OSPCA attacks Toronto Humane Society

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KeyStone
OSPCA attacks Toronto Humane Society

For some reason, the Ontario SPCA has launched an investigation (aided by police) into the practices of the Toronto Humane Society. The main reason seems to be that they feel that the THS does not euthanize enough animals - especially those suffering.

The THS is a no-kill shop and therefore looks after animals as long as possible. The OSPCA disagrees with this policy and wants the animals killed sooner. They also determined that some of the animals are not being cared for, with proper standards.

My thoughts are as follows:

1) Since we don't seem to see a need to euthanize humans in our society when they are suffering, I don't see why the lack of such 'compassion' directed towards animals is inhumane.

2) I suspect that the OSCPA is miffed that the THS is able to advertise themselves as a no-kill facility, whereas the OSPCA puts down animals that they don't think they can find a home for, as well as animals that are sick. No doubt, they aren't that fond of the comparison.

3) The care might not be perfect at the THS, but given that they are housing hundreds of animals that no one wants, that would otherwise be stray or destroyed, I think they are doing a pretty fine job.

4) It seems odd to see the OSPCA attacking the THS, when they should be both on the same side of preventing cruelty to animals, as well as finding homes for stray animals.

breezescream

When there is suffering (human or animal) sometimes dying isn't the worst thing that can happen.  I hope there's nothing political going on here, because you're right Keystone, these two groups should be working together for the sake of the animals.  And while they're working together maybe they could push for putting an end to pet stores that sell cats and dogs that are taken from their mothers too early and sold to impulsive buyers who don't know what a commitment to a pet is.

Michelle

The Globe did a three-part series on the Toronto Humane Society, which apparently led to this investigation.

Here's one of them: Killing them with kindness

Quote:

 

Harley's attentive owners made her one of the society's luckier pets. An investigation by The Globe and Mail has found that the Toronto Humane Society is a shelter in crisis, a place where animals die suffering unnecessarily in their cages, according to veterinarians, significant amounts of money are spent on litigation, and the opinions of veterinary professionals are dismissed. According to insiders, its volunteer president, Tim Trow, has intimidated dozens of staff, volunteers and veterinarians into quitting out of protest. They vehemently disagree about the way he runs the shelter.

“I know what's right and I know what's wrong,” said Mary Mathison, who volunteers in the THS's kitten nursery. “And it's definitely wrong, wrong, wrong there.”

“It is heart-wrenching, I've watched critically ill animals suffer and die in my hands while I run around trying to get permission to euthanize,” said Magdalena Smrdelj, a THS veterinarian.

Both know they're risking their positions by speaking to The Globe, as THS staff and volunteers are required to sign confidentially agreements. Both said that animal suffering inside the shelter was too great for them to remain silent.

Also:

Quote:

The Globe reviewed dozens of medical charts of animals left to die in their cages as a result of the shelter's much-too restrictive euthanasia policy, according to current and former staff and volunteers. The Globe also obtained pictures of cats and dogs living in their own excrement and interviewed more than 30 concerned current and former employees, volunteers, members and adoptive families – past and present – who have begged for help from the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Canada Revenue Agency. They have also tried to enlist the College of Veterinarians of Ontario and Ontario's Ministry of the Attorney General, all to no avail.

The OSPCA has every right to investigate, and SHOULD be cracking down on the THS if this is true.

Michelle

P.S. I love the "for some reason" in the opening post.  Did you not know about the Globe and Mail investigative report that triggered this whole thing?

Michelle

Alleged financial mismanagement and poor labour and volunteer practices

Quote:

“There was a dog who'd had a cyst removed from his leg, and because we were out of pain medication he didn't receive any pain medication for five days,” Ms. Neilson said.

Two weeks ago, Ms. Neilson noticed three kittens that had aspirated on milk formula fed to them by improperly trained volunteers. She appealed to a veterinarian to have the kittens euthanized, but was told that the shelter couldn't spare the euthanol.

“So six days later these cats died in their cage. They couldn't be fed, they couldn't go to the washroom, they just died suffocating, basically,” she said.

