Frequently Asked Questions

Where are you located? Is there only one location?

Toronto Humane Society is located at 11 River Street in the east end of downtown Toronto. We only operate one shelter location, however we regularly have animals available for adoption off-site through many of our adoption partners including: PawsWay, and select PetSmart and Pet Valu locations.

What are your hours of operation?

Toronto Humane Society is open from 11am to 7pm Monday through Friday and is open from 10am to 6pm on Saturday and Sunday. Hours of operation may be reduced on some statutory holidays. Please note that you must arrive at least one hour prior to closing in order to begin the adoption process.

How long does it take to adopt? What is the process?

It can take an hour to an hour and a half to go through the entire adoption process, please make sure you have allocated enough time to avoid frustration.

For more information on adoption fees and the process see the Adoption Process section of our website.

What animals are available for adoption?

We have new animals enter the shelter on a daily basis. Puppies, kittens, cats, dogs, bunnies, guinea pigs, chinchillas, birds, and turtles are regularly available. And yes, we do see purebred animals.

Each and every adoptable pet is displayed on our website the moment they become available so please check regularly if you are looking for something specific. Our call centre representatives will not be able to tell you if we expect to have ‘xyz’ breed available for adoption because we just do not know who will come through the door next. To see the animals currently available for adoption please visit the Adopt a Pet section of our website.

What animals are eligible for spay or neuter surgery?

  • Healthy adult cats and dogs under the age of 7
  • Kittens that are at least 4 months old (>1kg) and puppies that are at least 10 weeks old (>2.25kg)
  • Female cats in heat
  • Healthy pregnant cats

Note: For the health of your pet, we strongly recommend that he/she is vaccinated at least two weeks prior to surgery. These vaccines can be administered by your local veterinarian or you can request an appointment with the Toronto Humane Society’s vaccination services. Our policy requires all animals to be vaccinated prior to leaving the clinic if not currently up to date. Vaccines will be administered and a vaccination fee will be added to your surgery bill in the event your animal is not up to date by the time of surgery.

While we do not offer this service, pre-anesthetic bloodwork is always recommended before any surgical procedure for animals of all ages. Please contact your veterinarian if you wish to have this completed as we do not offer this service via our clinic.

For additional information please feel free to contact us via email or call: 416-392-2273 x2

What animals are NOT eligible for spay and neuter surgery?

  • Animals who have travelled outside of the country within the last 6 months
  • Unhealthy or contagious cats and dogs
  • Animals that have received medications within the last two weeks (excluding anti-parasitic medications). If your pet is on a long-term medication please check with us to see if you can be accommodated
  • Very overweight or underweight cats and dogs. (Body condition scores: 1/9 – 3/9 or 8/9 - 9/9)
  • Nursing cats and dogs
  • Pregnant dogs, or those in currently in heat (or had a heat within the last 6-8 weeks)
  • Large breed female dogs weighing over 40kg
  • Any “teacup” breeds or dogs under 2.25 kg
  • Large, deep-chested dogs: Great Danes (both adults and puppies)
  • Animals under six (6) months with retained testicles. Animals over 6 months with testicles undescended will be done at the discretion of the attending veterinarian if the testicle is palpable at the time of surgery, and a $20 fee will be applied
  • Short-faced (brachycephalic) dog breeds such as: English Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, Pekingese, Pugs. Short-faced cat breeds such as: Persian cats, Himalayan cats . Please note that any brachycephalic (short nosed/“smushed” faced) animals that are not on this list will have surgery at the attending veterinarian’s discretion. We might request photos of your animals be sent to spayneuter@torontohumanesociety.com to confirm your pets eligibility.

Unsure if your animal is at an ideal body weight? Take a look at these helpful resources:

Dogs

Cats

All surgeries are at the discretion of the veterinarian the morning of surgery. Should they determine for any reason during the pre-surgical examination that your animal is unfit for surgery, the veterinarian reserves the right to deny the patient. As all of our patients receive a pre-surgical examination to ensure they are healthy enough to undergo the procedure, a $25.00 examination fee will be applied if your animal is denied.

If your animal has been denied for our high-volume service please speak with us about our other service options that may be available to you.

What animals have a caution prior to surgery?

