Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Humane Society

From the Toronto Sun today:

Animals are biggest losers in Humane Society dispute: Worthington

By Peter Worthington

After months of turmoil, arrests for alleged cruelty, accusations hurled back and forth, the Toronto Humane Society is back in control ... of the Toronto Humane Society.

The OSPCA “raided” and took over the THS some six months ago, removing its president, head veterinarian and others in handcuffs, charging them with cruelty.

As hearings were to go before the Ontario Superior Court to have the THS board of directors thrown out, a deal was cut with the OSPCA for the board to resign.

Instead, the THS will take over control of their animal shelter and shut it down for two months, cleaning up the joint, re-training staff, and electing a new board of directors whom Justice David Brown urged to show “vigilance and diligence” to ensure things don’t get out of control.

So what’s the net result of the crisis that shocked the local animal world?

Eleven hundred animals housed in the shelter at the time of the celebrated OSPCA raid — well-attended by media who’d been forewarned — have been reduced to around 200. Most of these will be disposed of before the THS re-opens.

So what has happened to the other 900 animals?

The OSPCA says some were adopted, some went into foster care, some to the OSPCA, some to Toronto Animal Services (TAS). The sick or injured were euthanized.

Put bluntly, it seems a safe bet that most of the animals were put down — killed, because that’s what the OSPCA and TAS does best. Gone, forever, is the THS’ reluctance to kill. Its celebrated 7% kill rate under President Tim Trow is no more. It’s likely to rise to the 50% rate of other shelters.

Go ask the TAS what cats and dogs they have for adoption. They’ll likely tell you none are available at the moment and that they euthanize on Fridays — which is fair enough, since the TAS is more a pound than an animal care centre.

At the time it was raided, THS policy was not to kill healthy animals even those that couldn’t be adopted. Volunteers walked dogs daily, and there was a foster care program for others. Adoption more or less hinged on what the person could pay.

In this sense it was more “humane” that many humane societies.

Even on Monday, THS spokesman Ian McConachie assured the public that animals are not being destroyed. “We are not abandoning the animals in our care and simply putting them down.”

No question, the THS erred on the side of not killing — even for animals it would be humane to euthanize. Directors may have been negligent, inattentive or wrong, but proving “cruelty” may be difficult.

In short, if the THS couldn’t get a dog or cat adopted, no one could. Torontonians who pay attention to animals, know this.

Which is why I’m uneasy about the Association to Reform the Toronto Humane Society (ART), which wants the current board members banned from running for election again.

Not very “democratic.” There’s a vigilante or vindictive quality to ART.

A new board may well include people like acting President Bob Hambley, who for decades has served on THS boards, and seems ideal for bridging the gap.

Some 3,000 THS members should know the personalities of those they elect, just as they know most of the animals the OSPCA rescued form THS “cruelty” have likely since been dispatched to the Great Kennel in the Sky. Some rescue!


No comments:

Post a Comment

Feel free to leave a comment on any of the topics listed on this blog.

Blogging tips