Several people have e-mailed asking about where they should divert their THS donations this year.
First, thank you for considering a donation to animal welfare and thank you even more for spending the time to research your donation options.
Here are some suggestions in no particular order.
1. Continue donating to the animals at the THS but do it through the OSCPA. You can donate specifically to animal care at the THS by writing a cheque with "For the THS" in the memo line (send it to: OSPCA, 16586 Woodbine Avenue, R.R. #3, Newmarket L3Y 4W1) or you can make a donation over the phone (1-888-668-7722 ext.322) and tell the person taking the donation that you want the money to go to the animals at the THS. The OSPCA maintains that this money will not be going into the THS budget which the original THS board may or may not still control but will go directly towards animal care at the THS.
2. Donate to Toronto Animal Services. 100% of donations that TAS receives go directly towards the animals. TAS is municipally funded, but doesn't receive a budget for things like medical care that is above and beyond what is necessary to humanely sustain life or for pre-adoption spaying and neutering of pets. Their goal is always to provide as much care for the animals as possible. Since they spay/neuter every adult animal before they are re-homed, they absolutely rely on donations. However, the fact that they are municipally funded means that none of the donations they receive go toward salaries or any other administration costs.
3. Donate to a local rescue. There are loads of rescues in Toronto who do an excellent job of providing exceptional homes for animals at minimal costs until they are adopted. Here are a few run by people I have dealt with:
Speaking of Dogs - specializing in but not limited to older dogs
Happy Tails - specializing in small dogs
Anne and Pete's Foster Home for Dogs - These guys are so amazing. They're kind of like a mini Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. I can't quite figure out if they take donations directly but you can always phone and ask.
Big on Beagles headed by the most excellent Marna Gale.
Toronto Animals Services works quite often with Loyal Rescue especially in the transport of dogs from other shelters to be adopted out in Toronto.
Labrador Retriever Adoption Service Inc. has also partnered with TAS.
And of course, CAACQ whose logo is on display at the top left of the page. Partnering with TAS, they've helped rescue from Quebec over 400 dogs last year. Unfortunately, they are not able to issue charitable receipts as they are not a charity because they lobby on behalf of animal welfare issues (lobbies can't be charities).
And if you can't decide on a specific rescue, K9 Rescue Me is an Ontario umbrella rescue organization where you can search and donate to a reputable rescue or have your donation split between all the K9 Rescue Me member rescues.
I'd think that you would get the best bang for your buck donating to a rescue. They have no staff to pay, no buildings to maintain and heat and minimal bureaucracy to deal with. Also, the animals are living in a home environment, not a kennel or a cage. As with any charitable organization, though, you do need to be careful to choose a reputable rescue to support. While the majority of rescues are well-intentioned, some may be poorly operated. You can research their website and since you're probably going to call them up anyway to donate, you can always ask them a few questions first.
How many animals have they adopted out last year? It's not strictly a numbers game but if all things were equal, would you rather give money to a place that adopted out 2 animals or 50?
Will they give you references? Some rescues may have strict privacy policies but not to have at least a couple of references on hand, well, it may not imply anything bad but it doesn't say anything good either.
Do they make sure their animals are spayed/neutered before adoption? Reputable rescues don't want to see more unwanted pets being born and will ensure that their animals are spayed and neutered unless there are extenuating circumstances.
Are they vaccinated and health checked and are their records available for viewing? Rescues spend money on vet care to maintain healthy animals. If a rescue does not do this or is not able to do this, then it might be best to choose another recipient of your donation.
How do they decide whether or not a potential adopter is suitable? While some rescues have been accused of giving potential adopters the third degree, a lot of questions do have to be asked to ensure the animals aren't being sent into bad situations. If a rescue gives away animals to anyone for free or sells animals to anyone with enough money, then move on.
Do they do home checks before adopting out an animal? Not all rescues will have the resources to do home checks but the best ones do go this extra mile to make sure the animal's new potential living environment is suitable.
Where do they get their animals from? How do they choose the animals for their rescue? Many rescues will specialize by breed or size and that's fine. You probable want to stay away from ones that have questionable intake strategies like only purebred puppies from puppy mills - that would make it more like a pet store, not a rescue.
Hope that helps.