Monday, May 31, 2010

The final numbers in THS elections

Voting results here.

Total Toronto Humane Society members: 2686

Only 29.37% of members voted.

52 ballots disqualified.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The highlight reel

Marcie Laking was the third to speak from the Faces of Change slate. First was Ferne Sinkins who spoke about plans for animal welfare at the Toronto Humane Society, then came Michael Downey who spoke about governance and then came Marcie. Marcie's speech was the rah rah speech. It was the speech that was supposed to bring it all together for Faces of Change.

When she finished, she looked up around her and the clapping started. And it didn't stop. It was like the crowd of around 200 was asking for an encore.

The clapping took so long to die down that it drowned out part of the introductions for the Save the THS slate.

The STHS speeches began with what amounted to a resume reading of all their candidates and went downhill from there.

Afterwards Marcie went around to several of the individuals from the other slate who had been denigrating her and the Faces of Change for the last few weeks with outlandish suppositions and not quite lies. She introduced herself, shook their hands and told them in plain English what she thought of them and their tactics. It was just politics, explained one of them

Which is why FOC won and STHS lost.

The THS membership saw who was passionate about animal welfare at the THS and who was passionate about winning the election.

The volunteers won over the telemarketers.

A few hours later, outside a restaurant a few blocks away from the THS, there were a lot of joyful tears on the sidewalk when the results came back with the news that Faces of Change had won the day. In fact they had won the year, as it was almost exactly one year ago today that Kate Hammer in The Globe and Mail first broke the news about the neglect that was occuring at the THS.

Since then, there have been protests, raids, arrests, animal cruelty charges, trials, animal martyrs, more protests, shelter closure, more cruelty charges, campaigning and finally these elections.

This has been one long journey and the journey's just begun.

The members of the Toronto Humane Society have put their faith in you, Faces of Change.

Do right by the animals.

P.S. I'd like to give a huge shout out to Mel Laking and Lisa Gibbens and the other members of StART (you know who you are and what you're about). Without them, I doubt this victory would have been possible. I look forward to seeing both Mel and Lisa on the board at some point.

In case you haven't heard, there's going to be a brand new day at the Toronto Humane Society!!!!!!!!!!

Faces of Change is in. All 15 board seats. Updates to follow.

Dear Candidates,

The scrutineers have advised that the following candidates have been elected to the board of directors of the Toronto Humane Society:

Elected for a 3-Year Term:

- Johanna Booth
- Jennifer Downe
- Judi King
- Peter Newell
- Ferne Sinkins

Elected for a 2-Year Term:

- Karen Nasir
- Linda Mackinnon
- Marcie Laking
- Wendy Strickland
- Michael Downey

Elected for a 1-Year Term:

- Crystal Tomusiak
- Garnet Pratt Siddall
- Ian Wintrip
- Kimberly Cohen
- Tom Ungar

The Honourable Sydney L. Robins

The Toronto Star article is here.

Toronto Humane Society election day

In few hours we'll know who will be on the board of the Toronto Humane Society. As one final post before the main event this afternoon I thought I'd share with you a letter Marcie Laking, one of the candidates running on the Faces of Change slate, wrote to Scott Brownrigg at Sussex Strategy Group who was listed as the contact person at the bottom of a particularly disingenuous piece of electioneering propaganda put out by the Save the THS slate.

Here is the original Save the THS communication (I have removed Mr. Brownrigg's contact info) followed by Marcie's letter:

Toronto, May 28, 2010 – The following is a statement on behalf of the 13 people running for election to the Toronto Humane Society’s Board of Directors as part of the Save the THS team:

“The actions undertaken by the OSPCA today are a calculated interference in the current campaign to elect a new Board of Directors for the Toronto Humane Society.

The OSPCA has had six months to complete its investigation and take any additional action it deemed necessary. With only a day left in that mandate, and just four days before the board election meeting, the OSPCA has chosen to blatantly interfere in the democratic process.

The OSPCA’s actions are a desperate attempt to prop up their favoured slate which has run a month-long smear campaign against its opponents. In addition we feel it’s a cynical political move to deflect attention away from the OSPCA’s recent management of the ring worm crisis at the York Region branch.

The OSPCA has long cooperated with the leadership of the other major slate running in the election process. Just today in the Globe and Mail, reporter Kate Hammer reported that Faces of Change “partnered with the OSPCA to have the old leadership thrown out.”

