Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Worthington and Trow, sitting in a tree ...

THS policy is to not kill healthy dogs, but to keep them alive indefinitely in hopes they'll be adopted.

Well put Peter Worthington, columnist for the Toronto Sun and constant supporter of Tim Trow's THS. That's the problem staring Worthington right in the face and he just doesn't get it.

That statement, as is, says nothing about how the THS is or should be managing the animals under its care. That statement, as is, can be just as easily endorsed by the great animal sanctuary Best Friends Animal Society or by the worst obsessive compulsive animal hoarder.

Let's take a look at how it applies to the Toronto Humane Society.

THS policy is to not kill healthy dogs ...

And apparently, they don't euthanize the sick and dying ones either. As Worthington himself reports, "37 died in their cages" - not that I trust any numbers supplied by the THS any more than I'd trust them not to misplace charitable donation receipts or to re-interpret other people's statements.

But let's say that number was 37. There are multiple accounts from vets, staff and volunteers who once worked or are still working at the THS about just how horrible those deaths are but there's no need to even read those accounts unless you want to be thoroughly disgusted.

Just imagine for yourselves, those of you that own pets, what it would be like if your dog or cat was deathly ill, suffering in pain with little to no chance of recovery and instead of giving it the medical attention it needed or humanely euthanizing it, you stick it in a cage and let it die in torment. What would you say to someone who could allow that to happen to an animal? How about someone who could allow that to happen to 37 animals (and that's just the dogs) in one year?

... keep them alive indefinitely...

There's no way anyone can say if a dog or a cat would rather be dead or rather be alive but spending its life in a cage. That's not the type of question a non-linguistic creature would have the capacity to ask itself. So, maybe it's okay to keep a dog locked up behind bars in a room full of other dogs constantly barking and under stress, with only little dabs of affections from humans every now and then, with no relief from the insanity that crawls into it's brain from the torturous boredom of staring at concrete and metal bars, with all the despair and anger that must come from constantly watching people pass by and being ignored, with living in shit and piss because there aren't enough people to clean up quickly enough, with getting sick and just suffering through it because enough medication and vets aren't available. Yeah, maybe all that's okay.

Or maybe not.

... in hopes they'll be adopted.

My guess is that adoption rates would probably go up if so many people didn't feel they get treated like criminals at the THS. Adoption isn't just about getting animals out the door. It's also about educating the public about the responsibilities and expectations of pet ownership. You don't educate by shouting at people. It's also about building the public trust so that they have confidence they're going to get the animal they were told they were going to get and not something sicker or less behaviourally sound. Then the animal just ends up getting returned two or three or more times (and I have to wonder how those multiple returns figure into the adoption numbers. Are they counted each time they are sent out the rotating door as a successful adoption?). It's also about better working relationships with local rescues and other shelters and not constantly denigrating them in the news for political points.

In the rest of the column, Worthington pulls the usual stunt taken from the Tim Troy handbook on public relations by throwing crap on other animal welfare agencies like the OSPCA and TAS. I don't know about the OSCPA but I do know the TAS euthanasia numbers game, which Trow and Worthington love to play out whenever attention needs to be deflected, is a misleading one. He may as well be claiming all vets are bad because they all do euthanasias. Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if most vets euthanize most of their (animal) clients, eventually. That would be almost a 100% euthanasia rate. Holy shit! All vets must be evil! But of course that's stupid rationale. If someone reads those numbers without thought or analysis, then of course vets look bad. The real question that should be asked is why an animal was euthanized and was it for a legitimate reason? Apparently, that kind of analysis is beyond some people.

There is one thing I do agree with in Worthington's column. He writes, "There's no shortage of nutbars in the animal movement. They tend to feud and agitate, and actually harm animals they seek to protect." Yes, that may be true. Of course, the same can be said for newspaper columnists.


Anonymous said...

I hope my dogs go peacefully in their sleep, and this human doesn't have to try to guess when Quality has gone out of Life for them.

I guess it's simplistic to say it comes down to the Golden Rule.

Jenn said...

What a frustrating article! This part in particular sums up my problem with THS: "arguably the world's most "humane" humane society." Yet by definition, humane means "marked or motivated by concern with the alleviation of suffering." 37 dogs dying in their cages (on average 3 per month) goes against the definition of humane!

There's so much wrong with how THS is implementing their no kill policy. And don't even get me started with Trow's alleged reluctance to advocate spaying and neutering! Way to contribute to a circular problem - more unwanted pets equal more euthanasia, it's not hard to figure out.

