Sunday, January 31, 2010

Brampton animal control wants to kill senior's dog

From Brampton Guardian, Rambo on death row as city, owners battle over breeding:

Gaspar is heartbroken. The senior citizen can't understand why Rambo was seized. She said the confusing part is, the city has licensed Rambo as a boxer/American bulldog cross for the past two years. His vaccination certificate from North Town Veterinary Hospital classifies his breed as a boxer cross. And, no one who has seen the dog has ever thought he was a pitbull, according to the distraught Gaspar.

The city told Gaspar that no one had complained about Rambo. He had not escaped the back yard. If anything, he made passersby laugh the way he would jump up onto the roof of his dog house to look over the fence, she said.

But it was that quirky little habit that led to him being removed from his home and held by the city under threat of euthanasia.

A passing animal control officer spotted Rambo on his perch in December, looking over the six-foot fence, and told Maria Gaspar she had to move the doghouse because Rambo could escape. Gaspar agreed, but then the issue of Rambo's breed came up. She was told to get a letter from her veterinarian attesting to the dog's breed, and to have him neutered. Gaspar said she got the required letter, and an estimate for neutering, and gave both to the city.

In response, the city sent a letter telling Gaspar there is no completed certificate from a veterinarian, and that "Rambo has been confirmed to be a pitbull by his parentage as well as the characteristics as defined in the City of Brampton Dog By-law..."

The bylaw defines a pitbull as a pitbull terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier, American Staffordshire bull terrier, American pitbull terrier, or "a dog that has an appearance and physical characteristics that are substantially similar to those dogs."

"It's not, it's not pitbull," said Gaspar emphatically, struggling for the English words to describe her upset. She can't talk about Rambo without crying.

"This problem is like a son problem," she said, emphasizing how important Rambo is to her. "Now, I no have dog, I no have money, I no have nothing... It's not fair."

Here's the Facebook group you can join or you can contact Brampton animal control directly (475 Chrysler Drive, 905-458-5800, and tell them to shove off and stop trying to kill innocent family pets.

But please do it nicely or as nicely as you can. Tonight I'm all about tempered responses. Tomorrow, who knows.

More here.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

In other words

Last Tuesday, the latest in what will be a long series of court battles to be waged over several months, if not years, in the OSPCA's attempt to help clean up the Toronto Humane Society was decided upon by Justice Brown. Probably many of you have already read the newspaper articles but in case you're interested, the complete text of Justice Brown's decision can be found here. I've excerpted some highlights from that decision and followed each section with my incredibly loose interpretation of what the section means in language more befitting of my pay grade (probably less than the Justice's).

[60] Section 11.1(1) of the OSPCA Act requires every person who owns or has custody or care of an animal to provide the animal with adequate and appropriate food, water, medical attention, necessary care, resting and sleeping areas, sanitary conditions, ventilation, and enclosures: Ont. Reg. 60/09, section 2(1). The materials filed before me raise serious questions as to whether the THS has been operating its animal care facility in accordance with the prescribed standards of care. Although disputes exist in the evidence about the extent, duration, and timing of such failures, the evidence certainly rises to the level of seriousness required to grant interim relief. Whether one places the evidentiary threshold at the level of mere issue to be tried, or serious question to be tried, or strong prima facie case, the applicants have met the threshold on the record before me.

Yo, THS! I smell something stinky and from here I can't tell if it's just coming off your shoes or maybe you haven't taken a bath in a month or if you slipped and fell into an eight foot deep pit of elephant dung. Whatever. I'm thinking you seriously need a clean-up and to help you with the odor-get-gone, I'm assigning you a nanny.

[69] I am disappointed that THS’ controller did not address directly in her first affidavit the evidence filed by the OSPCA that one of its major vendors of medicines had ceased shipments because of an overdue account and that Toronto Hydro was on the verge of turning off the lights because of arrears on its accounts. Ms. MacDonald’s evidence in her first affidavit on any outstanding payables was quite unhelpful:

WTF? No drugs? No juice? What kinda party is that? Lame-O party, that's what kinda party that is. And no, the carrot sticks ain't helpin.

[71] As part of its record on this motion THS filed a copy of its application to quash the search warrant. I have read that application. It disclosed that two other pieces of litigation initiated by THS are outstanding – an application for judicial review of the decision of the OSPCA to suspend THS’ affiliate status, and a defamation action against the Hamilton SPCA for statements made by the latter in a fundraising document. As a result, it appears that presently the THS is using charitable funds to pay legal fees for four pieces of litigation: (i) the defence of the present application; (ii) the defence of the criminal charges laid against its officers and the related motion to quash the search warrant; (iii) the application to restore its affiliate status with the OSPCA, and (iv) the defamation action.

Dear Donors,
Thanks for the lovely golf clubs and spa vacation in Oahu.
Your THS Legal Team

[72] Finally, the business approach taken by the THS on its appeal to the ACRB from the compliance orders greatly troubles me. The THS is a charity; it states that its only source of revenue comes from public donations. The OSPCA issued two compliance orders against THS; both were revoked within a week. THS was found to have spent a mere $231.70 to comply with those orders. Nevertheless, the THS insisted the ACRB proceed to hear its appeal, resulting in a lengthy proceeding. The legal costs incurred by the THS on that appeal were not before me. However, I find it remarkable that a charitable organization would insist on proceeding with the appeal of revoked orders, thereby incurring legal costs which one must assume were paid out of charitable donations, when the maximum financial recovery available on the appeal was a few hundred dollars. Such conduct by THS raises serious questions about the ability of its Board of Directors and senior management to assess the appropriateness of spending significant amounts of charitable donations when measured against the financial benefits achievable by the expenditures, and raises concerns about the corporation’s ability to manage its assets prudently in furtherance of its charitable purposes.

P.S. Donors, we love you. We really do.
Your THS Legal Team

[77] I conclude that the evidence raises serious questions as to whether the THS is managing its financial resources in a manner appropriate to pursuing its charitable purposes. First, the evidence contained in the record, even as supplemented by Ms. MacDonald’s affidavit filed this morning, does not provide the court with a clear statement of the current financial situation of the Society – it does not permit a comparison of recent income against liabilities nor an understanding of projected short-term cash flow. Second, in recent months THS has not kept its account with Toronto Hydro current. Third, THS exceeded a credit limit from a drug supplier. Fourth, as I noted above, Ms. MacDonald’s January 19 daily cash report raised questions about the extent to which the Society had to draw upon its line of credit, or capital, to fund its on-going operations. As noted, the Society’s investments and marketable securities have declined by about $600,000 over the past 12 months.

Post-It note on THS accountant's fridge: Pay the hydro with the Visa. Pay the drug supplier with the Mastercard. Pay the Visa and the Mastercard with the American Express. Pay the American Express with the Canadian Tire money from the donors' jar. Yeah, that should work. Can someone spot me a ten for lunch? I'm a bit short on cash.

