Friday, July 10, 2009

Mouthpiece

So yesterday I had a short phone interview with Danielle Wong of The Star. She had some questions about how the strike was affecting the animals at Toronto Animal Services. I think I did okay by using proper breathing techniques, keeping my blasphemes to a minimum and avoiding hot button issues like the amount of stale food in the fridge at work or how I didn't get a good night's sleep the night before because of the scary supermarket monster in my dreams.

Now all this fame really should be going to my head but actually I'm just one in a series of interviews with TAS volunteers and fosters that I've seen and heard over the last little while. The Sun had a piece on TAS animals a couple of days ago where they interviewed cat foster, Melissa Hofland. This morning on CBC Radio, a TAS dog walking volunteer was interviewed about his concerns over where all the animals have gone to.

While it's kind of cool that TAS volunteers are getting their voices heard in the popular media, I have a suggestion to the city paid people who are supposed to be looking after TAS P.R.: Make yourselves more accessible and have your facts ready! And publicize! It's way too difficult to get a hold of a real person and when someone live actually does pick up the phone, the requested information is not at hand. And I'm not just talking about during the strike.

One big reason I started this blog was to help spread the message that lots of good dogs are available for adoption at TAS because for the most part, people in Toronto don't know the difference between Toronto Animal Services and Toronto Humane Society and the OSPCA and if they do, a lot of them are under the impression that TAS is still just basically a dog pound/slaughterhouse. Yeah, that impression may be changing but it's not changing fast enough.

TAS is doing some good stuff for animals. Advertise it. Flaunt it. Stop sitting in the corner in meek silence because if you don't control the message, someone else is going to control the message for you and you never know who that might be (hint: THS).

And now during the strike, people are wondering what's happened to all the dogs and cats that were previously up for adoption. I had a hard time getting that info myself and had to make a trip up to TAS North to find out some of the details for a few of the dogs I thought were up there. Yesterday, Danielle from The Star tried to get some info and got passed around from answering machine to answering machine (hopefully, she has better luck today). TAS should be getting back to her el pronto because it's an excellent opportunity to talk about the great work the staff had done in ensuring the safety and well-being of as many animals as possible in anticipation of the strike. And while TAS has now talked about the fostering program, initiated almost wholly by a few rescue minded staff members, they should continue to take every opportunity to keep on talking about it and should be forthcoming enough to report that several rescues as well as Hamilton/Burlington SPCA have also been very kindly helping out with our Toronto animals.

None of these things are things to be kept quiet. These partnerships with the community should be celebrated, in the press, and as loudly and as often as possible.

5 comments:

EB said...

That's a great point. I had no idea that THS and TAS were two separate organizations until very recently, thanks in part to all the bad publicity that the THS has gotten recently.

In a way I like the notion that the TAS isn't seen to be wasting a lot of money on PR or self-congratulation. I find all the propaganda that the THS posts up on its website to be manipulative and insulting to my intelligence, but someone could be doing more to get the word out that, as you say, the TAS is a lot more than just "the city pound." If the TAS won't do it themselves, then the media should.

Roaming Tigress said...

Great point. It's very similar with how folks still have the SPCA and Animal Control mixed up.

Laura HP said...

Almost nobody in Toronto realizes that THS and TAS are separate, or they just don't realize TAS exists, which is such a shame! I'm glad to see them getting publicity during this strike though, as everyone's too obsessed with the garbage to notice what else it's affecting. Melissa Hofland's actually my friend's mom, I was the one who asked them to take Sammy =) And now they're getting swayed by his charm, so Sammy may have just found a home!

Anonymous said...

TAS workers should be deemed essential and not be permitted to go on strike. Too many animals suffer and die. What could be a more essential service than saving these animals?

Smartypants said...

I just called TAS to ask about fostering, and the person on the other end of the phone rudely informed me that they provide adoption and surrender only. I realize the strike is going on, but this is the second time I've struck out trying to get info. Last week I went to TAS North and asked about volunteering - the guy told me he didn't know much about that, but that I was welcome to leave my number. He then said "no one will probably call you back though - at least not during the strike." It's sad and frustrating.