About AVA

Action Volunteers for Animals (AVA) is an all-volunteer run charitable animal rescue dedicated to improving the lives of stray and feral animals. We have been a registered charity since 1981 and operate thanks to generous donations by individuals and pet charities.

We work predominantly in the GTA (Peel Region, York Region, Durham Region, Hamilton and Toronto) and are sometimes able to help cats in other areas of Ontario and Quebec.

Many animals are homeless until AVA comes to their aid. Rescued cats are vaccinated and spayed or neutered. Many of the rescued cats also require medical treatment; each year we pay for surgeries, x-rays, medications, blood tests, dental procedures and hospitalizations. Cats are then placed in foster homes until they are ready to be adopted to their forever homes.

We are continually looking for people to volunteer as temporary foster families. Learn more about how to foster.

Where possible, we also assist animals whose guardians are no longer able to care for them.

Cats not suitable for adoption – true feral cats – are fed, trapped (humanely), sterilized, vaccinated and ear tipped at a veterinary clinic. We do our best to find a forever home for every cat that will trust humans. Cats not suitable for adoptive homes are returned back to a maintained colony. Learn more about neighbourhood colonies here.


AVA was founded in the early 1970s by Merlin Andrew, a devoted animal rights and welfare advocate. During a 1972 strike of Toronto Humane Society (THS) shelter employees, a group THS volunteers worked to help keep its animals alive. The volunteers decided to continue to work together after the strike ended, under the auspices of AVA.

Merlin passed away in 2013 – AVA remains grateful for her leadership, bravery and dedication to animals. You can visit the Merlin Andrew Memorial Page on Facebook where people shared their memories and thoughts.