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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Humane Society Woes

Many years ago, soon after I moved to Toronto, I visited the Toronto Humane Society. I told them that I recently graduated as a vet, and management took me on a personal tour of the facilities, which had impressed me greatly at the time. Granted, there were exponentially less cats there at that time than today, but the wards were spotless, the dogs appeared clean and friendly, their runs were well-kept, and the cats lazily purred away while their owners-to-be agonized over which ones to choose. Upon questioning the manager about the THS's long and altruistic history, she reached for her bookcase and provided me with a copy of the THS Calendar, published in 1887, explaining and beautifully illustrating the Society's raison d'être.
Now we read in the Globe and Mail about the Globe's investigation into allegations that the THS has been ignoring the pleas of employees and volunteers to provide them with the necessary means to prevent suffering of their animals.
There appears to be compelling evidence thus far, even after reading just two articles on the subject. Witnesses seem to be coming out of the woodwork to expose their rather shocking personal experiences, while citations from THS management reminded me of the wind gushing from the mouths of yet unelected politicians (or managers who don't know what the ---- is going on in their businesses or institutions). I would have lent far less credence to the nauseatingly lefty writings of the Toronto Star (see last week's coverage regarding dog getting shot by cop - of course let's blame the man) - glad to be reading about this in the Globe.
Whatever occurs, the reputation of the THS must be restored so that its modus operandi not be eschewed for petty politics. Its mandate: to help alleviate the pain and suffering of (people and) animals.

Detail from an image in a previous post, from the Calendar of the Toronto Humane Society, 1887.
Update: OSPCA executes search warrants at Toronto Humane Society. Read here.


Nibbles Treats said...

It is never good when politics play a role.

GoLightly said...

Oh, I heard about this.

I can't believe it. I gave up on the THS when they insisted on re-habbing, at great expense, a lab-cross that had caused 200 stitches to a child's face. (Bandit)
I had several conversations with Tim Trow's assistant, and Tim Trow himself, an owner of an un-neutered dalmation. I do feel with the sheer numbers of dogs needing good homes, more funds should go to the animals that benefit from it. Let independent rescues rehab these dogs!

Bandit was still in rehab, two years later. I don't know what happened to the dog.
I also kind of lost it with them, when they refused to adopt cats out to people who wanted them as mousers.

It's just too sad, that in-fighting like this had to erupt.
As if it benefits the animals.

I adopted my old red dog from the THS, and it hurt my heart to stop supporting them, after 14 years of doing so.

They just seemed to lose some sort of grip on reality.

You heard about Tre? Still works for the THS? Loves the camera, and looks good in front of it?
Tre, the THS guy who handcuffed a man to his van, and other people beat the man up, because he'd left his dog in a car on a hot day?
Totally, the man deserved to be chastised. Fined, his dog taken away. Great, good job.
But hand-cuffed and then beat up by by-standers?

I haven't heard anything other than it's "disgruntled ex-THS-employees" (from CFRB radio).
Hey, you'll be pleased to know I called in to the Michael Coren Show, to tell him there was something wrong with him.
He hung up on me!!
The nerve.
He was saying that the general public felt only false compassion for that terrible story about the murdered 8 year old girl.
That we "don't" feel compassion for the parents/child.
There's something wrong with that guy.

THS is a "No-Kill" now. That's a waste of resources.

I know it isn't the popular opinion. I worked for the Oakville Humane, 30 years ago.
They killed everything. One week, dead. I hated that, too.
I don't know their policies now.

There IS a middle ground.

I hope the two factions can come to their senses and realize it's about the animals.
Not them.

To Our Four-Legged Friends.
If only we had more owners that could truly take care of them, always.
sorry for the long ramble.
ReallY bad day..

Emily said...

I went to THS to adopt a dog a few years ago. I wasn't allowed, I lived in an apartment. Another time I went to adopt a cat. Nope, not allowed. I owed too much on my phone bill. I should have brought in a rent stub. No wonder people can manage to sell mutt dogs and kittens, its next to impssible to get one from the THS. This blows me away. Thats not all of the issues Ive had with humane societies in general. I prefer the private rescues when it comes to adoption and helping the animals. Shelters have become too self righteous.

Anonymous said...

