Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Another viewpoint

Ador-a-bull was one of the rescues that went into the Toronto Humane Society to assess the Pit Bulls as possible candidates for their rescue program. They are a highly respected rescue and have saved many many dogs. It was in part due to their assessments that Dano and Livingston were transported to Saint John where they are now living comfortable lives.

I may not completely agree with all the opinions expressed in their e-mail, and I may write a response later, but I absolutely respect their right to express those opinions which are in line with the practices and protocols which they have established and which have worked successfully for their rescue.

If you wish to comment on this afterward, please do it respectfully.

Ador-a-bull was responding to the email directly below, which was one of many they received written in a similar vein.

(Cross posting with permission from Ador-a-bull)

“Since March 22 2010 , at the Toronto Humane Society, which is now under management by the OSPCA , during a raid last fall ( based on accusations of animal neglect..cruelty, misuse of public funds ) 6 pitbull type of dogs have been humanely euthanized, over 300 animals are missing and cannot be accounted for.

Where are the groups here in Canada , that were formed to raise awareness to BSL and the pitbull ban here in Ontario ..and why have they not stepped in..and removed these dogs before they were euthanized.

The story reads the dogs were examined and found unfit, by the OSPCA staff vets..notice. .no one from an outside agency came in..

This is a political reinforce the BSL here in Ontario ..and many more dogs are scheduled to be euthanized

Can one of these agencys, with money raised through public awareness..not step in and save these remaining pitbulls..and get them out of the THS...”

Here is ADR's response and statement;

Rescues, yes plural, including ADR, were brought in to assess the dogs that were humanely euthanized. These dogs failed assessment on a number of levels. We are not talking merely food aggression either. We are talking dogs that would turn and snap at you, growl and challenge you for simply trying to pet them. We spent and entire day at the THS. We met and assessed these dogs and it was incredibly sad how far gone/disconnected they were.

Several outside agencies deemed these dogs unfit for rescue as well. One unknown rescue, in BSL stricken Ohio , agreed to take the dog’s sight unseen. Not a responsible decision, and we’re glad the THS/OSPCA didn’t go that route.

Who has the means to rehabilitate these kinds of severe issues? DogTown is lovely, but not realistic. The THS is far from a sanctuary and independent rescue can’t take on that type of burden for liability reasons at best.

Nobody likes seeing dogs be humanely euthanized, but sometimes it’s the last kindness you can give them. This is about the reputation of the breed, but more importantly responsible ownership and public safety. These were not safe dogs; several had at least one prior bite incident (which is a DOLA infraction in itself).

As a responsible rescue you would not be getting a dog like this from us. We could not keep our volunteers if we “rescued” high strung, super anxious, unpredictable, dangerous dogs.

Yes, THS volunteers had walked some of these poor souls for years without incident, and we commend and respect them for their dedication to these animals. But did they ever feed them - or try to take away their - dinner? Play with them using HIGH value items? Try to look in their ears or trim their nails? Regular things dog owners need to do without being bitten?!

There are not more dogs scheduled to be humanely euthanized (that we are aware of). Whoever wrote this is beyond out of touch. What happened had nothing to do with pit bulls or BSL (which the OSPCA has publically stepped out against); a pug mix was humanely euthanized as well! Many pit bulls have been saved from the shelter since all this started, and that was, by far, the first choice for everyone involved.

With emails like this floating around, who could blame the OSPCA/THS teams for not wanting to work with rescue - individual, independent or organized - in the future.

In our humble opinion as dog lovers, rescuers, rescuers who have been to the THS and met the dogs, friends of the staff, friends of the legal team legal and friends with OSPCA agents CURRENTLY WORKING at the THS, and fighters of the good fight. What needs to be done is being done…responsibly and effectively.

As I wrote, I may post a response (although I suspect it'll be drowned out by the big news - yes, more - coming down the pipe).


Dog Foster Mom said...

Wow - I must say I'm relieved to see this. Thank you for reporting all sides of each story regardless of your opinion. Whether Ador-a-bull was right or the volunteers were right about the adoptability of these dogs, the fact that the THS DID have several outside agencies including reputable rescues like Ador-a-bull come in and evaluate these dogs says a lot for them. And it says a lot about Adorabull that they are willing to step up and defend their unpopular decision.

