When you hear the term humane society, most people think about cats and dogs. But the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, or CFHS, covers a lot more ground than that. In fact, in the beginning, CFHS was focused entirely on farm animal welfare. The reason that Canada finally got the momentum to create a national organization to improve animal protection in 1957 was because the public became aware of horrific animal abuse on Canadian farms and insisted something be done about it. While we still have a ways to go until farming and other animal use industries are humane, the situation has improved ten-fold because of our work. In the 60 years that we’ve existed, we’ve introduced dozens of new laws and policies that improve life for all types of animals in Canada.
What’s our main role – our raison d’etre? Well, to answer that, we need to look at the main issue that plagues Canada’s animal care industry. One of our industry’s greatest flaws is a lack of unity. There are seemingly endless animal welfare issues that need our attention, and the industry has a hard time agreeing on what is most urgent and what needs our immediate attention.
That’s the power of CFHS. We convene a group that offers representation to all kinds of animal care groups across the country, and we work with our members to set an agenda, solidify a unified purpose and increase the effectiveness of our industry’s approach to issues like much-needed updates to provincial and federal legislation, improving industry and government policies and educating the public about the lived realities of Canada’s animals, from cats to caribou.
Without the voice of CFHS, individual organizations across the country would still be clamouring to be heard by government and industry – with a voice that is rarely loud enough to make meaningful and sustainable change. We can be that voice. We have the reputation, the expertise and the relationships that are needed to evolve thinking about animals in Canada and truly elevate animal welfare.