Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Good things shaking down at 11 River Street with the THS

As noted in the blog preceding this, I am cognizant that there is lots GOOD happening at the THS and Red Star Cafe  does her usual awesome job summing it up.

I am not out to "get" the THS; rather, I yearn for what many animal lovers yearn for, I ache for what I KNOW many Board members passionately believe in, I BELIEVE it can happen with the dedication, the drive, the desire and the good will of staff, management, vets, board members and most of all, the PEOPLE in this City who for so many years have BELIEVED that every animal has a chance.

To that end, SUPPORT the new Toronto Humane Society in becoming the BEST it can be - a beacon and an example for a humane society that exemplies Nathon Winograd's no-kill movement.

As Red Star relates below in her always articulate words....

The Toronto Humane Society invites you to a lively evening of Cuban music, dancing, snacks and mojitos at the Boulevard Club on the lakeshore. The event takes place on Monday, September 13.

Please come out and support THS as it moves forward with projects to help the animals, including the building of a high-volume spay/neuter clinic for the urban Toronto community at River Street, alliance with Toronto Animal Services and cat rescues for trap/neuter/return of feral cats, re-opening of the kitten nursery, and improved socialization and training of dogs to help them get adopted into loving homes. THS is also consulting with Bill Bruce, director of Calgary Animal Services, to learn about the successful Calgary model of no-kill sheltering. Bill attended Hershey’s Rally to oppose breed-specific legislation this past weekend with THS volunteers and members of the board.

THS is funded entirely by members and donors, but donations are down this year. These good people need your help to continue to work for the animals and the community.

If you aren’t able to make it to the Cuban Dance Party, please consider donating online or by snail mail to THS. If you are specifically interested in supporting the spay/neuter clinic, just indicate on your cheque that the donation is “for spay/neuter clinic only” and your funds will be earmarked.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Anatomy of a Death: Why did Icy Die?

The issue of euthanasia is fraught with controversy and passion and inevitably gets mired in personal beliefs and subjective notions on when and why an animal should die. The College of Veterinarians of Ontario (the “CVO”) recognizes to a limited extent (my emphasis) the dilemma faced by many vets and published Guidelines on Veterinary Euthanasia (the “Guidelines”) in October 2008 (on its website).

Under the Law

A spokesperson for CVO (“Fischer”) recently indicated to me in response to an email I sent with a number of questions respecting the practice of euthanasia a number of helpful links and with specific reference to vets employed by humane societies or shelters .

The unique position of a veterinarian employed by a humane society or shelter is addressed through a provision of the OSPCA Act, and more specifically in the Veterinarians Act/Loi sur les veterinaries R.R.O. 1990, Regulation 1093 (the “Act”):

43(2) (4) A member may practice veterinary medicine as,

(a) …

(e) an employee of a humane society operated in accordance with the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act if, in the course of the employment, the member provides professional services under a written contract that provides that the member is responsible for all decisions relating to the quality and promotion of the member’s professional services and the health of the subject animals;
(my emphasis)

I want to point out here the words in the proviso “health of the subject animals” – so this provision does not deal directly with the reasons for euthanasia but rather could be construed to refer to (in the CONTEXT of euthanasia), the health of the animal.

Further, the Act states in Section 43:

(3) For the purposes of subsection (2),

(a) …

(b) a member employed by a humane society operated in accordance with the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act or by a pound operated under the Animals for Research Act who performs a veterinary service for an animal seized by, or irrevocably surrendered to, the society or pound shall be deemed to perform the service to his or her employer. R.R.O. 1990, Reg. 1093, s. 43 (3).

(4) A member may practice veterinary medicine as,

(a) …

(e) an employee of a humane society operated in accordance with the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act if, in the course of the employment, the member provides professional services under a written contract that provides that the member is responsible for all decisions relating to the quality and promotion of the member’s professional services and the health of the subject animals;
(my emphasis)

Again, to me, when exploring the rationale behind euthanizing an animal, Subsection 43(4)(e) again refers to the member being responsible for “all decisions relating to the quality and promotion of the member’s professional services and the health of the subject animals”. No doubt there are those that can read that provision as encompassing almost autonomous powers to the vet, but again, to me, it more clearly refers to “health” of the subject animals which does not rationalize the euthanasia of a healthy dog or cat!