[83] Under the present arrangement where the OSPCA has control of the animal care facilities, the animals are receiving adequate care. By contrast, it is quite unclear whether the Board or senior management have formulated a realistic plan to provide adequate care to the large number of animals present in the facility in the event the OSPCA is required to leave. I reach this conclusion because of the following paragraphs contained in Mr. Hambley’s affidavit:
19. When the OSPCA’s execution of the search warrant is completed, and the THS has the opportunity to assess its veterinary needs, it intends to continue the employment, or to hire on a full-time or contractual basis, the number of veterinarians necessary to care for the animals at the 11 River Street premises. In this regard, it will follow any recommendations made by the College of Veterinarians of Ontario, by its independent veterinary expert Dr. Dana Allen, and by its Chief Veterinarian.
20. As President, I am prepared to undertake to the Court that when the OSPCA completes its search and departs from the 11 River Street premises, the THS will hire new veterinarians or assume the contracts of the OSPCA’s contract veterinarians, if appropriate, until such time as this application can be fully argued on a full and fair record. To the extent that THS requires further veterinary support in the interim, it will continue to use the services of Beaches Veterinary Hospital and other third party veterinary clinics.

[84] As I read that evidence from Mr. Hambley, the THS has not yet assessed its veterinary needs in the event the OSPCA leaves, and it will either seek or follow future advice from experts in that regard. Its expert, Dr. Allen, is only starting his work in that regard. In sum, the Board and senior management of the THS has not yet presented an operational animal care plan or a plan that would enable the THS to regain accreditation from the College of Veterinarians of Ontario.

One word: Quit ferschrissakes.
Oops, that was more than one word.
One word: Quit now.
Shit, two words this time. Try again.
One word: THS board of directors, just quit already why dontcha and leave us alone so we can get on with properly taking care of the animals.
Really gaffed it that time. This one word thing is hard.
Alright. One more time. Last try.
One word: Quit.

[85] I cannot ignore the evidence of Ms. MacDonald from the OSPCA that its concerns about the welfare of the animals in the THS facility are “so grave” that should the OSPCA be ordered to vacate the premises, it will have no choice but to exercise its authority under the OSPCA Act and seize all of the animals under the care and control of the THS. Section 14 of that Act authorizes the Society to remove an animal from any place for the purpose of providing it with food, care or treatment or to relieve distress where certain conditions are met, including the advice by a veterinarian, who has examined the animal, that the health and well-being of the animal requires its removal.

See, the OSCPA is like the bears and the THS is like Goldilocks and as long as Goldilocks makes nice and doesn't break shit, the brat gets to stay in the bears' house but as soon as she starts having tantrums and getting into other people's porridge and skanking up their bedrooms then the bears get angry and send her off to live with her parents in Scarborough, or jail.

This analogy may make no sense now but give it time to sink in and then suddenly one day, while you're at a funeral or watching the final scene of Titanic where whatshisnuts is turning into a human popsicle, you'll burst out laughing.

[93] I order that until the hearing of the main application on February 10, 2010, or such further time as this court may direct, the OSPCA shall remain in control of that portion of the premises of the THS which are devoted to the care and treatment of animals, and I further order that no employee or director of the THS shall interfere in any way with the activities of the OSPCA in that regard.

Simon Says, Do not cross this line.

[94] In its application materials the OSPCA proposed the appointment of Mr. Bryan Tannenbaum, a Chartered Accountant with Deloitte & Touche LLP, as receiver and manager of the THS. Although such relief was not requested on this interim motion, I have not been impressed with the quality of evidence filed by the THS through the two affidavits of its controller; it posed more questions than it answered. Given the urgency of the matter and the serious questions raised by the evidence about the current financial status of the THS, I am not prepared to leave it to the charity to place before the court the evidence it chooses about its financial health. I therefore draw on the inherent jurisdiction of this court to supervise charities and section 10(1) of the CAA to appoint Mr. Bryan Tannenbaum to act as monitor of the business and financial affairs of the THS, and to inquire into and to report on the charity’s financial health,

Doesn't Tannenbaum mean Christmas tree? Well merry Christmas THS. Let's see what Christmas brings you.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Toronto Animal Services South on Facebook

Some of the volunteers at Toronto Animal Services South have set up a Facebook account to show off some of the animals up for adoption there, especially highlighting the cats and small domestics.

Check out their page and find out about Pirate the one eyed kitten who was just recently brought in.

Stop Canine Profiling

The excellent group of people who have been behind much of the support for Cheri Dinovo's Bill 222 which will rid this province of its ludicrous anti-Pit Bull legislation have up until now mostly organized on Facebook. But, with the number of members growing, they've decided to set up their own website and it's here.

This will be the place to go to find out the latest and greatest on how to help support the passage of Bill 222.

Friday review, Jan. 29

Hook is called Hook because his front right paw is kinda screwed up. I'm not sure if it's got all its toes and some of the ones that are there point upwards - hence the hook. That leg is also shorter than the other ones so it's hard for him to walk very fast.

That's okay. He just wants to be a lap dog anyway. Walking's overrated, especially yesterday. Winter wind nearly blew my face off.

The cold was just this Husky's kind of weather. I took him out and we did some laps of the big parking lot on the CNE grounds and I think I may have even tired him out just a teeny bit. Of course, he may have been just humouring me.

Update on Hook here.

For adoption information on these and other dogs (and cats and other animals), please visit Toronto Animal Services.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Hip bones and ribs

Billy may hold the promise of the long sleek lines so desirable in today's walking stick supermodels but right now he's too thin for even that.

Whoever did this to Billy didn't get back to Toronto Animal Services South within three days to explain how he was going to remedy the situation so he lost the right to own this particular dog. But will the owner just get another dog and do the same thing to that one? Who knows.

The good news is that Billy just got adopted and won't ever have to worry about starving again. He's in a household with an older Doberman Pinscher who will no doubt show him the ropes on how to be a dog.

One day I hope to see some photos of Billy all fat and happy (well, not too fat).

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

You're welcome

Hey, look at the nice letter I got from the Toronto Humane Society:

We'd like to just say thanks for coming over on Saturday and spending the day taking photographs of the dogs. Mel did a wonderful job, beautifully capturing all the individual personalities of the dogs and we're sure these new photos will help give the dogs a better chance at finding homes.

Oh wait. Sorry, that's the fantasy letter from the alternate universe where the THS is a well functioning, gracious, media savvy member of the animal welfare community.

Instead, I got this e-mail:

With respect to the posting on your blog stating that the photos taken this weekend at the THS of dogs available for adoption will be published there. [He's referring to this post]

The photos were intended for the use of the THS to use and we object to their use for any other purpose.

Ian McConachie
Senior Communicator
416-392-2273 ext. 2149

So, unfortunately folks, I'm not going to post the photos up here. It's not because of any legal rights which McConachie may think he has, as the photos and all rights pertaining to the photos belong to the photographer. It's because I don't want the THS to remove the photos from their adoptions page (where they'll do the most good) because of some strange and petty convictions about their usage.

I don't even know why I have to explain this but apparently the senior communicator just doesn't get it. The reason the photos were taken is so that they can be sent far and wide to larger audiences in order to get the dogs adopted out. The photos aren't something to hoard. They are for sharing. They are for communicating. They are to show the public at large that there are some beautiful animals at the THS.

It's ironic that today at Apple headquarters, Steve Jobs, who is one of the best communicators on the planet, revealed the new iPad. It's basically a tablet computer, something super thin and light with a large screen and easy interactivity. But it's not so much the device that is revolutionary - after all, various forms of tablet computers have been around for a long time - it's the thought behind what this iPad will encourage users to do: create, share, engage, all in real time. It's like a super iPhone if you will.

