How Technology is Helping Us Better Serve Our Community

| January 28, 2022

Societal inequalities are leaving many pet parents behind. 

Racialized and low-income communities do not have access to essential animal wellness services and support. From veterinary care to effective training – such support helps keep animals with their families and out of the shelter system.  Not only do the barriers in animal welfare perpetuate old wounds and inequities, but they hurt animals as well.  

We as an industry need to do better. 

For Toronto Humane Society, the first step in this was determining exactly where we need to do better. Using a geographic information system (GIS) and Hot Spot analysis, we were able to identify areas within the GTA that are under-served for adopters, those surrendering a pet, public veterinary clients, volunteers, and foster parents.

This research culminated in a paper titled, “Where Are We on the Animal Welfare Map? Using GIS to Assess Stakeholder Diversity and Inclusion”. It was published in Frontiers in Veterinary Science here.    

Here’s what the paper found among Toronto Humane Society’s clientele

  • Well-served clients are typically located in central Toronto.  
  • Under-served clients are typically located in the North-West and North-East corners of Toronto and in the surrounding cities of the Greater Toronto Area.    
  • Adopters increased as the residential instability metric—families living in rental homes— increased, while adopters decreased as the ethnic concentration metric increased.    
  • Public Veterinary Service clients increased as the residential instability, material deprivation, and Indigenous metrics increased.   

The significance of this research can’t be overstated. Now that we have identified gaps in our services, we can slowly begin to address these gaps and determine how we can reach more communities that are currently not receiving support. This will improve the lives of more animals beyond our normal reach.   

This paper is a part of our response to the Black Lives Matter movement, where we have made a promise—to ourselves and to you, our community—to advocate for and help create much needed change.