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).

Charlie the dumpster dog one year later

Nice update on Charlie, the pup who was found in a dumpster stuffed in a box wrapped in plastic.

From the Toronto Star, Abandoned dog wins the hearts of new family:

"He wiggles when my wife comes home from work. Sometimes he wiggles for no reason at all. I’m fairly certain he would wiggle if Hannibal Lecter dropped in for some fava beans and a nice bottle of Chianti."

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Garth Jerome's vision for a new Toronto Humane Society

The article is here in the Globe and Mail and the details are here in Garth's affidavit.

I have to say I'm impressed by the affidavit which details Garth's plan for transforming the Toronto Humane Society. There are some points I'd disagree with, especially with regards to the limited membership of the euthanasia committee, but let's pick at that some other time.

If this plan for the THS had come out, say, 5 or 10 years ago, I would've been much more inclined to support it. It hits all the right points, addressing issues that need addressing from animal care to building overhaul to staffing requirements.

This all looks great on paper and that the THS has even gotten to this point where they are willing to admit their past mistakes and ask outside consultants for help is a huge improvement.

The question is, can the present THS board and management be trusted to carry out these changes or is it just a ploy to win favour with the courts and public. In the end, will all this new openness to ideas save more animal lives?

I think we all saw the answer to that on Friday last week.

I'm sorry, Garth, you may have the best intentions but I don't believe they are the best intentions for the animals.

The deaths of the five Pit Bulls, Captain, Peti, Socks, Tiger and Smokey sullied the names of both the Toronto Humane Society and the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals - the THS because of its role in devising and carrying out an animal euthanasia policy which is too draconian in spirit and the OSPCA for not using its role as animal guardian in the facility to offer alternatives to these dogs.

I am not a believer in keeping a suffering animal indefinitely in a cage but these five dogs were not suffering and had the luxury of many human companions and were well loved. And, perhaps most importantly, they had a rescue to go to out of the province with transport available to take them there. There was significant hope for these five.

Several of the five had bite histories recorded from within the THS facility so they were labeled as dangerous dogs and on top of that, given the fact that they were Pit Bulls in this province where the law kills Pit Bulls, I can appreciate the legal headache they would have presented to the lawyers on both sides but I sincerely hope they were not euthanized wholly or in part for reasons of legal expediency.

I'm not going to debate the validity of those original bite reports as no one knows the truth behind them except the persons bitten and the dogs involved but given that these dogs have had hundreds if not thousands of non-aggressive interactions and indeed highly affectionate and playful interactions with a multitude of volunteers and staff, did that not grant them some degree of hope for rehabilitation, some measure of charity and mercy?

I know, there were legal issues, there were liability issues. Well, there will always be liability issues when it comes to dog adoption. Were all five of these dogs so out of control that they presented liability risks above and beyond most other dogs that have been adopted out of the THS, and so much so that they could not be given a chance in a rescue? As for legal issues, we all know that there is some room to move within the law when it comes to Pit Bull rescue. Was it not within the mandate of both charities, while staying within the constraints of law, to try to provide safe haven for these five dogs?

These dogs were well loved. I don't think the people who signed off on these dogs' deaths really understood this. What they've done is they've taken beloved pets which didn't just belong to one or two people but to several people, euthanized them without any warning and then announced their deaths with a short on-line posting the day after. Not only is this action insensitive, to say the least, but also a gross misunderstanding of the strength of the human-animal bond and the love people had for these animals. In one night, not only were the lives of 25 animals taken, but many staff and volunteers were devastated and the public's faith in the THS shaken.

If this is an indication of how the new Toronto Humane Society will function, then no words on paper will get me to support it.

Actions speak louder than words and so far the actions that have been taken are not in line with any charitable animal welfare organization I would wish to support.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Letter from THS Executive Director Garth Jerome

From here (h/t Biscuit).

To all staff, volunteers, members and supporters,

Our organization is entering a period of rapid change. These changes are for the better of the animals that we strive so diligently to care for. I many cases, change is difficult to accept, I extend my hand of warmth and gratitude to all of you. You are all brave and courageous and I admire you deeply. It is only through your hard efforts that The Toronto Humane Society has endured for so long and will continue to do so.

The Toronto Humane Society’s new euthanasia policy will not make it a ‘high-kill’ shelter. We will continue to treat sick and injured animals and make them available for adoption. Simply because an animal has a problem does not make them ‘unadoptable’.

That does not mean than euthanasia will not take place. The THS has never been a ‘no-kill’ shelter. We are going to focus on positive outcomes for the animals. This means that we will do everything we can to get every animal that comes into our shelter into a new loving home. In certain circumstances, those outcomes are not possible. The THS is a shelter, we are not an animal sanctuary who can house animals, who will never be available for adoption, indefinitely.

However difficult, we have been faced with some important decisions. The current animal population at the shelter consists of many animals who have been in the shelter for some length of time. They include animals whose quality of life is severely diminished due to illness, injury or present with serious behavioural issues which prevent us from placing them in homes, within the boundaries of our responsibilities. Some of these animals, especially dogs, have been a part of your lives for some time. I know that you will bear fond memories of them for years to come.

In the light of these facts, I have empowered the animal care staff to proceed with all reasonable means to deal with those animals who present with these conditions. We have a collective responsibility to ensure that the well-being and quality of life of all the animals in our care is our key priority.

The process around assessing the health and well-being of these 6 dogs has been exhaustive. We understand that for many people there is a huge emotional connection to these animals. For that reason, a number of procedures were followed to ensure that the decisions were fair and objective:

1. An in-house SAFER test was performed an all the dogs.

2. A number of rescue groups were approached to assess the dogs, with their own tests.

3. A “scorecard system”, developed by veterinarians was used to assess health, pain, suffering, temperament and many other parameters.