The question needs to be raised again. Who is policing the OSPCA? As the Save the THS slate said last week ‘the OSPCA should be one of charity or police force, but not both.’ Save the THS is again calling on the provincial government to enact amendments to existing legislation to ensure there is proper oversight, governance and accountability concerning the enforcement of animal welfare.

Clearly today’s actions by the OSPCA on behalf of their confidants should not be allowed to happen. It is simply an abuse of power.”

For more information:
Scott Brownrigg

Here is Marcie's letter:

Hi Scott,

We spoke briefly the other day when I called you to obtain more information about the inaccurate statements you published on the STTHS website about the Faces of Change & the OSPCA.

I’m going to go ahead and assume that you were too busy to call me back like you said you would the other day. I feel it’s important for me to point a few things out to you.

Animals at the Toronto Humane Society were suffering. I don’t know if you are an animal lover but I do know that people in general are good and would not defend animal abusers. Also, I’d like to assume that you are unaware of the neglect that was rampant inside the THS otherwise you would not of attacked the Faces of Change slate for trying to help the animals inside the shelter.

Filing a complaint with the OSPCA (along with the CRA, CVO, MNR & OPGT) hardly makes me an OSPCA “confidant” and I certainly hadn’t “partnered with the OSPCA to have the old leadership thrown out.” My involvement in reforming the THS has always been about the animals and doing whatever I could to help them.

Out of the 15 members on our slate only 5 of us had anything at all to do with the investigation. That is not our entire slate nor is it even a majority. It’s also not something we’re ashamed of. What would you have done if you knew that defenceless animals were being mistreated? Would you have turned a blind eye or would of stepped up and done everything you could to stop it?

I am not an affiliate, a volunteer, a member, or a donor of the OSPCA. What you seem to be missing is the fact that the OSPCA came into the THS and charged the people who were responsible for countless cases of neglect and countless cage deaths with animal abuse. If people like myself had not taken a stand against something that was wrong on many levels and if the staff and volunteers had not asked the OSPCA to step in then this abuse would still be happening today. This is not about the OSPCA and our personal views on the organization. This is about the animals that were under the roof of the THS that needed help.

While your company was being paid by the THS to implement a public relations crisis management strategy about the neglect inside the shelter, people like myself were inside the shelter doing whatever we could to help ease the stress and bring about proper standards of care for the animals.

I hope that wrongful attacks like the one you posted on the STTHS website do not cause people who witness animal neglect in the future to hesitate reporting it to the proper authorities for fear of repercussions. I did what was right and for you or anyone else to throw it in my face is shameful.

I hope that in the future you use due diligence before you sign your name to a press release on a topic that you clearly know nothing about.


Marcie Laking

These letters speak volumes as to what this election has come down to: professional political strategists who can't be bothered to discuss the real issues vs. concerned and outraged animal welfare volunteers who can.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Toronto Humane Society elections - 2 days to go

I'm guessing that the majority of Toronto Humane Society members who are going to vote have already voted while the remaining keeners will be going to the Special General Meeting to listen to the candidates for the board of directors speak before casting their ballots. By Sunday evening the election will all be over.

Thank God.

These past weeks of politicking have brought out some particularly low blows and only goes to show that the most disreputable animal is a political animal - and we can all become political animals given the right circumstances. The most outrageous deceits were carried out on Facebook - no surprise there - one with independent candidate Margaret Ann Johnson concocting all sorts of ludicrous fantasies tying the OSPCA to Faces of Change, and another with someone impersonating Michelle Wasylyshen of the Save the THS slate and implicating herself with ties to Tim Trow and friends. Even though the judge stated in the court settlement in no uncertain terms that denigrating other candidates would not be allowed, his words didn't carry much weight with the election supervisor who saw the flying accusations as all part of the process.

Even when an obvious abuse of privacy came up when the STHS slate used members' e-mails addresses inappropriately, the election supervisor only sent out some minor verbage. In other words, there were no rules and it was getting to be like the Wild West of campaigning out there. Another week and I wouldn't be surprised if gunfights at noon started occuring.

Save the THS has a strong governance platform, not surprising given the expertise and interests of the candidates on its slate. It even mentions a whistleblower policy which is quite good if not somewhat ironic given how STHS is constantly harping on about how too many members of the Faces of Change slate complained too loudly about the past conditions at the THS under the old board.

