Thursday, December 31, 2009

Toronto Humane Society and the world of rescue

Kuba - may or may not be up for adoption just yet

If you've been keeping up with the Toronto Humane Society news recently, you'll probably already have heard that while the downtown facility will likely be opening up to the public for adoptions next week, the majority of animals there are not currently adoptable. Out of the seventy plus dogs, for example, right now only about twenty are considered suitable for adoption. This number may go up once more assessments are done but basically too many of them have got behavioural or health issues which exclude them from being good average family pets. That doesn't mean they will never be suitable for adoption. It just means we need to work harder at getting them there.

Some of these dogs have got lingering medical issues that were never properly addressed but are now being looked after or at least acknowledged. Some of these dogs have been at the facility for months if not years, living their lives out in their pens. Some of them were irresponsibly adopted out to mismatched adopters only to be returned and adopted out and returned again. This cycle of animal mismanagement would have continued on unabated if the old management had been allowed to carry on the way they were.

With the old ways gone or going, even in the state of flux the THS is still in right now, like an organized confusion, things are looking up. One big change is that rescues are openly being sought out to foster dogs from the facility. Several dogs have already been taken to their foster homes. That's several that no longer have to spend their days in those concrete cells listening to the desperate barks and howls from all the other dogs and who can now finally relax into a home environment.

I never did understand what pathology it was going through the heads of the former THS rule makers who decided that working with rescues was some kind of a signal of failure. How utterly selfish and egotistical to even contemplate thoughts like that. How can anyone possibly think that it's better to warehouse dogs in cages for months or years rather than allow them to spend time in decent home foster care where they aren't going to go cage crazy or be more susceptible to shelter disease, where they are going to get hours of human interaction as opposed to the few minutes they might get at the facility, where they are going to get real walks in real parks, where they are going to get car rides and can bark at cats and squirrels and raccoons, where they can drool for dinner scraps and surf countertops, where they can sleep on beds and sofas, where they can be dogs and not prisoners.

What kind of people would deny that to a dog?

Sure there are some risks with working with rescues but most of those worries can be alleviated with some straightforward reference checks. It's easy enough to figure out who the wackos are and cross them off the list. With some simple due diligence, working with rescues, networking with rescues is a no-brainer. In fact, it's a necessity if the THS ever hopes to be a highly functioning animal welfare facility.

Several people working and volunteering at the THS right now are responsible for the push to partnering with local rescues. You know who you are and thank you for leading the change.


Anonymous said...

And thank you Fred, for writing this!


Social Mange said...

Good post, OBAAT, thank you. I'm so happy that people pushed THS to partner with local rescues. It's essential to get dogs AND cats (especially kittens) into foster homes where they can be trained, socialized and acclimatized to a home environment.
Dogs should receive training and socialization, and cats (especially kittens!) MUST be handled kindly and regularly to be good pets.
Keeping animals warehoused for months, years, can make them cage crazy and they'll never be adoptable.
My heart breaks for the nervous cats I've seen, cowering in their litter boxes. These cats need to go into a quiet adult-only foster home where they can be socialized and gain some confidence.
IF this continues, it should dramatically reduce the "returns" of adopted animals. As well as being more humane and responsible for the animals.

Shelagh said...

I actually was down there to pick up 4 sick young rat girls whom I am now fostering. They are starting to really try to get them out into the foster homes more now, even for the small domestics. :)

I just hope the OPGT still gets involved though, or a lot of it could be for naught. :/

I saw 2 lovely old dogs, one was 8 (black terrier mix) and looked 12, and the other was 9 (retriever mix) and looked 7-8. I HOPE they get out of there. :(

Anonymous said...

Back in August, I went to the THS and inquired about several dogs I was interested in. Kuba was one of them. They told me he had health issues but, of course, didn't go into detail. I'm surprised they told me that much. Some of the dogs I asked about were lucky enough to get adopted before the OSPCA raid. I have since adopted another dog but there is one dog I cannot get out of my mind. Her name is Bailey, she's a brindle bulldog mix, about 3 or 4 years old. They told me that on top of some health issues, she was dog-aggressive, child- aggressive, food-possessive, etc. but she didn't seem aggressive to me, just shy. Her original owner had surrendered her, she had been adopted out, but then returned by that person also. I went home to think about it but didn't go back to inquire about adopting her. I guess I got overwhelmed thinking about her problems and being responsible for a dog like that and I chickened out. Anyway, if anyone has any information about Bailey and what is going on with her, I'd appreciate hearing about it.

Fred said...

Hi Anon, I don't see Bailey's name on the dog list so unless her name's been changed or something, I think she might be out of there.

Anonymous said...

I am glad that THS is now partnering with local rescues. Why they didn't before is beyond my understanding as some animals cannot tolerate being locked up.

For example, there was a GSD at THS for over a year. He had worn down some of his teeth trying to chew his way out of his "cell".....he was slowly going mad. Fortunately for him, a lady from a rescue saw him but, at that time, the only way she could get him out of there was to actually adopt him which, thankfully, she did.

He is now re-homed with me and I am pleased that, in spite of all he has gone through, he is doing remarkably well. A little TLC and patience goes a long, long way!

Anonymous said...

Bailey is a wonderful dog and has been fostered in a home with another bulldog and cats and from all accounts is doing wonderfully. And I agree, she was NOT aggressive, simply shy and unbelievably sweet.

FrogDogz said...

. Some of them were irresponsibly adopted out to mismatched adopters only to be returned and adopted out and returned again.

A few years ago, friends of mine adopted a Chi/JRT mix. They learned, after the fact, that the dog had been given up because of aggression issues, including at least one biting incident. While they had the dog, he bit them several times, was severely destructive, even after professional training, and finally bit a woman who approached him when he was out in his front yard. The bite was quite severe.

The owners were at a loss, and contacted THS. They were told to return the dog, which they did. The dog was then AGAIN put up for adoption, with AGAIN no notice being given that he had been involved in bite incidents.

Like Fred, I have to wonder what was going through their heads.

Clint Cora said...

I think potential dog owners really need to get educated on what it takes to be a responsible dog owner. Too often they get excited about a dog or puppy only to find out that it takes work to bring up a dog properly.