4. Independent consultants were asked to evaluate the dogs, based on their current condition.

5. Once all this data was collated, a panel of 8 persons, comprising veterinarians, representatives of the OSPCA and the THS, met to decide on their outcomes.

6. This meeting was scheduled to take place on Thursday, April 1, 2010. Due to a number of concerns around safety of employees, volunteers and the animals themselves, this meeting was moved to Friday, March 26, 2010, as a matter of urgency.

The Toronto Humane Society was required to consider additional factors in this decision. While tentative agreements were made to place some of these dogs in rescues, there are legal obstacles which have presented themselves. A number of the dogs had severe temperament concerns and aggression. Many had bite orders. All of these factors need to be considered when deciding on the most humane course of action, within the bounds of the law.

Once the animals were evaluated, euthanasia decisions were made on 6 of the animals assessed. These 6 dogs were not able to be adopted, fostered or transferred. The only outcome for them was to live in the shelter indefinitely. That is not an acceptable animal care practice. The THS made the extremely difficult, but appropriate decision.

I wish to assure all of you that no animal in the care of The Toronto Humane Society shall be allowed to suffer at any point in its care. There is clear and positive direction and that is the road ahead.

We understand that this is a very emotional and difficult time for you if you are staff, volunteers, supporter or an animal lover. Here, there have been tears and sorrow as well. Please know that these decisions are not taken lightly.


Garth Jerome
Executive Director

Presto change-o

Remember these Jashamagopoogle puppies?

And their mum, Jenny?

Well, last week, one of the two pups was brought back into Toronto Animal Services South, untrained and unkempt. No point going into the reason Grace was returned, she's just back and look what she's turned into - one big hairball. Who woulda thunk?

Let's hope, next time round, Grace ends up with someone who has a better appreciation of a fine shag rug.

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

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Protests and then?

In the next few days, the story behind what lead to the deaths of the animals at the Toronto Humane Society will likely make itself known and there will be much debate and discussion and perhaps more rage and tears. People will want to know who to blame and why it happened. If the whole truth comes out, some people may be surprised, some not. Some will take the facts at face value and say I told you so. Others will try to come up with alternate theories which conform to their world view and say I told you so. But none of that is about the animals. That's about propping up our own beliefs and winning the prize in the who's right who's wrong competition. I know because I've been there.

The only things that matter are the animals remaining in that facility and making sure what happened on Friday doesn't become an institutional habit. Friday has shown all of us what happens when the people who actually care about the animals don't work together towards something and instead fall at each other like enemies.

I believe there is only one feasible way forward for the THS and that is to get rid of the present board, hold elections for a new board and rebuild.

The one major obstacle to that is the refusal of the present board to resign. The way the board is acting, they would rather see the THS rot than give up their status and power. If they feel that by resigning, people will think they are admitting to having betrayed the animals, well I can only say that if Friday is any indication, then for them to stay in power is proving the exact same thing.

Whether or not one thinks the board is directly responsible for the present condition the THS is in right now, they are certainly responsible, just by their continued reluctance to step down, for keeping the THS mired in the state it's in. If the board resigns or is forced out, the THS can move forward. With them in place, this will not happen. If you believe the animals at the THS deserve a better chance, the board must go.

Many feel the OSPCA must go as well. I believe the OSPCA will leave but only once the present board is gone and elections are held for a new board. The OSPCA, with the full backing of the courts, will absolutely not allow the THS to return to the way it was. Some would argue that even if the board leaves there is no guarantee that the OSPCA will leave. I don't agree but I'm pretty sure that the best way to make sure the OSPCA stays at the THS is to allow the present board to stay in power.

Either way, the board must go in order for the THS to heal.

But that's only the first step.

Protesting is easy. The hard part is building. The hard part is working cooperatively with others towards something which is not readily apparent nor easily achievable. Creating a real Humane Society is not a cakewalk and it'll be apparent very quickly who is up to the task and who is just talk and if it turns out that most people are just talk, then a new THS ain't going to happen or it's going to happen on someone else's terms. If you want the THS the way you want it, you have to build it.

More on that soon, I hope.

Update on Dickie

From the owner of Dash (previously Dickie):

Sending you two photos of Dash--previously known as Dickie. He has been here almost two months now and is finally settling down. Dash is a very busy boy, with a list of destroyed items to his credit. He loves to run, thus the new name, and will retrieve almost anything. Dash especially loves to chase and retrieve his blue Jolly ball. Dash has learned not to chase the chickens, at least too much, and has learned not to be too afraid of the horses. He really enjoys running with my older dog. Hope you enjoy seeing and sharing the photos with other staff.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Not good enough

"Smokey paid his dues to that shelter at the very least he could have had a run in the park before they killed him."

There were lots of tears at the Toronto Humane Society today as staff and volunteers discovered that five well liked Pit Bulls were euthanized last night along with one other dog and nineteen cats. Rumours had been floating around last night but the identities of the dogs put down could not be confirmed until this morning.

Both the Toronto Humane Society management and the OSPCA are defending the euthanasia decisions but getting consistent reasons for the euthanasias is difficult. Initial responses were that the animals were all put down for health reasons but it was obvious to everyone who knew the dogs that they were not unhealthy. Aggressive behaviours and assessment test failures coupled with unadoptability were also brought up as reasons. This also did not sit well with staff and volunteers who believe these dogs to have been non-aggressive and adoptable.

Some of the THS staff planned to stage a short walkout today in protest but those plans were canceled when possible repercussions were mentioned.

I didn't have any problems with the dogs myself the day I helped Mel Laking take their photos several weeks back. I especially enjoyed the company of Captain and Smokey who were highly affectionate dogs.

All of these dogs also had shelters or rescues willing to take them in. I was involved in finding one of those shelters through the help of Best Friends Animal Society so I know this to be true. They would have been moved out weeks ago but for legal concerns around transporting them through the province (because these dogs, Pit Bulls, are of course banned in Ontario). We were in the midst of working out an acceptable transport plan when the euthanasias took place.