Pat Hope, a volunteer in the shelter's kitten nursery, often found that the shelter didn't have the type of food required to sustain her mewing charges.

For nearly six years she spent her Friday nights convincing pink-nosed newborns to drink from a syringe or a bottle.

It was a delicate business. If she fed them too slowly, the kittens would starve; if she fed them too quickly, they would drown in the milk.

In her last year at the shelter, in 2008, Ms. Hope noticed that the kittens were receiving less and less attention from staff. She became concerned too many were dying of neglect.

Ms. Hope outlined her concerns regarding the availability of staff and supplies in an e-mail to the shelter's volunteer co-ordinator. When she didn't get a response, she wrote to management in June, 2008.

That July, she received a response sent on the behalf of operations manager Gary McCracken: “Dear Pat, I write with respect to your e-mail of June 30, 2008.

While any program can be improved, your criticism is too harsh … At this time, I request that you take time out as a volunteer in the nursery until further notice.”

Ms. Hope was subsequently “fired” from her volunteer position.

Michelle
Stargazer

I was listening to the CBC when this was being talked about. The THS has greatly disappointed me. There are also allegations of treating the volunteer staff horribly.

Bookish Agrarian

At the same time the OSPCA has become a private police force answerable to no one.  In fact, unlike the police, there is no oversight mechanism, as poor as the police one is, that ensures the agency or individuals within it are not abusing their powers.  And those powers are considerable.

I don't know enough about this specific situation to comment, but I do know that the OSPCA is not above releasing factually incorrect information to deflect criticism and make themselves look good.  This is a private police force that also fund raises so there is a conflict of interest that has been noticed in rural Ontario for some time.

Sineed

It wasn't just the Globe article; it was years of complaints from numerous people, former workers and veterinarians who resigned in protest.  I used to donate to the THS, but I haven't for years because of numerous unsavoury things I have heard.  A no-kill policy is fine and noble when you're talking about healthy animals that are not wanted, but overriding the judgement of veterinarians isn't on.

Stargazer

Sineed, me too. I used to donate to the THS but stopped for the same reasons.

Sineed

I heard a representative from the THS interviewed on the CBC, and he said that they were "vindicated" by the OSPCA, who inspected them and found "not a single animal" suffering, warranting euthanasia.  So the OSPCA said, not so fast; we found some cats in poor condition.

For a number of years there's been a lack of oversight, allowing people to do things according to their own agendas.  Recall last year when that guy handcuffed a person to his car for leaving his dog locked up in the heat.  Whether you agree with that or not, I was very surprised that THS workers have HANDCUFFS.  Are they going to have guns next?

If people are not held to account, they tend to behave as badly as they can get away with.

 

Scout

I think the thread title needs to be changed.

Michelle

I see where you're coming from, Bookish, but this Globe series of articles was not based on the OSPCA - they didn't use the OSPCA as their sources for the original articles, they used current and former employees and volunteers and veterinarians. It was only once the OSPCA saw these articles that they did an investigation - indeed, they'd have been remiss NOT to have investigated after that.

OldManActivist OldManActivist's picture

"For some reason" - lol. I love how some people jump to a conclusion before reviewing the facts. Report after report after report had dug up these reasons:

* Animals not properly cared for and left unattended or monitored

* Extraordinary actions to prevent euthanasia statistics from being higher (ie. leaving animals to die in cages rather then euthanize suffering animals with no prospect of quality of life)

* Animals adopted out without telling adopters about serious medical conditions (dog with broken leg)

* Rationing pain medications (wow! Trying to save $ on this when they take in $10 million a year in donations?)

* Not having basic products or food for animal care.

* Veterinarians being overruled on euthanasia decisions by unqualified staff,

* Massive staff turnover, people quitting for moral/ethical concerns.

* Mistreatment of staff and volunteers.

* Mishandling of public's charitable donations.

* President reporting one set of statistical and financial reports to Canada Revenue and another rosier, spin-doctored one to membership.

* President Tim Trow micro-managing all aspects of day to day operations, blowing his top at not only staff and volunteers but also the public who come in to adopt.

* People still working there blowing the whistle and speaking out even though it puts their jobs in jeopardy.