So for example, a photo of a dog in a shelter is taken. Maybe more content like video or words or graphics are added. The whole mixed media document is sent out onto the www via Facebook or e-mail or blogs or Google Wave. People get interested. There's chat. There's discussion. There's action. And the dog gets adopted.

Sure, maybe not that quick but you get the picture. Well, most of you get the picture anyway. Most of you already know and understand the picture.

Why doesn't the THS?

Hoarding the dog photos on the THS site is like the on-line equivalent of someone creating a store advertising campaign but refusing to show it to anyone unless they go to the store first. That type of thinking disappeared about a decade ago. You want people to know what you have to say? You have to get your info out there and that, in turn, will drive traffic back to your site.

So, folks, until the THS catches up with the rest of the planet, the only way you're going to be able to see the fantastic new dog photos which Mel took is by going to the THS dog adoptions page. I'd link you to the page but I'll probably only get another notice from the master communicator telling me to delete the link.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tim Trow resigns from Toronto Humane Society

From Toronto Star, Embattled Trow to leave Humane Society

Controversial former Toronto Humane Society president Tim Trow will resign from the THS board of directors, a lawyer for the organization said Tuesday.

Marcie Laking, a prominent Trow critic who co-organized summer protests in which participants demanded Trow’s departure, raised Trow’s decision but said she hoped the rest of the board followed suit.

Longtime Trow ally Bob Hambley is now THS president.

“Bob Hambley needs to go too,” Laking said. “The whole board should resign...If they care about the reputation of the Toronto Humane Society, and they want the Toronto Humane Society to be fixed, they should leave with him.”

It almost seems anti-climactic. There were still rumblings amongst the faithful about how Trow was going to come back, and who knows, he still might. After all, his most recent tenure was a comeback from his first attempt at heading the THS. But for many of the people still involved and newly involved with the THS, it hasn't been about Trow for a while now. It's been about how to do better.

Trow may be gone but now the really hard work begins. His old ways of thinking and running the shelter are still pervasive. Everything from animal care and welfare to governance to facilities renewal to fair and respectful treatment of staff and volunteers needs to be looked at - and it is. All the bad old ways are going to be challenged. The curtains have been lifted. Now to get the windows and doors open.

Yes, it's time to move on.

Cane Corso puppies in the house

It's like the guys who used to breed Pit Bulls suddenly got together and had a vote and decided to breed Cane Corsos (or Filas or whatever they are). Six more pups came in yesterday along with mom and dad. That makes 18 Cane Corso pups at Toronto Animal Services and another 9(?) at Toronto Humane Society.

This most recent batch that's come into TAS are older than the others and are at that age when you want to gather up the whole bunch of them and just squeeze them all day long. Their futures, as in whether or not they go back to their owner, is uncertain and if they don't go back, their futures are still uncertain until they get adopted.

Judging from mom and pop, these guys are going to grow into small bears.

For adoption information on these and other dogs (and cats and other animals), please visit Toronto Animal Services.

Update Jan. 28: These pups and parents have been reclaimed by the owner which begs a lot questions - none of which I have any answers to.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Taking photos at the Toronto Humane Society

The dogs at the Toronto Humane Society are getting new photos. After a few weeks of uncertainty and back and forth e-mails, management at the THS decided to let their dogs be re-photographed and so yesterday morning, Mel and I head over with camera gear, leashes, treats and fashion accessories.

Mel and I check in to let management know we've arrived and we're ready to start. We discuss which dogs we'll be doing first and some other logistical stuff and it's all going fine until one of the THS supervisors tells us that we can't take any photos unless we're accompanied by an OSPCA officer. This would basically wreck the day because I'm pretty sure no OSPCA officer is going to make himself available to follow us around for the several hours these photos are going to take.

Every time I've gone over to the THS since the arrests last year, there always seems to be something that goes awry and things which should be simple aren't necessarily so simple and this time was going to be no different. This isn't a complaint, just an observation. Everyone at the THS is still operating under a cloud of uncertainty, suspicion and lack of communication and it's unlikely any of that will change until the leadership question is resolved as in who's going to be in charge of the place (and that decision may come as soon as Tuesday).

We decide to discuss the picture taking situation with the OSPCA officer in charge.

The OSPCA is in another part of the building with their own offices and security. While the two sides, the THS and the OSCPA, aren't treating each other like enemy combatants or anything - at least not from I could tell - I get the feeling they're not exactly partying with each other in their after work hours. We explain to the OSPCA officer about the photos and he's a little concerned about it. He tells us that absolutely no photos are allowed to be taken inside the building. When we look at him quizzically, he explains that there's no way he's going to let us take photos of the facilities in case we decide to use whatever images we capture as some sort of evidence against the OSPCA and their management of the animals.

Uh-huh. Where have I heard that before? Except this time, it's more a case of perhaps too much caution than actual concern for what we might document. While the THS isn't spotless, it's a lot better than it was. Though I can understand how with a situation this contentious and litigious, there would be concerns about misrepresentation and distortion, I also can't help but feel that the last thing we need right now is more secrecy. Maybe I'm being naive but wouldn't full transparency with regards to animal care be preferable?

The problem with secrecy is the gossip that is generated to fill the information vacuum and usually, as is befitting human nature, the gossip is negative. Here's one via e-mail that was making the rounds last week (I received it four times from four different sources):

... And there are now rumblings that they're planning on 'doing away' with some dogs and about 300 CATS !!!!! I've already taken in as many dogs as I can handle. And I'd take in another cat or 2 if I had to (I already have 2 cats of my own). But there may be hundreds on their slaughter list. Do you know of any rescues who are currently accepting cats? This is SO upsetting. (Over the last couple of months I've come to hate the OSPCA).

It's amazing the stuff people come up with (why 300 and not 400 or 800?) and it's amazing what we are inclined to believe simply because someone else wrote it and hit send. This nasty bit of rumour-mongering, however, could have been stopped in its tracks if things had been more transparent from the start, especially with regards to something as sensitive as euthanasia.

Here's the OSPCA response to the rumour:

With regards to the animals at the Toronto Humane Society, our first priority has been, and continues to be, to make sure that animals in need get the care they deserve. The Ontario SPCA has done everything it possibly could to get these animals the care they deserved based on the recommendations of veterinarians.

While the Ontario SPCA has been handling animal care at the THS, veterinarians have recommended euthanizing of 65 cats, 4 dogs, and 13 other animals.

The animals that were euthanized suffered from terrible health problems and their condition was terminal. Their treatment was supervised by veterinarians. It is important that we follow the recommendations of veterinarians, and not leave the animals to die in their cages.

There is nothing humane about letting a terminally ill animal starve to death or suffer needlessly in a cage. This is unimaginable cruelty, and most veterinarians would agree with that.

While 65 cats is an unfortunate number of cats euthanized, it's a far cry from 300, and as the response states, these decisions were based on the recommendations of vets and not made lightly. In the end, it's not the numbers that are important anyway. Whether 65 cats or 300 cats, what's important is whether or not there are valid reasons to justify euthanasia in each case and when it comes to health issues, those decisions are made by a qualified vet.