I am very disappointed.

These dogs should have been given a chance and that chance would have been so easy to give.

We failed you






All photos by Mel Laking.

Their stories are here on Selkie's blog.

Black Friday at the Toronto Humane Society

In what many have described as a staff and volunteer blackout, several animals, including Pit Bulls which had already found placement in out of province shelters but were awaiting transport, have been euthanized at the Toronto Humane Society. I'll post up more details once I can get a sense of what's rumour and what's truth - if that's even possible at this point.

From the THS website:

Responsible Animal Care Decisions

Our responsibility to provide medical care to the animals sometimes means difficult choices need to be made.

In recent days, The Toronto Humane Society has euthanized 6 dogs and 19 cats that were chronically ill, displayed aggressive behaviour, or whose quality of life due to illness or injury was severely diminished and who had been at the shelter for an extended period of time.

Our new euthanasia policy is clear that we will not house these animals in the shelter indefinitely as their medical and behavioural condition deteriorates and the possibility of them being adopted diminishes. Our policy dictates that we will continue to provide all necessary veterinary care to all the animals in the shelter. However, there is a time when euthanizing an animal is the appropriate medical and humane choice.

These decisions were made by the THS staff veterinarians as well as OSPCA contract veterinarians in consultation with THS Executive Director Garth Jerome.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Update on Moose

From the owner of one of Loki's pups, now called Moose:

Just wanted to send you a quick e-mail to both thank you and give you an update. We have had Moose (previously Dozer I believe) for a couple weeks now He is doing great and is a very fast learner. Still working on the housebreaking and sleeping through the night. He follows his big brother (only gonna be "big" brother for a little while longer) everywhere and replicates everything he does. If Rocky stops to pee somewhere Moose pretends to as well. Again thank you for the work you do that allows these dogs to go houses where they will be loved forever. The invitation is always open to come visit him. I've attached a couple pictures and will be in touch....

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Notes on the meeting

Kate MacDonald is the CEO of the OSPCA. She has a clear, soft spoken voice and fields questions and gives explanations without seeming defensive or professorial. It's easy to imagine her as a very effective lawyer. The intention last night was to let people get together in a "family" atmosphere in one of the meeting rooms of The Grand hotel to ask their questions and voice their concerns about the OSPCA's months long involvement at the Toronto Humane Society. Accompanying Kate MacDonald were suited OSPCA lawyers, staff and security. It may have been a family gathering but there was no mistaking that this was going to be a strictly enforced, well mannered, no nonsense family gathering. No surprise given the open animosity directed at the OSPCA in the recent weeks.

After a brief introduction, Ms. MacDonald got down to the crux of the evening and opened the floor to questions. Several hands shot up.

It was a fairly diverse crowd - all ages certainly. There were THS staff, volunteers, people from various protest and reform groups, animal foster parents, THS members, animal rescuers, past and future would be adopters, OSCPA critics and a scattering of the general public.

The pace was steady. Perhaps a couple dozen questions or more, some fairly involved, were answered in the hour and a half time allotment.

A lot of the questions involved euthanasia and trying to get details on the OSPCA's policies regarding euthanasia. Three points came out of this.

1. The requirement for euthanasia is determined by a vet.
2. Euthanasias have been performed due to lack of space at OSPCA shelters.
3. No animals have been euthanized because of space reasons at the THS while the OSPCA has been there. All animal euthanasias at the THS have been determined by vets.

Someone asked about the number of animals euthanized at the THS under the OSCPA and one of the lawyers said that based on per capita, the number of animal deaths was better now than pre-OSPCA. No exact number was given by the OSPCA (but from talking with THS vets, I've heard that the number is around 200).

One person wondered why cats with FIV or which were diabetic were not allowed to go up for adoption but this was refuted by a couple of people who said that there were indeed cats with FIV or diabetic who were placed in adoption.

Another person then criticized the vets for putting down cats simply because they had FIV. She was asked to provide an example. She mentioned a cat which was very recently put down and one of the vets responded that this particular cat didn't just have FIV but had other serious underlying illnesses, one being multiple tumours (?) in its mouth which had become extremely painful to the point where the once friendly cat would attack anyone who tried to touch its face. According to the vet, and confirmed by another, that specific cat did not have a good prognosis and was suffering which was why it was euthanized. The person asking the question then dismissed that example, saying it was only one example, but did not provide another. She continued to question why the OSCPA didn't actively try to find fosters or rescues who were willing to take in such a cat despite its illnesses. An OSPCA animal care staffer responded that moving a sick cat from the THS into a foster home or rescue is not alleviating the suffering of the animal. Someone from a rescue added that while rescues would love to be able to take in every FIV or diabetic cat, there just isn't always room nor are they always able to carry the expenses associated with keeping a sick cat.

Many people in the audience were not clear about the delineation of responsibilities between the OSPCA and the THS and asked questions such as why THS staff was being let go or if someone could update the THS website or why the THS was slow to accept new members. In response, it was suggested they ask the THS those questions as those matters were outside the control of the OSPCA.

There were definitely some people in the audience who were pro-OSPCA and some who were anti-OSPCA. Those who were pro-OSPCA spent most their talk time expressing their thanks to the organization. While some of these expressions of gratitude may have been a bit "speechy" (overheard from post meeting conversations), I'm pretty sure they were not, as some have suggested, "pro-OSPCA plants in the audience". The OSPCA may appreciate its fans but I doubt they would organize them in this manner. There is certainly no evidence of that.

One woman, who was standing just behind me, was asking questions near the beginning of the evening and she was clearly anti-OSPCA. Her questions/accusations tumbled out one after the other without giving Ms. MacDonald a chance to respond. A couple of audience members asked her to let Ms. MacDonald respond but the woman ignored them and continued to speak over Ms. MacDonald. At this point security was called in and she was asked to leave. She refused but she did settle down.