While governance was sorely lacking at the old THS and establishing proper governance will be of great importance at the new THS, an animal welfare agency isn't just about governance. While STHS arguably may have a better handle on governance issues (I say "may" because I'm not an expert), the heart and soul of the THS belongs to the Faces of Change slate. They are the ones who will put the animals in highest regard. The currency in animal welfare is not dollars or property or position. The currency in animal welfare is compassion and Faces of Change has got compassion to spare.

Some would accuse them of being too compassionate about animals but I say you can't be compassionate enough and being compassionate doesn't mean you can't think logically at the same time. Those two attributes are not mutually exclusive.

I'm not going to go into all the reasons why I support Faces of Change, as I've already done that in a previous post, and I hope they do well on Sunday. Having said that, I believe that regardless of which slate or combination of individuals wins the elections, the Toronto Humane Society will be a much better place than it was. The question is how much better. A new board of directors can build a decent shelter, decent enough to dress up someone's resume certainly, or they can create an amazing shelter that will be a great and lasting refuge for innumerable animals and a model for shelters all over North America.

This will depend on the dedication and ability to work together of each individual on the new board. I don't envy them their work. It will be a long, hard slog and, courtesy of the old board, we've seen what can happen to them on a personal level if they fail. Ideally, these fifteen individuals will be able to forget about the politics and roll up their sleeves and get to work bettering the situation for animals in Toronto.

Forget about the politics?

Yeah, right.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Thirty-eight new charges laid against Toronto Humane Society directors

OSPCA press release, Thirty-eight new charges laid against Toronto Humane Society directors:

Animal cruelty charges under the Provincial Offences Act relate to 2009 investigation of the THS

Markham, ON (May 27, 2010) - The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Ontario SPCA) have laid 38 additional charges of animal cruelty against 14 former directors of the Toronto Humane Society under the Provincial Offences Act.

Those charged are: Former THS president Tim Trow, current president Bob Hambley, as well as Stephen Dooley, Brenda Hind, Sandi Hudson, Pamela Inglis, Alan Johnson, Valarie Jones, Carol Lupovich, Patricia McIlhone, Joan Milne, Laure Overton, Delores Quasim, and Wilfred (Bud) Walters.

These charges stem from the Ontario SPCA investigation into animal cruelty and mismanagement at the THS, and are in addition to Criminal Code charges against six former THS staff members, including Mr. Trow.

These latest charges are based on allegations that 38 animals were found to be in distress by veterinarians when the Ontario SPCA executed its search warrant on the THS on Nov. 26, 2009. As directors of the corporation running the THS, the accused are responsible for the alleged actions that led to the distress of the animals under their care.

Bob Hambley is still running for the board of directors of the Toronto Humane Society. He supports the Save the THS slate and is hoping to fill one of the two vacancies STHS is leaving open if they get voted in.

The THS animal welfare oriented slate, Faces of Change, strongly opposes the re-election of Bob Hambley because of the seriousness of the charges against him. Faces of Change wants to sever all ties with the old board and their animal cruelty related charges.

This post reads like electioneering for the FOC slate because that's basically what it is although I realize anyone who's still going to vote for Hambley at this point isn't going to be swayed by any amount of argument.

TAS South dogs in review May 27

Scrappy's kind of a dumb name for a dog hoping to get adopted so I hope someone changes it because Scrappy isn't scrappy at all. This Cocker Spaniel is super friendly, at least with people, and didn't seem to have any problems with the couple of dogs we passed on our walk.

Scrappy - Cocker Spaniel

Six months old and all the way from Portugal, Poncha is an amiable Chow Chow who, I'm told, has a bit of a bark which is why her owner gave her up after moving into a condo.

Poncha - Chow Chow

Hugo will make an ideal family dog. I have no doubt he'll be quickly adopted if he isn't already.

Hugo - German Shepherd cross

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

Something to read

Excellent article from New York Magazine, The Rise of Dog Identity Politics

And the dog can even tell you whether or not you’re a good person. A 1999 study found that people who strongly dislike dogs score significantly higher on the measure of anal character and lower on the empathy scale of the California Psychological Inventory, indicating “that people who liked dogs have less difficulty relating to people.”

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Toronto Humane Society accepting animals June 1

Is the transformation done?

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

From the Toronto Humane Society website.

Admissions Policy

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

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

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

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

You will be required to:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unnamed Great Dane

unnamed Great Dane

It's not often I see a Great Dane up for adoption at Toronto Animal Services South. In fact, I don't think I've ever seen a Great Dane up for adoption at TAS South. This girl came in with someone who claimed her mother found the dog. When asked for the mom's phone number, the woman said she didn't know it. When asked for her mom's address, the woman said she didn't know it. When asked for the woman's own phone number, the woman said she didn't know it, that it was on her cell phone which was back at her car.