So those provisions deal with the legalities. Specifically, it clearly states that while the shelter is the veterinarian’s employer, said employer cannot under the law interfere with the vet’s decision with respect to the health of the animal. I do NOT believe it necessarily codifies the vet`s complete and utter right to make unilateral decisions about anything OTHER than the medical condition and health of the animal. Specifically, it does not as far as I can see give any vet the unilateral right to euthanize an animal based on behavior, age (given the animal is healthy) or other factors apart from and separate from HEALTH issues.

The employer/member conflict which this law was designed to avoid is alleged to have occurred under the auspices of the previous Board and President Tim Trow. I do have to ask, if indeed that WAS the case where WAS the CVO during the MANY years Mr. Trow spearheaded the organization and ostensibly dictated to Shelter vets how do to do their job?

Medical versus Subjective Reasons for Euthanasia

But while those provisions deal with the legalities, they do NOT address specifically what set of factors determine an animal SHOULD be euthanized. Because the reality is, it is not a straightforward.

I think it inarguable that a vet can and SHOULD have the final say if there are clear cut and solid medical reasons why the animal should be euthanized. Inoperable tumors, degenerative diseases that have or are reaching a critical stage, continuing pain which cannot be alleviated, animals who have had accidents where it is impossible to provide a reasonable guarantee of quality of life.

BUT, and this is a HUGE caveat – euthanasia is not always about putting an animal out of pain or humanely assisting it to die.

The reality is that medical issues are FAR from the only reason an animal is euthanized. In actual fact, it is highly likely that in our society among the many shelters, humane societies, pounds and other organizations that deal with the sad reality of abandoned, neglected and abused pets – it is probably the LEAST likely reason in those settings.

In exploring the issue of euthanasia in a shelter setting, I continually came across well-meaning individuals who harbour an unrealistic and unsubstantiated belief that vets are vets because of their deep and enduring love of animals.

As in any profession, I think the actualities are far different. I believe some vets do take up the profession because of their love of animals; equally I believe there are as many that enter it due to the lucrative nature of the practice. Add to that the vast differences in philosophy, outlook and viewpoints among vets (who are all individuals after all) - and what is considered a “legitimate” reason for euthanasia becomes problematic and impossible to agree upon.

CVO Guidelines

I have provided a link to these Guidelines but there are a few pertinent points I want to make. As noted before, these guidelines take into account the unique relationship between a veterinarian who is employed by a humane society or shelter.

However, having noted that, the Guidelines can and do apply to that scenario as well. Under the sub-heading “Client Preparation”, the CVO clearly urges a dialogue between the shelter and/or humane society (hereinafter collectively referred to as the “Client”) and the veterinarian to minimize “the chance that the owner’s values will diverge from the veterinarian’s when a decision needs to be reached regarding an animal’s situation.”

That clearly indicates that a decision on euthanasia is not a unilateral one but one that requires communication and discussion between all parties who are at law and morally, responsible for the animal in question.

Also noteworthy is the Guidelines’ advice respecting Client Support- something that was sadly and tragically absent from the Toronto Humane Society during the past several months. Animals, some of them long-term members of the THS, much beloved and cosseted by staff and volunteers were summarily executed with NO chance for goodbyes or intervention and absolutely no sympathy for the resultant agony of mind and spirit on the part of those who loved them.

But, in the context of who decides whether an animal lives or dies, the Guidelines clearly favour:

Communication between and among veterinarians and staff…. to ensure that the veterinary team is clear on its policies and procedures, so that consistent information is given to clients. Practitioners should maintain a euthanasia policy within their practices that clearly outlines the position of the practice and/or the veterinarians who work there. This policy should be developed and periodically reviewed with staff and made available to all clients at an $appropriate point in the VCPR.

Which leads us rather elegantly to the next consideration .

The THS in Flux

Under the former management of the THS, euthanasia was not only a last resort but misguided “compassion” resulted (alleged but more than likely true) in the cruel and unnecessary suffering of animals that should have been provided a dignified and kind way out of their pain and suffering. To date, under the auspices of executive director Garth Jerome, the new “THS” describes itself as “low-kill”. The current Board appears to concur, however, that a change in policy to a “no-kill” is hopefully in the offing. (I would also point out that from Mr. Jerome’s email and his willingness to work with the new Board, he appears to be open to change).

