Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Class... let's have it tonight

The AGM is tonight, and I admit to some trepidation.  I'm not looking forward to the potential conflict that may arise as Trow et al. make their bid to regain control.

Regardless of any accusations, carrying-on, posturing or bankstanding, let those of us who really care about the future of the Toronto Humane Society keep our dignity and our control.

Do no feed into the frenzy I am sure he will try to generate.

Do not give into (very understandable) anger when accusations (unsubstantiated and unfounded) are claimed.

Let's just keep to business and do what we need to do.

Solidify the path on which the THS has taken some tentative steps this past year.

Friday, May 27, 2011

To clarify...

I think it somewhat obvious at this point, I am NOT a fan of the Trow crew.  Conversely, it is reasonable to assume I support the current Board including their recommended slate of characters.  I think it time to clarify where I stand.

First and foremost, I DO support the current Board with some reservations.  The reality is that for all my passion, I am hard-headed and practical.  Having had first-hand experience of the THS during the three years I volunteered as a dog walker - albeit I was not, of course, privy to the ins and outs of the financial or management issues - it was obvious to me that ego was driving the Shelter.  Without getting into details (which I've discussed at length elsewhere), the reality was that the ratio of animal to staff was simply not viable - not when you expected a humane, caring environment for the animals you took in. Further, there was a HUGE divide between what those of us in the trenches actually experienced and what was being vocalized by management.  Sometimes, I would read directives or articles and think, WOW, what shelter is THAT, not THIS one.

When the contemptible, politically corrupt and inhumane OSPCA made such a spectacular MESS of the "raid", things were bad - NOT as bad as the OSPCA eventually ensured it would become - mass euthanizations, rigid imposition of inhumane directives, the creation of what in essence became a police state - but a mess nonetheless.

When the dust settled and the new Board came in, I was THRILLED, but as much as I wanted things to change quickly, I am realistic enough to know that what I knew was simply the tip of the iceberg - that there were so many areas that had to be researched, fixed, explored and rebuilt that it was all going to take TIME.

A year has gone by (and my heart still aches at the murder of all the animals - especially those to whom many of us were so attached - we REMEMBER you Peti, Smokey, Socks, Captain, Tiger, and little Janey and there are tears in my eyes even now) and while the progress seems so slow that at times it is frustrating, I know that there is a massive amount of behind-the scenes work going on that is required and necessary in order to create a stable, solid foundation for the Toronto Humane Society.  I KNOW the Board has been working tirelessly, putting in long hours,

Having said that, there are still MANY changes that I (and I know many others) would like to see - when the dust settles next week it will be interesting to see the outcome.  But we all have a "bucket" of wishes and dreams and goals and here are a few items from mine - my vision of what i would like to see the THS become:

1.  I would like to see the THS become a no-kill shelter based on Winograd's very successful model - it can and has been done in many cities that have far more to deal with than Toronto.  Actually, addiing a link to Crystal's blog on this subject .... because she says it perfectly.

2.  In the short-term, though I will be PUSHING and VOCALIZING to Board members (given they get in) that the intake policy MUST change!!  Owners must be able to come in and surrender their animals without a burdensome, offputting demand for setting up appointments and then requiring TWO hours for each surrender.  The reality is that a conscientious owner brings an animal they can no longer keep to a shelter - BAD owners simply abandon them!  Making it difficult for people to surrender will deter many who do not have the time or are in situations that require immediate action. For owners that love their animals (because circumstances DO arise where loving people have to give up their pets) it is cruel - to find the courage to walk in then be told to come back. For others who simply want to dump their pet, being told to return at a specified time may result in the animal being abandoned, dumped or even killed. 

3.  Increased pressure on the City of Toronto to allow the THS to take in strays! The THS has always been a beacon to the animals of Toronto.  While I have a great deal of respect for what Toronto Animal Services is becoming (massive improvements there over the past several years), by nature they are what they are - a city service without the same amount of freedom somewhere like the THS is blessed with.  Irregularities, contravention of regulations, and a blatant disregard for the rule of law under the old guard meant the RIGHT to take in strays was lost under Trow (NOT, as claimed under the new Board).  The THS deserves to get it back - they have done what was required and more and the City must recognize that and allow them to do what they do BEST.

4.  The unfortunate reality is that the corrupt, inept and INHUMANE politically driven OSPCA controls who investigates cruelty. That is not only wrong it is criminal.  That NEEDs to change, so I am hoping that politically astute and well-connected Board members will step up to the plate and start pushing for changes that will allow more leeway and provide a broader directive from an organization OTHER than the OSPCA to appoint cruelty investigators.  The THS deserves to have its own investigators. It has had a sterling record in the past for exposing cruelty and should again be at the forefront as examples of organizations that care.

What I DO like and want to see continued and/or expanded are:

1.  The facilities!! They are FAR more animal-friendly, enriched and kinder.  Animals are provided not just with shelter but with environments that engage their health, mental, physically and emotionally. 