* Abuse of proxy voting and scheduling of annual meeetings at such an inopportune time (weekday) that President Tim Trow holds 742 proxies out of the 1800 members, with only about 79 members showing up to vote and elect the board of directors

* Large quantities of public donation dollars going to lawyers to fight unwinnable litigations.

... there's probably more, but that's what I remember from the reports I've seen.

If you really want to know more and be infomed go to facebook www.facebook.com and lookup Toronto Humane Society Protest Group or the longer existing Save the Toronto Humane Society (with 2,363 members) OR www.helpths.wordpress.com

This is why there will be a protest in front of the Toronto Humane Society headquarters at 11 River Street (River and Queen Street East) on Saturday, June 20, 2009 at 2:00 pm. Come out and support the animals. Ask questions. Get answers. Meet and talk to the people who know what's going on at THS and have seen the problems with their own eyes.

 

OldManActivist OldManActivist's picture

Michelle Moderator - I think the title of this thread needs to be more accurate: TORONTO HUMANE SOCIETY SCANDAL

 

and perhaps it should be moved to Activism topic given the 'Protest' nature of what's going on.

 

It should be clear now that the OSPCA did not 'attack' Toronto Humane Society but is simply doing their job in response to the

initial Globe and Mail investigative articles that started appearing May 30, 2009.

 

To the poster complaining about the scary powers that the OSPCA have: they are legitimate under provincial law:

 

"As a non-profit charitable organization, the Ontario SPCA is unique amongst animal welfare organizations in Ontario:

the Ontario SPCA Act mandates the Society to enforce animal cruelty laws and provides Ontario SPCA Community investigators

with police powers to do so." http://www.ontariospca.ca/

Michelle

Sorry, folks, I don't think I'm going to change the thread title.  babble is a place where people express their opinions as well as share news, and the title reflects the opinion of the person who wrote the opening post, so I'm not going to edit it.  Everyone is, of course, welcome to refute it within the thread, though, which it looks like we already are. :)

Michelle

I will, however, move this to the "Central Canada" forum since it's primarily a news story, and it's not really about the environment or environmental justice.

Stockholm

The whole thing breaks my heart. I don't know who is right and who is wrong - but I'll always remember going to the humane society 12 years ago to adopt a cat and having my baby tiger reach out to me through the bars of his cage saying "take me! take me!" and the years of pleasure he gave me before he passed away last year.

Bookish Agrarian

Michelle wrote:

I see where you're coming from, Bookish, but this Globe series of articles was not based on the OSPCA - they didn't use the OSPCA as their sources for the original articles, they used current and former employees and volunteers and veterinarians. It was only once the OSPCA saw these articles that they did an investigation - indeed, they'd have been remiss NOT to have investigated after that.

 

Oh I'm not saying there isn't legitimate reasons for this investigation or many others.  What I am simply suggesting is that the OSPCA is not quite the white knight they pretend to be.  And in fact they often act in abusive and threatening ways to people outside the media glare.  They also have been given the powers of police with zero oversight.  In a democratic society I find that troubling.

remind remind's picture

Stockholm wrote:
I'll always remember going to the humane society 12 years ago to adopt a cat and having my baby tiger reach out to me through the bars of his cage saying "take me! take me!" and the years of pleasure he gave me before he passed away last year.

Awwwww...our dropped off  in our yard "little foot" is a handsy guy, and reaches out an pats you with his paw, to remind you he is there wanting something, or he pats his crunchy bowl if it is getting too empty for his liking.

This is such a sad thing, and I simply cannot understand people who treat animals poorly.

jwilder

I find this all very sad. The Toronto Star quotes Liz Wright ""This relationship [between THS and OSPCA] might look really bad now, but believe me, there have been much worse times," said Liz White, director of Animal Alliance of Canada, who worked for the humane society till 1990." and ""There have been difficult times between the two organizations," White said."Both care for animals but differ on the philosophy behind it. These are two organizations which deeply feel (for animals) and they need to sit down and talk to each other," White added."  http://www.thestar.com/article/645351.

