Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Toronto lawsuit society

It seems hardly a week goes by without hearing about another Toronto Humane Society lawsuit. I wonder if they've worked out a deal with the attorney general where they get some kind of bulk discount. Maybe they have one of those frequent buyer cards where it's like for every ten lawsuits, they get the eleventh one free. Or maybe they're going for Air Miles. Does anyone know how many Air Miles you get for a lawsuit?

Anyway, this time THS lawyers are going after the OSPCA. Something about how the OSCPCA shouldn't be able to tell the THS what to do and how to do it. I always thought the OSPCA was kinda like the boss or the licensing body for animal welfare facilities in Ontario so aren't they allowed to tell the THS what to do? Aren't they supposed to tell the THS what to do? Isn't that kinda like their job? Otherwise, I suppose any Dick could open up a warehouse and hang a sign out front calling itself a humane society regardless of what actually goes on inside the building. But hey, what's a minor point like that when it comes to the dark side of lawyering.

With so many lawsuit and threats of lawsuits up in the air, you gotta wonder just how much time and money and effort is spent by the THS bosses on this stuff. How much does a lawyer charge per hour? How much are all the court fees?How much is that in terms of bags of dog food or vaccines or spay/neuters? How much is that in terms of lives lost or saved?


Lynda said...

Which is exactly why I cannot give money to the THS. Durham shall always reap my rewards....

Marcie said...

I try not to think of the actual dollar amount, it really makes me sick.

Anonymous said...

The Ontario SPCA is not subject to Freedom of Information. The Ontario SPCA administers and investigates itself.

Between 2000 and 2004 the number of animal cruelty charges laid by the Ontario SPCA increased from 97 to 695. The number of search warrants more than quadrupled and the number of Orders issued almost tripled. Yet during that time the number of complaints increased only marginally from 16,166 in 2000 to 16,478. In one case alone the Ontario SPCA laid 183 charges.

It may be argued that current management at the OSPCA is less aggressive, may be....until the next tyrant is at the helm.

The legendarily dysfunctional relationship between the Toronto Humane Society (THS) and the OSPCA is again making news.

Ironically both organizations enforce Ontario's animal welfare legislation using OSPCA trained and regulated inspectors. Both mine the greater GTA for donations to feed their huge multimillion dollar annual budgets.

The THS, subject to OSPCA oversight as their largest affiliate, is suing the OSPCA. In response, the OSPCA has hired attorneys Clayton Ruby and Brian Shiller to represent them at the Animal Care Review Board hearing. In 2006 Brian Shiller won a hi-profile case against the THS to return "Chrissy the Cockatoo" back to 84 year old Elaine Menna. Clayton Ruby needs no introduction.

The October 26th ACRB hearing will be just another “watershed moment" for Ontario's animal welfare system. Like in 2006, when OSPCA board members resigned (twenty nine of them), virtually en masse. A letter to Premier McGuinty claimed “outdated legislation and dysfunctional governance" forced the OSPCA to "irresponsibly and immorally squander donor and taxpayer dollars in an unsustainable and wasteful fashion." “Resigning (OSPCA) board members urged (the) province to step in and investigate “insane” abuse and cruelty charges”. Directors “feel strongly that government, not the OSPCA should be in charge of enforcing laws to protect animals and to prosecute offenders.” (Toronto Sun May 15, 2006.)

The province disagreed, responding with one time grants totalling some $7,000,000. strengthening OSPCA autonomy and power with Bill 50 – virtually ignoring demands for accountability, transparency and oversight. Two "top secret" OSPCA investigative reports were commissioned by then Minister Kwinter from Grant Thornton.

Peter Worthington reports: 10 of the 12-member OSPCA board are paid employees of OSPCA affiliate humane societies.

No one oversees the OSPCA and the THS refuses to let the OSPCA oversee them. What a bloody mess!!

The October 26, 2009 Animal Care Review Board hearing (at the Toronto offices of the Ontario Racing Commission)will hear the THS appeal orders issued AND REVOKED by the OSPCA in June 2009.

