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.