Thursday, September 30, 2010

In a perfect world...

no animal would be without a home.  No cat, no dog, no rabbit or other living, breathing creature with love to give, with feelings and wants and needs and a right to live a good life would suffer because of neglect, deliberate cruelty or the as heartless, lack of compassion or knowledge.

The ugly reality is that there is no such thing as a perfect world.  So we have to work with what we have - with the legions of individuals who DO care, who DO understand, who bring passion and dedication and a belief in jousting at the slow thwup thwup of windmills...

The Toronto Humane Society is metamorphasizing ... it is 'becoming' - and while the final product remains yet to be seen, there are some very positive indications that the direction in which it is heading is a positive, animal-friendly, caring one.  Slowly but surely the cages and pens are filling, the building itself expanding into animal-friendly environments, the staff learning, trying, training and caring.

It is inevitable that there are those who will compare the "new" THS to the "old" one; it is human nature to look behind and to colour with softness the memories of yesterday.  I have said and say again, not everything was as horrendous as claimed by the OSPCA and bolstered by the yellow journalism of the Globe.  Was there cruelty? Irrefutably, keeping animals from a humane and kind death due to a misplaced sense of authority was horrific.  There were times the cages were dirty, the animals neglected although with respect to the dogs, NEVER to the extent claimed (in my opinion) - and usually short-term.  I also always passionately embraced the THS' willingness to take all comers - dogs and cats and other creatures no one else - not individuals, not organizations, not groups - would touch. 

Yet the "new" THS appears to me to be embracing many of the 'good' things from the past management, while rejecting the 'bad' ones. 

It is inevitable, however, that controversy has, will and most likely, will continue to raise its head in terms of perceived injustices, decisions and policies.

Euthanasia is one of those subjects that create an outpouring of belief and passion, a subject almost impossible to reconcile between individuals and guaranteed to create dissension, controversy and anger whenever policy arises.  At the moment, the current arrangement at the THS requires a medical person (veterinarian), management and an animal expert (i.e. canine expert Shas vis-a-vis dogs) to concur on the need for euthanizing a particular animal.  While I reserve the right to retain some reservations until I see this policy actively working, I believe it is an excellent response to an arbitrary and sometimes arrogant decision on the part of one individual or one group of individuals retaining the sole right to make these kind of decisions.

With stated policy reflecting a concerted and determined movement toward a 'no kill' shelter (and I say again, that does not mean 'NEVER' kill), I believe the team making the decisions on who lives and dies are doing their best to keep compassion, reality and the best interests of the animal in question to the forefront.  The balance of decision-makers, by their very nature, provide a relatively sane mixture that will confront and deal with all arguments for and against - medical, quality of life, adoptability and the emotional and mental stability of the animal.

I have been assured - and believe - that every chance will be given to each and every animal from both medical and behavioural standpoints, that rehabilitation, behaviourial modification and medical intervention will all be provided in order to give an animal a viable and real chance at finding a home.

Sadly, reality can and does intrude and there are times that the issues which face an animal are beyond fixing - either from a medical standpoint but also from a behavioural and emotional one.  What happens then? What if everything possible has been done to redeem an animal who through no fault of its own, has medical issues that cannot be addressed, or behaviour problems that make it inevitable that it will never ever be in a position to be found a home?

IF every avenue has been explored, if serious and extended efforts have been made to rehabilitate the animal, if experts have concurred on courses of actions which are subsequently followed, if in fact, that animal has been given every chance and yet remains unable to be rehabilitated, what then?

Languishing in a cage in a back hall is not an answer - not to me anyway.

It is not that I am against long-term placement at certain types of shelters - given the animal has adjusted (and many do) and has a rich, caring environment, I think it entirely humane to keep any animal long-term and wait for that perfect home.  But that is given the animal is simply hard to adopt - not impossible to adopt due to medical or behavioural issues that make it impossible to even put them up for adoption.

And then, yes, then, hard decisions sometimes have to be made.

I do not for one moment believe that each individual making that decision does so lightly - but rather, with a heavy heart but the inevitability of reality intruding, must make that choice. The balance of individuals who must concur provides a reasonable certitude that the decision made will be a balanced one.  Until I see otherwise, I will continue to hope and put my trust in those individuals I DO know who are involved at the THS - for while I don't know all of them, I have enough knowledge of several that I have full certainty that the decisions they make will only be made as a last resort.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Interesting Friday 'stuff'

I really enjoy reading certain blogs that often round up animal-related information from news and internet sources - giving a good overview of what issues are paramount, what atrocities are being perpetuated and what gains are being made. So I'm going to aim for something similar on my own blog (although will decide the frequency as I move along).

Want some great deals?  A fan of yard sales?  Scratch your itch AND benefit the animals.  R.A.I.N. is hosting a yard sale TOMORROW, Saturday, September 18 at RAIN FUNDRAISER/YARD SALE REMINDER: This Saturday September 18th from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. 75 Lawton Blvd. (St. Clair/Yonge St. area). Household goods, odds and ends, curios, antiques, books, baking and of course petitions! Drop by if you are in the neighbourhood. Rain date is Sunday Sept. 19th.

TORONTO HUMANE SOCIETY news ... at a volunteer dog-walking meeting a couple of weeks ago, Canine guy Shas reported that the NEW policy on euthanasia in the THS will be based on a decision made by three people; canine person (or cat/small animal person), management and medical expert (as in vet) - a MUCH welcome decision and one I, among many others, will be watching with interest.  There is a definite movement within the THS to continue striving for a 'no-kill' shelter.  Negotiations are continuing with Toronto Animal Services and other organizations towards the resumption of the THS' authority to take in strays.   Since the OSPCA debacle, the THS has legally been banned from accepting anything other than owner surrenders.  As this is hardly the extent of what the THS envisions for itself - this is ongoing and I for one will be watching hopefully for a resumption of their role as a saviour and refuge for the lost, abused and discarded animals of Toronto.

Yes Biscuit has an excellent discussion on PETA's much reported exposure of the research industry: to wit, while it is all well and fine that PETA exposed the atrocities, as per their usual hysterical trumpeting of their wonderfulness, they ah, sorta forgot to you KNOW, actually RESCUE the animals....

Dovetailing into the PETA party is excellent news from Animal Alliance.. not only have all the latest batch of University of Guelph beagles and cats found homes, but NO MORE lost pets will be taken from pounds and shelters to be used for research by the University of Guelph, including the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC).  This is particularly close to my own heart as my Lass - the BEST, the MOST wonderful dog that ever trod the earth was a research rescue. A flat coated retriever/shepherd mix, her sweet, submissive, affectionate nature and her size and overall temperment made her "perfect" for the research labs - but we snatched her first.  She was 29 lbs at 2 and a half when we got her (her proper weight turned out to be 80 lbs), emaciated, frightened and so pathetically grateful to have been rescued she spent the next 13 years proving that some dogs are simply just perfect.  Four years gone and I still cry. 

K.C. Dog Blog always has terrific insights as well as pithy and balanced comments respecting a wide variety of articles to and about dogs and the issues which affect them.  I was particularly interested to read his take on media bias in reporting dog bite and attack stats - which confirms what I have asserted for a long time - that half the issues we face today with the bias against pit bulls and other breeds can be dirctly attributable to the kangaroo courts and fear mongering by media of a credulous public which is ready to believe the lies.  Today's entry was fascinating as it exposes a conundrum for Denver (which really isn't as the law IS the law) as council grapples with innate and created prejudices and tries to maintain a ban on certain breeds of service dogs.