However, as things stand at the moment there is no appreciable movement toward a no-kill policy in the THS. More worrisome is the continued lack of transparency as to the policies, decisions and procedures actually implemented at the time.

In early July, two Siberian huskies – a bonded pair – were surrendered to the THS. Due to extenuating circumstances and the last minute failure of a foster home, their owner Steve N. had no choice but to surrender them – and in the full belief they would be safe – he did so to the THS. Within HOURS of their arrival, Icy was euthanized. To date there has been NO explanation as to why nor have the THS staff, Board or management owned up as to who made the decision.

I know there is a tremendous amount going on behind the scenes at the THS. The reality is that there are contracts, legalities and no doubt, a jockeying of position as individuals and groups seek to come to terms with a radically different reality within the walls of 11 River Street.

I also know that NO ONE has admitted to making the decision to kill Icy (and other animals) – yet someone DID kill her – and while no one is saying whom, it did happen.  I do not believe – and feel that most rational people would concur – that any ONE individual (or collective group of individuals such as vets, management, staff etc) has the right, the rationality, the expertise or the perspective to decide which animal lives or dies when the issue of euthanasia is NOT related to an unequivocal medical issue.

Veterinarians are medically trained. Ethically speaking, however, they are as individualistic and subjective as any other human being, with their own set of internal guidelines, morals and imperatives. Nor are veterinarians necessarily behaviouralists. Animal behaviorists are highly trained and competent in assessing behavioral issues in animals and the potential of those animals to be rehabilitated.

Ageism is another issue in many shelters, many of which operate on the premise that only young, healthy animals have the possibility of being adopted, and as such, older (even if relatively healthy) animals should be refused or if surrendered regardless, euthanized as being “unadoptable.

The reality of course is far different.

As Nathan Winograd has successfully proven again and again, there is a home for every animal.

In my three years of volunteer work with the dogs at the THS, I have been astonished, humbled and ecstatic at people and the compassion and genuine love they can show to even the oldest, most fragile – and yes, smelliest! dogs that have come in and are subsequently (often quickly) adopted out.

As I have noted before, Icy was a healthy, well-behaved if older dog that SHOULD have been given a chance to enjoy her twilight years as a cosseted and loved member of a family. What she did NOT deserve was to be labeled a “problem” or “unadoptable” (my surmise only) and summarily executed.

If the “new” THS is to find its feet, it MUST start showing the people of Toronto that in rejecting the negative aspects of the old regime, it also embraces some of the positive reasons why Tim Trow was successful in running a shelter where the public KNEW the old, the infirm, the sick, the abused, the neglected and the unwanted at least had a chance.

While there is no question that there were MANY thing wrong with the “old” THS, Icy would be alive under that regime.

Death is final. Making that decision requires more than a medical degree. It requires compassion, balance and a willingness to do whatever can be done to rehabilitate, treat (medically or otherwise), and give an animal TIME to adjust and make changes.

For decisions OTHER than clear-cut medical ones – I implicitly believe that decisions on euthanasia at the “new” THS must and should require a balance of perspective. A veterinarian, absolutely, an animal behaviourist (of which there are several on staff) as well as input from management. As a group, based on clearly delineated policies (hopefully soon to reflect the no-kill mindset), decisions can be made.

The THS has as its new Board some wonderful people with a solid background in animal rights and care - further, some excellent strategies are planned - such as this week`s brainstorming with Calgary`s very impressive Bill Bruce who has done wonders within that city for the no kill movement and the reopening of the kitten nursery.

For more 100 year, the THS represented the best in animal welfare to the people of Toronto. It has stood as the beacon for animal rights, the voice that speaks up for those who cannot speak for themselves, a haven for those rejected and abused by those who should cherish them. It has, above all, epitomized “sanctuary”.

If the THS is to survive, let them show the people of Toronto they continue to be a place where future Icy’s will find solace and safe haven. 

[UPDATE: This has been edited to remove material that might be potentially legally contentious- nothing of import is changed however]

Monday, August 23, 2010

Do YOU know a woman with a rottie named Zoe and pug named Guiness?

