Friday, June 5, 2009

Crystal ball

It's anyone's guess at this point whether or not Tim Trow will lose his post as President of the Toronto Humane Society anytime soon. If he digs his claws in and manages to keep the board on his side, there's not much the voting general membership will be able to do about turfing him out. There are sixteen board positions, including Trow's who has apparently two of those seats (neat trick), and at the next AGM only five of those board positions will be going up for grabs so if even five new anti-Trow members are voted in, that still won't be enough to vote him out.

There's always the possibility that public pressure can get the existing board members to open their eyes and maybe give a shit about what's going on in the shelter and either leave their posts in embarrassment or sway them enough to vote down the president. This is what happened at the Montreal SPCA last year with their former, allegedly corrupt head, Pierre Barnoti. After mounting public pressure started to embarrass upper crust board members, Barnoti realized he was losing the support of his former cronies and took an extended sick leave (neat trick - you can't fire someone on sick leave). Sick or not, he was gone and the new folks moved in.

Whatever happens with Trow, there can't be any doubt in anyone's mind at this point, that things could be better at the Toronto Humane Society. Even his supporters must now be at least somewhat questioning the way he runs his shop with so many complaints being aired by fed up volunteers, nervous employees, pissed off vets, insulted adopters, left out in the cold rescues.

The problem with running a charity, especially this one, is that it's solely dependent on the kindness of strangers. If those strangers start doubting the sincerity of the charity or its efficiency in spending their donated dollars where it counts or if it even is a charity anymore (investigations into THS' charitable status underway yet?), those donations are going to dry up. So, that's another possibility. The THS just runs out of money. Now there's that big ol' building they own which is probably worth a good chunk of change but how long can the money from a mortgage on that last? And is that something Trow and board would be desperate enough to even consider? I just hope they don't suck the well dry to the point where the animals start to suffer even more than they're already suffering.

Another possibility is that the OSPCA lay animal cruelty charges on Trow and make them stick. That would spell the end for his stint at THS and may even bring on more severe penalties. Proving animal cruelty here in our province, though, is a sad joke. For the most part, animals are property and a person can do pretty much what they want with property. Sure there are special provisions for domestic animals but I'd say that if a person can drop a kitten from a 5th floor balcony, run it over with car and still have charges dropped or if someone can shoot, blind and abandon a dog on bush road and still get acquitted, the chances of making animal cruelty charges stick, especially if you've got deep pockets for lawyers, are pretty slim. I'm not at all suggesting that anyone at the THS is at that level of low life behaviour but it's kind of obvious that definitions of animal cruelty in the eyes of the laws are rather lenient, so a puppy left too long in a cage to die ... well, I'm guessing a good lawyer could argue that's superlative care compared to, say, getting hammered in the head.

But who knows? Maybe the OSPCA has got a few aces up their sleeves for this one.

There's always the possibility that Trow just up and quits but then he'd have to start his own private cat collection so I don't see him doing that.

And I guess, finally, there's the nothing happens possibility. This all just fizzles and tomorrow we go back to worrying about terrorists and the stock market.


Social Mange said...

Considering the developing debt to assets ratio in the THS's financials, I doubt that it could get a mortgage.

Interestingly, those same financials show 49 permanent full-time compensated positions and 98 part-time or part-year employees. One makes $119,999 or over; wonder who that is?

Fred said...

I think it's actually a staff vet that makes that money. Supposedly, that's in line with what vets generally make.

Social Mange said...

If that's the vet, that's not unreasonable.