When I walk through the halls of the Toronto Humane Society, it reminds me of a high school the way the halls are laid out leading to various rooms, some glassed in, some behind closed doors except in each classroom there are animals instead of children and this school is crowded with cages spilling out and lining all the hallways and nooks.
My guide points up to the ceiling and I see a ceiling panel pushed aside and she says that's where they found the dessicated cat in the trap and I ask how did the OSPCA officer know to look up in that particular spot and she says because one of the THS staffers mentioned something about traps up in the ceiling and then because of the brown stains.
I look along the ceiling and see video cameras pointing in all directions. I wonder what it must be like to work under full time surveillance. I imagine someone in management, feet kicked up on a desk, eating a Kraft cheese slice sandwich, slurping grape juice through a bendy straw, watching the banks of monitors of all the cameras in the facility, making notes, jotting down pointed questions to later ask of the animal care worker talking to the new volunteer, of the vet spending too much with a cat.
I walk along the corridor of cats in their cages and many of them have padlocks on them. The padlocks are now open and hang loose on the latches but that was only done after the OSPCA came in and took over the operation of the place. Previous to that, the locks were locked. There's something surreal about that. Why padlock up cats in their cages? I look at my guide and she shrugs knowing what I'm about to ask.
We pass by one room and in it are cats on I.V. and some not looking too great. I hear a few of the cats, like maybe four or five, have been euthanized already. For the most part, the remaining cats don't look like they're in too terrible a shape and that's the opinion I get from some of the Toronto Animal Services staff who have been brought in to help out for the next few days. And that's as would be expected.
Accusations of animal cruelty levied by the OSPCA against the THS is not about every single animal in the facility suffering grotesque tortures at the hands of sicko animal psychopaths. It's about routine neglect, something that's not as easily apparent, not as shocking or easily identifiable as, say, someone shaking kittens to death and throwing them against a wall.
I suppose if you're a volunteer or a worker and the THS is the only place you've every held a position at, it might not seem strange that there are cameras in every hallway and padlocks on the cat cages. It might not seem strange, after a while, that some sick animals are left sick in their cages to be found dead in the morning. It might not seem strange that there is mewling coming from the ceiling and then no more mewling but a smell and then a spreading brown stain. It might even seem normal or comforting perhaps that all these little problems are swept under the rug, ignored and never mentioned by management. You smile at management; they smile back. Life goes on. Happy hunky dory at the Toronto Humane Society.
But if you're not that type of person, the type that tries so desperately hard to fit in, to make a good impression on the powers that be, then what do you do? You learn to bite your tongue and raise the corners of your mouth when management walks by. You learn how to raise your walls, make them impenetrable so you can continue to look after the animals as best you can. You learn how to work on your own, not saying too much to the person beside you because you might let slip something, and that person beside you, who knows where their allegiances lie. Who knows what they might report.
Or you quit and hope for a better day. God knows that what I would've done.
And how confusing it was for the public too, so trained to expect the big reveal before they'll pay any attention to anything, how confusing and difficult it must have been for them to figure all this out, all this politicking and brinkmanship. Until this afternoon, until that dead dried disgusting remnant of a poor poor cat was found in the ceiling and shown to the gasping journalists with their cameras and microphones, until then, for most people and for most media, this was still just about bad politics between the OSPCA and the THS.
The whole spew about how this is all politics and bad blood between the OSPCA and THS or how The Globe and Mail is just out on a witch hunt is of course only coming from the THS heads. The only real political thing about this is that most agencies, regulatory or otherwise, have been afraid, that's chicken shit afraid, to touch the THS because it's seen as a sacred cow charitable organization and it would be a no win political move to go after them, even if animals are dying. I mean, so what, they're only animals, right? Political careers are way more important than animals, right? The fact that the situation is considered political has only protected the THS crew from in-depth scrutiny and public exposure up until now. If this whole thing was only political and there was no substantive evidence to go forward with the charges, you can bet there's no way the attorney general or the police would have involved themselves in bagging this blistering hot shit covered potato.
That Kate MacDonald, CEO of the OSPCA, and Kate Hammer, reporter for The Globe and Mail, had dared to finally confront the management of the THS only goes to show just how much bravery and tenacity these two women and their respective organizations have above and beyond any of their peers.
Politics? Hell, no. For the OSPCA, for the animal welfare community in Toronto, for the informed and concerned pet owner, it's not about the politics. It's about the animals. It's about that cat stuck in a cage up in the ceiling slowly dying of thirst and starvation while the management of a supposed animal welfare organization spend their time spying on their workers and volunteers, fretting over who's talking to who, who's cute and not cute, who's going to be fired and who's going to be invited to the party van.
Tim Trow says he's innocent of cruelty charges and his followers continue to refute allegations of animal abuse at the Toronto Humane Society.
I know at least one cat who would disagree and even Tim Trow and his lackey board can't sue a dead cat.