I don't think anyone would argue that Tim Trow, Ian McConachie, the staff and volunteers at THS and the staff and volunteers at OSPCA don't care deeply for animals.  Now I'm seeing lawsuits and protests being initiated.  Somehow I don't think any of these things are going to help.  Reading between the lines, it seems a lot a this relates to Tim Trow's politics and personality (not his commitment to animal welfare).  I don't think that a war between people and organizations which have the same goals at heart is going to advance the goals.

And really, euthanasia is not the problem.  The problem is that we have so many unwanted companion pets.  We need to attach that problem at its source.

1. We need to enact City legislation to require all cats and dogs be spayed/neutered (San Francisco just did it) and provide the service free when needed.

2. We need to eliminate the breed bans (its not the breed, its the owner) and devote more resources to training and enforcing good pet ownership.

3. We need to fund all our shelters and humane societies to be able to market the compassionate adoption of shelter pets, including calling out those 'pet stores' that get their animals from puppy mills.  Or, even better, can we require all pet stores to source their cats and dogs from animal shelters?  That way, people would only have 2 places to get pets, authorized breeders and animal shelters. 

Sineed

Jwilder, I like your idea of making pets available only through reputable breeders and shelters.  Pet stores basically provide an outlet for dubious breeders, puppy mills and such, to unload inbred abused animals.

I disagree about the breed ban, however.  Yesterday, the Toronto police had to shoot a pit bull that was attacking two other dogs.  They used a tazer first, and it didn't work (!)  The trouble isn't just the breed itself, but the kind of people who like to own pit bulls, hanging pit bull puppies in sacks and beating them to make them more vicious, and suchlike.  I agree it's the people who are the problem - pit bulls were bred to be vicious by people, and they attract people who go for that.  But we can't get rid of the people, so let's get rid of the dogs.

Stargazer

I am totally against the pit bull ban. I do not think we should be killing these dogs because a few jackasses train them to be vicious. Go after the people who train these dogs to be mean. Why is there a different standard for people than for dogs? Hell, I think animals make better friends than people.

The problem with your argument Sineed is that it comes down to people's opinions. You either like the dogs or you don't. They are no more aggressive than any other dogs. These dogs are chosen because of a few people who turn them into monsters. IMO these people should suffer serious fines and jail sentences for their actions. In the 80's their was talk about banning Doberman Pinchers. But now you don't hear abot this. Pit Bulls are the new breed to pick on. Look at the thread on Sasha, who is not a pit bull but who is going to be killed because she looks like one.

 

Throw these people in jail. Fine them. Make them accountable for what their dogs do. Do not kill the dogs. What kind of society is this that we kill animals for the behaviour of their owners and where does it stop? What breed is next?

 

Sineed

The trouble with the "it's not the dogs, it's the people" argument, is that actually it's both.  I'm totally with you on throwing bad pet owners into jail.  But the pit bulls themselves are a problem.  They were bred to be vicious, and they have extremely powerful jaws for biting and tearing.  I mean, if a poodle goes vicious, who cares?  I had a Sheltie with a bad attitude, and he got out of the house a couple of times and tore at people's clothing.  We had to buy a new pair of pants for the asshat neighbour who taunted our dog.  

But a pit bull goes vicious, and a child can get their face ripped apart.

Sure; there are nice pit bulls.  I've met them.  But dog breeds are an artificial, human creation, and the pit bull is a particularly malign example of the low-tech genetic engineering people have been doing to dogs for hundreds of years to make them suit various purposes.  Let's just let them go extinct.

Unionist

Amen, Sineed, and well argued. There is no excuse for killing dogs because of an accident of their birth. But nor is there any excuse for creating them in our image. God did that to humans, and look what happened.

 

G. Muffin

I'm with you on letting the breed go extinct, Sineed, but what about the ones that are already here?  I happen to love the breed.  With very few exceptions, dogs, like all other domesticated animals, aren't vicious unless they're taught to be. 

G. Muffin

Oops, double posted.

 

Sineed

The pit bull ban in Ontario does not legislate killing existing pit bulls; they just have to be spayed/neutered, kept on a leash, and muzzled when out in public.