Then get in touch with police in Innisfil ASAP.  You know what I REALLY hate?  Irresponsible pet owners who give all dog owners a BAD name


Ontario girl, 4, attacked by dogs on beach

Painful rabies treatments could be next

By QMI Agency
A 4-year-old Innisfil, Ont. girl is facing painful rabies treatment — 25 needles in the stomach — after she was attacked by two dogs on a beach.

Ekaterina Smrek was with her two sisters, her friend and her mother at Innisfil Beach Park on Aug. 18 when two dogs, a black rottweiler-type and a pug, attacked her. Olga Smrek said she had seen a woman with the two dogs at the beach just before her daughter was attacked. The woman put lifejackets on the two dogs and then played with them in the water in the same area where children were swimming.

The woman with the dogs was later seen talking on her cellphone away from the dogs and that's when Olga said she saw the larger dog jump on her daughter. After Ekaterina was knocked down, the smaller dog attacked and the little girl was bitten on her side.

"I just saw my daughter lying on the grass, and two dogs standing over her. I just ran and hugged her ... I was crying. There is blood on her bathing suit," she said, adding the woman who was with the dogs didn't immediately do anything. "When it happened she continued talking on the phone."

Olga said at first the woman attempted to discount the incident — but when she saw the blood, apologized, gathered up the dogs, and left the scene without leaving any contact information.

Ekaterina was taken to a clinic, where she received a tetanus shot, and antibiotics. That's when Olga learned that, if the dog owner couldn't be found to present information on the medical history of the pug, the little girl would need to begin rabies treatment.

Olga and her husband began a search for the owner of the rottweiler named Zoe and the pug named Guinness. They have plastered the park with posters asking for information, contacted local veterinary offices, Innisfil animal control, town by-law and police, but have so far been unsuccessful in discovering any information.

Olga said she isn't interested in making trouble for the owner. All she wants is information, so that her little girl won't have to go through lengthy, and painful treatment for the bite.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Dog Training Seminar this weekend at the THS -

Last chance to sign up for an indepth training seminar with uber trainer Sam Malatesta, to be held at the Toronto Humane Society this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, August 21 and 22. Thanks to Garth Jermome and THS staff who have agreed to make the facility available.  Kudos also to Mr. Jerome for encouraing his staff to attend.

Sam has worked with dogs his entire life.  His approach is unique, provocative and most of all WORKS.  My own dogs, two german shepherds and one demented terrier are entering their fourth month of Sam's program and the improvement in their behaviour is simply unbelievable.  Each of my dogs is a rescue and thus comes with their own unique set of issues.  Finn, my black and tan was found starving on city streets, full of parasites, cuts, contusions and bruises, bald from a brutal case of mange and a commensurate skin infection.  Llyr was a backyard dog - spent 2 and half years of his life tied up with minimal contact and no socialization.  Darcy was a THS dog - came in abused (horribly) and lived his life in a frenzy of terror (making him a serious biter). 

Put the three together as I did and inside the house (after working with them - I acquired each of them at different times) they were AWESOME ... let someone walk near the door and the Hounds of Hell were let loose.

I had them at various trainers - we did the prong thing (AWFUL - I jettisoned it as soon as they finished their course), we did the alpha roll thing (WORSE - nothing like taking an already insecure dog and FORCING him into something that doesn't even HAPPEN in the wild), we did the too many treats thing, the ignore thing and the result was three messed up dogs ...

I attended Sam's last seminar in May and despite being Sam's "bitch" (sighs - the perfect example of the bad owner and bad dog) - I LEARNED ... and got insight and illumination.  A month later I began his program.

Still in the program as the older the dog the longer it takes to fix the issues - my guys are happy, relaxed and a PLEASURE to have around.  For the first time in the 10 months I have had him, Darcy walks with his head in the air, his tail over his back, wagging mightily (he used to slink with his head down, shaking with anxiety, scavenging for food).  In the past month, TWO strangers at different times walked into the backyard when he was having his time to play and he DID NOT BITE.  That is unbelievable!

Llyr's anxiety is less than half of what it used to be.  He has stopped jumping (for the most part) on people, he ignores people walking by on the street (he used to just about go through the window - typical screwed up territorial issues from being a backyard dog). Finn used to go ballistic when she saw other dogs or people, now she might yap for a second but settles down quicly and ignores them.