I do think, however, there needs to be more communication between the veterinary staff and the rest of the workers and volunteers who have formed attachments to the animals in the months and, in some cases, years, of caring for them. It doesn't matter if it makes all the medical sense in the world to euthanize an animal. If that reason isn't properly and compassionately passed on to the people who have close bonds with the animal then those people are going feel slighted and worse. The animal care staff and volunteers must be treated with empathy as well.

So, back to the photo sessions. We agree to take all the photos outside the THS premises and the OSPCA officer is happy with that. Now, however, we have a problem with the Pit Bulls because they need to be muzzled when outside and of course taking photos of muzzled dogs doesn't do any good for anyone. We discuss this with some THS staffers and it's decided that we can take the Pitties outside without their muzzles as long as we stay on THS property and we promise that's what we'll do. Then we have to figure out what exactly is THS property and where it stops. More discussions and finally we get it sorted.

The picture taking begins and we try to get a routine down because there are so many dogs to get through. Mel does all the shooting while I do the dog handling. It takes several hours but we get all the adoptables and most of the Pit Bulls done and as usual, the Pitties are some of the best dogs there in terms of their people luvin' personalities (a good thing too because a Pit Bull rescue is there at the same time who are assessing the Pit Bulls for placement in out of province foster homes and I think several of them are on their way to friendlier pastures but more on that in another post).

It's a long day but we're pretty happy with the results and we end the day hopeful for the dogs and hopeful for the THS.

(Mel did a fantastic job of photographing the dogs and I'll be posting up the best shots when she gets done processing the final images.)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Just one dog - update

(h/t Joanne)

Remember Stanley, the white Pit Bull from the Just One Dog video? Well, his life has turned around thanks to some great people:

Stanley the white pit bull's rescue journey to become a Canadian.

Wow is all I can say! Wow, wow, wow! Stanley the white pit bull has become a poster boy for every dog in every shelter who is in a bad situation just like he was. He is becoming an international dog celebrity!

I said my good-byes to Stanley the pit bull on Friday. We went for one last roll on the grass near the cargo terminal for Alaska Airlines. I layed on the ground and he put his great big paws on my chest and gave me a facial, cleaned my entire face for me. As you all know, when I first met him in the shelter, I had no experience with pit bulls and reached out to you all for some guidance and help in what to do to help him.

Through my volunteer Bonnie, who lives in Vancouver, and my rescue partner Lisa, who runs Angel Under Our Wings Cocker Rescue in Victoria, B.C. - they were able to research local rescues in their area and the one rescue group that was held in the highest regards was Respect-a-Bull. I began a daily dialogue with Dave and Joanne, the founders of Respect-a-bull about what their rehoming procedures were, and what their plans were for Stanley should he join their rescue group. I phoned their vet that gave them a very positive reference and I phoned their local SPCA to hear great things about them.

Dave and Joanne run a very small rescue, since 2005. At the most, they've never had more than eight dogs in their rescue group at one time. The dogs get fostered either in their own home or in one of ten foster homes that are all experienced with the breed. They have experience with Demodex and knew what they would be in store for with Stanley's ongoing medical rehabilitation. Their rehoming process is a lengthy adoption application, a references check, an hour long phone interview and then a home safety check. All this BEFORE any prospective adopter can meet the dogs. They find that they lose a lot of potential adopters by putting them through this screening process, but in the end, only the serious and quality adopters end up meeting the dogs. I felt very very good about putting Stanley's care into their hands. I know that many rescuers in Los Angeles are in the practice of shipping dogs out of the area to many unchecked places. My process is quite different. I won't send a dog to just anyone, I feel that I must research and vet out any rescue group I might work with and then stay in ongoing communication with that rescue group to follow the dog's progress and then ultimate adoption.

So I want to be very careful that a message is not being sent that the solution to a dog like Stanley is to just put him on a plane to anywhere else. The real message is that a dog like Stanley needs to go to the best rescue for his particular situation. I know that many people will see his story and miss the entire point of why he went to Respect-a-bull and think that putting dogs on planes is a new version of animal rescue. It is not. For anyone who spreads the message about Stanley, please be sure that the clear message is not to send a dog anywhere, but to THOROUGHLY SCREEN and vet out any other rescue groups you might be sending a dog to and also to begin a co-rescue relationship. Don't just ship the dog out and move on. Stay in touch with the rescue, get updates, touch base via phone or email. I have spoken to Respect-a-bull daily since Stanley arrived up there. It has taken up a lot of my time and effort and money to work with an out of area rescue group and shipping dogs out of the area is not for any rescuers who can't make the commitment to follow through. I am alarmed to see the news stories of Chihauhaus being shipped all over the place, but there is no mention of what becomes of them on the other end. Are adopters being screened out? Home checks being done? Any follow ups from the Los Angeles end to find out what has become of each and every Chihauhau? Or are the dogs just being flown en masse and then everyone forgets about them and moves on? I am concerned about the message that is being circulated in the rescue community that putting dogs on a plane is the end of the story. It is only the beginning of the story . . . who is going to be responsible for all of those dogs and what is to become of them?

Back to Stanley's story - last Friday . . .

While I was here in Los Angeles sending him off, the founders of Respect -a-Bull in Port Alberni, British Columbia were on their own journey. From where they live, they drove ninety minutes to catch a ferry, then ninety minutes on the ferry to take them to Vancouver, then from there they had to navigate their way into the big city of Vancouver to find the airport.

My Camp Cocker volunteers, Bonnie and her husband Gary, met them at the airport to help them through customs (Bonnie has done this many times for cockers that have gone up to B.C.). Dave and Joanne, the founders of Respect-a-bull, also brought two of their volunteers with them. They all had been watching Stanley on the vet's web cam for weeks and were very excited about meeting him in person.

When Stanley got off the plane, he had six people waiting to meet him! Then he got into the back seat of Dave and Joanne's car, where he was wrapped in a blue blanket, cuddled between the two volunteers who pet him the entire trip home. By the time they got back to Port Alberni and pulled into the driveway, it was midnight.

But this was only the beginning. Stanley had an early morning wake up call because at 9am, he was photographed and interviewed by three different newspapers. He then had to update his Facebook page (yes, Stanley has his own Facebook page) because he was getting new friends at a rate of 200 a day and they all were clamoring for Stanley updates. Here is a link to Stanley's Facebook Fan Page (as of right now, he has 845 friends on Facebook, and growing by the day)

Then yesterday, Stanley was featured on the evening news!

To see him wagging his tail, getting pet and loved and licking everyone's faces . . . this made me cry. I never imagined this for him, not ever! If I had not reached out to my Canadian friends, he may right now have been sitting in a Los Angeles boarding facility somewhere - just one of dozens of dogs in a high volume rescue group.

And the level of love the Respect a Bull people and their volunteers have for him is staggering. Here is a link to the blog where they talk about his last few days and where they are promoting an excellent rescue message. The message is that there are dogs like Stanley in every shelter, for anyone who is thinking of adopting, to please go to their local shelter and consider a dog like Stanley.

Stanley's blog update

The overwhelming response that Respect a bull has been getting is amazing. Emails, phone calls . . . one woman contacted them to donate three months worth of Natural Balance food, Salmon Oil for his skin and to pay for a dermatologist to see him. That is just one person who is donating all of that! I hope that all of the attention Stanley is garnering up in Canada is going to help promote the breed in a positive light. And encourage more adopters to go to their local shelters and consider adopting a pit bull.