Ms. MacDonald reminded the audience that respectful behaviour at the meeting was obligatory.

The disruptive woman behind me leaned over to the person standing beside her and whispered, "I hate the OSPCA".

There were also several questions concerning the return of normalcy to the THS. When would adoptions open? What about intake for kitten season? When would volunteers be allowed back? Could people with dog experience be allowed to work with dogs with behavioural issues? When will fostering start up again? The general answer to most of these types of questions was that the OSPCA was working on it. Staffing and organizational issues had to be addressed before those programs could be brought back.

One question for which many in the audience were not satisfied with the answer was about adoption returns. It is the OSPCA stance that once an animal is adopted, that animal becomes the property of the adopter. If the animal is "returned", it is considered an owner surrender, not an adoption return and presently the OSPCA is not allowing any animal intake. When asked where people were supposed to take their animals then, the response was Toronto Animal Services which elicited some murmuring from the audience about TAS' high kill rates. (Regular readers of this blog know how I feel about the THS generated propaganda surrounding those numbers so I won't get into it here). Ms. MacDonald then explained that the OSPCA had worked out a deal with TAS whereby any animals from the THS which ended up at TAS and which they could not adopt out would be transferred to one of the outlying OSPCA shelters.

One item on my own agenda, going into the meeting, was to try to get the story behind Kincaid resolved. I posted about Kincaid a couple of days ago. He's a German Shepherd from the THS who was allegedly stolen. After the post, several people replied that they doubted the story was true. A THS volunteer dog walker named Dominique commented beneath the post that he was the driver who had driven Kincaid to a rescue in Orillia and that it was all above board and done under the eyes of both the THS and the OSPCA.

I wanted to find Dominique at the meeting. By this point, the story that was going round was that the OSPCA was accusing Dominique of stealing Kincaid. In truth, the OSPCA didn't even know who Dominique was.

During the question-answer period, Dominique told the OSPCA and the audience that he had driven Kincaid to a rescue in Orillia and that it was done legitimately. He expressed concern that if this "theft" was the reason the volunteer program was suspended then the OSPCA might reconsider. Ms. MacDonald responded that there were other considerations when it came to the volunteer program, including liability and safety. Apparently, there have been several recent threats issued against both OSPCA and THS staff.

After the meeting, I suggested to Dominique that I could introduce him to Kate MacDonald but he declined. He asked that I write something about this in the blog and I asked him what he would like me to write but he walked away and declined to comment further.

The OSPCA did not provide any further information as the case is still under investigation but they are still under the impression that a German Shepherd looking dog was stolen from the THS. I have no doubt that Dominique did not steal any dog. But, I also doubt that the OSPCA would completely make up a story about a dog theft including tracing the transport vehicle to rescues outside of Toronto. I do have doubts, though, about the paperwork involved. Perhaps it was a different dog. Perhaps it was misidentification. With no one talking, we may never know the full story.

After the meeting was over, many people stuck around to talk with OSPCA staff. The media was also let in at this point. They had not been allowed into the meeting proper possibly in part because of restrictions issued by a judge requiring the OSPCA to keep their media presence down.

Kate Hammer from the Globe and Mail saw me and walked over and asked me why I was allowed in. "It's because you're legit and I'm not," I said.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Puppy mill Golden Poo pups

This guy is one of three Golden Poos who came in from an Ontario puppy miller. As is typical of most puppy mill rescues, he and his two brothers are quite anxious, unhousebroken and undersocialized with dogs and people.

All three are very sweet dogs with varying degrees of shyness. They are much braver when kept together as a group but their interdependence upon each other might not be such a good thing as they grow older. When I spent time with them, it took about 10 minutes of quiet sitting with them before the bravest of the three interacted with me and it was in a playful manner. The other two eventually followed suit. I think they'll be fine as long as they get a lot of daily interaction with people and dogs and everything else out there.

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

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Rumours and discontent at the Toronto Humane Society

Rumours have been breeding like fleas within the Toronto Humane Society. Most of them are anti-OSPCA with the occasional one tossed at Toronto Animal Services for good measure.

With all the silence in the face of these rumours, even some of the faithful are beginning to wonder what the OSPCA is up to at the THS: still not allowing animal intake, canceling the fostering program, continuing to spend donor money on court costs against the THS, being overtly suspicious of volunteers, treating them like thieves and then dismissing them en masse saying they were no longer needed, directly or indirectly causing the lay off of essential THS workers.

That's a lot of stuff that needs explaining and taking the high road with silence isn't going to cut it. In the absence of any kind of explanation, it's inevitable that people, especially enemies of the OSPCA and drinkers of Tim Trow's kool-aid, are going to start making shit up.

Well, it's taken a while, but the OSPCA seems to have learned its lesson about controlling the message in the face of rampant rumourmongering. They're starting to talk.

Over the past couple of weeks, OSPCA staff have been meeting privately and individually with concerned volunteers to answer their questions and address their concerns and now there's even going to be a town hall meeting tomorrow to discuss some of the issues around the OSPCA's stint at the THS.

As a preview, here are some unofficial responses (the person I talked to wishes to remain unnamed) to a few of the rumours which are being passed around.

1. Anyone who's been volunteering at the THS knows that the OSPCA came in and killed 180 cats in the first month they were there. The OSPCA vets killed them at night when no one was around because they didn't want anyone to see them.

In the first month at the THS, the OSPCA euthanized forty cats (this out of several hundred cats) which vets determined were suffering terribly and beyond help. Generally, cadavers for euthanized animals are stored in a freezer at the THS for a few days until the cremation company comes by to pick them up. The company which the THS dealt with hadn't been paid in quite a while and so had suspended their services several weeks or months prior to the OSPCA raid on the facility. By the time the OSPCA showed up, there were already 140 frozen cat bodies in the freezer.