Details here: http://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/about/pubs/dola-pubsfty...

OldManActivist OldManActivist's picture

... thread drift ....

 

This is not about the pitbull ban. It's about the scandals revealed at Toronto Humane Society by the many Globe and Mail

articles since May 30, 2009. It's about the reasons why the OSPCA have revoked their affiliate status and the ongoing investigation

which will take weeks because of so many people coming forward with complaints.

 

From the THS protest facebook site, it seems the OSPCA had to call in investigatory help:

 

"Due to the number of people who have come forward with information in this matter, the Ontario SPCA has retained the services of The Investigators Group to assist Senior Inspector Mindy Hall, the lead investigator in this case, in processing the information."

Please assist Mr. Joynt and The Investigators Group in any way you can. The situation at the Toronto Humane Society has been going on for years. Do your part.
If you know something please send any information you have.

Contact Information:
Bill Joynt, President
The Investigators Group
416.955.9450
billj@investigators-group.com

"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." -Mahatama Gandhi

Alecto

This is a misinformed, poorly researched article with a headline that is simply not true. Let's break it down paragraph by paragraph.

1. For some reason, the Ontario SPCA has launched an investigation (aided by police) into the practices of the Toronto Humane Society. The main reason seems to be that they feel that the THS does not euthanize enough animals - especially those suffering.

"For some reason..." Nice. Way to be well-informed and responsible with your reporting. The THS was not "attacked" by the OSPCA or police. The OSPCA conducted a raid on the THS to investigate allegations of poor conditions in the shelter and sick animals being left in their cages to die instead of being humanely put down or given proper care and treatment. These issues were brought to light in a 3-part series published by the Globe & Mail. The raid was reported by the Toronto Star (in an article written by a real journalist) and you can read it here: http://www.thestar.com/article/644372

The THS is a no-kill shop and therefore looks after animals as long as possible. The OSPCA disagrees with this policy and wants the animals killed sooner. They also determined that some of the animals are not being cared for, with proper standards.

This is misleading. I'd like you to show me the part in the OSPCA's mandate where they explicitly disagree with "no kill" and "want animals killed sooner." You also fail to mention the dark side of the THS's no kill policy" severe overcrowding, animals "warehoused" in tiny cages lying in their own filth because there aren't enough staff to deal with them, sick animals being left to die in cages rather than humanely killed so the THS can keep its "no kill" numbers low.  

My thoughts are as follows:

1) Since we don't seem to see a need to euthanize humans in our society when they are suffering, I don't see why the lack of such 'compassion' directed towards animals is inhumane.

So you think that letting terminally ill animals slowly die in their cages, alone, over several days, is more humane than euthanizing them?

2) I suspect that the OSCPA is miffed that the THS is able to advertise themselves as a no-kill facility, whereas the OSPCA puts down animals that they don't think they can find a home for, as well as animals that are sick. No doubt, they aren't that fond of the comparison.

The fact that the THS advertises themselves as a no-kill facility is what has contributed to the complete mess that the shelter is in now. It's the catchprase that they use to try to pull the wool over peoples' eyes. As hundreds of former THS employees and volunteers who have come forward on message boards, blogs and letters to the editor have said, animals still do die at the THS. In great numbers. Just in far less humane ways.

3) The care might not be perfect at the THS, but given that they are housing hundreds of animals that no one wants, that would otherwise be stray or destroyed, I think they are doing a pretty fine job.

Really? I invite you to visit http://helpths.wordpress.com, read the articles there and look at the images and tell me the THS is doing a fine job.

4) It seems odd to see the OSPCA attacking the THS, when they should be both on the same side of preventing cruelty to animals, as well as finding homes for stray animals.

Again, the OSPCA is not attacking anyone. They are responding to allegations of animal neglect, which is part of their mandate. The THS has been at odds with the OSPCA for years (in fact, it used donation money to fund a lawsuit against the Hamilton OSPCA for libel).

Please, please, please try to be more responsible and informed when you write about a topic that's so important.

Michelle

Hey Alecto, welcome to babble!