I want to thank each and every one of you whom have watched Stanley's video and have inquired about him and his progress.

To send Stanley up to Canada was quite costly. The health certificate ($35), the crate ($150), the air fare ($407), the travel expenses and ferry expenses ($112) for Respect a bull to make the long trip to the airport. Not counting what it cost them all to take the day off of work to go and meet him, the literal expenses were at minimum $704.

Was it worth it to them? Yes!
Was it worth it to me? Yes!
Would we all do this again - Yes!

Thank you and we hope that Stanley's story inspires many people like yourself to go out there and spread the word to please encourage people to go to their local shelters to seek out the most sad, pathetic, messed up dog they can find and then rescue their own "Stanley" so they can tell that dog's story. Just one dog at a time.

Much love and gratitude,
Cathy and the cockers

Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday review, Jan. 22

Lots of new dogs this week.


Ramone is a super nice black Labrador Retriever who seems to have been abused in the past. He's extremely sensitive to hands being raised and immediately backs away and cowers and then looks for reassurance. I hear, though, that he's going to end up in a fantastic new home so I hope whatever bad memories still haunt him will soon fade away.


These next three Labs are happy dogs without a care and the two black ones especially are really robust and beautiful examples of the breed.





Ida is a serene and elegant Husky. She's got a sense of royalty about her. I love her white mask.



Update on Bobby here.

Update on Dickie here.

For adoption information on these and other dogs (and cats and other animals), please visit Toronto Animal Services.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Approaching no-kill

Adopting a philosophy of no-kill at a shelter is no simple task. Done wrong, it can lead to institutional hoarding and some might suggest that we have seen an example of that at the Toronto Humane Society. Done right, it can lead to dramatic if not almost miraculous reductions in animal killings by shelters.

The Humane Society of Utah, for example (h/t KC Dog Blog), is the latest shelter in the United States to reach a goal of no-kill for their dogs.

For the first time in the 50 year history of the Humane Society of Utah, the non-profit animal shelter did not have to euthanize a single adoptable dog.

According to HSU Executive Director Gene Baierschmidt, “This is a great achievement, one we’ve been striving for over the past five decades. Ten years ago one of our goals was to end the need to euthanize healthy, adoptable animals. And last year’s record for canine adoptions bring us much closer to reaching that goal.”

In 2009, the Humane Society of Utah was successful in finding homes for 3,917 dogs.
Compared to 3,763 dog adoptions in 2008, the HSU experienced a 4.1% increase despite the economic downturn.

And ...

Mr. Baierschmidt credits a proactive approach for the high adoption rate. The HSU’s Outreach (off-site) adoptions, pet foster program and the Transfer Initiative all contributed to a successful year. More than 100 families in our community are fostering animals, taking special-needs or hard-to-place animals into their own homes and working with them until they are ready to go to new families in permanent homes.

The HSU’s transfer program, established in 2008, works with more than 140 shelters and rescue groups (i.e. Katherine Heigls╩╝ Hounds of Hope) taking different types of animals to areas where there is greater demand for them. And the Outreach effort expanded in 2009 from 3 adoption sites to 7 different locations, including local Petco and Petsmart stores. 350 volunteers work closely with all three programs, helping socialize and groom animals while assisting the full time staff with various other duties.

In addition to these programs, the Humane Society of Utah Clinic spayed or neutered more than 11,000 cats and dogs during the past calendar year, addressing the root cause of the pet over-population issue and helping the HSU achieve its goal.

I'm thinking that what they've done in Utah, we can do here. Specifically, in reference to the reformation of the THS, here are some points to consider:

No kill does not mean never kill. It refers to the saving of all healthy and behaviourally sound animals. Humane - truly humane - euthanasias are still performed on those animals which suffer and will likely see no end to their suffering. Included in that are those animals which would be forced to live out the rest of their lives in institutional cages because they are too aggressive, with little or no hope of changing that behaviour, to be adopted out.

No kill is a goal. It is not a commandment that is to be thrust upon an organization which is not ready for it. Every aspect of the organization must be committed and ready in order for no-kill to be successful, from intake to adoptions, from every animal care worker to every board member.

No kill is a community goal. It cannot be reached without communal involvement and that includes networking with rescues, foster homes, businesses, vets, government agencies and the public at large.

No kill means having a truly open admissions policy. It's not no-kill if an agency refuses entry to some animals so that others have to deal with them or they end up on the street.

The online, no-kill website is here - as if you didn't know already - but first check out these excellent videos recorded in Australia at the 2009 National Summit to End Companion Animal Overpopulation.

NOTE: Oops, the following videos have been taken offline until permission to post is given by the presenters. Hopefully, they'll be okay with them.

The first is Mike Arms who is the president of the Helen Woodward Animal Center. He gives a spellbinding talk and you might want to keep some hankies close at hand, just in case:

Summit - Mike Arms Large from John Bishop on Vimeo.

This next one is from Nathan Winograd and he talks about his experiences in the no-kill movement:

Summit - Nathan Winograd Large from John Bishop on Vimeo.

Well, until this vid link comes back up, there's always this older one:

I wonder if either of these two guys would consider a relocation to Toronto.

And here are two more from the conference, first with Joy Verrinder who talks about her shelter's experience with moving towards no-kill.

Summit - Joy Verrinder Large from John Bishop on Vimeo.

This last one is of Michelle Williamson, who is the chief of PetRescue, Austalia's equivalent (or arguably better) to Petfinder, an online search engine for finding shelter dogs.

Michelle Williamson - 2009 NDN Summit from John Bishop on Vimeo.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


I'm walking Stella and Rocky one morning on the CNE grounds near Toronto Animal Services South when a car stops in front of me and Emily sticks her head out the window and yells, "Hello," which was unexpected and I say, "Hey," back and ask her what's up and she tells me she's found a dog and I'm like, "Huh?" and she says she's found a sick dog and is bringing it into TAS right now. Em had found the dog the night before at Trinity Bellwoods park, barely standing, and with no owner in sight so Em took the dog into her car and took her home to give her some water and food and comfort and see what would happen but what happened was that by next morning the dog had gotten worse and was leaving trails of pus from her vulva. Em figured the dog had pyometra because she recognized the symptoms - and the smell - because her last dog, Abby, the Rottie she took home from TAS, ended up getting it and had to get surgery for it.

Emily brings the dog into TAS and it looks like it might be dying too so one of the officers immediately drives it over to the vet clinic where she is left behind for an emergency spay which I guess is the treatment of choice for this kind of thing but emergency spays are not always successful for a dog, as Emily can tell you, and later that afternoon TAS gets a call from the vet asking permission to euthanize and in a situation like this, what can anyone do but say yes?

That's why it's a surprise the next morning when the vet clinic calls up and asks when TAS would like to take the dog back as it's up and eating and looking not too shabby for just having come back from the brink. The dog ends up staying at the clinic for a couple of more days(?), just to be safe, and then is brought back to the shelter where one of the animal control officers takes her home to name her Maggie and nurse her back to health.

Now, weeks later, Maggie is good and she is well except for a suture by her shoulder where a cyst had to be recently removed and she is an exceptionally sweet thing and will be up for adoption soon unless the ACO has other plans for her.

Thanks Emily. Thanks Kathleen.