Once things got straightened out with the cremation company, the pick-ups started again. In that first pick-up, all 180 dead cat bodies were moved out at night because it was felt that moving those bodies through the building during open day hours would not be appreciated by staff or volunteers.

Later, someone from the THS called a local newspaper reporter and told him that the OSPCA had just killed 180 cats. The reporter phoned THS back for confirmation and the real situation was eventually explained. The newspaper story was obviously not published but the rumour was well on its way.

2. The OSPCA treat volunteers like thieves and now aren't letting anyone except for a few staff members walk the dogs.

There was this German Shepherd, Kincaid, at the THS who had a bite history and was under court order to be euthanized. Before this order could be carried out, Kincaid disappeared. In his kennel, someone had replaced Kincaid with a smaller, friendly German Shepherd.

After an investigation, someone came forward and said he saw another person put Kincaid into the back of a vehicle which then drove away. He thought this was kind of strange so he wrote down the license plate of the vehicle.

The vehicle was traced to a rescue in Huntsville. When the Huntsville rescue was contacted, they said that Kincaid only passed through there on his way to another rescue in North Bay. When the OSPCA showed up in North Bay, the rescue refused them access to their property so there was no way to confirm if the dog they took was indeed Kincaid.

The next time the OSPCA checked on Kincaid's kennel, they discovered that the replacement GSD had in turn been replaced by a Yorkie.

A day later, the Yorkie was also gone and the kennel was empty.

From the perspective of the OSPCA, law enforcement agencies and the justice system, a dangerous dog was stolen from the THS and is now in the hands of a criminal. The theft was brazen and a clear fuck you directed at the OSPCA. The obvious and unfortunate response was a clamp down on dog walkers. What else could have been expected? Whether one considers the perpetrators thieves or rescuers, committing a flagrant criminal act isn't going to make things better for the other volunteers or the remaining dogs in the facility.

3. The OSPCA have stopped the THS animal foster program out of spite.

The OSPCA has responded to this accusation with a press release. Among their reasons for suspending the animal foster program are:

* Pets were signed out for fostering without the approval of the appropriate THS official.
* There were incomplete records on the number of animals signed out for fostering, and who they were signed out with.
* Some animals intended to be signed out under the fostering program were instead listed as adoptions.
* Many animals signed out for fostering suffered chronic health issues and needed to be regularly re-assessed to ensure that fostering remained the best care option.
* Diabetic cats that required daily blood monitoring and insulin injections were sent out for fostering. The THS included a six-month supply of insulin and other medicine. There was no follow-up scheduled once these foster homes ran out of medical supplies.
* Animals with medical conditions were signed out to foster homes without training specific to the conditions and without ensuring that the foster volunteer had appropriate medical knowledge.
* Two aggressive dogs were signed out under the fostering program to people with no professional training to manage canine behavioural problems.

Until the OSPCA is able to ensure the safety of the animals and the fosters caring for them, they feel they have no choice but to stop the THS from fostering out more animals. Also, because there are only approximately 300 animals remaining in the facility, they feel the need to foster out animals is not as great as it was when there were over 1000 animals.

4. What happened to all those animals? There were over a thousand and now there are only 300. The OSPCA must have killed them all.

Numbers from both the THS and the OSPCA state that approximately 200 animals have been euthanized. The remaining animals moved out of the facility have either been adopted, are in foster care or have been sent to rescues.

5. The OSPCA won't allow new animals to be admitted into the THS.

By order of the court, there can only be a certain number of animals at the THS facility based on how many people are there to care for them. The THS, most likely due to their financial troubles, keeps laying people off. This means that the OSPCA has to cover the salaries for any extra workers required on site. For example, 6 of the 8 vets at the THS right now are paid for by the OSPCA. It is not in the OSPCA mandate to cover the costs of the THS. Until such time that the THS is able to hire more animal care workers, the number of animals allowed in the facility will be limited.

Also, there is a good chance that unless the THS board resigns or is otherwise replaced in fairly short order, the THS will fail as an institution, financially and politically. If that happens, then the OSPCA will be required to take all the animals out of the facility. The OSPCA feels that they can handle the resheltering of around 300 animals but not much more.

6. The OSPCA won't allow any adoption returns.

When someone brings an adoption return back to the THS, the OSPCA considers this an owner surrender and right now they won't allow the THS to take any owner surrenders.

7. The OSPCA spends too much money on legal costs trying to go after the THS.

Disregarding the irony in this accusation, especially if it's coming from a THS supporter, the OSPCA is actually a law enforcement agency as well as an animal welfare organization. An important part of the their mandate is to go after and prosecute animal cruelty cases. Their donors understand this. If their donors have a problem with anything, it's that the OSPCA is spending too much money propping up the THS.

The OSPCA is not a perfect organization. It is fair to criticize their mistakes like their lack of clear communications or the heavy handedness their on-site officers at the THS sometimes have shown towards volunteers and staff (Here's a suggestion: never have officers from a police or military style organization interact with civilians for too long. Their two power structures are incompatible). However, spreading rumours and lies about the OSPCA isn't going to make them into a better organization nor will it ease the plight of the animals in their care, whether it be at the THS or elsewhere. Spreading rumours and lies about the OSPCA isn't about helping animals. It's just about spreading rumours and lies.

Rumours aren't just an inconvenience. They have real life consequences. The anti-Pit Bull law in Ontario was created in part because of baseless rumours about the breed's locking jaws and other such nonsense and has resulted in the deaths of thousands of dogs of all breeds in this province. Even when presented with facts about the non-existence of locking jaws or how Pit Bulls are less aggressive towards people than most other breeds, supporters of the law still turn a blind eye, refusing to listen to anything which might contradict their unsubstantiated beliefs.

