your CEMC to contact your EMO Field Officer. For questions about potential potential JEPP funding, please contact EMO’s Program Funding Coordinator:

Kay Agelakos
416 314-2846 Fax

For more information about your local OSPCA contact, the PAWs Volunteers Program, the Municipal Planning Template or any other aspect of animals in emergencies, please ask your CEMC to contact:

OSPCA Sr. Regional Inspector Connie Mallory
or 1-888-668-7722 ext. 365