The THS is seeking to clear its reputation. The OSPCA is seeking to protect its reputation.

Tens of thousands of dollars in grants and donations will not be spent on animal welfare.

...and Ontario’s animal caregivers/owners continue to suffer the whims of power hungry, financially desperate charities autonomously enforcing subjective legislation.

Anonymous said...

The OSPCA has a long way to go before they become a responsible oversight and policing body. The new PAWA gives increased police powers (warrantless entry) to agents like Tre Smith who handcuffed a suspect to a car, abandoned him and left him to be viciously attacked by bystanders. Smith was suspended for three months and reinstated by the OSPCA. The PAWA hearings also demonstrate the bullying by OSPCA agents in rural Ontario. They use these Agents and charges of animal abuse and neglect to generate publicity and donor dollars, to extract kenneling and veterinarian fees from animals seized. This is obvious in the case of Agent Smith who is featured prominently and shamelessly on the THS website and publication AnimalTalk - Tre is having a baby, Tre had the baby, baby visits shelter, Tre got a bit role as an extra, baby has first communion, Tre gets married ...
(By the way, also in the new PAWA, are provisions to require OSPCA Agents to show identification, mandatory reporting of abuse and neglect by Veterinarians, and, significantly expanded where the OSPCA might investigate to anywhere animals are kept, not just where they are for sale or held by private owners)
Anonymous correctly pointed out that the rise in animal neglect or cruelty charges does not suggest a rise in cruelty as much as a rise in litigiousness, the use of lawyers to file redundant charges to slow the administration of justice and have those accused surrender their animals rather then hire lawyers themeselves for protrated and expensive litigation for which they cannot be compensated.
The OSPCA has a long way to go with respect to a respect for due process of law and procedures - the Board members quit rather then try and fix the problem of overzealous and incompetent (one month internet course and a driver's license) Agents. Basically, you have some good Agents, but attracting a lot of power hungry idiots.
I have laughed watching the THS accuse the OSPCA of poor governance, incompetence, and lack of transparency - accusing the OSPCA of precisely what the THS is documented for doing but much more so, like not having by-laws or minutes available, making it very difficult for anyone to run for the board, etc...
It is wholly ridiculous that the THS, which is one of the greatest alleged culprits in this, with their Agent Smith, is seeking to "clear it's name". The warrants obtained, the probable cause, that they showed a judge who approved the warrant, was exceptional in it's detail and breadth, corroborated by credible witnesses, documents, newpaper reports, etc... There was not a greater case of probable cause for such a warrant.
What is despicable is that the OSPCA ignored credible allegations of animal abuse at one of their own affiliates for years now.
The ACRB hearings is simply grandstanding by Trow, toss his old lawyer buddy Capone some easy litigation, and is a feeble attempt to clear his name, vilify the whistle blowers and railroad the greater investigation that is underway now by the OSPCA as to animal cruelty and investigation, and other crimes and misdemeanors related to hiding stray animals, donation handling procedures, etc...
Yes, the OSPCA leaves a lot to be desired, but they have never even been accused of animal cruelty and neglect, and two wrongs still don't make a right.

Anonymous said...

This data was taken from the Canada Revenue Agency site.
Canada Revenue Registration Number: 119259513RR0001 Toronto Humane Society

2008 Donations receipted $9,098,592 (of which 44% went to salaries & 26% ($2,329,482) to fundraising expenditures)
2008 total salaries, wages & benefits = $3,976,417
44 full time compensated employees = $2,656,320 ($60,370 average salary)
98 part time employees = $1,320,097 ($13,470 average salary)

2007 Donations receipted $11,124,702 (of which 44% went to salaries & 20% ($2,198,000) to fundraising expenditures)
2007 total salaries, wages & benefits = $4,843,879
49 full time compensated employees = $3,345,815 ($68,280 average salary)
98 part time employees = $1,498,064 ($15,286 average salary)