2.  The amazing new K9 department; enriched environments, training, socialization, dealing with behavioural and other issues - follow up after adoptions to ensure a smooth transition and a resolution of any adjustment issues.  Continued training of volunteers and staff to ensure a consistent and positive experience for the dogs and many other improvements.

3.  The cats!! So much happier now! No longer stacked like cordwood. Groomed and petted, played with and allowed to explore in a wonderful room, health monitored and cared for, more volunteers and more expertise so each kitty receives the maximum they can from their stay.

4.  The fast turnover in adoptions!!  They seem to barely get animals in before they're in new loving homes!

There are more... but a word to the Board members ... IF all goes well and the new Board is formed as myself and many others hope it will, don't get too comfy on your laurels.... a thorn called selkie is going to be poking your butts within short order ....

More on the candidates themselves later.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Dear Tony....

(Tony Marner is running for the Board of Directors of the THS on the Trow slate - members just received the third mailing from the Trow Group, this one from Tony and yeah, I'm thinking of all the money that COULD have gone to the animals) -

Letter from member, Doug Williams (my husband):

Dear Tony,

Maybe we should vote Trow.

As I have been at the new THS for the past several months on Sunday nights attending Sam Malatesta's class with our naughty rescue shepherd Llyr, I have seen SO many changes I am shocked and appalled.

You're RIGHT, they HAVE dismantled cages!  Now the dogs have WAY too much space!! Why, they even avoid the stress of being moved from kennel to kennel because they can be gently shooed in and the gate dropped so the cages can be cleaned without distressing them! Ridiculous!! It was FAR more effective when they were packed in like sardines!! Why there was nothing wrong with 90 lb dogs being confined for 23 out of 24 hours of every day in a cage they could barely turn in!  What is WRONG with that?

And yes, damn them! They turned E into a dog wellness training area!  My god, what will they think of next?  Socializing the dogs?  Teaching them basic manners!  I mean, after all, under Trow - dogs came in and were adopted out that had never walked on a leash, didn't know basic commands and so WHAT if they were quickly returned because of their lack of socialization! After all, they could then be adopted out AGAIN for more money!

And yes, you're RIGHT, THS under Trow took in ALL animals damn it! Whether they had the space or NOT!! So what if the cats languished in cages for YEARS ... they were ALIVE, weren't they?  What do you mean they need quality of life?  A little urine and feces never killed anyone (well, it might have but you didn't hear that from me - cleanliness and comfort are FAR too over-rated in my books).

I vaguely remember Sheenagh telling me about a K9 department that was briefly there during her earlier years walking - but Trow KNEW that ALL dogs should just be allowed to be who they were!!  I remember her telling me that he yelled at her one night to go the pace of the DOG (a 120 lb lab cross) - that she needed to RUN... the dogs were NOT to feel they were in any way being confined!!  THS dogs were going to be FREE like the wolves from which they were descended!! 

And after all, he labelled it didn't he? Saying coding the dogs so volunteers and staff knew what they were dealing with was 'prejudicial' to the dogs!! Ok, so it meant a lot of bites happened when people had NO idea what issues they were dealing with when they went to get the dogs (and yeah, so Sheenagh was almost mauled by a rottie that like the other dogs, had no history or indication of temperment - she survivied, didn't she?)  Wuss walkers!

Also, when I walk in on Sunday evenings, I sorta miss that overwhelming SMELL that used to permeate the hallways - it sorta meant "home" - well, let's face it, it WAS home for a LOT of animals after all that had been there for YEARS.

I know Sheenagh said staff was often almost non-existent and she and a lot of other volunteers would spend their time there trying to clean up the worst of the mess or hell, even water the dogs (spoiled canines!) - but after all LOVING animals is more important, right?

And let's face it the euthanasia rate was WAY lower - and yeah, I know, I know, so animals were found dead or suffered in their cages from lack of care - they were after all in a REFUGE.  Sheenagh remembers fondly camping out in a vet's office trying to get an old shepherd's ears syringed ... I bet she saw it as a challenge to get the old girl's very painful ear infection treated more than one day in a week!!  No more challenges now, is there?

We KNOW how much Tim loved the animals, why he HATED letting any of them go!! He knew he alone could 'care' for them the way they deserved .... that is why there were so many!!  Of course in  Trowville the fact that the staff to animal ratio was outrageously unbalanced was irrelevant, because in Trowville, ALL the animals were happy and grateful to be in this Paradise!!

AND, knowing that, Trow wisely worked ALONE. None of this ridiculous partnerships with Toronto Animal Services.  None of that nonsense with getting animals in and out and adopted quickly.  Hell, they even have a TOP notch K9 staff now - some of whom have been with the THS a very long time and are NOW being allowed to actually utilize their skills and expertise! What NONSENSE. 

Dogs should be allowed to be DOGS.  No rules. No manners. But able to exercise their will when and how they like!  That makes them happy, eh?  I know Sam says that leaves them anxious, confused and nervous, but what does he know!! He has only worked with dogs his entire life!