Just so you know how things work - this is a discussion forum - people write their opinions here, and anyone can start a new thread.  So the opening post to this thread is not an "article", really - it is simply an opening post to a discussion thread, and everyone is free to post their opinions and refute other people's as you have just done.

Unionist

[url=Humane">http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/humane-society-blocking-new... Society blocking new memberships[/url]

Quote:
The Toronto Humane Society is blocking new members from joining until one day after its upcoming annual general meeting, a move critics of the shelter say is designed to keep outsiders from flooding the ranks and ousting the current board of directors. [...]

However, members are the only ones, aside from the provincial agency that oversees charities, with the power to remove the THS's board and its controversial president, Tim Trow, who often carries the vote through proxies. [...]

The fine print of the proxy form explains that it is valid for one year and because the 2008 annual general meeting was held Oct. 1, some of last year's proxies may still be valid. Meeting minutes show that only 29 members attended that meeting, while 742 voted by proxy. [...]

Asked why the THS is not accepting new members until Oct. 1 and whether Mr. Trow intends to use any of last year's proxy votes at the upcoming meeting, spokesman Ian McConachie declined to answer these or any other questions.

Instead, he referred this reporter to an e-mail he sent to The Globe and Mail's editors July 27.

“I am writing to you today to inform you that the Toronto Humane Society will no longer deal with reporter Globe & Mailer [sic] Kate Hammer with respect to media requests,” the e-mail reads. [...]

Read the rest of the article - it's quite astonishing. Meanwhile, there is apparently another protest scheduled for September 12.

Pogo Pogo's picture

This is not to say that a no-kill policy cannot be implemented.  I visit the Richmond Cat Shelter that recent took in 100 cats from a local farm.  They have room for 900 un-adoptable animals including a special unit for feline lukemia victims.  When they tore down the Steveston Packer site there was a group of feral cats retrieved and who were given their own quarters as they can't function with other cats.  I have a number of friends who go there to be surrounded by cats (having a bag of cat treats helps).

As for the funding problems, I think the city has to take some of the responsibility.  They tendered the contract and forced the Toronto Humane Society to underbid the SPCA for the service.  A no-kill policy for pet agencies should not be subject to "as long as it is cheaper".

OldManActivist OldManActivist's picture

http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/698971
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/toronto-humane-society-fighting-to-clear-its-name/article1296678/

 

Toronto Humane loves its lawyers. Appealing to Animal Care Review Board.

 

COMMUNITY SAFETY AND CORRECTIONAL SERVICES - ANIMAL CARE REVIEW BOARD - 8th Floor 77 Grenville Street Toronto M5S 1B3 Ont - (416) 314-3509. The Lieutenant Governor in Council appoints at least three members and may designate one of the members as chair and another as vice-chair. The board is a quasi-judicial tribunal that hears appeals from individuals from whom animals have been seized or to whom orders have been issued under the Ontario Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. 6 members. Chair: LEGAULT, RAE SLATER (lawyer); HELT, MAUREEN
(lawyer);MENARD, LOUISE (lawyer); MIA, ZIYAAD (lawyer); RUTTER, CAROLINE (lawyer);BARBOUR, DAVID (marketing). ACRB started in 1968.
http://www.pas.gov.on.ca/scripts/en/BoardDetails.asp?boardID=1049

 

 What are the requirements to be on the Animal Care Review Board?

Requirements: " Interest and/or expertise in animal welfare. "

...umm, who on the ACRB has that? all lawyers except the last one who is vice chair and worked for breweries like Molson's.

Looked up the acts and it seems (sigh) more lawyers agruing at the hearing... on TODAY !

 

The hearing is to take place at the Ontario Racing Commission, S-400, 10 Carlson Court, Toronto, Ontario M9W 6L2 in the hearing room.

The hearing starts at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, September 22, 2009 and they have scheduled it to continue September 23 and 24, 2009.

 

The ACRB can not shut down an investigation. This process is for owners/custodians who feel aggrieved by an order or removal of an animal.

The ACRB may hear evidence on these matters and may rule whether the Society's actions were justified. They may revoke/modify an order, order the return of an animal that was removed and/or order costs be paid by the society or appellant. Their jurisdiction does not go beyond this.