The OSPCA would do well to take a closer look at how successful the old THS was at manipulating public opinion with rumours, misleading messages and intimidation of individuals, not so that they can imitate that behaviour themselves but so they know what to watch out for and what to do before those who are carrying on that sleazy tradition turn around and bite them too deep.

A bigger issue, though, and perhaps this should be another post, but whatever - it's not - is that a lot of the recent grumbling coming out of the THS arose because no one has stepped forward with a clear vision for how to lead the THS out of the hole it's in. The original management is carrying on with a few improvements but mostly their attitude towards transparency and accountability is unchanged. The THS board, too full of themselves, hangs on to power so the THS continues to fester instead of resigning in order to allow the THS to heal. The OSPCA is playing its assigned role of police officer and isn't presenting any way forward because that's not in their mandate. Any would-be heirs to the board of directors' table have remained silent on what steps they would actually take to reform the THS. What good will there was after the initial OSPCA raid has vanished and there doesn't seem to be any hope.

For better or worse, most of the people who care about the animals at the THS, don't care about the politics. They don't care about who's carrying the biggest "I lub animals" sign or who's protesting the loudest or who's got the best lawyers and accountants on side or who's got board experience or who doesn't. Maybe they should care about all that stuff, but they don't. What they do care about is who's got a plan to help out the animals, present and future, at the THS.

The THS is sinking and no one has stepped forward with a life boat. Until someone does, I suspect the rumours and criticisms, deserved or not, will continue and maybe get even worse.

Monday, March 22, 2010

OSPCA to hold public meeting to discuss Toronto Humane Society


On Wednesday evening from 7:30 to 9:00 PM, we are inviting staff, volunteers and others interested in animal welfare to join us for an update of our current involvement with the Toronto Humane Society.

We know you appreciate that the Ontario SPCA has policing powers as it pertains to animal welfare in the province of Ontario, under the Ontario SPCA Act. We will not be able to discuss any of the details of our ongoing investigation or comment on the ongoing investigations of the Ministry of Natural Resources or the College of Veterinarians of Ontario.

There are, however, many aspects of animal care where an update may be of interest to you.

For those of you who have expressed concerns, please be aware that this gathering is not intended to be contentious but rather an opportunity to touch base and clarify the current status and next steps.

Please join us on Wednesday, March 24, from 7:30 to 9:00 PM at the Grand Hotel, 225 Jarvis Street and please feel free to ask a friend or two to join you.

We look forward to seeing you.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

PETA makes more meat

(h/t KC Dog Blog)

Imagine if Toronto Animal Services or the OSPCA or even the Toronto Humane Society reported a 97% kill rate for the animals admitted into their facility. Out of, say, 2366 animals, what if they euthanized 2,301 and only found homes for 8. Would you call that a success or a failure? Would you call that agency with the appalling save rate a humane agency or a slaughterhouse?

Would you call it PETA?

For the umpteenth year in a row, PETA has killed off the vast majority of the animals relinquished into its care. The official numbers are reported here. PETA, an organization with a core value of not eating dead animals, sure is good at making meat.

Their excuse is that no one wanted the animals they took in so they had to kill them. You'd think that with a revenue of $34 million in 2009, PETA could have paid someone to post some ads up on Petfinder to help find homes for some of the animals or they even could have just created homes for a few of those dogs and cats instead of blowing their time and cash on frat boy antics like dressing up as KKK members.

PETA is like some UFO suicide cult. They're all too caught up in their bullshit neo-religion, getting wet just fantasizing about their god/leader, Ingrid Newkirk. It's too easy to point out their obvious pathological behaviours and beliefs but that's not going to change the fanatics' minds about how animal death equals animal salvation and all that other crap their gurus feed them. Or maybe injecting healthy pets with death has become for them some kind of sacrifice ritual to their animal rights deity. How did they ever get so twisted?

PETA's new mantra should be "We love animals so much, we just want to kill them all."

For more on how PETA helps animals, check this out.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Cesar - Chocolate Labrador Retriever

For adoption information on Cesar, a Chocolate Labrador Retriever, and other dogs (and cats and other animals), please visit Toronto Animal Services.

Friday, March 19, 2010

JJ - Jack Russell Terrier

For adoption information on J.J., a Jack Russell Terrier, and other dogs (and cats and other animals), please visit Toronto Animal Services.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Chou - Pomeranian

For adoption information on Chou, a petite Pomeranian, and other dogs (and cats and other animals), please visit Toronto Animal Services.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The woman who stomped kittens

This is what happened to her.

The short video made its way around China’s Web in early 2006, passed on through file sharing and recommended in chat rooms. It opens with a middle-aged Asian woman dressed in a leopard-print blouse, knee-length black skirt, stockings and silver stilettos standing next to a riverbank. She smiles, holding a small brown and white kitten in her hands. She gently places the cat on the tiled pavement and proceeds to stomp it to death with the sharp point of her high heel.

“This is not a human,” wrote BrokenGlasses, a user on Mop, a Chinese online forum. “I have no interest in spreading this video nor can I remain silent. I just hope justice can be done.” That first post elicited thousands of responses. “Find her and kick her to death like she did to the kitten,” one user wrote. Then the inquiries started to become more practical: “Is there a front-facing photo so we can see her more clearly?” The human-flesh search had begun.

Human-flesh search engines — renrou sousuo yinqing — have become a Chinese phenomenon: they are a form of online vigilante justice in which Internet users hunt down and punish people who have attracted their wrath. The goal is to get the targets of a search fired from their jobs, shamed in front of their neighbors, run out of town. It’s crowd-sourced detective work, pursued online — with offline results.