For adoption information on these and other dogs (and cats and other animals), please visit Toronto Animal Services.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A day with dogs

(from Saturday)

I woke up this morning and took Stella and Rocky out for their morning walk then came back and fed them their breakfast. This usually takes about an hour and a half but since it was Saturday, I spent some extra time with them outside and so in all, Stella and Rocky time this morning was about two hours.

They were getting low on dog food so the next thing I was going to do was pick up some ground chicken back and beef for them and head right back home but figured that while I was out at the butcher's I might as well get a box of big soup bones for the dogs at Toronto Animal Services as they were almost out. Instead of going straight home, then, I drove over to TAS and brought the bones in. A woman who was there picking up a cat saw me and looked at me carrying in the box and gave me a weird look like maybe she was thinking I was bringing in a carcass or something - which in a sense I was - so I said to her that it was just bones but I don't think that helped put her at ease much.

I was just going to drop the box off and leave but then I started talking to one of the other dog walkers and we started going on about the two Rottweiler puppies who had just come to TAS South recently and how they'd grown up in a shelter and how they really should be getting lots of socialization at this stage in their lives. I figured I had some time so I decided to take them to the park to let them get their ya-yas out and maybe meet some other dogs and people. Ten minutes later, they were in the car with me and they were climbing all over - front seat, back seat, dash, floor, steering wheel. They were like cats. The brown one eventually settled into my lap and then the other one decided it wanted to do the same and kept trying to shove in as well but there was no room left between me and the steering wheel so I kept having to pull it off. It was thinking this was a game and kept scrambling back over. Luckily, the park was only a couple of minutes away and death by car accident was avoided.

The park was totally enclosed with fencing so I let the two off leash and they didn't quite know what that was all about so they just hung around me for a couple of minutes eating sticks and leaves and chestnuts and mud. They were like a couple of kids pretending to be brave and nonchalant when that was the last thing they were feeling.

Soon, another dog showed up with owner and kid and the two pups stood there stunned for a moment, not yet having grasped the idea of a dog park and then suddenly the light bulbs flashed and they took off after the three new creatures. The other dog was a sproingy Lab/kangaroo mix so the pups had no chance keeping up with him but the kid was a much easier target - not that the kid minded. The kid started picking the pups up and chasing them and they chased him back and jumped on him and he ran around and they ran around. The father was pretty good about telling his son how to behave around the pups and pretty soon, everyone was as well mannered as a kid and two puppies could be.

The park was muddy filthy with the strange mid January thaw, so half an hour later the pups were wet, dirty and shivering and I realized I needed to bring them back to TAS to warm up. Before getting into the car, I toweled them off best I could and then loaded them in and got in myself. The brown pup immediately scrambled into my lap seeking warmth and wouldn't relinquish its spot to his brother who was out of luck again. A smell of mud, piss and wet dog wafted up in my face from the pup in my lap but what could I do? It had found its place and who was I to move it?

I was thinking I would just drop the pups off and get going home but on the way back to their kennel, I passed Kipper in his kennel. Kipper had been at TAS for too long, over two months, and I figured I would just spend a few minutes with him before going. During his time at the shelter, in some ways his personality had gotten worse but in other ways, especially with people he recognized, it had gotten better and he'd become a favorite there with several of the dog walkers so even though he had no home, at least he had friends. I took Kipper out for a bit where he got a couple of scared glances and a couple of admiring glances from people who had come out to watch the hockey game at the arena. Kipper was oblivious to them all, lost to the scents in the wind. Half an hour later I brought him back to his kennel which he really didn't want to go into so it was a little heartbreaking forcing him inside.

(Just a note: Kipper was adopted out yesterday!)

I walked out of TAS all set to go home but saw that a new load of dogs had just come in from Montreal. There were probably around twenty dogs and many of them were going to local rescues and many of the rescue people were already there and crowded around the van eagerly awaiting their new charges. Five of the dogs were staying with TAS so I helped bring those dogs upstairs to their kennels. As with all the transports from Montreal, there was a real mix of dogs, all breeds and sizes, all on their way to being saved though not quite there yet.

One of the new ones

I just kept thinking about how the core of rescue came down to this: transporting dogs, housing dogs and keeping them healthy, adopting dogs out. In comparison, everything else built up around animal welfare, just seemed like bureaucracy and politics.

By the time I got home, it was 6 o'clock.

What would the day have been like without dogs? Well, it was a Saturday so I'm sure it would have been fun and entertaining but fun and entertainment, it seems, are mostly just commodities these days: easily accessible, highly disposable and quickly forgettable. Many of my weekends can be mindless like that and after a string of mindless weekends, it starts to feel like nothing. So, while some might think I do what I do for the dogs, really I do it for myself so that this life starts to feel like something again.

Monday, January 18, 2010

And more puppies

Toronto Animal Services South is doing some dogsitting for TAS West. Twelve pups recently popped out of mom, Loki, who is a Cane Corso. They're just weeks old and they're all squirmy little things who know nothing yet about the world they've been plopped into. Let's hope that by the time they do become a bit more cognizant of their surroundings, they'll be in decent foster care.

Here's mommy Cane Corso on a well-deserved break. She's a very nice dog unless there is high value food in her vicinity in which case she becomes a royal bitch - even to her pups - so that's something that's going to have to be worked on. I gave her some dog cookies, though, and she was quite good, sitting for me and waiting, so she's definitely workable.

Here's a video of her babies:

You can see the mom in the kennel across the aisle. She's only there because I needed a few moments without her in the shot to video the pups. She's whining because she knows I'm going to take her out and she's wishing I'd hurry up goddammit.

For adoption information on these and other dogs (and cats and other animals), please visit Toronto Animal Services.

More photos here.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The problem with puppies ...

... is that they can't stay still ...

...except when they're asleep and then, well, they're asleep. Off and on. There's no dimmer switch on puppies.

These two just arrived recently and are a bit of a mystery breed so they're being called Rottweiler mix puppies for now though I think they just as well might be Doberman mix pups - like maybe what my Rocky would have looked like when he was a little kid. I saw them in the adoption room but I'm not sure if they're actually up for adoption right now or just being kept there so they can get some people exposure because they've grown up in a shelter their whole lives.

For adoption information on these and other dogs (and cats and other animals), please visit Toronto Animal Services.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Friday review, Jan. 15

Most of these dogs are recent arrivals and aren't in adoption yet but when they do make their debut, some of them are going to be snatched up quick.

I know this little Schnauzer, Dotty, is a bit of a ragamuffin and needs a good wash and clipping but I love the texture of its coat. Once it's through the rinse and brush cycle, it'll probably be all poofy - and much more comfortable, I'm sure - but there will always be this photo to remind it of it's rebel years.

When Austin first came in, he was so hairy and matted that he was pretty well blind because of the clumps in front of his eyes. Once shaved, he was discovered that he had some really bad infections around the skin around the eyes but luckily no damage to the eyes themselves. Now this little playful poodle is recovering splendidly with the help of lots of toys which he loves to have around.

This Jack Russell is a self confident little squirt who isn't afraid to take on the big dogs so we have to be careful not to let him get too close to them. He seems fine with some of the smaller ones his own size and even seemed to like the Schnauzer when I took them both out together.

Skye, an Airedale, is a really gentle dog with people who looks like he's got an old soul or maybe he just didn't get a good night's sleep the night before. He'll be out in out of TAS in no time.

