Like most policing agencies, the OHS releases the names of those it charges for animal cruelty and neglect. Though this is public information, from time to time, I get a call or a letter from someone concerned about the practice. Most often, the concerns are raised by friends and family of the accused.
It is important to be aware that the OHS only lays charges in a small fraction of the most serious cases, preferring to educate where we feel that can bring about change. Sometimes we are forced to lay charges in order to ensure that someone with mental health issues gets help. Too often, it is the only way that the animal's safety and well-being can be ensured when all reasonable alternatives fail. We do not publish or release these names. So only the most serious and most wilful crimes are reported to our community.
There are a number of reasons that the OHS releases the names of those charged. First and foremost, we want our community to be aware of the seriousness and range of crimes perpetrated against animals in Ottawa; crimes ranging from gross irresponsibility to truly horrific cruelty. We want our community to be vigilant in observing and reporting these crimes. We want them to take action where possible to influence better and more consequential legislation at all levels of government to protect animals.
We also want to educate our community, both that the neglect and cruelty are illegal and that the OHS is fully prepared to support the prosecution of those charged with it. We feel that these issues are not taken sufficiently seriously by many in our community, and that it is important to emphasize the seriousness and potential consequences of cruel or neglectful actions.