Marcie said...

We already spoke about this Fred but I'll say it here too :)

As anyone in rescue knows they can't all be saved, this is a learning experience for many. I highly respect Ador-a-bull not only because they stepped up to the plate when many other rescues turned their backs but because they came out & shared their reasons with everyone. The end outcome isn't ideal but a certian wonderful THS dog is going to be in wonderful bully loving hands & in the future we know we can count on them to come in and lend a hand when needed.

I made sure to thank ador-a-bull for helping out & I hope that they will work with the THS again. It's hard to find a rescue especailly when dealing with bullies that has people who will both follow the law & make safe decisions. It ensures that there are great examples of the breed out there & that alone helps fight BSL. We lost a few good dogs last week, that was not the fault of this rescue. Those dogs didn't stand a chance from day 1 at the shelter but I think with enough effort we can save the ones that are still there & help the ones that will come when the THS opens it's doors again.

YesBiscuit! said...

An "unknown rescue" agreed to take the dogs - they make it sound so dirty. Could anyone have made some calls and found out about that rescue? Perhaps they were wildly unqualified to take the dogs, I don't know, I didn't research them. From the sound of it, neither did anyone else. They all agreed it would be better to kill the dogs than to research the appropriateness of the rescue willing to take them. This is "humane"?

Fred said...

YesBiscuit, the rescue in Ohio mentioned in the e-mail was suggested to me by Best Friends along with the disclaimer to still carry out our own due diligence. My attempts to do this through contacts in the wider rescue community including those in Ohio yielded limited response, nothing extraordinary one way or the other. I would have hoped that the THS would have done their own more thorough due diligence before agreeing to send the dogs off. I don't know if this was done.

Ian said...

Were the pit bulls only there because they had been seized due to the Ontario law and if they did have some problems would that be due to life in a shelter even though it sounds like they were loved and cared for by many good people?
I read somewhere that 1 dog had been there since it was a pup.

I must say that we`ve adopted many dogs over the years that never would have passed all the tests that are done nowadays.
We even adopted a dog that had bit a child in a Shelter.It was the child`s fault and the Shelter was going to kill the dog.We had that dog for 11 wonderful years.It was not a problem dog.
Are pit bulls held to a different standard in shelters?I see that they are certainly held to a different standard by the public,an almost unattainable standard from what I`ve read now that I pay attention to this issue.

Social Mange said...

Something that no one has commented on.

The McGuinty Liberals passed Ontario's breed-specific legislation August 29, 2005. Under that law, you could own only as many "pit bulls" as you owned on that date [ss.9(2)].

If THS didn't mark the "pit bulls" they had on August 29, 2005 as "pit bulls"...if, for example, they logged them in as "boxer mixes"...therefore showing zero "pit bulls" on their rolls on August 29, 2005, they could not have any "pit bulls" in the shelter.

If those five dogs that were euthanized were labelled "pit bulls", those five may have been above the ownership quota.

A corporation that contravenes the Ontario Dog Owners' Liability Act is on conviction subject to a fine of not more than $60,000 for each instance. Five dogs = $300,000.

It may have been financially expedient for THS to euthanize those dogs.

Anonymous said...

Fred, thanks for posting that balanced response to last Friday's situation. It was discouraging, but not unexpected to read how "far gone/disconnected they were."

That said, I must agree with your initial assessment that these dogs were failed through a combination of factors: possibly BSL, inadequate sheltering, and expediency.

Looking at the six "special needs" cats marked as "urgent" on the THS site now (how is being senior a "special need"?), I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop, and the systemic failures to continue, possibly behind closed doors.

I suppose it could be said that they're urgent because they've failed the new assessment tests.

There's something about this that reminds me of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest".

Social Mange said...

I'm glad Ador-A-Bull was able to get its experience out. I know and have tremendous respect for the lady who runs ADR.

What's the big news? Enquiring minds want to know.

Anonymous said...

Oh wait! I'd missed your last sentence about being drowned out by more big news coming...

Anonymous said...

For you those dogs were not adoptable for me and all the volunteers they were adorable. Captain and Tiger were my best friends, they were my heart.