And after all, cats SLEEP most of the time, don't they? Why do they need exercise or socialization? Cats are anti-social anyways, right?  So now all this time is wasted, with things called 'enrichment' rooms, they get petted and brushed and played with - what a WASTE when they could be stacked in cramped cages, tier after tier - I remember seeing those when I picked up Sheenagh - it was cool - like a WALL of cats!

So, Tony, I can see why you want this ALL back!!

We'll have to think long and hard about this, won't we!

yours truly,


Just wanted to add (this is sheenagh) - that the staff that did survive management at the THS in those days were, in general, AMAZING.  They worked their fingers to the BONE, far exceeding their job descriptions, stayed late, came in early (no compensation), and along with volunteers, agonized and bled for the animals.  It was NEVER the staff that was an issue - it was the management.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


The politicking is coming fast and furious as the countdown to the AGM ticks closer and closer. Lies, half-truths, histrionic outbursts of frenzied accusations - and that's just the letters that our apparently deep-pocketed former THS head sends. A walk around the web and his minions (anyone ever see Glory on the old Buffy series.. she had minions and that's who Trowoglites remind me of) and their hysterical outbursts based on nothing more than a blind allegiance to a tin pot dictator bleat the party line.

On the misnamed "Support the Animals" page we have an individual who is sadly devoid of balls (using the term euphemistically and in a non-gender specific way!) and hasn't the chutzpah to stand up and be counted, yet has the ‘courage’ to speak on behalf of the animals. Of course, that is in the World of Trow where every day is sunny and he rules like a benevolent god … perhaps our STA guys sees himself as the right hand man – a sorta of modern Jesus – although truth be told Jesus was never reticent about admitting who HE was.

With the mish mash of pseudo-information flying about, it is hard for anyone not directly involved with the Shelter to form an opinion. To that end, I thought I would address some of the accusations levelled against the NEW and IMPROVED THS in the hopes that the truth will be apparent. The questions below are a few of the more salient enquiries and the source of much of the Trowogolites bleating and whinnying.

1   .IS there a kitten-feeding program in effect right now (at the height of kitten time)- or NOT?
      If not, why not?

According to Board member and kitten feeder extraordinaire Jennifer Downe, yes, there is a kitten feeding program.

Our limitation is to get kittens from a. surrenders, b. from TAS. We can't accept a box of kittens that has been "found" as there is no ownership, and thus they are "stray". TAS is aware of our program and we are actively seeking to have them relinquish immature kittens. The volunteers have all been retrained as per the vet and technicians guidelines. We have a dedicated tech to support the kitten nursery. We have established a contract (terms of agreement) with TCR and ACR so hopefully this will lead to them giving us more kittens. THS has established space for +14 litters.
2. Why are there so FEW animals in the THS?

Actually, Interim CEO Christopher Barry answers it very well here on the THS blog.  If you don’t feel like reading it- in a nutshell, the shelter “The number of animals that THS can care for is based upon the Guidelines for Standards of Care in Animal Shelters produced by the Association of Shelter Veterinarians. That number for THS is 350 at any given time.”


We currently have approximately 300 animals in our care at the shelter. An additional 133 animals are in foster homes and will be returned to us as they become available for adoption. However, the number of animals we should be looking at is not the number of animals in the shelter, but the number of animals that go through the shelter and ultimately find forever homes. Since June 2010, we’ve helped approximately 2,500 animals.
So, first, there are LOTS of animals in the THS, many more that are in its care and responsibility just not physically in the shelter and most importantly, the turnover and adoption rate is so successful, the turnover is considerable.

Now the reason from THS President Michael Downey as to ONE reason why there are not as many the THS would in itself like:

As you know we cannot accept strays nor do investigations without being an affiliate of the OSPCA. This impacts intake. We are also seeing quite an improvement in turnover with dogs staying on average less than 5 days and cats less than 25. We have relationships with many shelters -dogs from Montreal is one I aware of where we are saving dogs - that is trying to feed our population. The quick turnover is a great sign because in the end we want forever homes for all this animals. But we do want more animals and management is constantly working on this issue.
3.    WHAT is the story on Dakota? Why did a letter go out stating he was in his home when he
       was sitting in a cage??

Mr. Downey provided a thorough and exhaustive explanation for the MIX-UP (which is what it was, not a wholesale attempt at deception) respecting Dakota. I would be more than happy to forward the entire explanation but in the interests of space restraint, here are the highlights:

• The Board believed Dakota was in his new home. Communication fell through before they were apprised of the delay.

Step 1 – a realistic plan was created

Step 2 – delay in conferring with the vet and the medication he was being assigned.

Step 3 – the medication administered and then the cat had to be assessed for the effects of it

Step 4 – Dakota received his foster check-up, bloodwork

Step 5 – Dakota’s results came back and he was released to his foster to adopt home

4.   What is being done to fundraise/prepare for a low cost spay/neuter clinic?
      other than the Pepsi challenge?

Mr. Downey indicated that approximately $30-35,000 has been raised to date for the SN clinic . Due, however, to numerous factors including good fiscal guardianship, there is a necessity to ensure inflows match outflows. Mr. Downey further indicated that due to the chaos and negativity resulting from the allegations, evidence and erosion of faith resulting from an exposure of the realities of the shelter under Tim Trow, there is a LOT less money pre-OSPCA raid.

