Tuesday, December 8, 2009

It's time to broaden the focus

It's great that Trow and company may finally be permanently kicked out but if there's no good plan in place to significantly improve the animal welfare situation at Toronto's largest shelter, then what's the point of all this?

Most of the news and discussion recently around the THS has been focused on the human side of things: the raid, the arrests, the accusations and counter accusations, the lawyers and more lawyers, the involvement of previously uninterested government agencies. That's understandable, since that was the battle being played out and that was where all the excitement was taking place.

But now the time has come to broaden the focus to include animal care. People need to start talking about how the THS is going to start contributing again to the animal welfare situation in Toronto.

The new THS will need a plan. A big one.

The new THS is going to need a lot of help and good ideas to get back on its feet. It's going to need help from volunteers and workers. It's going to need continued support from corporate donors and members. It's going to have to regain the trust of the general public, city bureaucrats and politicians. It needs to build partnerships within the animal welfare community including Toronto Animal Services. It needs to re-examine all its policies on spay/neuter, adoptions, intakes, animal care, euthanasias, training and behaviour improvement, enrichment, feeding guidelines, health protocols, as well as employee and volunteer care, dealing with the public, PR, fundraising and governance. And because the previous management cannot be trusted to participate in the rebuilding process, the THS needs to establish contacts with experienced and knowledgeable people who know how to run successful shelters and charities, and there are lots of them out there, and listen to them and learn from them and get those good ideas worked out.

And I don't think this is putting the cart before the horse. Yes, the legal battles are still raging but that doesn't mean the animals at the THS, or the animals that maybe should be at the THS, can just be put on pause. There has to be a plan now to deal with the situation that the animals are facing today and there has to be a plan for the future so that if and when a new management is installed at the THS, they're not just then starting to think about what can be done.

We must never again allow people to take over the THS who only want to use it as a whorehouse for ego stroking. Animal welfare is and must always be the Toronto Humane Society's top priority.

This is our one chance to create a new Toronto Humane Society. If we blow it, we might as well abandon the building and give it over to the feral cats.


Lynda said...

I'm going to try to get a placement there as a volunteer, Fred. I will keep you posted, I'm dropping by there this weekend.


Lisa said...

Amen to that.

Anonymous said...

Just back from visiting THS at 11 River Street at Queen Street East.

Sign on the door says "CLOSED", but there is a buzzer and a security guard who will let anyone just inside the doors to drop off donations. No one can go past that point without authorization. (understandable since it is a "crime scene" and the OSPCA i...s still investigating)

They just recently started getting donations of pet foods, etc. and would welcome more. I hear they have enough volunteers for now, though that may change.

THS is not open to the public for adoptions but they do still take in animals (daytime hours only I think).

Hopefully this will all be straightened out soon and maybe an interim management will be set up.

Monica said...

(This post has been edited to hide the names of those whose actions are not on public record)

You are not putting the cart before the horse in calling for things like corportate governance, standard operating procedures, basic business skills, and training and stuff.
Anyone who held a position of supervisor or above has to go. They're job there seemed to be to be making the appearence of good animal care and they don't have a clue how to do otherwise.
I remember telling X that there were several cats who hadn't been cleaned, because he wanted me to move to the next room and he and others had fired so many others. I complained and he punished me (and the animals) by making me clean all the window sills. No one told him to do that.
The ones who were not charged should be fired.
I'm thinking of the ones who hid animals and records during the June third O.S.P.C.A. That's obstructing a peace officer. Destroying records, encouraging other to do so, cleaning up the shelter to make it look good for the inspectors, buying food and having it in the basement to show that there was a supply ready. That's conspiracy to commit an indictable offence, the indictable offence being the obstruction of a peace officer.
In the Globe Article today we have two examples of employees, one who gathered information, the other who participated in moving around animals during the inspection.
Laura, a senior manager, alleges she hid records during the inspection, and carried around animals to avoid the inspectors finding them in distress. What a disgusting thing to do - carry around suffering animals to prevent the veterinarian inspectors from alleviating their pain so that she can keep her job.
Elizabeth, a supervisor, from what the article said, alleges she kept records of treatments that were not given, which is good to show a pattern of mismanagement and neglect of animals.
So I thank them for coming forward and telling everyone how they helped cover things up, but don't mistake that for loving animals.
Notice also how Elizabeth and Laura were on the THS website and magazine and on SUNTV posing and saying great things about the THS.
Please, let's get some staff in there who know what they are doing.

Sarah said...

(Hi Sarah, you might be cutting too close to the teeth there with your hypothesis so I've edited it out. Sorry.)

Good comment above, however all the information is not exactly correct. Supervisor Elizabeth Anderson did not keep records for 10 months to aid in the OSPCA investigation. According to the Globe article, her report to Tim Trow which showed that 3000+ treatments were missed was found in Trow's garbage at his residence. It appears to incriminate Anderson as abetting in covering up animal cruelty. All the supervisory and administration staff too.