The program runs at the THS from 9:30 to 5:30.  If you would like to sign up, email me and I can put you in touch with the co-ordinator OR turn up at the door Saturday morning. You are also welcome to come for one or the other of the days if you don't want to go to both.

Cost is $150 for the two days or $75 for one.

Visit Sam's website for some excellent blogs on his philosphy. 

Monday, August 16, 2010

There is no victory - not in this or anything since -

Reading today that all charges were summarily dropped against Tim Trow et al, arising from the outrageous, unsubstantiated and illegal occupation, search and seizure of the Tornonto Humane Society by the OSPCA last Spring do not leave me happy.  No one who had spent any time at the THS prior to the militant, ignorant and confrontational takeover by the OSPCA would NEVER deny for one moment that there were NOT issues.  But conversely, most of us who had spent LOTS of time there (and I can only speak for the dogs) spoke in vain about the SEVERITY of the allegations - and denied they were anywhere NEAR as bad as was bleated and puffed and yelled by the OSPCA, followed by their tame media sources like Kate Hammer and the Globe.

The ACRB reviewed a June 2009 OSPCA inspection of THS animals. The Crown said that the ACRB’s final decision, which concluded that cages were clean, ventilation was adequate, and animals were being fed, would have made it “difficult for the Crown to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that senior officers of the THS willfully permitted animal suffering by failing to exercise reasonable care.”

Again and again the issue of that poor wee cat in the ceiling is brought up and that indeed IS unforgiveable. My own sense of what went so tragically wrong there was that Trow et al. did one of their frequent mass firings.  Without a doubt, things HAD deteriorated in the three years I volunteered there - I believe implicitly that Tim Trow had many GOOD years there but I for one saw a progressive decline in rationality - and watched in dismay as almost a "hoarder" mentality began to pervade the building.

But having (as I have said before) a tragic familiarity with the heavy-handed, arrogance of the OSPCA I was beyond upset when they took over - and for good reason. To this day, HUNDREDS of animals are unaccounted for.  When confronted about where all the animals went during their occupation, vaguely worded assurances that they were in 'foster' or "rescues" have NEVER been substantiated.

Dismissing the charges doesn't bring back our animals.

Dismissing the charges won't allow me to feel the hot, sweet warmth of Peti curling up in my lap.  It won't allow me to laugh again when Smokey runs back to his kennel when I come to get him for his walk, and snuffling and snorting brings his toy.  It doesn't give Captain - who was SIX MONTHS OLD when he came to the THS and barely a year when he was killed, a chance to live his life.... or Tiger with his boundless energy his opportunity to find his home with Rosanna who was ready, willing and able to take him.

It doesn't bring back the HUNDREDS of cats the OSPCA deemed "unadoptable" or all the other animals that were summarily executed.

All it does is highlight that politics, self-absorption, arrogance and a twisted belief in THEIR opinion permeates even the animal care field.  It shows that NO ONE seems to have the interests of the animals as the first and most important goal.  From hoarding, over-crowding, interference by the former management to the self-righteous arrgance of the serial killer OSPCA, the losers in this are STILL the animals.

Then and to my sorrow, now.

The "new" THS for all the vaunted promises stonewalls.  The "new THS" for all the will in the world is merely a sad, pathetic shadow of what it could be.

An email to executive director Garth Jerome respecting euthansia policies, owner surrenders and other issues was promptly and politely returned quickly and with good information. A direct request to explain then the summary and unnecessary euthanization of Icy has been ignored.

Tomorrow I will pursue the matter by telephone with another individual and hope to get some resolution of a tragedy that has dragged on for too long.

But, I admit it, I am not hopeful...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

STOP the cruel and inhumane slaughter of horses in canada

Banned in the United States, but a growing industry in both Mexico and Canada, this practice MUST be stopped.

First and foremost, it is horrifically cruel to the horses. I am not including videos because frankly I can't stomach them but google or go on youtube and you will note that it is highly questionable whether the Canadian Food Inspection Agency really monitors the industry in order to ensure protocols are followed.

If the absolute reality of the cruelty isn't enough of an issue, there are major health concerns as well.   Because horses are not typically raised as food meat - a banned chemical called phenylbutazone (short form, "bute") can often be found in their systems. This cheimical is toxic to human  beings.

Please read this petition and sign and send a message to your MP (all information is provided).

