Monday, December 7, 2009

Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Finds More Evidence of Cruelty and Mismanagement at Toronto Humane Society

News release from the OSPCA. Sick and sickening.

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Dec. 6, 2009) - Over the past five days, investigators for the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals probing animal cruelty allegations at the Toronto Humane Society have found more disturbing evidence.

Cederick, diabetic 10-year-old cat that has been at the THS since January, 2008, was found in a great deal of pain because of severe inflammation of the gums and gingivitis. Cederick never received proper follow-up treatment after having several teeth removed in September, 2009. Cederick is receiving dental treatment, pain medication and antibiotics.

Betsy, a three-year-old tabby cat, came to the THS on Oct. 5, 2009. At the time, vet records noted an eye problem. Betsy received no follow-up treatment until Nov. 27 – after the OSPCA search warrant was executed – when a veterinarian discovered the eye problem had become so bad the eye had to be removed. Betsy's eye was removed Thursday.

Larry, a 15-year-old cat at the THS since 2008, had to be euthanized on Wednesday. Larry had not been examined by a vet, according to records, since 2008, when a possible brain tumour was noted. Larry had three abscessed teeth leaking pus and overgrown claws with one embedded in its paw.

A cat named Alex had to have its leg amputated on Thursday. Alex was brought to the THS in January 2009; Alex was found with no vet records until July 1, 2009, when a vet noted he could not bear its weight on its back foot and found dry discharge on the foot. In August, the vet noted an abscess on Alex's toes, requiring the amputation of one toe. Alex was not examined between Aug. 22 and Oct. 1, when foot wounds were treated. Alex's last examination was Oct. 25 before OSPCA vets examined it on Nov. 27, after the warrant was executed. That's when they found bone fragments and decayed muscle tissue, requiring amputation.

"Every day of this investigation reveals more about how the THS was managed prior to the execution of the search warrant on Nov. 26," said OSPCA investigator Kevin Strooband. "We continue to find more evidence supporting our search warrant and the charges laid. But most importantly, the animals are finally getting the attention, care and treatment that one would expect from an animal shelter."

"We have been inspired by selfless actions of THS volunteers and staff during the past week," said OSPCA Chief Executive Officer Kate MacDonald. "They have been working very hard helping us examine animals and deliver emergency care. They are obviously pleased to see that action is being taken to get the THS back in shape as a quality animal-care shelter and adoption centre."

The OSPCA would like to reassure the public that over 1,000 animals at the THS are getting excellent care. The investigation into animal cruelty will continue for the foreseeable future, but the OSPCA will let the public know in advance when normal operations are due to resume.

In the meantime, people looking to adopt a pet contact other animal-care facilities in the Toronto area:

•Etobicoke Humane Society (416) 249 - 6100
•Mississauga Humane Society (905) 271 - 0883
•Toronto Animal Services (416) 338 – 7297
•Ontario SPCA, York Region Branch (905) 898-7122 X306
Also, the OSPCA would like to thank IAMS, Purina Bark & Fitz pet stores, and Royal Canin for donating pet food for THS animals during this time, as well as Zeller's for donating blankets, VIP Sitters for grooming services and Antec Labs for lab tests.

I would also like to add great thanks to all the vets and animal care workers and volunteers who are working so hard right now in the Toronto Humane Society building to help correct the conditions the animals were in. It's a shame that some of these people feel they have to remain nameless because of the lingering possibility of lawsuits from members of the former THS board.

Some of these animals were suffering for weeks on end without relief, some for months on end. Do you get it now Worthington? Do you get it now Walkom? This isn't about politics like some would have you believe, that you have so naively believed. This is very much about animals suffering in the extreme, in silence, because the powers that be hadn't listened when people tried to speak up for them. If anyone was playing politics, it was the THS. They played politics so that they could keep on doing what they did best. And people like you fell for it. And the animals suffered.

Now please, please, please get out of the way of those who are trying with heroic effort to fix what can still be fixed.

Davidson said she, as the only employee on the night shift other than a supervisor, had to make agonizing choices for lack of time.