I'm not sure if this is a purebred Dane or not. She's big enough - about the same height as Stella but skinnier.

She's also very timid. And she unfortunately growls when stangers approach her. That can be pretty disconcerting coming from a dog her size but Stella can sometimes be the same way so I know what that's about. She just wants the introductions to slow down.

It took a few minutes of leash walking and slow and gentle attention to gain her trust and then she was lovely.

She was probably a backyard dog. No leash manners (but not bad on a leash nevertheless), filthy, insecure around people and other dogs (she hid behind my legs when a Cocker Spaniel walked by). She's going to require some work and by someone who's hopefully familiar with the breed. This all means she might be difficult to adopt out but with time and dedication, I'm sure her inner shine will come bursting through.

Michael Bryant in the clear

So do you think Michael Bryant woke up yesterday morning and thought to himself, "Hmm, maybe this whole innocent until proven guilty spiel isn't just a bunch of bullshit I've been spouting for my whole life and it actually has some merit. Maybe I should revisit that law of mine which has killed all those thousands of innocent dogs in Ontario and disrupted the lives of thousands of equally innocent families. Maybe the fact that the public judged me before I had my day in court will impress upon me the importance of fairness and justice in our legal system. Maybe I will be a better man after all this and fight for the unjustly accused and killed. Maybe ... I'd better call my publicist first and see what they think."

All charges against Michael Bryant dropped.

From The Globe and Mail, Bryant cleared of both charges in cyclist’s death.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Update on Luscious the matte cat

In the few months I've known Marcie Laking, I've seen her involved in the rescue of several dogs. It was a bit of a surprise then when she called me last week and told me she was going to foster Luscious, the matte cat. She picked Luscious up on Saturday from Toronto Animal Services South and here is her first update:

I thought I write you a note about my new foster who’s name is now Fred. I picked him up the day after you posted about him & he didn’t make a sound the whole ride home. As you posted, his owner died and he wasn't found for a long time. I can’t imagine how terrible that must have been. While he is a little depressed because of his new surroundings & recent huge life changes, he does purr & rolls over for belly rubs every time I walk by. His mattes are gone & he’s left with a funky haircut but he also has fatty liver, URI & is anorexic.

He comes with some baggage:

A task like this might not be everyone’s cup of tea but I’m hoping that with sub Q fluids, force-feeding multiple times a day, eye meds & anti-biotics he’ll start eating on his own & then we can work on getting him on a diet.

For now his eating habits are a matter of life & death. It was clearly explained to me that he might have to be put down because his refusal to eat will lead to more liver issues & jaundice. All I can do is try & make him happy & hope I can stimulate his appetite. In an ideal world he’d just eat. Then he’d be adopted by a family who is looking for a handsome sweetheart just like him & he’d live a long healthy life.

I sat outside with him for an hour yesterday & brushed him out, he was loving every second of sunshine. I’ve got a good feeling about him. He doesn’t have a mean bone in his body & he’s really just grateful for every second of attention he gets. Paws crossed the next few days go well for him.

Marcie is one of the candidates running for a seat on the board of directors for the Toronto Humane Society. She is on the Faces of Change slate.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Bentley - Beagle

Bentley - Beagle

I was walking some dogs at Toronto Animal Services South this afternoon when I saw another dog walker standing by some bushes. She was holding one end of a leash and the other end disappeared into the scrub. I walked over and moved aside some branches and peaked in and saw a Beagle in there, hiding. He didn't want to come out. He was fine where he was.

Bentley is originally from Ohio. He was wandering around in Wayne National Forest when he was captured in a live trap by a hoarder. From the hoarder, he was brought into a rescue the summer of 2009. There, people passed him by for months until it was arranged to send him to TAS South last week to see if he'll have better luck up here in Toronto.

Bentley is a very shy dog around people but he loves dogs. He's learning from other dogs that being around people isn't such a scary thing but there's still work to be done. You can tell, though, that he's going to be a superb dog one day with the right owner. He's not one of those growly shy dogs. He's just shy. Go slow with him and soon enough he'll be nuzzling you for more ear rubs.

