Monday, June 1, 2009

You say tomato, I say tomahto whatever

In case you haven't seen it, Tim Trow responded to yesterday's Globe and Mail article about conditions at the Toronto Humane Society. He makes some strong points, basically denying and reinterpreting much of what the original article had to say.

Now I realize the one person's "kitten resting in cage" may be another person's "kitten being neglected, covered in shit and left dying in cage" but eventually members of the THS are going to have to decide for themselves whose interpretation of reality they want to follow.

Here's an example from Trow's rebuttal letter:

"It is not now, nor has it ever been, the policy of the society to refuse to admit any animals in need. Animals are not turned away."

Yuh. That's a very interesting interpretation of what's written on the THS website:

Q: How do I surrender an animal to you for adoption?

A: At present our Shelter has no extra room. If you need to surrender your pet, as space becomes available, you will need to make an appointment with a Feline or Canine coordinator.

Now that's what I call a mixed message.

So which is it?

Maybe this picture can give us some clues (h/t to Marcie Laking and you might have to click on the image to see it properly)

Here's another sampling of Trow's rebuttal letter:

"Harley was not given to an adoptive family “with a broken leg.” Rather, Harley has a limp because her leg had been broken and had healed prior to coming to the society. Our chief veterinarian and an outside consulting surgeon (in a reporting letter) determined that Harley is not a candidate for further treatment and can live her life normally. At the Toronto Humane Society, animals, including Harley, receive a vet check, shots and any necessary treatment prior to adoption. "

And in response to his response, Ainsley Kendrick, the woman who adopted Harley, writes:

It's the fact that none of this was said to us either before or after the adoption. They let us adopt Harley only to find this out for ourselves after spending the money on x-rays, medication, quarantine and a visit with a specialist. They wouldn't return any of our phone calls (and still haven't to this day! )and they did not live up to their promise of reimbursement. All we wanted were some answers. I just wish we were given the proper info before the adoption, not after. We weren't given the choice.

Yuh. One person's oh-it's-just-a-limp is another person's

Her leg was fractured and her kneecap severely displaced, a condition made worse by the Toronto Humane Society's inability to return their desperate requests for veterinary records. Left in the dark, Ms. Kendrick and Ms. Miguel had spent $526.21 in tests, X-rays and medication by the time their own vet confirmed that one of the country's largest animal shelters had given them a dog with a broken leg.

For more on what people are saying about Trow's interpretation of reality you can look here and here and here.


Anonymous said...

Making an appointment for a surrender allows the shelter to get some information on the pet's health, behavior and adoption history.

It's understandable, though, that fear, guilt and just irresponsibility will result in pets being left outside the doors or in the lobby. Which is still probably better than the practice in some parts of providing "bins" where you can dump an animal through a chute into a dark room with other animals.

When a walk-in drop-off occurs at TAS, what happens?

Fred said...

Yes, in theory. Unfortunately, in practice, it's also a good way to not accept animals because of overcrowding. The more barriers that are put up, the more difficult it is to dump an animal.

Here's a typical story I've lifted from the Facebook group. It's from a list of complaints about the THS so take it with a grain of salt if necessary but I hear so many similar stories from different people that it becomes hard to ignore:

Veronica Savage wrote

More than once I have tried to contact the Toronto Humane Society regarding stray/feral cats I have found in my neighbourhood. Despite repeated telephone calls and emails, not ONCE did they ever reply to me, if only to say they were unable to help me. The one time I managed to actually talk to a person, they advised me that the five small kittens I had found would be automatically euthanized if I brought them in as they did not have resources to care for small kittens. I am happy to say I found a home for one of the five and still have the other four to this day. For all other cats I have found/cared for, I am very thankful that other groups, working with far fewer resources, had the humanity to help where they could. I am disgusted with the Toronto Humane Society.
On the one hand, dissuading people from bringing in their unwanted animals is a good thing. People should be forced to think twice (or three times or more) about dumping a pet but in reality what often ends up happening (if the person isn't as concerned about animal welfare as the above writer) is they just dump their animal out the front door of their house or drive it out somewhere and shoo it out the car door. Then it ends up dead or eventually at Toronto Animal Services.

Or else they just bring the pet directly to Toronto Animal Services where there is an open door policy. At TAS every dog who is brought there will be accepted.

Anonymous said...

I got the Facebook post confused with this one on the site:

"i had a cat that needed a home and i called them but they couldn't take him in, as they already had 500 cats there on river street, i called the Toronto one run by the city and was told that he would probably be put down". Catch-22 for the cat, but fortunately, the poster found a home for him.

Fred said...

redstarcafe, unfortunately, the different locations of TAS seem to have different policies or at least different implementation of those polices. I don't know what the other locations would do upon receiving a stray cat, but I know TAS South would not automatically euth a cat just because.

I don't deal with the cats but I know the TAS South staffer who is in charge of them is a huge advocate for cat rescue. I've seen the staff try to save some cats that have come in and are in some godawful condition so I know their answer would not be a simple, we're going to euth all the cats that are brought in.