Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A different POV on the OSPCA/THS situation

There is a lot of speculation and a lot of emotion surrounding how business is being handled at THS. I personally won't make any direct comments because I am not involved. 

Someone I respect issued a statement yesterday and gave me permission to post it. 

Ador-a-bull rescue was involved in assessing the dogs that were pts on Friday. I respect ADR's evaluation and wanted to post their point of view.

First of all, ADR was responding to the email directly below, which was one of many asking for answers..

“Since March 22 2010 , at the Toronto Humane Society, which is now under management by the OSPCA , during a raid last fall ( based on accusations of animal neglect..cruelty, misuse of public funds ) 6 pitbull type of dogs have been humanely euthanized, over 300 animals are missing and cannot be accounted for.

Where are the groups here in Canada, that were formed to raise awareness to BSL and the pitbull ban here in Ontario..and why have they not stepped in..and removed these dogs before they were euthanized.

The story reads the dogs were examined and found unfit, by the OSPCA staff vets..notice. .no one from an outside agency came in..

This is a political move..to reinforce the BSL here in Ontario..and many more dogs are scheduled to be euthanized

Can one of these agencys, with money raised through public awareness..not step in and save these remaining pitbulls..and get them out of the THS...
Here is ADR's response and statement;

** We have received several emails regarding this inflammatory post, by a heavy handed "trainer", throughout the day with requests for information, opinion, etc. We aren’t looking to argue, upset anyone or cause trouble. This is our opinion based on our experience and knowledge from “behind the scenes”, which may just be a little closer to the truth than some of those based on nothing but hearsay and emotion. See below for original email.


Rescues, yes plural, including ADR, were brought in to assess the dogs that were humanely euthanized. These dogs failed assessment on a number of levels. We are not talking merely food aggression either. We are talking dogs that would turn and snap at you, growl and challenge you for simply trying to pet them. We spent and entire day at the THS. We met and assessed these dogs and it was incredibly sad how far gone/disconnected they were.

Several outside agencies deemed these dogs unfit for rescue as well. One unknown rescue, in BSL stricken Ohio, agreed to take the dog’s sight unseen. Not a responsible decision, and we’re glad the THS/OSPCA didn’t go that route.

Who has the means to rehabilitate these kinds of severe issues? DogTown is lovely, but not realistic. The THS is far from a sanctuary and independent rescue can’t take on that type of burden for liability reasons at best.

Nobody likes seeing dogs be humanely euthanized, but sometimes it’s the last kindness you can give them. This is about the reputation of the breed, but more importantly responsible ownership and public safety. These were not safe dogs; several had at least one prior bite incident (which is a DOLA infraction in itself).

As a responsible rescue you would not be getting a dog like this from us. We could not keep our volunteers if we “rescued” high strung, super anxious, unpredictable, dangerous dogs.

Yes, THS volunteers had walked some of these poor souls for years without incident, and we commend and respect them for their dedication to these animals. But did they ever feed them - or try to take away their - dinner? Play with them using HIGH value items? Try to look in their ears or trim their nails? Regular things dog owners need to do without being bitten?!

There are not more dogs scheduled to be humanely euthanized (that we are aware of). Whoever wrote this is beyond out of touch. What happened had nothing to do with pit bulls or BSL (which the OSPCA has publically stepped out against); a pug mix was humanely euthanized as well! Many pit bulls have been saved from the shelter since all this started, and that was, by far, the first choice for everyone involved.

With emails like this floating around, who could blame the OSPCA/THS teams for not wanting to work with rescue - individual, independent or organized - in the future.

In our humble opinion as dog lovers, rescuers, rescuers who have been to the THS and met the dogs, friends of the staff, friends of the legal team legal and friends with OSPCA agents CURRENTLY WORKING at the THS, and fighters of the good fight. What needs to be done is being done…responsibly and effectively.

There is also an article in the Globe today;