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

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Update on Mary Lou

Photos sent from Mary Lou's (now Imli) new owners:


Looks to me like she's doing just fine.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Pet politics on TVO

In case you missed it:

Matte cat needs home

From Laura, a volunteer at Toronto Animal Services South, who writes the blog Feathers, Fur & The Occasional Fang, :

The cat's owner died and wasn't found for a long time. We don't know how the cat survived, but when he was finally found, he was so badly covered in mattes it looked like kittens clinging to him (first photo). The cat is around 8 years old, neutered and declawed, but he's also dangerously obese. They can't do any dentistry cleaning because he might not survive anaesthesia. The shelter did a geriatric blood profile on him, and there are some concerns that they'd have to discuss with potential adopters. Mostly the problem's with his liver. If he is adopted, the new owner will need to try to help the cat lose weight, and he'll need another blood test in about 6 weeks.

Right now, he's got an Upper Respiratory Infection. He's on antibiotics, but he's stopped eating and this has posed another huge risk to his health. The vet will discuss all risks and concerns with potential adopters.

This seems like a lot of trouble, but this cat is the sweetest old boy. When the mattes were shaved, he just sat there and purred. He rolls over, loves to be brushed, and comes when you call him. He's super sweet and he's had such a hard, sad time. When I went in to take his photo, he started purring as soon as he saw me, and didn't stop until I left. We just want this cat to live out the rest of his life well-loved and happy.

The shelter will waive the adoption fee for him, and just sell a $15 licence. The new owners shouldn't feel obligated to put in thousands of dollars to help the cat live longer, just to do their best, keep him comfortable, and give him love. If he needs to be euthanized in the future, he can be brought back to the shelter. It's a lot to ask, but he's a sweetheart and deserves it.

I attached some photos, before and after he was shaved. If you could post him asap, that would be fantastic, because if they can't find an adopter/foster soon, the vet is recommending he be put down instead of kept at the shelter.

The cat has just been named Luscious and his id number is 547168. The update on his status is that he will not be euthanized unless his health deteriorates to the point where a good outcome is unlikely but I'm guessing that spending anymore time in a cage in a shelter won't help with any possible recovery.

For more information on Luscious please contact Toronto Animal Services South at 416 338 6668 and ask to speak to Jen, Natalie or one of the vets.

Update on Luscious here.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Watch this tonight at 8

Sorry for the late notice.

The Agenda with Steve Paikin on TVO at 8 p.m.

Pet Politics

Recent events at both the Toronto Humane Society and the Newmarket OSPCA raise the question 'what is the right time to euthanize an animal?' Is there a fine line between the humane treatment of animals and cruelty?

Faces of Change candidate Hanna Booth will be on the show along with Kate Hammer (Globe and Mail), Brian Shiller (OSPCA) and Liz White (Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party of Canada).

You can leave comments for the show here.

THS kitten nursery to stay open

Today, volunteers got a letter from Bob Hambley, president of the Toronto Humane Society, concerning yesterday's notice about closing the kitten nursery.

Dear Volunteer,

Helping abandoned kittens is an important part of operations at the shelter. We have helped thousands of kittens survive and adopted them into new loving forever homes.

Many new policies and procedures have been recommended by the experts at UC Davis. We are excited to have the opportunity to work with them and apply their expertise to the running of our shelter.

No final decisions have been made regarding the in-house kitten nursery, staff have made no such recommendation to the Board.

All recommendations from UC Davis, including the in-house kitten nursery, in the THS revitalization plan are able to be reviewed at the discretion of the new Board of Directors which is set to be elected on May 30th.

Personally, I strongly support the continuation of the kitten nursery program including the return to 24 hour operations at the shelter.

There will be many changes at the THS that will positively benefit the animals and we are pleased you are part of this process as we move forward together.

Thank you.


Bob Hambley
Toronto Humane Society

Thank you very much Mr. Hambley for reconsidering this issue.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

CP24 live discussion with both THS slates' reps

That would be Michelle Wasylyshen for the Save the THS slate and Dr. Johanna Booth for the Faces of Change slate.

Well, I was going to do a write-up about it but it looks like it's already been done at Red Star Cafe, Mudwrestling.

My impression from watching the segment was that Michelle really wants to win the election and Hanna really wants to help animals.

Toronto Humane Society decision could leave hundreds of kittens homeless

And dead.

I'll let Jennifer Downe, a long time volunteer at the Toronto Humane Society explain via her e-mail:

I just received this devastating news from the THS. They have decided to permanently close the kitten nursery at THS.