2006 Donations receipted $8,841,002 (of which 62% went to salaries & 25% ($ 2,219,978) to fundraising expenditures)
2006 total salaries, wages & benefits = $5,492,215
55 full time compensated employees = $4,366,084 ($79,380 average salary)
82 part time employees = $1,126,131 ($13,733 average salary)

2005 Donations receipted $9,461,153 (of which 58% went to salaries & 27% ($ 2,588,892) to fundraising expenditures)
2005 total salaries, wages & benefits = $5,490,103.00
75 full time compensated employees = $5,250,163.00 ($70,000 average salary)
31 part time employees = $239,940.00 ($7,740 average salary)

2004 Donations receipted $9,939,595(of which 52% went to salaries & 27% ($2,725,228) to fundraising expenditures)
2004 total salaries, wages & benefits = $5,199,399
78 full time compensated employees = $4,824,297 ($61,850 average salary)
13 part time employees = $375,102 ($28,854 average salary)

Anonymous said...

Thank-you to whoever posted the THS disclosure to the Canada Revenue Agency, as listed on their charities directorate. Please note, that
1. the CRA listing comes with a proviso that the numbers are unaudited.
2. The assumption by many is that the CRA ensures that the public trust is not breached by charities, that they earn their tax benefits by doing as they claim.
3. The further assumption is that their financial statements and information provided the CRA is audited. It is not. There are 60,000 registered charities in Canada, the number of CRA agents is but a handful, which is what makes charities ideal for criminal activities such as issuing false tax receipts for money not donated, as covers for raising money for other causes, and to benefit corrupt Board Directors.
4. The CRA relies on the competence and scrutiny of the public, members of corporations, their Boards of Directors, the integrity of their accountants and lawyers, to oversee and ensure that they are not used to nefarious or illegal purposes.
5. In the 3Jun2009 Globe expose by Kate Hammer, the financial statements she obtained which are given to board members were found to be different from those posted on the CRA website.
6. In turn, the financial statements the THS gives to pesky non-Board members (see McKinnon letter on ART website) fail to show the THS's substantial lawyers's fees, fail to mention their too-high fees that go to fundraising administrators.
7. Average, or mean salary, at the THS is a poor measure of what those directly in animal care are paid. At $10/hour ACW's make $20,000 a year; 30, at most, gives $600,000/year. Add another $400,000 for four vets, though only one makes, $100,000+, and we have a million/year.
9. The part-time workers are a mystery to me, maybe they are counting ACW's in that bunch, but, most probably they are talking about their bloated administrative staff who lord knows what they do.
10. The largest single expense at the THS is management and supervisors and "senior administrators"? Those staff members actually equal or exceed the number of workers in animal care. Consider this - when the 7am shift starts there are 2-3 supervisors and a couple of workers getting off midnight shift. In morning shift there are 3-5 worker cleaning, feeding and vetting animals, 5 management and 4 supervisors to oversee them just for the shelter.
11. I see the THS as more or less as management featherbedding. They are highly paid, but have little or absolutely no animal care credentials. They have very generous benefit packages, plenty of vacations, and receive substantial bonuses. In return they arre expected to tow the party line, and - allegedly - engage in cover-ups, obfuscation, intimidation, and put on a cheery face for the media, etc...

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

.... if Anonymous' allegations are true....maybe it is time to contact Kevin Donovan of the Toronto Star.

In 2007 he wrote a number of stories about the charitable sector for the Toronto Star.

According to a Bloomberg article "One thing that I have noticed is that charities generally are not that concerned about a CRA audit. They are more concerned about getting a call that starts with "Hi, this is
Kevin Donovan from the Toronto Star". After all, the chance of an audit is less than 1% in any year. If Kevin Donovan is calling and asking questions he may be asking about an issue that you may not want splashed on the front page of the Toronto Star."

Wychwood Park Toronto said...

I am just so fed up with all these lawsuits. We hear about them way too often, as you said it yourself. Anyway, thanks for the info. Oh, and I like the discussion to the article too - it is pretty informative.

Regards, Elli.