+I have been walking dogs for 3 years at the THS, 5 to 6 days a week, thats how much i love those unadoptable dogs. I never got bit and i never had the slightest incident with them, expecially with Captain and Tiger. I used to feed them, play with them, i could take their toys and food away with no problem. Captain used to love taking cookies from between my lips, thats how close we were.

I am not a trainer just a dedicated animal lover and i know that you have to gain the animals trust before you ask them to do anything. I dont believe in the arbitrary methods used in your test because some dogs that have passed your test have larger issues than the 6 dogs euthanized. I know all these dogs and every issue they had.

I know for sure if you know dog psychology you would understand that these dogs were under tremendous stress to be in a shelter and to be handled by strangers thats probably why they didnt want to be touched. It would take time and patience and training. These dogs would be the best pets for anyone else. \

You are the reason the dogs were killed. You dont know how much pain and grief you left in the hearts of the people that loved them and knew them. You came one day and expected that you could do anything you wanted to them. You should know better for next time. Any dog is adoptable, they just need some training, patience and love.

I cant believe that you met them for a day and had the authority to make a life or death decision based on your arbitrary findings that they were "bad." What about us who spent day after day with them, and knew them better then anyone. I can honestly tell you that you are wrong, they could definietely find a home.


elizabeth said...

I am only an outsider looking in but I feel that it is a little odd that the rescue, and the volunteers who walked the dogs are saying two completely different things about these dogs. You would think there would be some sort of middle not a rescue saying the dogs attacked at random and volunteers saying the dog brought toys to them and cuddled in blankets. One or the other or both are not being completely truthful....

Also the person who wrote the email from the rescue seems angry and a little defensive. I don't blame them as rescue is filled with emotion and I do hope ADR does continue to take pits out of THS.

Hate to say it but something about this whole situation smells phishy.

selkie said...

As usual, I had to much to say- if anyone cares, I posted my response to this at my own blog.

Houndward Bound said...

Fred, I think we would all love to read your insight and response on this matter, whether the news to come overshadows it or not.
It's hard to believe these dogs were dangerous to the extent 'ador-a-bull' describes in their letter. Considering all the positive interactions and bonds these dogs developed with volunteers I think it's safe to say any behavioral issues they may have showed during the assessment could be easily addressed through training.
This contradictory statement released by ador-a-bull really makes me wonder what the hell is going on and how deep the rabbit hole goes.

Anonymous said...

I am tired of the all of the breast-beating on this topic.

On this and many other sites I have seen the volunteer dog-walkers go on and on about what great dogs these 6 were. The women above talks about how she has been walking them for 3 years. Why didn't any of these people adopt the dogs themselves? Why didn't they do everything in their power to find others to adopt these dogs?

And before you say that I don't know what I'm talking about, I'll give you some background. Over the years I have found many stray dogs, tried to find their owners, and when that wasn't possible found them homes myself. I have also fostered dogs and adopted one of them because I believe that he would not be adoptable - he has many issues and would not pass the tests these dogs also failed. I took in two cats from a family member, even though I didn't have room, and am not a cat person. I now have four pets in my house - three more than I ever planned. They are expensive, time consuming, have altered my social and work life and I can't not imagine not having them around.

Is it a tragedy that these 6 dogs were euthanized? Of course. Did you do anything to get them out of the prison they've been living in for years? And, I mean personally try to find them a home. If not, think about what you can do in the future to get a dog a home.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more with the last post. Rosana and Elizabeth's anger and blame on the rescue is shameful.

At least they tried, and got a dog or two out.

Exactly, you want something done, you believe so strongly these dogs were adoptable, why didn't YOU adopt them? Why didn't YOU find them a home over all those years if they were so wonderful.

Maybe there is a reason why these people are "Volunteers" and decisions about the dogs were made by VETS and STAFF. It was not the rescue that decided ultimately these dogs were to be PTS, they decided why they, (ADR) couldn't take them. And you have the nerve to attack them for it? What about the other rescues that also didn't take the dogs, the shelter in the states that didn't materialize?

Perhaps your efforts would be better spent doing something positive than lashing out at those who at least tried.

Ian said...