  • Animals with neurological conditions. Please ensure to notify us at the time of booking if your pet has a neurological condition
  • Standard Poodles, Weimaraners, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Dobermans. Due to the risk of gastric dilation volvulus we recommend owners of these breeds discuss the option of gastropexy with your private practice veterinarian
  • Dobermans will require a Von Willebrands test prior to surgery. If your dog is part Doberman we strongly recommend you discuss the risk of Von Willebrands disease with your veterinarian. Should your animal present physically as primarily Doberman it will be at the discretion of our veterinarians to request testing prior to being accepted for surgery
  • Some Shar-peis, Boston Terriers, Bulldogs, Shih Tzus, and Boxers, may present as more brachycephalic than others. Should we determine they are brachycephalic they will be denied for surgery
  • Animals with severely poor dental health. While also painful and uncomfortable, poor dental health can have a negative effect on your pet’s organ functions and health
  • FIV and feline leukemia positive animals must be in good health and not experiencing any other illnesses. Caregivers are also recommended to seek vaccination service with their own veterinarian who can provide killed vaccines. The Toronto Humane Society’s Vaccination Service uses modified live vaccines that can in theory initiate a low level of infection or illicit no immune response from felines affected with these viruses

Unsure if your animal has dental disease? Take a look at these helpful articles:

Veterinary Partner

Pet Dental

If I have more than one pet, do I need to submit more than one application form?

Each pet requires its own application, which will remain part of its medical record.

How does spaying or neutering my cat prevent reproduction?

In female cats and dogs, the uterus and ovaries are removed through a small incision in the abdominal wall. After the surgery, females will be unable to get pregnant and will not go through heat cycles.

In male cats and dogs, the testicles are removed but the scrotum remains. Removal of the testicles prevents production of sperm resulting in a male that cannot produce young.

Will my cat be unable to reproduce immediately after surgery?

Female cats and dogs will be unable to reproduce as soon as the surgery is complete. They will have no reproductive organs remaining

Male cats and dogs will have their testicles removed but there will be sperm and testosterone in their systems for up to three weeks post-surgery

What are the benefits of spaying or neutering my pets?

  • It reduces or removes the risk of disease, infection and cancer of the pet's reproductive system i.e. mammary cancer, prostate cancer, uterus infection (pyometra)
  • Female heat cycles are eliminated
  • Male cats may no longer spray or smell, male dogs may urine mark less frequently on walks
  • It ends the cat's crying, howling, fighting and frantic efforts to get out, and may decrease a dog’s urge to run away in search of opportunity to mate
  • Spaying and neutering can make your pet more laid back and affectionate by decreasing hormonally related aggression issues
  • Spayed and neutered pets have been proven to live longer lives. Male neutered cats for example live 62% longer than unneutered toms
  • It reduces pet overpopulation and the thousands of homeless and unwanted animals that end up in rescue organizations & shelters each year

Do you provide medical care for owned animals?

Toronto Humane Society offers high-volume spay/neuter and vaccination services for healthy animals, please see our Vaccination Services page for more information on pricing and patient requirements.

We do not provide medical care for owned animals that are sick or injured. If you are an owner of an animal that needs veterinary care and you are facing financial hardship we urge you to call around to a number of different veterinary clinics as prices vary greatly throughout the GTA. If possible request a payment plan or perhaps borrow funds on a short-term basis from family members.

You can also explore applying for funds through the Farley Foundation or Pet Card. Please note that the Toronto Humane Society is not affiliated with either of these organizations.

If there are no alternatives you may consider surrendering your pet to the Toronto Humane Society. Please see our Owner Surrender page for more information on surrendering and alternatives to surrender.

What do I do if I suspect animal cruelty or neglect?

Toronto Humane Society does not have the power to investigate suspected cases of cruelty or to remove animals from an owner.

If you are concerned about a by-law infraction please call Toronto Animal Services at 416-338-7297.

What do I do if I find a stray animal?

In order to reduce confusion for owners of lost animals we request that found stray pets are brought to the closest Toronto Animal Services location to you. If this is not an option stray animals can be brought to Toronto Humane Society. Please make note of the exact location the animal was found prior to bringing them to the shelter.

I have lost my pet, what do I do?

First, stay calm. Then follow these steps:

  1. Alert Toronto Animal Services that your pet has gone missing by calling 416-338-7297
  2. Check the Toronto Animal Services website for recently accepted strays
  3. Advise neighbors and put up signs in your community that include a recent picture of your pet
  4. Add your pet to the Helping Lost Pets database
  5. Visit other rescue organizations (including Toronto Humane Society) in person to look for your pet

Remember, having a microchip greatly increases your chances of being reunited with a lost pet. If your pet is not currently microchipped please consider having this done as soon as possible to help prevent heartache.

Where does your funding come from?

Toronto Humane Society is an independent non-profit organization. We do not receive any funding from the government in order to carry out our work. We rely completely on the generous donations of our supporters and grants from private corporations to keep our doors open and save thousands of lives every year.

If you are interested in showing your support please visit the Support Us section of our website.

How many animals do you help each year?

In 2015 we touched the lives of 16,000 animals through our various programs and services!

  • 3,477 animals found forever homes through our adoption program in 2015
  • 14,531 animals have been spayed or neutered through our low cost service since we started operations in 2012
  • Over 446,000 pounds of food have been distributed to pets and owners in need through our food banks in 2015

How can I get involved?