The THS kitten nursery offered a home to immature kittens who required around the clock care (as we witnessed last night with Karen), along with vets and technicians to care for these vulnerable little creatures. Newborn kittens need to be bottle fed every 2 hours for the first weeks of their lives, slowly moving up to every 4 hours. Without this around the clock care to abandoned kittens, they will die.

A properly run kitten nursery will help a far more immature kittens survive, rather than solely relying on a fostering program. Yes, fostering is far preferable to staying in the shelter, but the nature of kitten feeding makes it better suited to a team approach with dedicated reliable volunteers to accommodate an every 2 hour feeding schedule. Fostering immature kittens is a huge commitment - you need to commit to be home to feed them every 2 hours - how many people can do this?? By shutting down the nursery, they have astronomically diminished the number of animals we can help (each kitten season (May - Sept) there are literally hundreds of kittens in the shelter at any given time) as I sincerely doubt we can find this many foster parents (it's a very select group of individuals who can help in kitten fostering- people who work from home, retirees and people who are not currently employed who can be available 24 hours a day). The nursery can be properly run - when James was the volunteer coordinator, he managed the nursery by ensuring he had committed volunteers and held them accountable to their designated shifts. We should be preserving this amazing place and committing more resources to it - not shutting it down.

I don't know of another kitten nursery in Toronto, so without it I feel there is little hope for abandoned kittens. Clearly I am extremely disappointed by this decision on a personal level, however I am more upset because I am confident that it means that abandoned kittens will die.

I am desperately hopeful that there is something our group can do about this terrible decision.

By "our group", Jennifer is referring to the Faces of Change slate for which she is a candidate in the upcoming THS elections.

Meanwhile in other THS election news:

From The Toronto Sun, Who polices the animal cops?:

David Turnbull, a former Conservative solicitor general and a member of Save the THS (Toronto Humane Society), said the tragedy in York Region [OSPCA] pointed out a fundamental flaw in the system.

“Clearly, we have a responsibility to look after animals,” he said. “We want the government to join with all of the opposition parties in developing these laws so that we don’t have a recurrence of (the Newmarket shelter situation).”

And also from The Sun, THS supports changes to OSPCA:

When contacted Tuesday, THS president Bob Hambley said the society called for the OSPCA’s powers to be kept in check two years ago.

“Mr. Klees’ proposal for oversight and controls into the unchecked policing powers of the Ontario SPCA is something that the THS, as well as many other individuals and organizations, requested of the government 2008,” Hambley said.

“Furthermore, we strongly support Mr. Klees in his call for an independent investigation to get answers and determine what went wrong and who is responsible at the OSPCA and led to the plan to euthanize 350 animals for a treatable condition.”

Boys, as much as I'd like to see the OSPCA being held more accountable, you might want to consider fixing what's wrong in your own backyard before buggering around in someone else's.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Toronto Humane Society elections - updated

The melodrama over the Toronto Humane Society elections went into overdrive these last few days with a couple of communiques just sent out. One was an email written by Bob Hambley and the other was from someone or some people who obviously don't like Bob Hambley very much - at least they don't like the idea of him being on the THS board.

Bob really should change his name to Bobo the Clown-O because he makes people laugh so. If you don't know, Hambley is a cohort of Tim Trow who's already been on the Toronto Humane Society board for eons and he's running for re-election again because I guess he figures he hasn't done enough for the place. You'd think that someone who has been charged with animal cruelty (not proven in court yet) would take a step back, if not for his own good then at least for the good of the THS with respect to regaining the public trust.

I had this whole super snarky thing written up about the ludicrousness of Hambley's e-mail blast to the THS membership (though not quite as ludicrous as the innuendos spouted by another ex-board member hoping to get re-elected - won't get into that here) but I've nixed it because I was getting a stomache ache writing about it. Suffice it to say, Hambley basically takes personal credit for most everything positive that's happened at the THS recently - and it ain't much from what I hear - and disparages the hell out of the Faces of Change slate.

Anyway, whatever I write can't possibly outdo the other mail out I got. Much of this other mail out is a compiled list of allegations against the THS under the old regime's watch. Social Mange has got it up and you can read it here.

It reads like a horror show. Here are some excerpts:

THS Veterinary Technician Jessica Newall

"One person to do the feeding of approximately 200 baby squirrels and raccoons ... she states that animals were not getting fed ... and were constantly crying because of hunger and they were dying due to starvation"

"Animals are brought in that should be euthanized but are left to die in cages."