Our horses deserve a better end than a horrific, terrifying and physically sadistic end to lives spent serving human beings.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

from craigslit ... an animal lover after my own heart! Happy Birthday Sasha!

Sasha, today is your birthday! At least, the vet told me when I found you that you were 12 weeks old, and I decided to count back from that exact day and make that your birthday.

It's been 2 years since I found you in the big metal garbage bin behind our duplex. You see, I hope you don't remember this, but you had a family before us. I guess they didn't want you though, because they literally threw you away. Luckily I found you! Lucky for you, not so lucky for my wallet. When we first met, I didn't think you were much to look at.

Your fur was thin, dirty and had a weird oily texture, even after the bath I gave you.

You were so skinny your face looked like the kitty version of skeletor and I could see the weird little joints in your tail, and all your ribs but the prescriptions kitten food from the vets fixed that.

Ear infections in both ears, and a upper respiratory infection, but the vet had some nice pills and ear drops for that, they were oh so easy to give to you as well!

The ear mites you had were gross but at least you didn't give them to my other cat. You did however have more fleas than I have ever seen before in my life, and in the winter. You were kind enough to share them with everyone! And, I learned though you, that excessive fleas give way to tapeworms. Oh joys! Luckily, the humans didn't get that one, just you and my other cat. That was pricey AND gross.

You aren't gross, parasitic and skinny anymore. In fact, now that malnutrition is never an issue, your coat is a glossy black, soft, thick and you have no bones showing! In fact, I have had guests see you walk into a room, and they gasp "oh my what a gorgeous cat!"

And than they discover your "personality"

You are batshit crazy. The vet says it is likely brain damage from severe malnutrition when you were developing. I like to call it, crackhead cat syndrome. You tear around my house like a meth addict being chased by miniature leprechaun cops. I have had to put all my vases, pictures frames, knick knacks and decorations in storage. You eat everything, food and non-food items so that I have to put away all loose items, dimes, paper, the necklace my grandmother gave me, the little plastic do-dads that come with bread ect.

The librarian officially hates me, and I have spent a fortune on replacement fees because for some reason you hate literature and shred any books come near, and if I do put it up, you just climb up and knock it down to destroy it. You run into walls at top speed for no apparent reason. I have had to rearrange my furniture because you enjoy jumping from my bookcase onto my stomach while I lie on my couch, I guess that "OOF" sound is just too tempting.

Despite all affection and treats I offer you, you prefer to be mauled by my small child relentlessly and without mercy. When I finally convince my child to let you alone, you follow after him begging for more.

All that being said, I love you. I am so glad you are in our family you stupid, weird, insane cat.

Happy Birthday Garbage Kitty!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

OSPCA investigation finally to start -

FINALLY, the investigation into the outrageous actions of the OSPCA to kill all 350 animals in its care because of what is essentially a TREATABLE condition (ringworm) is being investigated.

There remains, of course, some concern on my part anyways that the OSPCA is spearheading the investigation into ITSELF.

The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has hired former Ontario Veterinary College dean Alan Meek and former Ontario Superior Court chief justice Patrick LeSage to lead a long-awaited review of its controversial handling of a May ringworm outbreak at its shelter in Newmarket.

Does anyone else find it questionable that an organization whose outrageous, inhumane and arrogant actions resulted in the wrongful death of MANY animals (and I believe many more of which we were not informed) gets to pick who spearheads the investigation which is supposed to come up with a balanced report on those same actions?

This merely highlights what many were unaware of before this atrocity began way back in May - there is something seriously wrong when an organization that has authority above and beyond those of other organizations such as the police, has no power or authority which can provide balance if there are questionable or outright actions taken.  Nowhere in fact for individuals to go for recourse when targeted by the obnoxious and bloated ego-driven upper echelon of the ospca with their self-professed expertise and outrageous arrogance.

On a positive note, outspoken critics of the powermongering OSPCA applaud the appointments of the individuals in question:

The appointment of Meek and LeSage was applauded by OSPCA critics. Upon hearing the news, Lynn Perrier cancelled a protest she had organized for Tuesday afternoon. Douglas Brown, who runs the website, said he wished the review would have been launched sooner but that he was “pleased with the individuals who have been appointed, because they both have outstanding credentials.”
While I await (admittedly with some pessimism) the results of the investigation which has no stated deadline for completion, it is HIGHLY disappointing that the issue of the OSPCA's autonomy is not being addressed or included as part of the process:

LeSage, who said he and Meek would not comment on the review until it is completed, “will advise on non-veterinary issues,” such as communications. To the disappointment of Progressive Conservative MPP Frank Klees, however, Godfrey said the terms of reference for the review will not allow LeSage to address questions related to government oversight of the OSPCA.