There are numerous ways for you to show your support for Toronto Humane Society!

For more information on volunteering please see the Volunteer section of our website. Please note that volunteers must be 18 years of age or older.

To find out more about being a foster parent please see the Foster Program section of our website.

Becoming a member is a great way to have your voice heard and help elect our Board of Directors. The application to become a member can be found on the Membership section of our website.

You can also provide monetary support by donating, holding an event on our behalf, or remembering us in your will. To find out more about these options please see the Support Us section of our website.

Are you a no-kill shelter? What is your euthanasia rate?

Toronto Humane Society operates under no-kill principles. No animal surrendered into our care is euthanized due to length of stay or space constraints. We are pleased to note that our shelter euthanasia rate has decreased to 5% in 2015, well below the national average of 33% for cats and 16% for dogs.

How does the Toronto Humane Society spend donation dollars?

Toronto Humane Society prides itself as being one the select few charities in Canada to receive a 4 Star rating from the independent organization Charity Intelligence Canada. Ratings are based on our financial transparency and accountability, need for funding, and operating efficiency.

In 2015 1% of donations received were invested to provide additional revenue, 9% went to administrative costs, 11% went towards fundraising to generate more revenue, and an impressive 79% went towards animal care and community programs.

2015 donations pie chart

Does the Toronto Humane Society care for wildlife or large animals?

Toronto Humane Society cares for domestic companion animals only in our shelter. This includes the obvious such as dogs and cats, but we also provide care for a variety of rodents, reptiles, amphibians, and birds.

If you have found orphaned or injured wildlife please contact the Toronto Wildlife Centre. If concerned about farm animal welfare please contact the Ontario SPCA.

I’m interested in working for Toronto Humane Society, what positions are available and what education is required?

Available positions at the Toronto Humane Society are listed here. Because of the range of positions available, from administrative roles to directly working with the animals, employees with a wide variety of educational backgrounds are present at the shelter. Please see individual job listings for education and experience requirements.

I am under 18 years of age, but I want to help animals at the Toronto Humane Society, what can I do?

Toronto Humane Society requires that all in-shelter volunteers be 18 years of age or older. However, we strongly encourage youth and children to be advocates for animal welfare. Those who are under 18 can show their support for our mission by educating others through school projects, raising money through efforts such as car washes and lemonade stands, requesting donations to our shelter instead of birthday presents, and just by being kind to animals in their community and encouraging others to do the same.

Where do your adoptable animals come from?

Toronto Humane Society takes in animals in need from a variety of sources:

  • Owner surrenders - These animals were brought to us by their owner for a multitude of reasons from expensive medical issues, to simply a lack of time to care for them.
  • Custodial surrenders – These animals were brought to us by a person who is not their legal owner. They may have been abandoned in their care or could be feral kittens that were socialized in a home.
  • Transfers in – These animals came from other shelters and rescues. We in the animal welfare world must always work together in order to save the most lives. The animals transferred to us may have been slated for euthanasia because their shelter was over capacity, or may have needed medical treatment the shelter was unable to provide.
  • Return adoptions – A small number of animals adopted through the Toronto Humane Society are returned to us, often many years after the initial adoption took place.
  • Strays – The Toronto Humane Society works alongside Toronto Animal Services to ensure all stray animals have a safe and warm place to lay their head.

Intake pie chart

What is the difference between Toronto Humane Society, the OSPCA, and Toronto Animal Services? Why do we need so many different organizations?

Toronto Humane Society is an independent animal welfare organization that relies solely on donations in order to provide housing and medical care to thousands of animals each and every year. We also utilize donation dollars to provide much needed services, such as food banks, humane education, and high volume spay/neuter to our community at large. In 2015 our programs and services touched the lives of over 16,000 animals.

Toronto Humane Society proudly adheres to no-kill principles and will never euthanize an animal due to space constraints or length of time in the shelter. We are able to accomplish this in part thanks to our large network of compassionate volunteers who work with animals with behavior issues, take on the palliative care of older or sick animals, and provide animals who need some time away from the shelter with a comfortable temporary home.

The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) is a government directed organization partially funded through tax dollars. The OSPCA is responsible for administering the Ontario SPCA Act, which grants them the power to investigate cases of animal cruelty and potentially lay charges against an owner/caregiver. The OSPCA also operates a number of adoption centers throughout the province.

Toronto Animal Services (TAS) is a municipal service mainly funded through tax dollars. TAS enforces provisions in the Toronto Municipal Code as well as the Dog Owner Liability Act, and is mandated by the City of Toronto to take in stray animals. TAS also operates several adoption centers throughout the city, and provides licensing services for owned animals in the City of Toronto.

Do you offer tours, or other educational activities for children?

Yes we do! Please see the Public Education and Shelter Tours section of our website.