He indicated that the Board has been actively been seeking donations and gifts but there is a definite indication that many individuals who would otherwise donate are hesitant due to the continued uncertainty facing the THS. Thanks Tim, your egotistical, overweening desire to rule continues to derail a solid and real future for the THS.

5.    Has there been a higher incidence than normal of staff quitting? If so, are the reasons
      similar      (i.e. unhappy with management, dissatisfied with policy, etc).

To his knowledge, there is no unusual movement of staff. One staff member moved on because she was worried about the treat of Trow the Terrible returning. She indicated to Mr. Downey it was not a question of money.

I will interject here from my own PERSONAL experience while at the THS as a volunteer for close to three years.  In that period of time- under Trow - I myself witnessed MASS firings at least three times.  At times, volunteers (the few of us that managed to survive the machinations and tantrums and managed not to impale ourselves on the egos) scrambled to take care of animals as we would walk in and find ACWs slashed by two-thirds or more on more than one occasion.

6.    What about volunteers? A little bird tells me volunteers are being made to feel unwelcome
       or being discouraged? I am pretty certain this is BS as I know several and they haven't
       mentioned it, but need something solid.

Again, the Board members I spoke to have no knowledge of dissatisfaction or discouragement of volunteers. As I am in frequent contact with many currently actively volunteering, I would have to concur. In actual fact, one reason I have not felt compelled to return too quickly is because I am well aware that there are actually so many MORE volunteers than when I was there for three years. For those readers who care, I have not returned since the raid due to a severe injury I received last June and from which I am still recovering (the type that ended up with me in a wheelchair for 5 months).


So, there you have it - straightfoward answers to straightforward questions.

Not rocket science.

No attempt to obscure, dissimulate or spin.

Based on facts, real figures and honesty - you know, the NEW THS versus the old....

Oh.. and a final word from my husband who is currently attending Sam Malatesta's Sunday night dog training class at the THS with our bad shepherd Llyr .... "you know what I notice? the place doesn't STINK any longer ...."

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Open Season on Toronto Animals... Torontonians .. you NEED TO BE HEARD

First, we have the threatened derailment of the emergence of a new and improved THS with the shrill, self-righteous lies and half-lies of the Trow crowd as he seeks to reestabilsh his fiefdom.

Second, we now have Ford Nation beginning its swatch of destruction to City Services.  As wrong as it seems, the welfare, care, adoption and shelter of Toronto's animals are under their aegies.  With an estimated budgetary shortfall of more than $700 million, Ford et al. will be frantically searching for ways to cut budgets.  Fred of Pound Dogs says it very well here.  Social Mange also sounds the alarm here.  I URGE you to check out these blogs (particularly Fred's) for some crucial information.

The reality is that the LAST place that people should look for cutbacks and changes are Toronto Animal Services.  That last few years have seen some radical changes to the potential fate of Toronto's animals.  From the horror at the THS to the arrogant mishandling still being exhibited by the OSPCA, oddly, a beacon for change for the good has been Toronto Animal Services.

There is no question that I, together with many others, would love to see TAS adopt a "no-kill" philosophy- it can and has been successfuly achieved by cities from larger than our own.  However, that aside, I have very favourably impressed with the positive changes I have seen over the past many years.

I was told, many years ago when I got my first dog, that TAS at that point sold dogs (and other animals) to research faclities (if I am wrong, please advise)  - a horror no animal should have to experience but somehow worse for animals accustomed to being cherished and loved by their humans.  My Lass would have been the perfect candidate. The larger size preferred (a collie/shephard) mix, docile, sweet and submissive, she was a research scientist's dream subject.  Instead, we adopted this emaciated, frightened little girl- then 3 years ago and a pathetic 44 lbs (her "good" weight was around 75) and loved her to distraction for the next 13 years.  One day, when I can write without crying every moment, I will write about my Lass.

TAS back then was basically a clearing house ... euthanasia rates were out of sight (but keeping in mind that at that time - around 1990, even the THS euthanized every 3 days!!).  The "pounds" were rudimentary and the care given minmal.  City workers with no experience but based on seniority tended creatures that deserved and needed care and knowledgeable hands.

For many years now there has been an incredible change in philosophy.  The emphasis has gone from seeing animals as a commodity, in many ways an inconvenience to the City, and become instead, individuals working within the system with compassion, knowledge and caring.    The facilities are so much more animal- friendly, and animals that once would have had no chance due to health, behavioural or emotional issues are, on many occasions, given that extra chance.

I know animal control officers that bring home sick kittens, help rehab dogs, create a rich, fulfulling atmosphere for the animals under their care.

These officers have already had their shifts cut.

Now Ford is suggesting a privitized animal control is preferable.

Has anyone read the newspapers recently?

Think Berger Blanc... the profit-based corporation which deals with Montreal's animals - horribly, cruelly and without mercy.  There is nothing special about this organization, nothing outstanding or unusual - it is in fact, exactly what it purports to be - PROFIT-BASED.