Thus, regardless of the investigation which will determine whether in fact there was an "unusually virulent" strain of ringworm (the poor excuse used when it was decided to massacre their animals), critics must continue to push for a government body to be appointed to oversee this OSPCA.

Frank Klees (Newmarket-Aurora) who tabled a legislative motion seeking to separate its shelter and enforcement functions between two entities and to increase government authority over it must continue to push for this motion to become law.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Icy Redux Redux

Icy and Diablos' former owner was kind enough to reply to an email I sent.

As I suspected (based on my feeling that anyone who kept such lovely dogs so hearty, hale and healthy had valid reasons for surrendering), he had no choice (for reasons he asked remain private).  However, he has given permission to share a few of his words.

These are a direct quote:

Icy was in good health and had no health issues what so ever She had 1 benign lump on her right front leg which was not bothering her at all and was in fact decreasing in size over the past 2 year. The largest it got was almost the size of a tennis ball, at the time I surrendered her to THS it was the size of a golf ball and shrinking. I am DEEPLY upset with the fact she was put to sleep. As you can read below I have received a few e-mails fomr some of you who want to help and others who decided to rub it in. Before you send me ANY e-mails please consider the following:

1. I FIRST found my BELOVED dogs a home with family

2. My family reengaged and I had to find a home for the dogs again

3. I had a 2 week grace period in which to find a home for them and that is when you guys came in, thank you.

4. Unfortunately there were no spaces open ANYWHERE and I DID call ALL the shelters and rescues that were suggested to me
5. With no time left before I LEFT THE COUNTRY I went to THS based on YOUR recommendation
I am NOT happy Icy was put to sleep, it pains me deeply as she was my baby. It was painful enough knowing that I will never see her or Diablo again.
I am not sure to whom the "you" refers to - obviously somene gave him some guidance about bringing the dogs to the THS. At one point it would have been good advice - and there are many of us, before this situation that might have gambled it was STILL the safest place - sadly, this is not the case.

But in any case, he confirms that other than a benign lump (which many old dogs develop - I know my old Lass had quite a few), Icy was healthy and happy.

I am sorry that Steve's belief in the Toronto Humane Society was so horribly misplaced ... and I know that he and all of us want an answer why.

Icy Redux.

Still no word on why Icy was euthanized within 24 hours of being surrendered from either the new THS Board or anyone speaking on behalf of the THS.

No doubt, there are those that believe I'm belabouring the point. The reality is that since June 28 when the shelter opened, the oft-stated status of the "new" THS has been woefully quiet.  While I am cognizant that new policies take time to discuss and implement and the Board has had only a limited time period in which to acquaint itself with the current policies and procedures at the shelter, what I find troubling is the complete and utter lack of communication occurring between the public and the THS.

Perhaps I am seeing this too simplistically - and if so, I would be grateful if people would point out the error of my concerns. 

But it seems to me there was a fairly clearcut sequence of events.

  1. The dogs were surrendered (and I don`t dispute that somewhere in the tedious and to my mind, far too complicated process of surrendering there is a clause that states the dog could be euthanized if deemed by the staff of the THS). 
  2. within 24 hours SOMEONE made a decision to kill the dog for SOME reason.
  3. SOMEONE then euthanized the dog.

So what is the mystery? 

If there was a sound reason why this had to be done, why hide it? While I am obviously not privy to the dog's medical history, it states in the original ad that they were both healthy.  I think it a fair assumption to say the dogs were also socialized - Icy was a pet for 11 years! 

Incidentally, I DO NOT believe people should point the finger at their former owner - it seems to me that just based on the dogs themselves, he was a conscientious ad caring owner. They were older, they were healthy and they were well loved - that is obvious - and we are not privy to his reasons for giving them up.  I know that, for instance, Britain's 6 month quarantine and the associated costs are simply too prohibitive for some. Or if he was moving to a tropical country, that is a legitimate reason - I know, because we brought our samoyed to live in Grand Bahamas many years ago and it screwed up his system for the rest of his life (northern dogs are not designed to deal with such hot countries).

