2017 CFHS Animal Welfare Leadership and Innovation Awards

In 2017, we presented five awards to individuals who have shown leadership and innovation at a national level in the areas of emergency response, corporate social responsibility, farm animal welfare, humane legislation and public engagement.

Leadership and Cooperation in Emergency Response Award


In May 2016, Fort McMurray, Alberta experienced one of this country’s worst wildfire disasters. Fires swept through the community, forcing mass evacuation, destroying 590,000 hectares of land and 2,400 structures, and displacing more than 80,000 residents, the majority of whom were forced to leave their pets behind.

Alberta’s animal welfare community responded swiftly, forming a dedicated team of SPCAs, humane societies, shelters and other animal care agencies to achieve the largest cooperative animal rescue in Canadian history. After receiving approval from the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, these heroes returned to a still-burning Fort McMurray to commence their rescue efforts on the condition that they did not notify the public of their efforts until the rescue was complete.

The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies is proud to award the CFHS Leadership and Innovation Award to the following organizations, which were instrumental in these efforts.

Thanks goes, in alphabetical order, the Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society, Alberta Spay and Neuter Task Force, Alberta SPCA, Alberta Veterinary Medical Association, Calgary Humane Society, Edmonton Humane Society, Fort McMurray SPCA, Meika’s Bird House, Red Deer & District SPCA, the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo and the Government of Alberta’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development for their role in the extraction, evacuation and sheltering of animals during the fires that devastated Fort McMurray.

Leadership in Corporate Social Responsibility

PetSmart Canada and PetSmart Charities of Canada

PetSmart and PetSmart Charities of Canada has distributed over $10 million in grants to Canadian animal welfare groups, helping 20,000 pets find their forever homes through Pet Smart Charities of Canada adoption centres, and ensured 9,000 spay/neuter surgeries were performed across Canada in 2015 alone. They also stepped forward to help with the disaster relief efforts in Fort McMurray in 2016, providing $100,000 in emergency funding to purchase pet food and other essential products.

PetSmart and PetSmart Charities of Canada are the largest funders of animal welfare organizations in the country.

PetSmart Charities of Canada also supports important educational initiatives. They have been the presenting sponsor of the CFHS National Animal Welfare Conference since its inception in 2014, and their support has helped CFHS to provide Canada’s animal welfare community with professional education on animal cruelty prosecution, enforcement and the most progressive welfare practices for farm animals, companion animals and wildlife, helping to elevate the status and treatment of animals in Canada.

Leadership in Farm Animal Welfare

Dr. Ian Duncan and Mr. Geoff Urton


Much of the progress that we make on farm animal welfare in Canada has been thanks to years-long negotiations between animal welfare experts, the farming industry and the federal government via the National Farm Animal Care Council. Animal experts toil away for years on these committees to ensure the welfare needs of these animals are taken into account in industry practice.

CFHS honoured two of this country’s key animal welfare negotiators, who have secured important progress for Canada’s egg-laying hens: Dr. Ian Duncan and Geoff Urton.

Dr. Duncan is the Emeritus Chair in Animal Welfare at the University of Guelph’s Poultry Welfare Research Group and a former president of the Animal Welfare Foundation of Canada. Dr. Duncan’s innovative approach to farm animal welfare science involves methods to ask about and understand how animals feel about the conditions in which they are kept and the procedures they are subjected to. Dr. Duncan works with industry to develop animal welfare standards for farm animals and also works with organizations around the world to develop animal welfare certification programs. He is one of the foremost experts on farm animal welfare in Canada.

You would be hard-pressed to find a piece of new farm animal policy in Canada that Geoff Urton has not helped to shape. Geoff has represented the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies on several NFACC code committees as a key negotiator. He has a very unique combination of skills that he leverages to help animals, thanks to his Master’s in animal welfare science and his diploma in Dialogue and Negotiation. He has contributed to the National Farm Animal Care Council’s Beef and Dairy Codes as well as the Dairy Animal Care Assessment Program, as well leading multiple advocacy and outreach teams. He has successfully advocated for Canada’s phase-out of gestation stalls for sows and mandatory pain relief for pigs and cattle.

The Frederic A. McGrand Lifetime Leadership in Animal Welfare

Dr. David Suzuki


Senator Frederic A. McGrand’s life was guided by a deep passion and commitment to animal welfare. As a founding director and past president of the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, Senator McGrand left an important philosophical legacy to Canada’s animal welfare movement. Before his death in 1988, he established a charitable trust to continue his work, which includes an endowment to support humane societies and SPCAs in Atlantic Canada and a lifetime achievement award to acknowledge significant contributions to animal welfare in Canada.

The recipient of the 2017 Frederic A. McGrand Lifetime Achievement Award in Animal Welfare is Dr. David Suzuki.

Dr. Suzuki is one of the most loved and admired figures in Canadian history. Canadians from all walks of life connect with Dr. Suzuki – we trust him and want to hear what he has to say. He was voted Most Admired Canadian in a cross-Canada poll by the Globe and Mail and named one of the Top 10 Greatest Canadians by CBC audiences.

An award-winning scientist, environmentalist, broadcaster and author, he is the co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation – an organization that works to protect the full diversity of life on this planet. He has written more than forty books, including Good News for a Change and The Sacred Balance, and he holds eighteen honorary degrees from universities across North America.

Leadership and Innovation Award for Humane Legislation

Senator Wilfred P. Moore, Q.C.


Like so many other Canadians, it was watching the documentary Blackfish that put the issue of cetacean captivity on Senator Wilfred Moore’s radar. A Maritimer who grew up watching whales breaching off the coast of his hometown of Halifax, he decided then and there to take action to end the practice in Canada.

In 2015, with the support and endorsement of The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, Senator Moore launched Bill S-203, which aims to prohibit the captive breeding, import, export and live capture of all whales, dolphins and porpoises in Canada, while allowing for the rescue and rehabilitation of injured animals.

The Bill has encountered significant opposition, but Senator Moore has fought valiantly to keep it alive and moving forward so that the suffering of cetaceans in Canada can come to an end. The Bill is backed by concerned Canadians who have gotten behind it with petitions and hashtags like #freewillymoore in support of ending the cruel practice of cetacean captivity. Although we won’t know the outcome of this Bill for some time, Senator Moore’s work on S-203 has put the importance of cetacean welfare in the minds of the public and of leaders across Canada. That in itself is an important win.

Innovation in Public Engagement

Edmonton Humane Society


After the release of the popular Pokémon Go app in summer 2016, the Edmonton Humane Society quickly developed a strategic communications and marketing plan to both increase adoption and fundraise by tagging their location as a PokéStop and Pokémon Gym within the game. The Edmonton Humane Society turned Pokémon Go into an innovative public campaign, calling it “Gotta Adopt ‘Em All” - a play on the Pokémon catch phrase “Gotta Catch ‘Em All”.

EHS utilized traditional and non-traditional media to increase awareness of the campaign and launch an adoption event where users who travelled to EHS’ PokéStop and Pokémon Gym were also given the chance to adopt a rabbit or an adult cat for a reduced rate of $10. This highly-successful initiative ran from July 25 to August 1, 2016. During that time, EHS raised more than $20,000, nearly doubled the adoption rates for cats and rabbits and increased the shelter’s overall adoption rate.

2017 CFHS Animal Welfare Leadership and Innovation Awards
2017 CFHS Animal Welfare Leadership and Innovation Awards