(see the Facebook page on this organization or see Fred's blog for an excellent (yet horrific) interview on investigations that have recently revealed horrors within the walls of that place). The montrealdogblog covers it extensively).

The reality is that when profit enters into the picture- compassion and caring become bottom line commodities.  When it is all about the numbers, feeling, caring, helpless animals merely become ink on a page.    Lives which could enrich and enhance instead become liabilities.

Make yourself heard.

Register here for the information meetings on the subject and make yourself heard (you must sign up if you wish to attend - PLEASE ATTEND).

At a minimum, take a few minutes and fill out this online survey to tell City Hall YOUR Toronto does not include making animals a commodity ...

(thanks Fred, for the links).

Please make yourselves heard... the animals of Toronto need you.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Rebutt... Rebuke.... REFUSE... or storytelling 101 by Tim Trow - UPDATED

The letter below was recently sent to the membership list of the Toronto Humane Society. As per his usual, Tim Trow makes outrageous, untruthful allegations based on nothing more than his own flawed opinion and obsessive desire to wrest control yet again.  Tim's letter is in italic. My rebuttals are in bold.

Dear Friend,

You will have been as distressed as I was to read the horrific newspaper reports about two cats whose right eyes had been poked out. A third had his teeth smashed. They were left to die in a dumpster.

The good news is that they were rescued and taken to the Bay Cat Hospital. There, a dedicated and skilful vet saved these brave animals, who were already purring and playing as they recovered from their surgery.

Toronto Animal Services found the guardian of one of them. The other two have already found good homes. This was truly a tragic story with a happy ending after such a terrible ordeal.

Then I realized: "Where was The Toronto Humane Society?" After all, the Bay Cat Hospital is only a few blocks from the THS shelter at 11 River Street, but we weren’t there.

This is the even greater tragedy - that The Toronto Humane Society has abandoned its rescue program. All of the uniformed rescue officers have been fired. Sadly, The Toronto Humane Society no longer cares for these animals who need you and me the most.

Under Toronto by-laws, Toronto Animal Services is responsible for taking in strays and the THS’ right to do so was removed. HOWEVER, TAS and the THS have been working towards the same goals and as such, work together to give every animal the opportunity to a new and happy life. Animals are exchanged between the two organizations based on which organization looks like it would be best suited to deal with that animal’s needs.

The Etobicoke Humane Society also is an OSPCA affiliate, Apparently, they have OSPCA-sanctioned volunteer cruelty investigators who are limited to the boundaries of the former borough of Etobicoke.
Sadly, under the auspices of former President Tim Trow, the right to investigate animal-related issues was removed by the OSPCA which dictates who and what organizations are legally allowed to conduct investigations. Uniformed rescue officers were not “fired” by the Toronto Humane Society; rather, they lost their legal status due to what was considered gross negligence and a lack of accountability under Trow.
Further, the right to handle wildlife was ALSO revoked under the previous management:

VP Marcie Laking said in a Star interview last year “The natural resources ministry shut it down during Trow’s tenure and the issue is before the courts, she said. “ this is verifiable and fact.

Since I wrote to you recently, I have received numerous telephone calls, letters and emails and I have learned much more about the true state of The Toronto Humane Society.

You may remember that I mentioned in my last letter the rumours about a possible appraisal and sale of the shelter. Well, an appraisal is a fact. And the shutting down and sale of the shelter has been discussed at the Board.

I have been assured that there are NO plans to shut down 11 River Street. An appraisal is simply good business sense and has no bearing on whether or not the building was going to be sold. The new Board has a fiscal responsibility to get their house in order.

Further, according to a Board member, she is not aware of any appraisal. The staff have, however, been reviewing maintenance/upkeep needs for the building which were grossly neglected under Tim Trow’s management.

We know that the Board has already closed the North York Adoption Centre for good. I'm sure that they will deny that any decision about the shelter has been made. But why else would they reduce the number of animals being cared for from over a thousand to a couple of hundred? And once a decision is made, and we learn of it, it will be too late to change.

The reality was that with a misguided sense of compassion, a hoarder mentality was woefully prevalent in the THS. There is NO kindness in taking in thousands of animals when the quality of care that was able to be provided was sorely lacking. Dogs were unsocialized, under-exercised and had no access to quality of life. Kennels have been reconfigured so that dogs now have twice the space they were accorded before. Further, the gates between these larger kennels, mean dogs experience less stress as they can be gently herded into the other side while the alternate side is cleaned, instead of being constantly moved from kennel to kennel. Dogs seek stability and having a place they recognize as “theirs” is crucial to a healthy mindset.