“I had to choose who would get fed tonight, the baby raccoons or the kittens. So I would think, ‘He’s smaller, so he’s more apt to die.’ Stuff that you should never have to think about at a place that calls itself humane: ‘Who goes without tonight?’”

The rest is at Who goes without?


Laura HP said...

I'm glad they've made a statement. That is just horrifying...I can't imagine the strength of the people working with the cats right now. How can you leave a 15-year-old cat without a vet for over a year?
I hate hearing all the nonsense that the OSPCA is 'letting animals suffer' or treating volunteers badly. I started going on Monday, and since then, it's easy to see steady improvements. The place is cleaner. Rabbits with breathing problems are now on towels instead of dusty shavings. Employees are able to do their jobs properly.
I am so impressed by the volunteer vets who have been caring for these hundreds of animals, and the THS employees who are finally free to take care of their animals properly. Luckily for the animals, there are a lot of animal-lovers in this city prepared to clean up Trow's mess.

Fred said...

Hi Laura HP, thanks for all the work you're doing inside the THS. It doesn't sound like you're getting much sleep. And thanks for the updates on the conditions of the smaller animals at the THS.

See you when I get back.

Habibi said...

(This comment is copied over from a previous post)

Here is a link to the latest news I've seen just now:

I spent 8 hours at the THS today (Sunday) cleaning 34 cat cages. Aside from what was mentioned in the link, there were three cats in my room who had health concerns. One was a lovely black & white male with severe raw lesions around his neck. Another was a Persian with a lesion under his eye from discharge eating away at the skin and he was severely matted and had diahrrea. A third consumed three bowls of water while I was there - the vet took blood and found he was diabetic and removed him from the room. The black & white boy with the lesions is suspected of having a food allergy. I immediately changed his food to hypoallergenic and he ate three servings in quick succession.

The records on the cage doors are in total disarray - large gaps in information and pages going back to last summer in a mess. They have NO toys! These poor animals are sitting in cages for months with absolutely no stimulation or exercise.

It is absolutely astounding how many cats are in that building - remember the "Day in The Life" bull**** that was on the THS website in the summer? Those breezy spic and span hallways in the new "Cat whatever they call it"? Well kids, it is JAMMED with cages, many of them holding two or more. There is crap all over the floors - litter mixed with food and spilled water, and shredded paper, because they line the cages with paper and there are no toys, so what else is there to do for months on end?

It's disgusting and heart-wrenchingly sad. The people I worked with, outside my room were freindly and helpful enough, but not overly communicative. I learned that staff there were not allowed to converse much - just business, no enjoyable conversation. They are now realizing that the gestapo is gone and they can relax, so the atmosphere is becoming brighter now.

I'm going back on Tuesday and wish I could go more, but my own job is there to do too.

If anyone can help, they sure need it! Of course, there are security concerns....the place is basically still a "crime scene", but if you can spare the time, especially with the cats and are able to fit the profile of the helpers they need, please go!

Fred said...

Thanks for all your effort Habibi. The only thing I would add, unless someone tells me otherwise, is to phone the THS before heading down to see what their volunteering policy is right now. I have heard they were turning some volunteers away at the door last week but maybe that issue has been addressed.

Marcie said...

Sara & Megan are so brave. I'm really proud of them both for shedding much needed light on this situation.

Biscuit said...

I called late last week to ask if they could use me, and I and was told that they're still not taking anyone new but to try back "in a few days". I'll give them a call tomorrow and see whether that's changed.

Man, it's just so heartening to read about the positive changes going on in there.

Laura HP said...

Yeah, I would suggest phoning before you go. If they know you're coming they're largely happy to see you! I have to say, the security guards have been very nice.
The management also forbid the employees from playing music while they worked - they'd been playing it mostly for the birds. After that, all the birds had to listen to was the dogs barking - lovely. No wonder they're all nuts. Now we're blasting Christmas music at them, they seem to like it!

Anonymous said...

If you want to volunteer, you should contact Marcie Laking through the Toronto Humane Society Protest Group Facebook page. She will put your name forward, and let you know whether you are cleared to go in. They need to know what day(s) you plan to be there so you can be put on the list for the day.

GoodDog said...

