Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Toronto Humane Society accepting animals June 1

Is the transformation done?

Yes or no, the Toronto Humane Society has announced that they will once again start taking in owner surrendered animals on June 1. Looks like the new board is going to have to hit the ground running.

From the Toronto Humane Society website.

Admissions Policy

The Toronto Humane Society will re-open to the public on June 1st. We will be accepting owner surrendered animals on that date.

We are currently booking appointments for June 1st and beyond for those individuals or families that need to surrender their pets. Please note that surrenders are only accepted with an appointment.

The Toronto Humane Society is a charity and relies on private donations to continue helping the thousands of animals we take in. A donation is requested upon the surrendering of your animal.

To inquire about surrendering your animal please contact 416 392 2273 ext. 2248 or

You will be required to:

* Bring photo identification
* Provide proof that the animal is yours and you have the right to surrender it
* Bring all veterinary records you have for the animal
* Fill out an in depth behvioural assessment of the animal
* Read and understand the irrevocable surrender form

The THS should be your last resort for placing your animal. Before contacting us you should attempt to place the animal in another home on your own. Ask friends and family if they are interested in the pet, ask neighbours, put up flyers in your neighbourhood and at your local pet store, pet park and veterinary clinics. Placing your animal in a shelter will be stressful and difficult for your animal and we are eager to avoid this if possible.

The THS has the right to refuse to accept your animals at our discretion.

At this time the THS will not be admitting stray animals.

The surrender appointment will take a total of approximately two hours for dogs and one hour for cats. You must remain at the shelter throughout that time until the process is completed.

This is a huge improvement on the old admissions policy which wasn't really a policy at all. I like how they're up front about asking for a donation and about how difficult the shelter experience will likely be for the animal. I also like that the process will take one to two hours during which time I hope the owners gets to sit with the animals they're dumping. Yes, I realize some people have legit reasons for giving up their animals but that happens about as often as winning a free coffee at Tim Horton's.

I wish they'd go into a bit more detail with this line: "The THS has the right to refuse to accept your animals at our discretion." The guidelines for accepting animals will obviously have a huge impact on the shelter and I'd like to know what those guidelines are. Transparency please.


Anonymous said...

I appreciate their efforts to get more information about incoming animals, but I'm concerned that people may just dump their animals elsewhere or worse.

The THS will supposedly have all sorts of resources to draw upon, including a foster care network, outreach and partnerships with rescues and other shelters, assessment tools, medical expertise and so on - far more than any member of the public.

Last month it was a new euthanasia policy (presumably higher kill), last week it was closure of the kitten nursery (a decision that was only reversed due to public pressure) and now they're putting the brakes on intake?

I really don't know what the THS is all about anymore.

selkie said...

This does NOT make me hopeful, it makes me sad. First, no stray animals -which I always felt was an important part of the THS mandate. Second, like you, and knowing what I know to date of the current management, "at their discretion" is ominous and to my mind, fairly clearly indicates that there is a good possibility that only very "adoptable" animals will be allowed (and I base that not just on the policy as written, but on two meetings volunteers had with Garth before it shut down). As you say, transparency - something that continues to be lacking.

Also, 2 HOURS?? Just how many people are going to commit that kind of time? NOT saying it is right they do not - but the animals that will MOST need saving - those that are neglected, unwanted, rejected - have yet another mark which might prevent them from being surrendered and given another chance. Oweners who don't give a shite about their animals, are NOT going to spend that kind of time.

And frankly, I think it more important ot save the animal, than castigate the owner.

Fred said...

The stray issue will have to be something worked out with the city. I can't blame the THS for wanting to do things through the proper channels this time - as long as they do it in a timely manner.

As for the surrender interview, I wonder if there is any info out there on what works best for the animals. TAS has an open admissions drop off policy where someone can just dump the dog and turn around and walk out the door. A two hour interview probably isn't going to stop someone like that from dumping their pet but it might be a good opportunity to get the boots out (just kidding). No, I realize the arguments on both sides of the owner surrender issue but I've never seen stats to support either side.

In an ideal situation, if TAS were partnered with THS, regardless of where the animal was dropped off and what interview process the owner had to go through, it would get a chance for adoption at either facility.

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering if this is actually a temporary policy. Perhaps waiting for the new board. I seem to recall that in Garth Jerome's affidavit, he said that admissions by appointment were not a good idea and he would be looking into other alternatives. I could be wrong.

Fred said...

I'm guessing this is a temporary policy. It may be so temporary that it doesn't even get put into effect depending on what the new board deems appropriate come June 1.

Local Dog Rescue said...

Sorry for posting this question here but I've been unable to find an answer to what happened to all the animals from the THS when the OSPCA raided the shelter? Did the OSPCA euth all the animals? What happened to them?

Btw a two-hour surrender time period may be intentional to have people reflect on what they're actually doing there. The decision to get rid of a pet might not be given much consideration at home when its piled beneath a mountain of chores, work, kids etc. But sitting in a quiet room with their dog/cat and the final minutes ticking down might make some people reconsider. Guilt is a powerful tool.

Fred said...