Further, one of the former kennels has been ripped out and the room reconfigured as a K9 wellness centre. Here, trained staff and volunteers work with a highly qualified K9 co-ordinator to teach dogs how to interact in a healthy and well socialized manner with people. Providing dogs with good socialization, teaching them basic commands, making them comfortable in a variety of environments is immensely helpful in ensuring that once adopted, the adoption is successful. 
Maxx (a stray from TAS) is a great example of this.  A volunteer dog walker is taking him to highly acclaimed trainer Sam Malatesta's class currently taking place on Sundays in the THS and he's a changed dog.   Several other dogs have attended the class and have since been adopted.
K9 Manager Shas is also doing in-house training with dog owners to keep dogs in their homes (ie. deal with the issue rather than surrendering or returning the dog)

Cats were in a very bad place.  They would go weeks without anyone visiting them other than to clean their cages.  “With only 8 cat volunteers and 800 cats, you can do the math.” a Board member and volunteer said.
The cattery is vastly improved. Yes, there are less cats. However, now the cats are provided with ample opportunity to exercise, interact and socialize not only with other cats but with human beings. Volunteers and staff have time and skills to work with the cats and ensure that they are having a positive and stimulating stay in the Toronto Humane Society. Human interaction, close attention to individual temperaments, interaction and play time all contribute to a vastly superior quality of life compared to being stacked like cordwood in small 2 x 2 ft cages with NO opportunity to explore, exercise or interact.
Communal rooms under the old THS were inaccessible and difficult for people to even see in before, so no incentive to adopt those cats.  The hygiene of the rooms was horrific under the old management.  At one point there were 20 cats in the FIV room in a room the size of a work cubicle.  Now the cats each get a visit once a day – at least!

The small animal room has also been completely renovated with serious attention paid to creating proper habitats and positive interactions for the various species. Animals are now on a far superior diet with close attention paid again to socialization and proper health.

Friends, we can't let them close The Toronto Humane Society.

There is NO question the THS is to be closed. Further, several plans are in the works to enhance and expand their purview, including negotiations to re-establish the right to take in strays, efforts to raise funds for a low cost spay/neuter clinic and continued creation of positive relationships with various breed rescues and other animal care organizations.

As I write, the shelter has been essentially emptied. The lost and found are taken to City pounds. Cages have been demolished. The CatSkyHouse is eerily quiet. A handful of dogs brought in from Quebec masks the reality of the nearly empty shelter. For the first time in Society history the frightened, the elderly, the sick, and the tiniest of kitten orphans, have had their right of entry snatched from them.

First, the THS and Toronto Animal Services have established a close and positive working relationship. There is interaction and reciprocal movement between the two organizations. Depending on the animal, there is collaboration on where the best placement would be for that particular animal – where it would have the greatest chance of being adopted.

The THS is also actively working towards the establishment of positivem, reciprocal relationships with breed rescues and plans are in the offing to bolster and expand its foster care program. There is no question that the optimum place for any animal to live is NOT a shelter. At-risk animals, whether due to temperament, emotional or health issues thrive best when moved to appropriate rescues or foster homes where they can get the best care possible. The THS keeps in close touch with their current foster homes and monitor where their animals are placed and regular follow-up and checks are made to ensure that the placements are working well both for the animals and their sponsors.

So what is the response of the Board to this shameful record? Not surprisingly, it's to try to change the rules to keep them in control. You've heard about new by-laws Board Chair Linda McKinnon is proposing. Here are just a few of the changes they haven't told us about:

The Board can appoint an unlimited number of new, non-voting but full Board members without member approval;

According to a Board member,

(1) any proposed by-law amendments were brought to the Board from the governance committee that was open for any member to join.

(2) A summary of all proposed amendments are being sent to the members with their AGM invites and the actual proposed amendments are available upon request to members for review prior to the AGM

(3) proposed amendments are not designed to keep anyone out but are about making the bylaws current, ie. gender-neutral wording, in line with the Corporations Act, and in keeping with recent case law related to the London Humane Society case, AND

(4) the proposed bylaw amendments will be voted on by the members, not just the Board at the AGM with the members having been informed by the mailing. There was NO ATTEMPT to “sneak” things through with the general proxy tactics Tim used to use.

Lastly, the Board member indicated she was unaware of any proposed amendment about appointing non-voting Board members – what would be the point (or impact for that matter?!) of that?

Board members can be proposed at the Annual Meeting. This means that if you can't attend in person and are voting by proxy, you won't know who all the candidates are;

There have been no changes to how Board members can be elected other than to open up nominations to all members.  The current Board will indicate on the mailing which of the candidates they support, but it is STILL the membership who decides to elect who they see fit.

Board and committee meetings used to be open and transparent. Now Board members will be prohibited from telling us what happens at their meetings. Volunteers will be silenced as well.

Unlike when Tim held Board elections, candidates were provided with an opportunity to be included in the mailing with a biography. Under the bylaws, anyone who submits an application up until (not sure of exact timing) 2 weeks prior to the AGM can run – but more time was needed to get the mailing out to the members prior to the AGM. Hence the fact that SOME candidates may not make it into the mailing, but they are still able to run. A HUGE step up from the last Tim AGM where the members had to REPEATEDLY ASK during the meeting who was even up for election!

The current Board is VERY transparent – they currently post their minutes on the website which had never been done.