Heather B said...

why an animal was euthanized and was it for a legitimate reason

Does BSL come to mind? I understand that it states a pound `may` euthanize a suspected Pitbull. I also understand that dogs go insane when confined for long periods without companionship. Rescuers are few for Pitties. We run on air and a prayer for the most part. How bout, ospca and ths putting their money where their mouths are and helping us find safety for these babies. Your numbers would be near nil if we could do that.
And how bout the dogs that are scraped of the road half dead. You take them in , treat them and then have to count them in you numbers.
Please tell me why some people are so thick?

Fred said...

Jenn, the THS not speutering all their dogs will always be a mystery to me.

Heather B, I hate BSL and yes it does pump up the euth numbers as well as the other stuff you mentioned.

Anonymous said...

August 2003 the OSPCA seized and killed my dog while I was on vacation.

Arko, a Turkish Akbash, had gone lame two days before my return. He was 12.5 and otherwise in good health. The plan was to take him to the vet on Saturday. Arko was not in pain.

The OSPCA conducting an inspection of the boarding kennel on Thursday determined Arko to be a 5.5 year old abused, severely emaciated great Pyr in “disgusting” condition, the “worst” they’d seen.

The OSPCA "rescued" Arko. First they attempted to stuff him into a crate, then moved him using a blanket. Arko was left in the OSPCA truck alone, panic stricken for almost an hour while they finished paperwork. He lost consciousness before they arrived in Newmarket.

Overnight, with care, Arko came to, walked with assistance, ate well and barked for hours. My sister called many times asking to be with him if they were putting him down. OSPCA staff threatened criminal charges if she continued to call. Arko was killed Friday evening. He died on a cold metal table in the company of a stranger. A pre-signed form authorized his death.

I was asked to drop off Arko’s veterinary records which the Chief Inspector personally refused to accept. Mike Draper, pompously introducing himself as the “Chief of the Provincial Animal Police” reminded me I was "guilty (of animal neglect and cruelty) until proven innocent."

Mid trial, many months later, all charges against the kennel owner were dropped. No explanation. No apology. The wonderfully descriptive media release soliciting donations remains posted on the OSPCA website to this day.

I was shocked at the bullying, threats, investigative incompetence and arrogance of OSPCA staff.

Minister Kwinter confirmed the province does not oversee the "day to day" financial or enforcement actions of the OSPCA. The OSPCA operates autonomously and is not subject to Freedom of Information. The Minister stated - no one can touch the OSPCA other than through the Charity Act.

The papers are full of grave allegations against the THS. Be assured, grave allegations against the OSPCA fester on many fronts as well. While the argument may be made that the current OSPCA Board, CEO and Chief Inspector are approachable, there's no guarantee another bully isn't waiting in the wings.

The province created and empowers the OSPCA through legislation and, as of late, has substantially funded them (7 million). It would behoove the province to provide legislatively enshrined oversight of this hybrid charity/private police force to ensure accountability and transparency at the OSPCA before Ontario's animal welfare system totally self-destructs. The dysfunctional relationship between the OSPCA and it's largest affiliate is a public embarassment.

Sunny Reuter

Fred said...

Sunny Reuter, that's a terrible experience you went through, worse for your dog. I've not heard a lot about the OSPCA but they're not an organization I run across very often here in downtown Toronto.

I totally agree with you about these charity/policing bodies needing oversight. Too much power in the hands of the incompetent and abusive and no one to keep reigns on them.

Anonymous said...

I've read comments by Sunny Reuter in a veterinarians blog where she claims that the THS is always sanitary and that everyone complaining is disgruntled. She is boosting the THS to get back at the OSPCA, just what Trow likes to do. The abuses of authority of OSPCA Agents in Humane Societies across Ontario, particularly in Rural Ontario, are terrible. OSPCA agents regularly abuse the warantless search and seizure evidence, manufacture evidence, do not follow de-contamination procedures, and use cruelty cases for publicity purposes. What Sunny doesn't realize is that the THS is not her ally in this, they are part of the problem. Their goon Agents do the same: without due process, the use of warrantless entry and seizure, they daily abuse the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In the OSPCA Act public consultations the examples of OSPCA goons all came from THS Agents. The THS then criticises the OSPCA for the abuses and the use of warrantless entry that it is guilty of and wholeheartedly supports.