Dr. Vivian Ungar

"As a veterinarian at the THS, I have witnessed numerous animals ... that were in distress and suffered needlessly because they were cared for by veterinary assistants who lacked the proper professional qualifications and are improperly trained."

"In my expeience as a veterinarian at the THS, it is very common to find animsls suffering in cages and dying slow, agonizing deaths ..."

"... countless cases in which animals being housed at THS were found in extreme distress, and suffering from medical conditions that could have been prevented ..."

Former THS Veterinary Technician Lindsay Neilson

"When you're a 16 year old cat dying of renal failure, and you've lost patches of fur, and you can't get up, and you go to the bathroom all over yourself, and you're just lying in your cage, no one comes to see you for days ... you can't even lift your head into your bowl to eat, these are the times that you do need to euthanize. Unfortunately, a lot of these animals are not euthanized and they die slowly in their crates, and five days later they're found."

THS Senior Administrator Laura Hendy

"When referring to adoptions versus deaths in cages and the misrepresentation and concealment of facts the witness makes the following statements "He (Tim Trow) has told me himself to play with the numbers until it comes out the way it should""

And on and on. Not a worthy legacy for Hambley and his board if these allegations are proven true in court.

Hambley openly supports the Save the THS slate. If I were on the STHS slate, I'm not sure I'd want his support with allegations like that floating around. He's got this plan in his head where he's going to partner up with the Save the THS slate and ride their wave back onto his throne. I don't know what the STHS people think about that but last I heard and read, the STHS claims no affiliation with Hambley so someone's not getting their messaging correct. Either STHS isn't telling the truth about their non-affiliation with Hambley or Hambley is trying to cuddle up to a team that is publicly denying anything to do with him.


I haven't been writing about the upcoming THS elections because the drama for the last couple of weeks hasn't been over which side has got the best animal welfare platform but over who's got the best political machinery to win the election.

That's the problem with having slates which are basically political parties. Everything gets hyper politicized and instead of issues coming to the forefront, it's strategy that wins the day. I really wish that the politicos over at Save the THS had never come up with the slate idea in the first place but I guess being politicians and politcal strategists, that's what they're comfortable with. Because they decided to run a slate, it forced the other major candidates to form slates as well. Power in a group and all that.

Here are my problems with slates:

1. Monothink - on the one hand this might be good for moving actionable items along but too often it also becomes a repressive force where dissenting voices are told to keep quiet and toe the party line.

2. It makes the process become more like a competitive sporting event. Individual egos are enough of a problem but group egos are titanic. People who have no reason being opponents (especially in this case where, for the most part, everyone is fighting for the same cause) find themselves on opposing sides of an artificially created fence. Too much energy goes into winning this team competition and not enough goes into deciding who are the best individual candidate suited for solving the problems of animal homelessness.

3. Weaker links on each slate get a free ride. There are strong candidates on both the Faces of Change slate and the Save the THS slate but there are also not so strong candidates. If members vote by slate, and many probably will, they will be ushering in the not-so-brilliant candidates along with the exceptional ones.

4. Individual candidates get shafted. Individuals who are not aligned with a slate generally won't have the same shared resources as the slates where candidates can pool their resources for campaigning. This is obviously the case in these elections with both FOC and STHS sending out mailings to members which would have cost thousands of dollars and days of work. I doubt most, if any, of the independents will be able to do this.

Be that as it may, we're stuck with slates so I'm just complaining to the wind here.


From what I understand, THS members don't necessarily have to pick a complete slate. They have the option to cast support behind individual candidates. That's what I would do. There are some amazing people on both slates who I think would be of huge benefit to the THS. Will the members have time enough to individually research each of the over thirty candidates? I doubt it. I suspect the majority will vote by slate.

If I had to pick a slate, hands down I would pick Faces of Change. Here are my reasons:

1. Most importantly Faces of Change has a well researched animal welfare policy (Faces of Change - Animal Welfare Plan). Save the THS has got a few points they've put up on their website but it's not nearly as comprehensive. I want to know that people on the slate care enough about animals at the THS to have put in the hours educating themselves and coming up with solutions to end animal homelessness.

2. There is a better balance between animal welfare oriented candidates and business oriented candidates on the Faces of Change slate, almost fifty/fifty. I believe you need both on a board. The business people bring in much needed funds and organizational skills. The animal welfare people ensure best practices are followed for helping homeless animals.