Houndward Bound brings up the issue in a discussion on the Stop the Slaughter at the Newmarket OSPCA facebook page. 

I know that I have been open about my concern about a different philosophy between the "no-kill" advocates on the Board versus the "low-kill"  - and make no secret that I support the former.  In the correct context, not only is "no-kill" plausible, but when followed correctly has proven to be successful beyond the wildest dreams.  It does NOT mean "NEVER kill" - one of the issues with the "old" THS and is far too intricate to summarize here but google Winograd and you will comprehend how truly successful an example he provides.

It appears a number of people have emailed various board members and THS executive director Garth Jerome directly- if anyone receives any information about the circumstances surrounding this, I would love to hear about it.

I know that part of my concern and the reason I am worrying about this is that during the chaos and horror of the OSPCA occupation (apart from the sheer number of animals who were murdered), at two of the meetings which occurred toward the end it was clearly up in the air as to the ultimate goals of the "new" THS.  I give Garth Jerome full marks for being honest and aboveboard about what he perceived was the policy - which is "low kill" ...and to my mind, a euphanism for getting rid of animals that aren't readily and quickly adoptable.  While I disagree with him, I appreciate his candour.

An 11 year old Huskey may very fit the criteria of not "readily" adoptable by some.

Of course, they didn't volunteer there for several years and see how many caring people are out there that are ready, willing and able to adopt dogs that most places would deem "unadoptable".  I have seen homes found for dogs that in a thousand years I would swear would never find them - old dogs, sick dogs, dogs with medical issues- dogs with behaviour issues ... as much as it breaks your heart to see how many HORRIBLE people are out there - people who abuse their pets - people who dump them when they get old - people who treat them as a "flavour of the month" and then quickly lose interest and move onto the next thing --- for as many of THOSE people there are a commensurate number of WONDERFUL people - who open their hearts and wallets and take the dispossessed, the neglected, the abandoned and the old into their hearts and homes.

So why did Icy have to die??

Sunday, August 1, 2010

UPDATE: University of Guelph says policy change possible

Pressure has been brought to bear on the University of Guelph Veternairy College to change its policy of euthanizing healthy animals after foreign students who need to qualify in Canada have "practiced" spaying or neutering.  Only one supervisor oversees 10 students, and current policy dictates that the otherwise healthy dogs (raised in situ for this purpose alone) were then euthanized.

Bravo to veternary student Dr. Anya Yushchenko  (not sure of spelling) who on being told she had to kill the little beagle she had just spayed, refused - and on being pressured and told she may not qualify for a Canadian practice - fought back.  Contacting Lawyers for Animal Welfare, the administration was persuaded to make an exception in the case of the little dog, now named Rainbow.  Paul Ward saw the online posting and adopted her where he points out he would NEVER have known she was raised in a lab as she was sweet, affectionate and social.

CBC covers the story here.

"What we're committed to now is to having enough supervisors present so that these trainees will be able to do the spays successfully and the animal will be healthy when it`s recovered" states Dr. Elizabeth Stone, Dean of the College.  If a successful outcome to what is arguably a common practice (spaying/neutering) is not necessarily possible, then the College obviously must revisit its teaching methods!  One supervisor per 10 students, from a laymen's perspective, seems woefully inadequate - which opinion is borne out if the outcome of these attempts mean the animal must be killed.

Having graduated more than 160 foreign vets to date, that means the same number of animals has been killed.  This seems morally reprehensible; I know that as an animal lover with my own menageries, I would far rather bring my animals to a vet like Dr. Anya than one who has no compunction about euthanizing a healthy animal - which they have just used ONLY as a training "tool".

Kudos to the Animal Alliance of Canada for bringing this practice to the attention of the public and were happy to announce in their latest blog that an outpouring of support for these little beageles has resulted in more than enough adoptive homes for the 10 beagles currently being offered for adoption.

It is an unfortunate reality that past practices are often hidebound and subject to retrenchment by the individuals who have lived their realities.  The sometimes rarified world of acadamia is perhaps one of the most difficult to change.  It is commendable on the part of the University of Guelph and Dean Stone that they are willing to reassess old practices.