High energy Lab cross. He's sitting here but you can see he's leaning into the wind and all ready to run at the hint of the next scent.

Update on Austin here.

For adoption information on these and other dogs (and cats and other animals), please visit Toronto Animal Services.

Pet Fun Fest - Adopt A Petathon

It's this weekend February 13 and 14 at Downsview. Lots of rescues and shelters are going to be there so if you know anyone who's thinking about getting a new canine family member, you know where to send them.

I should've been paying more attention to this. I'll have to see if I can get some numbers on how successful this event is for adoptions. It's good to see the long list of rescues who are going to show up.

Action Volunteers for Animals
Basset Hound Rescue of Ontario
Big on Beagles
Boston Terrier Rescue Canada
Boxer Rescue Ontario
Canadian Animal Assistance Team
Canadian Chihuahua Rescue and Transport
Canadian Dachshund Rescue
Canadian West Highland White Terrier Club Rescue
Dog-Ma Pet Rescue
Galloping Greyhounds Play Group
Great Dane Rescue, Inc.
Helping Homeless Pets
I’ll Stand By You All Breed Pet Rescue
Jack Russell Terrier Rescue, Ontario
Loyal Rescue
Piggles Guinea Pig Rescue
Pomeranian and Small Breed Rescue
Project Jessie
Pug Angels
Pugalug Club Pug Rescue
Shiba Rescue GTA
Springer Rescue of Eastern and Central Canada
Speaking of Dogs
Tiny Paws Dog Rescue
The Ferret Aid Society
Toronto Animal Services
Toronto Cat Rescue
Westies in Need

All rescue links are available on the website:

Friday, January 15, 2010

Sparky on eTalk

(Thanks to Social Mange for pointing this out.)
Sparky, the American Bulldog with the wonky knees who was at Toronto Animal Services just a few weeks ago made a star appearance on eTalk where Tanya Kim, one of the hosts of the entertainment program, showed him who was boss (he was).

Check it out here at around the 2:15 mark (after the ad).

Note: this video clip is no longer available. Looks like they only keep them up for a couple of days.

Toronto Humane Society requesting foster homes

A change for the better:

Subject: Fostering Program at THS
Date: Thu, 14 Jan 2010 19:14:34 -0500

Hello THS Volunteers past and present!

I am writing today to ask if any of you are interested in becoming Foster Parents for many of the animals currently seeking special foster homes.

If you are, please write back to this address, and include “FOSTER INTEREST” In the subject line.

Please also answer the following questions:

1) Name
2) Address
3) Phone #
4) e-mail
5) What foster animals, if any, you have at present
6) What types of animals you are able to foster (dogs, puppies, cats, kittens, rabbits, small animals [please specify species], birds, reptiles)
7) What procedures you are able to handle (bottle feeding, eye medication, oral medication, pills, insulin injections, SQ fluids, bladder expression, etc.)
8) What term you are willing to foster (1-2 weeks, 2-4 weeks, 4-8 weeks, long-term, palliative)
9) Do you have animals of your own in the house? If so, what species?
10) Do you have a way to separate your pets from foster animals?
11) Do you have stairs that the animal(s) will have access to?
12) Do you have children in household? If so, what ages?
13) Does anyone in your household have allergies? If so, to what species?
12) What transportation will you use with a foster animal? (getting home, to vet appointments, and back to the shelter?)

We have many animals available for foster, including:

1)Adult cats in need of socialization and very patient, understanding homes
2)FIV+ cats
3)Cats with chronic skin conditions who need special care and bandage changing to allow their skin to heal
4)A cat with chronic constipation
5)A blind cat
6)Diabetic cats


1)Two dogs awaiting dental surgery at specialists (a German Sheppard and a Boxer)
2)One dog in renal failure (a German Sheppard)


1)Rabbits with chronic respiratory issues who need to live in a more hypoallergenic environment
2)Rabbits with incisor issues who need to go for dental appointments
3)Rabbits with eye issues
4)Rabbits who need socialization
5)Guinea Pigs who need socialization
6)Degus with eye issues
7)Rats with respiratory issues
8)Rats who need socialization

Please remember that all medical costs and food is covered by the shelter for foster animals. If you are interested, please let me know ASAP by responding to this e-mail.

Thanks so much,

Ruthann Drummond
Toronto Humane Society

Some ideas for the Toronto Humane Society 2.0

Okay, enough with the whining and complaining about the THS. What are the answers? Well, a few people have started to brainstorm some ideas to get the discussion going. It would be great if any of you feel like joining in.

Here are some things we'd like to see in a new THS and when it comes to finding a replacement team for the THS, we'll throw our support behind those who understand these issues and think they can tackle them.

Some of these ideas are for the short term. Some are for the long term. They're all over the place but for now, it's a place to start talking.

These are also posted over at The Toronto Humane Society Protest Group site, What the THS Could Be Doing so check out the comments over there as well.

Spay and Neuter

An emphasis on Spaying and Neutering (S/N) animals both at the Toronto Humane Society and in Toronto will reduce the number of unwanted pets in our city. Less unwanted pets means less animals in the shelter system. We believe that the Toronto Humane Society should be a leader in the S/N movement. Here are some ways that the THS can reduce the pet overpopulation situation in Toronto.

1. (S/N) all sexually mature animals before adoption
2. Provide a voucher to all adopters so that they can get their pets S/N at the Toronto Humane Society for free when their new pet reaches 6 months of age.
3. FOLLOW UP with people who have adopted a kitten/puppy from the THS to ensure that the animal is S/N at six months of age.
4. Open a low cost S/N clinic at the Toronto Humane Society.
5. A mobile S/N bus to go into low-income communities.
6. Assist existing trap and release programs by offering free S/N to TNR programs.
7. Create a trap and release program at the Toronto Humane Society.

Getting Animals Out of the Shelter

Getting animals out of the shelter and into homes should be a priority at the Toronto Humane Society. We believe that if the Toronto Humane Society adopts the following polices and practices related to pre-adoption/adoption/adoption after-care, reputable rescues, other shelters, and the foster care program, the THS will see an increase in adoptions and a decrease in return adoptions.


1. Animals need a thorough health and behaviour assessment before they are put into the adoptions program upon admission to the Toronto Humane Society.
2. Any heath issues should be identified immediately and a treatment plan put into place to get the animal healthy and into the adoption program.
3. Any behavioural issues (food possessive, dog aggression, etc) should be identified and a behaviour modification program should be started before they are put into the adoption program.
4. A basic obedience program should be implemented with every dog admitted to the shelter.
5. Puppy school for puppy socialization and very basic training
6. Any person who has any interaction with an animal should be a part of that training.
7. A socialization program should be implemented for all animals in the shelter.


1. Clear, concise, and consistent adoption protocols.
2. Animal information (behaviour, health) should be clear and easily accessible by adoption agents and staff so that a great match can be made between adopters and animals.
3. Partner with other organizations and businesses that are willing to adopt out THS animals directly from their facilities.
4. Partner with reputable rescue organizations and allow them to adopt out THS animals in their care.
5. Create a mobile adoption bus where animals can be adopted out in different communities.
6. Arm adopters with as much information as possible. A large information package should be provided to all adopters with information on how to help their new pet adjust to their new home, introducing a new pet to an existing pet, where to get help with behavioural issues, exercise, how to find a vet, grooming, etc.
7. Develop a committee that will be in charge of creating an adoption strategy (specific to each animal) for animals that have been in the shelter too long.