Up front.
I have no qualifications.
But I was wondering the same thing as what Anon spelled out.
Wouldn`t testers from Rescues just be complete strangers to those dogs,no different than if a stranger came in to my house and attempted to do all those things to my dog.
Wouldn`t it at least make more sense to have people they know test them?
Once again.....absolutely no qualifications here just an interest in this testing which I find rather odd.
It takes time to build trust in my opinion.
Is this done now because we have become such a litigious Society?

selkie said...

you're talking through your hat. In ACTUAL fact, many dogs have found homes through myself and other dog walkers; however, we had to go at it in a very roundabout way as you are obviosuly not famliar with Trow regime at the THS. We coudl do NOTHING for the pit bulls becuase they had no papers - and the ones were legal, their papers were not available to us! AND, offhand, I can think of at LEAST half a dozen pits alone (among other types of dogs) we WERE able to find homes and/or fosters for - but unfortunately, most of us have MANY animals already.

the real nature of the tragedy is that when we FINALLY did get three of them their legal status, they weren't given the opportunity but euthanized.
the biggest problem with getting the

Lil'Mac said...

Anonymous, the volunteers did EVERYTHING to find these and other dogs a home. Every single one of our homes is filled with animals to the maximum extent possible. Rosana is personally caring for a very old THS pit bull with incurable cancer, and has been giving her an extraordinary life. She personally applied to adopt one of the dogs that was killed, as did two other volunteers for two of the other dogs. Had I known that Smokey's life was in imminent danger, I would have applied to adopt him myself, as would at least one other volunteer that I know. But we were told that nothing was going to happen to them without us being told first (and given a chance to say goodbye). One dog-walking volunteer had previously asked to adopt Smokey, but this was held up, so he ended up adopting another THS pit bull with allergies and skin issues who ended up at the OSPCA after an adoption return. I personally have two THS dogs whom I have adopted in the last year(one of which is 14 years old with cancer), along with three cats. Volunteers assisted in helping to find placement in rescue for these dogs. We offered to pay for any training or rehabilitation they needed. Many volunteers had already written cheques to the rescue that was going to take them (which we left with THS staff), and I spent over $100 on bandanas for them to wear when they arrived. I don't know a single volunteer who isn't at capacity with THS animals that they have personally adopted. Yet every time ther is a crisis, we stretch ourselves further. Everyone (staff and volunteers) went to immense lengths to ensure the safe placement of these dogs. I have never met such amazing people in my life.

Dog Foster Mom said...

Elizabeth, as another outsider, I can relate to trying to figure this out and watch and learn without really knowing the dogs or the people involved. One experience I had was with a pit bull at a no-kill shelter in my area. She was marked for "staff only" because she was aggressive with strangers. The staff could walk her, play with her, and she loved them - she was very sweet. But she would go after people she didn't know, both in her crate and out. I tried to make friends with her but wasn't successful - it would have taken me being there more often than I could visit. These dogs may be the same - fine with people they knew and loved, but aggressive with strangers. The problem is the dogs can't get adopted because of that - unless one of those staff members/volunteers or someone very experienced with dogs and very willing to work with them takes the steps to adopt them. And in this case they were there for years without that happening. So for what its worth, I think both parties could be telling the truth - from their perspective.

Anonymous said...

Selkie, I am well aware of what happened during Tim Trow's regime. I have been involved in the campaigns for change. And, I do have my reasons for posting anonymously here. That doesn't change my opinion on what could have been done for the dogs.

Anonymous said...


Would the dogs have passed if people who they were comfortable with tested them? Maybe.

The point however, of a rescue temperament testing a dog, is to push certain "buttons" and make sure the dog is safe to be placed into foster and eventually adoptive homes with STRANGERS.

These dogs would have been under a tremendous amount of stress had they been allowed to be adopted or moved to other shelters.

With the breeds reputation in such perils, unfortunately, I don't think we can afford to take the chance on dogs that react so poorly, when there are MANY others who pass the assessment with flying colors.

It sounds like these poor souls were doomed from the beginning...

Anonymous said...

I just want to say, to the volunteers who are suffering through this hard time, thank you!! My heart goes out to all of you. I know you did everything you could for these dogs and they WERE YOUR BEST FRIENDS. I just want you to know that I am thinking of you and sending you my prayers.


Ian said...

Thank you for the reply.
Just a sad situation all around.