(A previous version of this post was released before its final edit.)
It's hard to tell where things are at with the Toronto Humane Society these days.
Adoptions are up and running again. Out of the seventy or so dogs at the facility, about twenty five were available and a few of those twenty five have already been adopted out. Let's hope they're in good, permanent homes.
What's happening with the rest of the dogs is another matter. The majority of the dogs there have either behavioural or health problems which prevent them from being put into general adoptions.
While the OSPCA was still in charge of the facility, headway was being made with regards to partnering with rescues and private fosters to find better temporary living environments for the dogs. In other words, they were being moved out of their cages at the THS into real homes.
After the court ruling which allowed the majority of the Tim Trow era THS management team to return to the building, working with rescues has, for the most part, come to a halt. The attitude is that rescues aren't to be trusted because they don't do things the THS way.
No kidding. That's why they're rescues. That's why they're not the THS. And thank God rescues don't do things the THS way. Most of the rescues I've dealt with spay and neuter ALL their dogs (except in the most extenuating circumstances like if the dogs are too young or too sick) before adopting them out. Most rescues send their dogs out to foster homes where the dogs get to live with an actual family 24/7 as opposed to getting only a few minutes of human interaction a day. And of course the great thing about that is that the dogs also don't have to spend all their time in cages going crazy from boredom and anxiety.
Is this not working with rescues a transitional thing with the THS while the new/old management gets back on its feet or are they planning to just go back to warehousing dogs indefinitely? It seems the prevailing attitude with much of the THS management is that rescues are no good for animals. Cautionary tales are heard in the hallways about how rescues take in animals only to have them neglected or abused or euthanized. This coming from an organization whose management has itself been charged with neglect and abuse and with not euthanizing animals only to have them suffer and die in their cages.
There were also plans to revamp the THS adoption site with better photos and descriptions of the dogs. The plan was to have a weekend photo shoot with professional photographers and a team of writers to work on this. All the people were ready to go. All the equipment was made available. Then the old THS management stepped in and all plans were canceled. No explanation other than they wanted to keep things the way they are.
So after all these weeks of turmoil, is it back to business as usual at the THS? Have they not learned anything from recent events?
There is a Cane Corso at the THS. Her name is Jenny. She was pregnant. A foster home had been found for her with a Cane Corso rescue where mother and pups would have been in a soft comfortable home environment with human caretakers to look after them and dote over them. Instead, the old THS management team came in last week and blocked the rescue. Jenny gave birth at the THS. The pups now get to enjoy the first few weeks of their lives in cages, exposed to the less than ideal conditions of a shelter. Jenny, instead of being able to rest and recuperate in a quiet home, now gets to spend her days in the high anxiety infused environment of the THS.
Does THS management view this retention of Jenny as some sort of victory? Are they thinking, "Whew, we almost lost her and her puppies to a home. Good thing we got back here in time to prevent that awfulness from happening."? It's like they live in some kind of massive delusion of what is right and what is wrong for the animals where everything is backwards. It reminds me of Orwell's 1984.
I sincerely hope that last week was a hiccup on the road to THS recovery. There are still efforts being made by certain individuals to get the rescues back in. It must also be said that the THS is still actively trying to find out of province placement for their questionable Pit Bull type dogs and they should be applauded for that. That is certainly a step in the right direction.
But it must go beyond just rehoming Pit Bulls. If the management at the THS want Toronto to know that they've moved on and are onto a new and better chapter, they've got to get with the times and embrace working with outside agencies in a spirit of cooperation and not paranoid suspicion and derision. It's the THS that needs to prove to the wider rescue community and the public at large that they are worthy of respect and support, not the other way around.
If the management at the THS actually think the past and present environment they've created for themselves and their animal prisoners will last, then they must live in a fantasy world. If they really think the public will just sit back and watch the THS revert back to treating animals the same way it's always treated animals and still continue to support the organization, they must be blissfully unaware of their own ignorance.
Here are two possible scenarios which might happen and neither bode well for the THS management team.
1. The old board will be replaced through a legal move or by election. The new board will fire all the senior level relics who supported the bunker mentality of the old THS and who supported the warehousing of animals in those god awful cages for months and years. The last thing a new THS needs are a bunch of throwbacks who continue to think that what they "learned" under the tutelage of Tim Trow et. al is the best they can do to contribute to the welfare of animals. It would be like a bunch of North Koreans claiming they know how to run a democracy.
2. The old board maintains its power. Everything at the THS remains the same. The public completely loses faith in the organization and stop donating. Major corporate donors stay away also because they don't want to risk their names being associated with the same old THS. Eventually, the THS becomes an even less significant player than it already is in the animal welfare community in Toronto. Toronto Animal Services and the umbrella group which represents the various rescues in the city become the major animal welfare organizations in the city.
This is pretty much the last chance the THS management has to prove that it's improved its ways. NOW is the time to show us that the THS can change for the better. NOW is not the time to continue along the same old, dead end path. NOW is not the time to cry indignation and keep railing against recent events. NOW is the time to shed delusions of grandeur and THS-knows-best and get with reality.