1-800-455-9003

Animal Protection Line

Search

News

Search

History

Compassion for Animals Since 1959

Compassion for animals has always been at the core of our organization and it continues to influence our work on behalf of animals.

It was September 10, 1959 that we were incorporated as a non-profit organization under the Societies Act in Alberta. Until that time, the Northern Alberta SPCA  (now known as the Edmonton Humane Society) operated in the Edmonton area.

In the late 1950s, there was pressure on the Alberta Government to enact provincial animal welfare legislation, to  both acknowledge farm animals as well as to better protect all animals. From there, the Alberta SPCA was born with a focus on animal welfare issues outside of Edmonton and Calgary. This meant livestock welfare issues could be responded to.

Archie Bruce was the Alberta SPCA's first special constable.

The early days of the Alberta SPCA were lean. Archie Bruce (left) was both the executive director and sole special constable and he served in that role for both the Alberta and Northern Alberta SPCAs. He did not have a work vehicle so he used his own.

In the mid-1960s, pressure intensified on the Alberta Government to create provincial animal welfare legislation. Bruce, along with Alberta SPCA President, Zennon (Zeke) Young, and Lou Hyndman Sr. developed the framework for what would become the Animal Protection Act, which came into effect July 1, 1967. With the legislation came a $10,000 grant to the Alberta SPCA to enforce it, and with that, the Alberta SPCA was able to hire a second constable.

The Alberta SPCA has continued to evolve since those early days. We now have 11 Peace Officer positions, and offices in Edmonton, Okotoks and Red Deer.

Longtime Alberta SPCA President Joy Ripley with goats in 1994.
Special Constable Cliff Humford seizes horses in 1986

Our organization was instrumental in pushing for improvements to the Animal Protection Act (APA) in 1986 and in 2006 to meet the growing expectations of Albertans for animal welfare. The Alberta SPCA’s mission to protect, promote and enhance the well-being of animals guides us in pursuit of better outcomes for animals. More recently, Alberta SPCA staff and board members have been advocating to modernize the APA to improve enforceability and to give Peace Officers more tools to better protect animals.

In 1981 we added an education department. It is the longest continuously operating education program in the province, with two full-time teachers with education degrees. Our department works tirelessly to ensure curriculum-related resources are available for teachers to integrate humane education into classrooms. In 2014 we added the Pet Safekeeping Program, ensuring people fleeing domestic violence situations have somewhere to place their pets so they can enter a safe shelter. In 2019, that program evolved into the One Family Welfare department, ensuring other people in crisis situations can also access help for their animals. When people are suffering, so are their pets. By helping those people, we are also helping animals!

 

Throughout our 60 years, the Alberta SPCA’s number one focus has always been on the animals. As our staff decide how best to proceed with any situation before us, we always ask one simple question, “what is best for the animal?” Charges may ultimately be laid in some cases, but even if they are not, as long as we have helped the animal, we have done our job.

As we proceed into the next 60 years in our history, it is hard to predict how society will change. What is predictable is the Alberta SPCA’s compassionate approach will continue as we strive to ensure every animal in Alberta be treated humanely.

History of the Alberta SPCA Timeline

60th Anniversary Timeline

One Family Welfare Department Added
One Family Welfare Department Added

The Pet Safekeeping program expands into the  One Family Welfare department. OFW offers assistance to people and pets in crisis, even if their situation is not connected to family violence.

Pet Safekeeping Program Launched
Pet Safekeeping Program Launched

A landmark 2012 study called The Cruelty Connection, demonstrated the link between family violence and animal abuse. The report, which was commissioned by the Alberta SPCA, led to the creation of the Pet Safekeeping Program, giving domestic violence survivors an option to foster their pets while seeking safety in a protective shelter.

The Animal Protection Act is Updated
The Animal Protection Act is Updated

In 2006, a major revision to the Animal Protection Act was enacted, only the second update since its inception in 1967; the first update took place in 1989. The changes came after many years of lobbying by the Alberta SPCA.