There is no portal specially designed for human-flesh searching; the practice takes place in Chinese Internet forums like Mop, where the term most likely originated. Searches are powered by users called wang min, Internet citizens, or Netizens. The word “Netizen” exists in English, but you hear its equivalent used much more frequently in China, perhaps because the public space of the Internet is one of the few places where people can in fact act like citizens. A Netizen called Beacon Bridge No Return found the first clue in the kitten-killer case. “There was credit information before the crush scene reading ‘,’ ” that user wrote. Netizens traced the e-mail address associated with the site to a server in Hangzhou, a couple of hours from Shanghai. A follow-up post asked about the video’s location: “Are users from Hangzhou familiar with this place?” Locals reported that nothing in their city resembled the backdrop in the video. But Netizens kept sifting through the clues, confident they could track down one person in a nation of more than a billion. They were right.

The traditional media picked up the story, and people all across China saw the kitten killer’s photo on television and in newspapers. “I know this woman,” wrote I’m Not Desert Angel four days after the search began. “She’s not in Hangzhou. She lives in the small town I live in here in northeastern China. God, she’s a nurse! That’s all I can say.”

Only six days after the first Mop post about the video, the kitten killer’s home was revealed as the town of Luobei in Heilongjiang Province, in the far northeast, and her name — Wang Jiao — was made public, as were her phone number and her employer. Wang Jiao and the cameraman who filmed her were dismissed from what the Chinese call iron rice bowls, government jobs that usually last to retirement and pay a pension until death.

“Wang Jiao was affected a lot,” a Luobei resident known online as Longjiangbaby told me by e-mail. “She left town and went somewhere else. Li Yuejun, the cameraman, used to be core staff of the local press. He left Luobei, too.” The kitten-killer case didn’t just provide revenge; it helped turn the human-flesh search engine into a national phenomenon.

Read the rest of the article about online vigilantism in China in The New York Times Magazine's article, China's Cyberposse.

Noah - German Shepherd puppy

For adoption information on Noah, a German Shepherd pup, and other dogs (and cats and other animals), please visit Toronto Animal Services

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Cybelle - Yellow Labrador Retriever

For adoption information on Cybelle, a yellow Labrador Retriever, and other dogs (and cats and other animals), please visit Toronto Animal Services

Toronto Humane Society story on MSNBC

"It really did become a hoarder culture," Shiller said.

From MSNBC, Animal shelter turned into a ‘house of horrors’.

But the story they should be writing now is how and when will it turn into a fully functioning shelter again.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Mirko - Shih Tzu

No one knows why Mirko hasn't been taken home yet so I've taken another photo of him in better light to show off just how cute he is. He's a little shy but a sweetie pie.

Update March 16: Adopted!

For adoption information on this Shih Tzu mix and other dogs (and cats and other animals), please visit Toronto Animal Services

Not enough time

I saw Alice in Wonderland last night and I feel like that rabbit always checking my watch, never having enough time, always on the verge of being late. Too many things on the go and not enough brains to go around and get them all done.

I'm afraid this blog is going to take a hit. I feel a need to back away from it a bit anyway, to try to fit in some other projects which have been sitting not too patiently on the backburner.

For the next while, there will be less writing but I'll keep posting daily photos of the new dogs at Toronto Animal Services South. There's lots of them there right now as a bunch more were just rescued from Montreal. The flow of dogs from Quebec, northern Ontario, Ohio isn't going to end any time soon. They all deserve good homes and the good thing is, they'll probably get them.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The alien has landed

And it's a skinny, beady eyed thing who needs a jacket.

For adoption information on this Miniature Pinscher and other dogs (and cats and other animals), please visit Toronto Animal Services

Friday, March 12, 2010

Collie Labrador Beagle Friday review, Mar. 12


Unnamed Golden Retriever


Benny (adopted)

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

UK's dangerous dogs

The Guardian UK online has a Pets section as well as an Animal Welfare section (how many other mainstream online papers have an animal welfare section?) and it's all in an uproar over the proposed mandatory microchipping and carrying of third party insurance for all dogs.

This will result in nice bonuses for insurance company execs and shareholders, more work for animal control, more clogging up the courts, poorer and more pissed off pet owners, way more dogs being killed (from all those people who end up dumping their dogs or having their dogs taken away because they don't meet the legal requirements).

The intended goals of this piece of legislation is to compensate people who are bitten by dogs and to decrease dog bites. Will it do those things? It might help with the compensation. Certainly, lawyers will love the higher settlements but will people who don't bother to train their dogs not to bite bother to carry insurance? Hard to say.

Will the law decrease dog bites? Does compulsory car insurance decrease car accidents? Does car insurance stop drunks from getting behind the wheel? Does it prevent kids from road racing? Or does it make the behaviour worse, giving people a false sense of added security? I'm not sure anyone knows but whether it works or not, you can be sure that innocent dogs will be paying for it with their lives.

London's far away and they've got a different, much more severe, set of problems from us in Ontario but it wouldn't be surprising if some provincial politician or attorney general with a hate on for dogs and out to make a name for himself isn't eyeballing the U.K. law and thinking about how it'll help get him votes and also pal up to the insurance industry at the same time.

Here are some excerpts from The Guardian.

From Dog days:

"With these younger guys around nowadays it's all about status. They see it as a macho thing – don't mess with me or my dog will take your face off in a second. Dogs aren't violent – people train dogs to be violent"

From Dangerous dogs and chips: is it worth the trouble?:

Let's stick to safety today. The fact is that some of the most heavily protected people in the country – by and large the richest – are those that often seem to feel least safe in my experience, because they don't really know what they're afraid of.

From Let's get draconian on the dog problem:

Sadly, unlike the dogs, the law has no teeth. You can't take someone's dog and microchip it without permission, or enter a house, stop the home-breeding and neuter the dogs, and vets can't report dogs injured in fights, and the bad owners know this. So perhaps the government needs to toughen up on dog owners and ignore the whingeing "good" owners who are worried they'll be penalised along with the nasty ones. If they really cared about dogs, they'd want everything possible done to get things under control. Because there's a great deal of cruelty to animals going on out there.