Tim’s remarks here would almost be amusing if they weren’t so outrageous. The reality is that Board meetings under his reign were travesties. He is excellent at schmoozing people and would collect a huge amount of proxies (his preferred way of running things). Individuals who disagreed were usually allowed any time to state their objections and his belligerent, often frightening demeanour, yelling and refusal to allow a civilized debate seldom ensured a balanced meeting. “Open” and “transparent” are the LAST way I would describe former Board meetings.

Fortunately, there is a solution.

You and I can vote down this distraction from animal care. That’s why I hope that your membership is up-to-date. And please tell your friends who are members about this critical vote.

For over a century, The Toronto Humane Society has been a refuge for all animals. Those who came before us battled against cruelty. We have always been a shelter for the most vulnerable. We can be that place again. We cannot abandon the three cats I told you about and so many others. They need us.

And we certainly cannot tolerate a near empty shelter.

I have been speaking with members and friends of The Toronto Humane Society. I know that we all want it to succeed and that’s why I’m so gratified that you have shared your ideas to make The Toronto Humane Society great again. I will be discussing and sharing these ideas with you before the upcoming Annual Meeting.

Please join with me as you have before to make The Toronto Humane Society the leader in caring for all animals. They need us like they’ve never needed us before.

With best personal regards,

Tim, if you TRULY cared about the Toronto Humane Society you would be aware that your name is synonymous with dysfunctional.

The manner in which your staff was treated was beyond anything I, as a volunteer, had ever experienced in any environment.  Yelling, browbeating, dismissal and threats were common.

Further, your egocentric form of management resulted in the OSPCA having the power to walk in and destroy many of the animals you purportedly “saved”. Had you not obviously, consciously and arrogantly flaunted the untenable situation you created within the walls of 11 River Street, the OSPCA would never have had the authority to do what it did. The fact that they acted like complete cretins and in turn, flaunted the rule of law themselves (thus ensuring that pretty well all charges were dropped and actually never made it to Court due to gross errors in the way they exercised warrants and conducted themselves), is moot.

You had your day.

In actual fact, I have said and will say again, many of your visions were excellent – it was just when your ego got in the way that they got distorted and twisted.

It is time to move on.

For the Toronto Humane Society to take a new, wonderful direction which will in fact (and is) fulfilling many of the dreams you yourself had and for YOU, to realize that your day is DONE and if you really care as you say you do, WALK AWAY.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Say it ain't so, Trow ....

Once upon a time there was a man with what many felt was a soft heart. A great BIG cushy heart that loved animals – all animals – loved them to distraction. This man no doubt meant well – but what this man didn’t get is that loving animals extravagantly, loving animals passionately, loving animals to the point where balance, compassion, understanding and awareness are no longer part of the equation really isn’t loving at all – it is obsession.

It is hoarding.

It is narcissism to the highest degree.

For it is sad, but true, that sometimes in loving, we have to let go. True courage and a strong, enduring love give us the strength to recognize our limits. It gives us the courage to know what is best for the animal – not what is easier on our hearts or our own selfish needs.

It describes a man who is a genius at  manipulation.

Whose obsession continues after 20+ years to the extent that rather than allow the THS to blossom as it should ... rather than allow the new, strong THS to grow, his selfish, self-serving, obsessive need to dictate and control are making him take a yet another run for the Board of this beleaguered organization.

Still reeling from the allegations and mismanagement under his reign, the THS is only now beginning to become what it was meant to be.

This man claims to be the voice for the animals.

I wonder who spoke for Diva as she lay dying in her kennel?

I know a volunteer did – begging that a kind word, warm hands and a compassionate needle would release her from her torment. Instead, big hearted Trow who “loved” animals so much refused permission for compassionate euthanasia (for a dog riddled with cancer and dying in pain).

Who spoke for the cats stacked row on row on row, huddled in small dirty cages, sitting in their own feces and urine, desperate to stretch and play and jump as cats should. Yet there they sat, week after interminable week.

Because this man’s “big” heart said he couldn’t say no. This man’s heart said the THS could handle it.

But it couldn’t.

Need volunteers? Caring, compassionate hands to nurture and pet and hold with tenderness and care even for a moment those poor cats? No, according to Mr. Trow, there were “more than enough”. I know because two of my daughters sought to be volunteers twice over the course of a year and were told no volunteer positions were available … there were “more than enough”.

And so the cats sat. Unseen. Uncared for other than the basics of food and sometimes water. No tender hand. No brush along rough fur. No interaction.

While those who loved them, those who cared passionately about them, those that stayed despite all, ran themselves ragged trying to give compassion to far too many.

I remember a long, brutally hot summer when the heat beat down like punishment on the pristine grass which Mr. Trow insisted be laid each Spring. A summer when one of a series of firings of ACWs and staff that I personally experienced left kennels bursting with needy dogs. Dogs with issues. Dogs with no outlet for their boundless energy. No opportunity to spend any but a few stolen moments relieving themselves outside.

A summer when arriving for my early morning shift to walk, instead I spent several hours just filling empty water bowls. Over and over. Because there were no people you see to deal with all these dogs and while the staff that remained had huge hearts and cared desperately, few hands can only accomplish so much.