Edmonton Office Space Purchased
Edmonton Office Space Purchased

The Alberta SPCA rented a number of office spaces over the years, but it wasn’t until 1994 that we purchased our own building. The location on 124th street in Edmonton was our home for over 20 years until we moved to our current 118th Ave location.

First Education Officer Hired
First Education Officer Hired

In 1981 we hired our first education officer, Elizabeth Gredley, to promote the values of humane education, and develop a humane education curriculum. Prior to this, education tasks were carried out by an education committee. Today, our Education Department is the longest continuously operating education program in the province, with two full-time teachers working to provide humane education materials to Alberta teachers.

Strathmore Office Opens
Strathmore Office Opens

On February 12th, 1991 the Alberta SPCA opened our Strathmore office. Until then, our 2 Special Constables worked out of their homes or in rented spaces.

Alberta SPCA Hires First Female Special Constable
Alberta SPCA Hires First Female Special Constable

Early in 1980, the Alberta SPCA welcomed its first female special constable. Candy Scales would eventually become the head of the enforcement department and remain with the organization for 18 years.

The Animal Protection Act comes into Effect
The Animal Protection Act comes into Effect

In the mid-1960s, pressure intensified on the Alberta Government to create provincial animal welfare legislation. Bruce, along with Alberta SPCA President, Zennon (Zeke) Young, and Lou Hyndman Sr. developed the framework for what would become the Animal Protection Act, which came into effect July 1, 1967. With the legislation came a $10,000 grant to the Alberta SPCA to enforce it, and with that, the Alberta SPCA was able to hire a second constable. The Alberta SPCA has continued to evolve since those early days. We now have 11 Peace Officer positions, and offices in Edmonton, Okotoks, Innisfail and in northern Alberta.

Alberta SPCA is incorporated as a Non-profit Organization
Alberta SPCA is incorporated as a Non-profit Organization

It was September 10th, 1959 that the Alberta SPCA was incorporated as a non-profit organization under the Societies Act in Alberta. Until that time, the Northern Alberta SPCA  (now known as the Edmonton Humane Society) operated in the Edmonton area. Our first Executive Director and special constable was Archie Bruce, who held the positions for both the Alberta SPCA and the Northern Alberta SPCA for 8 years.

Alberta Humane Society is Created
Alberta Humane Society is Created

The Animal Welfare movement had been underway for a number of years, and in 1910, the Alberta Humane Society was formally registered. The name would later be changed to the SPCA – Northern Alberta, and that organization would advocate on behalf of animals for nearly 50 years before the creation of the Alberta SPCA in 1959.

Alberta SPCA News

Dan Kobe

Numerous Large Seizures Strain Alberta SPCA Resources

Latest seizure brings 82 additional animals into the care of the Alberta SPCA On April 23, 2024, the Alberta SPCA was asked to assist the RCMP during an investigation on a property in Mountain View County. Once on site, Alberta SPCA Peace Officers determined the animals on the property were in distress. As a result,

Read More »
Dan Kobe

Alberta SPCA to take over answering ALERT Line

March 21, 2024 The Alberta SPCA, in collaboration with the former Alberta Farm Animal Care (AFAC) Board of Directors is pleased to announce plans for the future of the AFAC ALERT Line. With the dissolution of AFAC underway, effective March 21, 2024 calls to the ALERT Line will be answered by the Alberta SPCA. “We

Read More »
Dan Kobe

Compassion for Collectors

When the Alberta SPCA Peace Officer arrives at a property to check on the welfare of animals, she is always on the lookout for signs of a bigger problem. Sometimes, it’s a nearby vehicle that is stacked full of clothes or bottled water, or perhaps it’s the home’s windows, with the curtains drawn shut, but

Read More »

The vision of the Alberta SPCA is that every animal in Alberta be treated humanely.

To hear the latest from the Alberta SPCA, subscribe to our newsletter.

Don't miss new updates in your email
1-800-455-9003
Animal Protection Line