Local Dog Rescue, both the THS and the OSPCA say that the majority of animals, (~800 out of 1100?) were adopted or fostered out. I'm not sure my figures are exact but I think it's in that ballpark.

Social Mange said...

I think a two-hour time requirement will result in a lot of dogs being tied to the doors, and a lot of cats dumped into the fenced areas at the back. Or just plain dumped.

selkie said...

I also (big surprise) do not believe for ONE moment that many were fostered/adopted out- as adoptions were CLOSED for most of the time the ospca were in residence. Frankly, I think the majority were euthanized. I know that many of us NEVER got any answers to many of the questions we had about the dogs - and I know several cat volunteers who for sure knew of LOTS of cats that were killed.

Anonymous said...

I've been in the OSPCA (Newmarket) when people come in to surrender their "pets"....many times people just want to get it over and done with and hightail it out of there. Some/many even balk at the surrender fee. I was there once when a woman and her daughter brought in 2 older Westies to be pts and on the way out stopped to look at what dogs were up for adoption.

I so hope the FOC slate obtain control of the THS, something along their way of thinking is clearly needed at the OSPCA.

I read in the Star this morning that 15 more board members of the THS have been charged with animal cruelty.

Anne said...

What a convenient time for this post. My shelter is in the middle of transitioning from Open Admission to Intake by Appointment. We've been working on it for months already, and feel that we probably won't be 'going live' until January.

Intake by appointment is getting increasingly popular in Animal Welfare- both in open admission organizations (take any animal, for any reason) and limited admission organizations (aka 'no kill').
There are some huge benefits. We feel (which was also the consensus from the dozens of other shelters nationwide we visited and spoke to that had also made this transition) that by asking a customer to make an appointment that you are sending the message that this animal has value- that this is a big decision, and we want to make sure that there aren't already other solutions out there that would prevent a surrender.

Certainly, the #1 concern from everyone involved is the increased abandonment of animals. But either you have faith in people or you don't. Yes, many customers play the 'emotional blackmail' card when told something they don't want to hear, but most people want to do right by their animal- that's why they brought it to you in the first place. if they wanted to dump it, they would've already done so.

Of course, this has a community impact- i feel it's important to have numbers from neighoring Animal Controls and rescues, and make sure that they are not being inundated with animals now that you've moved to Intake by Appointment- you're not helping the community by foisting your problem onto someone else's shoulders.

But, by limiting intake (meaning controlling how many animals arrive in a given time- not by telling people you won't take their animal), you can much more easily focus on those animals and get them moving through the system. It reduces the need for euthanasia, particularly because of space or URI (commonly from overcrowding).

Now, all that being said, i think 2 hours sounds VERY high. All the organizations we spoke to ranged more in the 45min-1 hour range. But maybe the animal is getting a full behavioral and health screening during the appointment, and they're given the owner the results as well. Who knows

"THS has the right to refuse to accept you animals at our discretion". That better be just for bites. otherwise if a customer made an appointment, sat through 2 hours, and then you tell them no thanks... well that just seems like a great way to build customer support.

Are there local Animal Control centers that accept strays? I'm torn on the stray issue- on one hand, tax dollars pay for that service, and strays should be brought to a government facility, which helps limit where an owner needs to look. On the other hand, i want to be able to help all animals, regardless of how they come in.

Wow- sorry for the long comment! it was a very intersting blog post

Fred said...

Anne, thank you for that most excellent comment.

Just an FYI, the THS isn't actually transitioning from an open admissions shelter to Intake by Appointment. I think they've always been, if not IBA, at least quite restrictive and selective on what animals they allowed into the shelter. It's just that they never admitted to it in the past because it doesn't sound as good to its members. Now, they're at least being honest about their actual policy which is a step in the right direction.

Anonymous said...

Having people make appointments and 2 hour interviews strikes me as a way to fudge the claim that you are open admission allowing you to claim "No Kill" when something else is happening to these animals that don't come to your door because of your policies. Be honest accept all animals put in place the policies of the "no kill equation" monitor your progress make adjustments and even if you don't reach the 90% level you will save more animals than you did in the past.

Anonymous said...

Great and thoughftul posts.

But I wish to highlight a new point here not already mentioned.

The THS is encouraging people to rehome the animals themselves, by contacting friends, FLYERING, etc.

And that is all they say about the process of do-it yourself rehoming. And anybody in rescue knows that there is much more to the process. Careful screening, interviews at home pre adoption and follow up visits post adoption, vet references, and even an adoption contract.

It is dangerous for people to rehome their animals with strangers and proper protocal needs to be followed. They owe their pets at least that much.

The THS mentions NOTHING about how to SAFELy rehome your pet yourself. This is HUGELY problematic in my view.

The THS should be EDUCATING the public about how to safely rehome pets themselves.

Once again, they have fallen negligently short.

I am so frusrated with these damn organizations.

Local Dog Rescue said...

"The THS should be EDUCATING the public about how to safely rehome pets themselves."

As should all SPCA's and Humane Societies. At least they haven't resorted to telling people to post their pets on Kijiji... yet.