OMG this is so crazy. Who will get fed? They had money for lawyers but not food? Just sick.

Fred said...

Laura HP, I love the thought of you playing Christmas music for the birds.

Biscuit said...

Oh, that's wonderful! My god, I can't believe they wouldn't let you play music.

(The security guys do seem nice - we dropped off a load of towels and blankets and food after hours the other day and they were so nice, really enthusiastic and grateful.)

Rachelle said...

I've also been in there a few times in the past week to clean cat cages and to give these cats some much needed attention. The difference in the atmosphere is like night and day. People are working as a team, the place is getting cleaned up, people are smiling... for the first time in a long time, I think there is some hope for the animals and the staff and volunteers.

Personally I can't tell you how much it means to me to be able to be back at the THS, actually helping the animals directly.

Under Tim Trow's 'reign', if seemed the more a person cared about animals, the more they were ridiculed, unappreciated, harassed and generally just 'beaten down' because they disagreed with Tim's ways.

What a pleasant change now, to see that those who really want to help the animals and see positive changes are being welcomed back and being appreciated for their efforts. It really is touching to see so many people working together for the sole purpose of improving conditions for these animals and making them as comfortable as possible.

Ellstar said...

It's a shame the PM volunteers are still barred from entry to the site. Second week in a row, still waiting to hear if we are allowed back in the building. :(

BOB said...

Thanks to Habibi for that detailed message. He really painted a clear picture of the place, the overcrowding is ridiculous, and looks like there is still a lot of basic cleaning to go, not enough volunteers and workers. I'm going to be the bad guy here by saying this, but they must seriously think about euthanizing the sickest animals so that the continual disease outbreaks do not persist.

Jill said...

I want to volunteer. Contacted Marcie several times, there was no response. I guess there assembling there new clique there, and I haven't met her arbitrary critera. By the way, what are the criteria, who can I make an appeal to? Who made her the volunteer co-ordinator? A response and reason in the positive or negative is a simple professional courtesy.

Fred said...

Jill, that's a little harsh. I haven't heard anyone say anything about Marcie being the official volunteer coordinator. In fact, I know it's not her and she's not saying it's her. Marcie does know a lot of people who she trusts and so some of those people have been put on the volunteers list. Other people, known to the OSPCA, have also done the same with regards to recruiting volunteers.

So, I'm guessing that unless Marcie knows you, she can't recommend you and unless you know someone else there at the THS who can vouch for you, you might have a hard time getting in.

Does that suck? Yes. But it's not about cliques forming, it's about the OSPCA and how they are trying to control the inflow of people.

The OSCPA is still treating the THS as a crime scene and so they are being particular cautious about who gets in the building.

We're going to have to talk to the OSPCA and see what's up with that. People are getting turned away and it seems there should be a way they can accommodate more volunteers.

Sorry I don't have better news for you. Maybe if Marcie sees this, she can post some more info.

Marcie said...

I have responded to every single request to volunteer in as timely a manner as I could. I was just asked to help get people inside to work. I know plenty of people who used to work @ the THS and I was asked to get some of them inside cleaning cages & getting things organized. I can not personally vouch for anyone I don't actually know, even if they have been a volunteer there for years.

All that I am doing is compiling a list and passing it on to the OSPCA. Anything past that point is beyond my control. If they need the extra hands at the shelter they will be in contact with you. There is a volunteer co-ordinator who is paid to co-ordinate the people who want to help. That person is not me.

I have nothing to do with scheduling or anything else. Again I'm just compiling a list of people willing to help & then passing it on.


Joe said...

I had the occasion to attend the THS a few days ago on official business and was greeted at the door by a very friendly security person. What a change! The place was bustling with activity with an air of positive attitude. Keep up the good fight people. The animals are depending on all of us. On another note, Fred, you're doing one hell of a fantastic job. Your unconditional love, dedication and commitment to the animal welfare in this city has not gone unnoticed. I for one consider myself very fortunate and blessed to have met you. You are indeed a special breed of animal, one this world is indeed a better place for.Thank you Fred for everything.

Fred said...

Thanks, Joe. The money's in the mail:)