I have been through THS on numerous occasions and have never seen any evidence of obviously sick animals unless it was in the clinic or the quarantine room. The animals appear to be well cared for and as happy as any animal can be when confined in a cage in a strange place. I also saw no evidence of dying animals or unclean cages. Yes the SPCA is investigating and so they should investigate every serious claim they get. But people please - what ever happened to innocent until proven guilty. Quit flying off the handle based on rumours and accusations!!

Sunny Reuter said...

The OSPCA investigating THS - some background info via excerpts from Peter Worthington’s article in the Toronto Sun May 15, 2006:

“there's big trouble within the OSPCA if anyone looks closely. Many board members are upset that public donations and grants from the government are spent on buildings and facilities rather than on animals and curbing cruelty and abuse.”

“In their letter to McGuinty and Kwinter, eight (original resigned) board members noted that the government is well aware of the problems (at the OSPCA) and urged that their resignation be regarded "as a request for intervention ... to suspend the bylaws of the OSPCA, suspend the board of the OSPCA, and appoint a representative of your government to work with the CEO of the Society pending the promised update of the OSPCA Act."

Re: THS 2005 euthanasia rates: chief inspector Mike Draper wrote Tim Trow, president of the THS, and admitted "a private investigation firm" was hired to "obtain statements from a number of (THS) employees." .... Criminal charges (by the OSPCA against the THS) were threatened.”

moving forward......

Excerpts from Peter Worthington’s article in the Barrie Examiner November 2008

In 2006, the OSPCA board of directors resigned (twenty nine of them), virtually en masse. ... the OSPCA's (current) 12-person board of directors is not chosen by public vote of members, but appointed.

“The solution is simple: The government should take a hard look at the absolute control exercised by the OSPCA, and bring the police powers of its inspectors under control of the attorney general.”

“The McGuinty government seems reluctant to challenge the OSPCA, and recently gave it a $5 million windfall” (and 1.8 million before that).

“the way Bill 50 is written, a private charity has police powers to prosecute, is accountable to no one, is immune to the ombudsman, and is protected from access to information legislation. (Bill 50 grants the OSPCA warrantless entry). Not to disparage individuals who are inspectors, but their mandate and the OSPCA's style are more mindful of a secret police than a body serving the public.”

Additions are bracketed.

There are no good guys and no bad guys. Just a government that has given the OSPCA -a charity - unprecedented police and advocacy powers along with the right to oversee itself and other charities. The OSPCA is not subject to FOI.

At some point the province must step in.

Neither the THS or the OSPCA with their millions of dollars in public donations can be held accountable other than through the Charity Act.

Grave allegations against the OSPCA exist also. Please read:

Enough with the public and legal mud-slinging. Bring in some independant oversight.

Sunny Reuter

Anonymous said...

The debate between THS and OSPCA has raised some questions, I'd like to see them answered.

1 If THS has been run so badly - why was their 2nd location not raided?

2 How can SPCA or any org criticize THS when their SPCA/shelters killstats are so high? For one city in Ontario 3 out of 4 are put down. Of course the other shelters don't have similar problems when they kill more than half the pets.

3 Unless it changed when Toronto took away THS funding and created their own Animal Services, the THS is unionized, and animal care (cleaning cages etc) is a UNION responsibility - why is the union not being taken to task? Volunteers are not allowed to clean cages on threat of a union walkout.

THS has always been a no-kill shelter. They are overwhelmed with almost 800+ animals on any given day.

Why aren't the other shelters offering to take in some of them? Oh, yes, because then they'd have to euthanize even more pets.

Why aren't the legislators prosecuting backyard breeders, better yet - charge a $1,000 fine for anyone selling or giving away pets without a licence. If you take the profit out of it (or the results of stupid owners who don't neuter their pets) resulting in fewer pets than demand - BINGO - shelter problems resolved.

Maybe THS has become over zelous with the animals in their care.But they don't deserve the public flogging. They see sights on a daily basis that would give me nightmares. Too many animals and too little money.

Toronto Animal Services is no icon of fiscal respsonsibility. either. THS never wasted funds walking around Toronto streets looking for 'pet alert' stickers to see who's paid their pet licences. AND yes - Toronto Animal Control does do this. My tax dollars at work again! I'm sure the money could have been spent more wisely at THS.

Edythe, Toronto