Adoption After-Care

1. Create a hotline for people to call if they run into issues with their new pet. The shelters involvement with an animal shouldn’t stop once the animal has left the building. Many return adoptions are related to behavioural issues and a system needs to be put into place to help adopters with the issues that lead to return adoptions.
2. Partner up with dog trainers, grooming facilities, and veterinary clinics. These businesses may be willing to donate services or offer a discount to THS animals in exchange for free advertising on the THS website.
3. Start a low cost basic obedience program at the THS. This will foster good relationships with members of the community, prevent surrenders due to minor behavioural issues, and provide revenue for the shelter. These basic training classes should be free for all THS dogs that have been adopted.

Working with Rescues

1. Develop relationships with reputable rescue organizations.
2. Create a manual with the specific criteria animals must meet for intake at each rescue.
3. Contact rescues as soon as a potential candidate for transfer is identified.
4. Create a links page on the THS website where all rescues that work with the THS are listed.
5. Assist rescues with low-cost veterinary care and access to free spay and neuters.
6. Allow rescues to facilitate adoptions of THS animals in their care.
7. Pass along donations to rescue organizations that aren’t needed at the shelter.
8. Organize all-rescue adopt-a-thons.

Working with Other Animal Shelters

1. Identify shelters that share the same standard of care and philosophies as the Toronto Humane Society.
2. Create an animal trading program. If the THS has animals that are best suited to live in a rural environment, send those animals to a partner shelter in a rural environment in exchange for animals that would be well suited for an urban environment.
3. Offer to help relieve overcrowding in other shelters when resources are available at the THS.
4. Develop a positive working relationship between the THS, Toronto Animal Services, and the OSPCA. There is a highly successful model of a potential working relationship between similar organizations in Calgary.

Foster Program

1. Contact all past foster parents and work to get them back into the foster program.
2. Create an active and continuous foster parent recruitment strategy.
3. Create a detailed list of all animals that need to go into foster care for medical/behavioural issues.
4. Start advertising these animals on the THS website, the blog, and public forums.
5. Allow foster parents to adopt their foster animals.


Volunteers are crucial to the success of non-profit organization. By implementing these policies we believe that the THS will see an increase in volunteers, and will create a positive environment for volunteers so that they will stay long-term. A strong and healthy volunteer program will decrease financial strains at the Toronto Humane Society, improve the lives of the animals in the shelter, and will have a positive influence on rebuilding the reputation of the THS.

1. There is no such thing as too many volunteers. The Toronto Humane Society needs to stop restricting the number of volunteers at the shelter.
2. Create a list of every specific role a volunteer can play at the THS, from laundry to cat grooming, to fundraising. Post this list on the website (with the details of each role) so that the public is aware of how their skills and interests can be used to help the animals at the THS.
3. Work harder to match potential volunteers with areas of the shelter that match their interests.
4. An active and continuous volunteer recruitment strategy needs to be designed and implemented.
5. A volunteer retention program needs to be designed and implemented. This should include a support network for volunteers, a liaison to deal with issues between volunteers and staff, etc.
6. Phone calls and volunteer applications need to be responded to in a timely manner.
7. Create a volunteer training program for every aspect of the shelter. Volunteers should be confident in their training before they are asked to handle animals.
8. Start recruiting volunteers who can help the THS with specific jobs. Graphic designers, photographers, event planners, professional writers, etc can offer their specific skills to improve the website, information packages, plan fundraisers, etc. Create a list of these people and their skills so that the volunteer coordinators know who to call when specific jobs need to be done at the shelter.
9. Create a relationship with the directors/professors/teachers of veterinary colleges, veterinary technician schools, and animal care education programs. Ask these schools to inform their students that the THS is looking for volunteers and co-op placements.
10. Work with and create a positive relationship with high school principals and guidance counsellors. To graduate high school in Ontario students need to complete 40 hours of community service. Create a volunteer program that is specific to high school students.

Pit Bulls and the Ontario Ban

The sad reality is that the Ontario government has enacted Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) that renders many Pit Bulls illegal. There are dogs in the shelter system that need loving homes but can’t legally be adopted in Ontario. The Toronto Humane Society needs to develop a strategy to get these dogs out of province and into loving homes.

1. Network and create relationships with rescue organizations and shelters that are out of province.
2. Network with animal sanctuaries in Canada and the USA.
3. Work with out of province rescues and ask them to facilitate adoptions on behalf of the THS.
4. Create a section of the website dedicated to finding homes for dogs impacted by BSL.
5. Help rescues and other shelters transport these dogs out of province.
6. Apply political/public pressure to get the BSL sections of DOLA repealed. The repeal has already been introduced in the provincial legislature but has not been passed.

Community Outreach and Public Relations

1. Re-open the food bank.
2. Create a section of the website dedicated to keeping the public up to date on changes being made to improve polices and procedures in the shelter.
3. Provide access to financial information (this could be as simple as a chart showing what percentage of funds have been spent this month on vet care, on food, on fundraising, etc).
4. Send out THS brochures to all the pet related businesses in Toronto for distribution.
5. Educate the public starting with school kids. There should be huge outreach into the schools from THS staff/volunteers to talk about S/N, what the THS does, responsible pet ownership, etc. The best way to reach the parents is through their kids.

Toronto Humane Society Website

1. Revamp the Kids Zone aspect of the website. Create games for the kids that teach them about the importance of S/N, plants that are poisonous to animals, etc.
2. Revamp the adoption aspect of the website. There should be better images of the animals available for adoption, and better descriptions of them.
3. Create a section of the website dedicated to the distribution of information on how to deal with behavioural issues, the exercise needs of animals, the nutritional needs of animals, how to socialize animals, how to pet-proof your home, animal safety, the importance of veterinary care, etc.
4. Create an Action section with a list of ways people can get involved with animal welfare in Toronto, in Ontario, and in Canada.
5. Create a section for local businesses that donate to the THS.
6. Create a listing of animal rescue organizations.
7. Create a section of the website dedicated to finding homes for dogs impacted by BSL.
8. Create a volunteer section of the website with a list of ways volunteers can get involved at the THS.

Creation of a Real Toronto Humane Society Blog

1. Create a Toronto Humane Society Blog that is updated daily.
2. Ensure that the blog is capable of displaying large images.
3. Use the blog to promote animals that have been at the shelter for too long.
4. Use the blog to promote businesses that are helping the THS.
5. Once a month do a write up on a volunteer who is making a difference at the THS.
6. Once a month do a write up on a staff member so that the public can get to know the people that work at the shelter.
7. Keep the public up to date on new programs, existing programs, what kind of donations are needed, etc.

Create a Second Facility for Long-Term Animals

1. This facility would be for animals with extreme behavioural issues that need more work than what can be provided at the shelter. The goal of this facility would be to rehabilitate animals that are unsuitable for adoption. Animals would stay at this facility until their behaviour has been modified and they can be safely put into the adoption program.
2. In the case of animals where the behaviour cannot be modified enough for public adoption, the new facility would become an animal sanctuary for these “unadoptable” animals where they can live for the rest of their lives.