From Are dogs the new weapon of choice for young people?:

David Grant, director of the RSPCA's Harmondsworth hospital in north London, picks up the pieces of irresponsible dog ownership every day. His hospital is full of emaciated staffies that have been abandoned – often in the hospital's reception – by young men who don't want to give their names or pay veterinary bills. Many of the dogs are sick, as their owners haven't had the money or the knowledge to apply for vaccinations. In the worst cases, dogs have been abused by irritated owners or been forced to fight.

In 40 years of practice, Grant, whose veterinary operations were seen by millions on the BBC's Animal Hospital television series, says things have never been so bad, and he has started documenting the worst cases. His computer now hold hundreds of images of dogs that have been shot, stabbed or burnt.

"A typical problem owner will be from an inner-city estate, unemployed, without any educational achievements," he says. "Young males predominate, although the fighters often register the dog in a girlfriend's name." Names such as ­Terror, Chaos, Killer, Ice and Asbo often tell a dog's story, says Grant, as does evidence of ­harnesses – accessories often used to glamorise dogs before gang fights.

But Grant is keen not to sensationalise or oversimplify. He wants to distinguish between "fashion dogs", which are simply part of a craze, and "status dogs", which are bred for offence and defence. "Fashion dogs tend to be staffie crosses that are naturally good-natured, turning nasty only when they suffer abuse, or neglect when their owners get bored," he says. ­"Status dogs, on the other hand, are bred to intimidate. At the worst level, gangs will use them for mascots, muggings, safeguarding territory, and fighting enemies and other dogs."

From My day as a dangerous-dog owner:

The streets of Harlesden are quiet at midday, but there is no question that Duddly, straining at his lead as I dig in my heels – he has amazing traction – constitutes an intimidating presence. People heading in our direction spontaneously cross the road as we approach. Passing cyclists give us a wide berth. It is empowering, I suppose, to be at the helm of something that alarms people so readily. Certainly my own personal safety was the last thing on my mind, although I couldn't say I had time to stop and enjoy the sense of security. I was too worried about what would happen if I let go of the lead.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

What my dogs have to put up with

Every so often, I get the photo lights out and try to take some proper photos of Stella and Rocky, kind of like the equivalent of taking the family to Sears to get portraits done and just like taking the family to Sears, the dogs hate it. They're lucky I don't make them take a bath and get dressed up.

Rocky the Klingon dog

Cookie come hither

I do this mostly so I have a good visual record of them because I know one day, even with as many photos as I may have of them, I won't have enough to bring them back.

One new thing I did this time, is I created a 3D image of Stella as she was lying there suffering mightily for my picture taking. The first image below is normal but if any of you happen to have any of those red blue 3d glasses lying around the house, put them on and the last image should pop out at you.

If you don't have any 3d glasses, there are probably some prescription drugs lying around the house which might help you achieve the same effect but I wouldn't know about that.

As always, you can click on the images to make them larger.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

What I have to put up with

How am I supposed to write anything with this stuck to my leg?

You may be thinking to yourselves that I should just stop whining because having a big dog head glued onto an appendage really isn't such a big deal. Rocky isn't just some passive adornment, though. He's actively using his powers of suggestion to control my left hand into moving towards the top of his head and scratching his ears.

Dogs are a constant test of one's will power.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Hairless eyeball

Barkley looks pretty happy for a dog who's just had the clump of hair growing out of his eyeball surgically scraped off. And from surface appearances, it looks like the hair was growing off to one side of the eye and not in front of the pupil so it's likely Barkley has vision in that eye.

He was doing a lot of blinking when I took him into the daylight so I kept him in the shade. Hopefully, he'll adjust to the added brightness in a few days but if not, a pair of shaded dog goggles might be the answer.

Barkley's update here.

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

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Brampton Animal Services lets owner visit Brittany

Someone up the chain of command at Brampton Animal Services has done the right thing and is allowing the owners of Rambo and Brittany to visit their dogs.

From The Brampton Guardian, Brittany gets a visit:

The City of Brampton has relented and allowed two Brampton families to visit their impounded pups.

Ines Branco and her mother spent a heart-lifting hour with two-year-old Brittany late Friday afternoon at the Brampton Animal Shelter.

Brittany has apparently become quite attached to one of the shelter workers.

Brittany was very familiar with the room they were taken to for their reunion, where the shelter worker has a desk, according to Ines Branco. She was told Brittany sits by the woman’s side while she does computer work during the day.

But the situation overall, is still just sad.

The Brancos were told they could take Brittany for a walk, but they didn’t want Brittany to think she was going home, so they chose to spend time with her inside.

The city never gave any reasons for why the families of the dogs weren't allowed to visit in the first place and no reasons have been given for why they are now allowed to visit. Maybe the city will keep changing their minds on things until they eventually release the dogs back home.

Conclusion (?) here.

Update on Bobby

From Bobby's new owners:

I want to let you know how well I'm doing with my forever family. I am very relaxed with no barking. I have even learned that I shouldn't chase the cats. Jennifer and Ruth walk me a lot so I have met lots of other dogs which I greet quietly but enthusiastically. I've even been on the TTC several times and loved it!

I saw my vet and he says I'm in great health but I did have a seizure early Thursday morning. I had some blood drawn to rule out anything serious. Jennifer tells me not to worry. Lots of dogs get this and never have it again.

I'm really excited because Jennifer has signed me up for dog walking and I get to do group walks 3 times a week. I'll learn even more from my new walking buddies. Also, Jennifer, Ruth and I have met lots of other dog owners and set up some play dates.

I hope you like the picture I sent. It was taken the day I came home. Say hi to Benny for me.