I remember filling those bowls over and over … finishing the rows upon rows of kennels only to start again as the desperately thirsty animals had already finished what I had poured.

Volunteers and sadly depleted staff would scuttle along the corridors of the THS, frantic to relieve for a moment the awful tedium of a pointless existence for the animals trapped within its confines … heads down, keeping ourselves small and non-offensive.

Because narcissism demands an audience.

Self-obsession and an unshakeable belief in your own inalienable right to make every decision require instant obedience.

Why did we stay?

Because when all was said and done, those few of us that survived those years, did so because we felt the animals were better off with us there rather than not.

We stayed because at its core, without the burden of a super-ego and a man who thought himself God, the core values were right. Which makes it sadder – that his vision in many respects was wonderful – it was just in the doing that his ego took precedence.

The THS has been, was, and will again be the voice of the animals.

It should and will stand as a beacon for the unwanted, the neglected, the lost, the hurt and the needy.

If Tim Trow TRULY loved the animals he wouldn’t now be running for the Board together with his cohorts and minions.

If Tim Trow TRULY cared about the future of the THS he would accept his defeat with dignity and stand down.

If Tim Trow TRULY cared about the animals he purports to “love’ he would accept that the direction the THS is now taking is what is right and best for the animals.

But he doesn’t.

His ego, his sense of self-entitlement, his obsessiveness and need to control supersede the reality of a thriving THS.

Because it is, in the end, all about Tim.. not the animals.

Draconian legislation against dogs proposed by Nova Scotia....

UPDATE: HERE - sounds like a lot of people had a lot to say- and reading this, the issue really does seem to be all about ONE man who sounds like a complete dick.  As I've said before, it is an OWNER issue not a 'breed' issue.

Please read FrogDog's blog here, and PetConnection here to learn about the absolutely UNBELIEBABLE legislation being proposed by the Province of Nova Scotia.  Draconian doesn't begin to cover this small-minded, ill informed, pointless legislation being proposed. WRITE to the people below (have lifted from FrogDog's blog) and let these individuals know what you think of this.  Nova Scotia relies HEAVILY on tourism - so let them know that their livelihood will most definitely be impacted with this type of garbage.;;;;;;

Text of an email sent to the above-noted individuals:

I was absolutely appalled to read the content of this proposed legislation.

I am not sure on what basis such draconian legislation has been drafted - nor what the Province of Nova Scotia thinks to accomplish by this small-minded, ill-fated, badly drafted legislation which is based on innuendo, rumour and a glaring lack of common sense.

If the individuals who propose this legislation had done their homework, even a cursory search on the internet will bring up dozens of incidents where stupid legislation such as banning a certain "breed" has been proven to be ineffective and pointless and done nothing to deal with the issues they are ostensibly supposed to address. Further, condemning a dog based on ONE bite with no recourse is nothing short of pure maliciousness; the reality is that there are cases where the dog has been provoked, attacked, beaten, mistreated or otherwise placed in a situation where its only recourse is to bite. The only balanced response would be to look at each case individually, based on the facts of THAT case, not wholesale destruction of often tolerant, loving pets!

Over the past several years, numerous cities, towns, provinces, states and COUNTRIES have rethought the belief that banning a certain 'breed' of dog somehow mitigates the problem of 'dangerous' dogs. There have been a record number of revocations of such breed bans - as statistics clearly show that banning a specific breed does not in any way decrease the number or severity of dog bites.

The bottom line is that the issue is seldom the DOG and almost ALWAYS the OWNER. Drafting legislation to deal with abusive owners, those who mistreat or actively encourage their animals to fight and develop aggressiveness, owners who neglect and starve or ignore their animals, owners who refuse to exercise responsible guardianship over their dogs - is the answer - NOT targeting the innocent victim - the dog.

The proviso that 'dangerous' dogs can be shot on sight is unbelievable. The reality is that an individual who is frightened of dogs could easily misunderstand even the friendly overtures of a dog that comes up to them. This type of decision-making is subjective to the highest degree and one would think that a town's animal services department with trained staff would be the individuals who SHOULD deal with dogs that are loose or appear to be otherwise "at large". My own dog, a black shepherd named Llyr is a goofball who despite repeated instruction STILL tends to bound towards an individual with a big grin and leaps at them would be 'shot at will' based on this legislation. The biggest issue faced by anyone he actually reached would be being licked to death!

My husband and I have been actively researching towns in Nova Scotia as we had pretty well decided that retirement in your province was our dream. I can promise you, that we would ASSUREDLY rethink that if legislation such as this was in place. As animal lovers, I could not and would not choose to live in a place that treats my beloved pets like some sort of slavering monsters!

Please do your research. There is absolutely NO doubt that if you explore the realities of most of the legislation as drafted, there are myriad examples of places that enacted similar legislation to NO effect. There are a substantial number of places, in truth, that having seen the error of their ways- have rethought this knee jerk reaction espoused by alarmists.

I sincerely hope that this whole issue is rethought and this legislation definitively shelved.

Yours sincerely,