Toronto Humane Society wants to clear its cages and start anew
The Toronto Humane Society is seeking a court’s permission to close its doors, clear the cages and make sweeping changes to its animal-care policies in a rebuilding effort that would amount to pressing the reset button on one of Canada’s oldest and largest animal charities.
The closing, which was recommended by independent animal-care experts and approved recently by the charity’s board of directors, would last approximately six to eight weeks, with the shelter likely reopening in June. Such a move would leave the fate of the dwindling number of animals still inside the shelter, estimated at about 200, in the balance. Most have health and behavioural problems and, with slim chances of being adopted, many would probably be euthanized.
In an affidavit recently filed in court, THS executive director Garth Jerome outlined his designs “to rebuild the THS as a shelter and adoption centre from the ground up, and regain the public’s confidence in the organization.”
Mr. Jerome said he would have to regain control of animal care from the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to carry out the rebuilding. A court awarded control of animal care in the shelter to the OSPCA three months ago, after the provincial organization charged five senior THS managers and its board of directors with animal cruelty. 
Read Toronto Human Society executive director Garth Jerome's affidavit
“The current situation gave the organization a chance to re-evaluate its mission and its goals,” said Frank Addario, a lawyer for the board of directors, who added he was reluctant to discuss the matter further as it remains before the courts.
The OSPCA said that “such a drastic step” should not be taken without consulting the charity’s membership.
“In addition, we do not agree that the decision to close the facility, even temporarily, should be made by the current board of directors of the Toronto Humane Society,” said Brian Shiller, a lawyer for the organization.
Most of the members of the board of directors have “indicated an intention to resign shortly,” he said, and any plan for renewal of the embattled charity should be considered at a special meeting of the members.
Mr. Jerome’s affidavit states that during the closing, the entire River Street facility would undergo a deep cleaning, staff would be retrained and a new computer system for tracking animal intake and care would be implemented, among other changes.
Ontario Superior Court Justice David Brown will consider the proposal next week, when hearings will begin on an application by some THS members and the OSPCA to have the charity’s current board of directors removed and order an election for a new board at a special meeting of the members.
The affidavit also outlines some problems that contributed to the need for a shelter overhaul, including animal corpses stored at too-warm temperatures, overcrowding, and animals whose physical and mental states had deteriorated to the point that they had little quality of life.
Euthanasia policies remain a controversial issue at the shelter, where six dogs, some of them favourites of dog-walking volunteers, were euthanized on Friday. The deaths fuelled a demonstration outside the shelter over the weekend in which protesters called the OSPCA dog murderers. However, in a statement posted on the shelter’s website, Mr. Jerome said the decision to euthanize the dogs was made by the THS.
Marcie Laking, a volunteer familiar with the dogs, most of whom were pit bulls who had lived in the shelter for years, said she blamed their deaths on bickering among THS staff, volunteers and the OSPCA.
“If we spent half as much time trying to adopt these animals as we did taking shots at each other there’d be no animals in the shelter, they’d all have homes,” she said.
According to Mr. Jerome’s affidavit, as of March 2, there were 255 animals in the care of the THS, including just 160 cats and 22 dogs. When the OSPCA took control of the shelter in November, there were more than 1,100 animals.
“It is my objective to keep the animal population at the THS moving through our facility quickly to adoptive homes or foster homes so that we do not accumulate a disproportionate number of chronically ill, unadoptable animals,” Mr. Jerome said.
“To a large extent, I believe that closely monitoring and controlling the population of unadoptable animals, coupled with an aggressive adoption campaign, will prevent the problem of overcrowding in the future.”


  1. I respect Ador-A-Bull and believe that if they found behavioural issues, the issues existed. As noted, had any of the screaming dog walkers tried to take away food? Cut nails? Breed is irrelevant (except for an issue I'm formulating). These dogs had been in THS far too long, without any training or socialization. That can be laid at the feet of the current board and management, who should be removed wholesale.

  2. Muy bad.

    Finger pointing does not serve the animals.
    Dissension does not serve the animals.

    Keep your eyes on the goal; removing the current board and management at Toronto Humane Society and rebuilding the Toronto Humane Society.

    That's going to take cool heads and concrete plans.

    Look forward, not back.
    That's how we can best serve the animals.

  3. Were the behavioral issues of the dogs in question so severe they were beyond redemption? Was there no hope for these dogs to be trained and rehabilitated? Were they savages to the point they deserved the needle because they were a threat to everyone they interacted with? Perhaps you can ask your source to clarify to what extent these dogs were 'dangerous' and why training was not an option oppose to death. I mean for god sakes the majority of Michael Vick's dogs that had endured unspeakable neglect and torture were rehabilitated. Many adopted into loving and forever homes. Given the statements of the numerous volunteers that interacted with and cared for these dogs daily, I find it hard to swallow that they were 'dangerous'. And even IF they failed the behavioral test your source performed on them that is NO reason to kill them. These dogs showed time and time again they could be 'good' dogs every day they played, licked and loved those that cared for them. Are you suggesting a failed behavioral test performed by strangers in a stressful environment is enough to determine the fate of these dogs? These were dogs that simply needed a little extra love, attention and care. Something that apparently does not jive with the new THS mandate or the OSPCA's current one. I strongly believe the most compassionate way to rebuild the THS would be to make it a refuge, sanctuary and animal hospital. Of course rebuilding it as a 'shelter' that only keeps the most adoptable animals alive would keep more money in the pockets of the officials but we sure as hell don't need another one of those in Toronto.

  4. I apologize for directing my questions to you. You are just publishing both views of the story. They are questions I just wonder in general.

  5. I understand the emotion and feeling behind everyone's questions. This is one hell of a mess but in my opinion we are possibly directing anger at the wrong source which is easy to do when circumstances are out of control.

    I believe every dog deserves a chance. I believe nearly every dog (definitely more than are given the chance) can be rehabilitated. Are there enough people who are capable and willing to take them all? I don't know?

    I don't think THS did animals any favors by keeping them alive for years on end in a shelter environment.

    I'm afraid I don't have the answers. What I do know for sure is there is one hell of a mess to deal with that reaches far beyond THS and OSPCA (who I am no fan of either).

    I continue to do my part and hopefully with common sense and cool heads we can make change happen in our country. We need common senses legislation in place on all levels of government. We need education readily available for pet owners and incentives to train/contain/socialize pets. We need thoughtful shelters and rescue's that do not contribute to the suffering of animals but work toward providing the respect, dignity and love they deserve.

    We aren't going to get everyone to agree, in fact that is a useless adventure, but if we can all participate in our own way to work toward a common goal, hopefully we will create change for the better.

    We didn't get here over night. We arrived at this place because of complacency and self serving agendas. It is going to take some time to achieve change and there are going to be a lot of growing pains. Nathan Winograd is making a difference (in my opinion). Many others are also working toward a no kill policy that is effective not cruel. I hope we can get there.

    I feel horrible for the animals that have had to die because people are so gd stupid and heartless. Until we have the proper tools put in place, this spinning out of control will continue. Calgary has achieved impressive success. They have proved it can be done. Now we just need to stop re-inventing the wheel and get 'er done here!

  6. OMG.
    Read the affidavit.
    THS wants to invite in H$U$.

  7. And you're surprised? THS was leaning into the bucket of AR Kool-Aid long before any of the recent happenings..