3. The combined THS experience the candidates on the Faces of Change slate bring to the table is very impressive. They've got on the ground experience and know what the problems and strengths are at the THS. I would never vote for anyone who bragged about their lack of THS experience and their lack of a plan and I think it's a mistake for STHS to be promoting this as a positive with regards to their slate. Would you vote, hire or entrust something important to a group who has less direct experience and barely a plan?

4. There are several members of the Faces of Change of slate who have spent much time and energy in helping the THS become a better place for animals and I know those people will continue to do so whether or not they get elected to the board. That shows real dedication to the cause. Most of the STHS slate aren't even members of the THS and I'm not so sure would contribute anything to the shelter if they are not elected to the board. I hope they prove me wrong.

5. It's possible that the STHS slate will say that since a board should be hands off the actual day to day running of a shelter, the directors don't actually need hands on experience. This is basically implying that any group of managers can manage anything equally well from a soap factory to an animal shelter. Sorry but I disagree. An animal shelter is not a soap factory. Experience and specific knowledge about the task at hand is always preferable. Faces of Change has got that experience and that knowledge. I can't say the same for STHS.

Also, it must be taken into consideration that the THS is not a well functioning agency. In fact, it needs a lot rebuilding. Sure any board can go out and hire someone to do the rebuilding but how are they going to know who to hire if they don't themselves understand the problems that need to be resolved and the way in which those problems need to be resolved.

It's like hiring a general contractor for the reno of your house. You may not be doing the work yourself but it's always advantageous to know how the work should be done properly before signing someone up to do the job.

6. Faces of Change doesn't have old guard Bob Hambley rooting for them.

The one big criticism lobbed against the Faces of Change slate is their connection with the OSPCA. It's well known that several of the members supported the OSPCA's actions when that organization raided the THS late last year precipitating all that has happened there since, including these elections. Supporting the raid, though, does not equate with supporting the OSCPA's animal welfare policies in general. I supported the raid. I do not support their animal welfare policies. Several members of the Faces of Change slate have been and still are very vocal opponents of the animal welfare policies of the OSPCA.

It's also rather disingenuous for any candidate (well except for those old board members seeking re-election) or slate to wholly disparage the role the OSPCA played at the THS. Without them, there wouldn't even be any elections so all the candidates have benefited equally from the OSCPA forcing the old board out.

Whatever happens, whoever gets voted onto the new board can't but do a much better job than the old board. The quality of all the candidates is in general very high. These are pretty much all individuals who are successful, ambitious and have got reputations to maintain. I can't see them bowing to any of the old shenanigans the THS was known for regardless of whether or not any of the old board members get re-elected.

Whoever wins, the animals at the THS will be better off.



1. The Save the THS has added as one of their priorities a demand that the OSPCA be separated into two agencies, an animal welfare agency and a separate policing agency, as there is a conflict of interest when it essentially polices itself. This is a great idea if the practicalities of setting up two agencies can be worked out. However, I'm not quite sure why this is a THS election issue. Shouldn't a new board be more concerned with getting their own house in order first considering what a mess it's in? Check out STHS' news headlines on their website:

Sun: Who Polices The Animal Cops?

Save the THS Calls on Province to Clean Up Problems with Animal Welfare Enforcement

Save the THS Slate To Province: Separate Regulator and Operator

‘Save The THS’ Saddened By Events At The York Region OSPCA

Save the THS – a new team for a new Toronto Humane Society

Four out of five attack the OSPCA with the one lone heading that actually talks about the STHS. This is obviously an attention grabber to get some political points and I certainly hope that starting a war right off the bat with another animal welfare agency isn't indicative of the STHS' priorities because that does smell too much like the old board's tactics.

And yes, there are other major headlines out there to grab if the STHS were actually in tune with animal welfare issues in Ontario and truly concerned about disseminating news regarding those issues, like the movement to improve animal cruelty laws, for example, after the recent discovery and later euthanasia of a dog tortured and dumped in Windsor.

2. Wednesday night, I'm told, there is going to be a live debate broadcast on CP24 at 9 (but check your listings to make sure about this) between an FOC candidate and an STHS candidate. While I enjoy a lively debate, I suspect that STHS is going to stick David Turnbull, their spokesperson, in front of the camera to rep their side because he's a seasoned pro, being a politician and all, and if he's a good politician, he'll be able to talk his way around anything and come out sounding good but saying nothing. Let's hope substance wins over style tomorrow night.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Euthanasias done at Newmarket OSPCA - well, at least until they open up again

I can't believe I'm actually linking to The Toronto Sun but they're doing a decent job on covering both sides of the story on this one.

OSPCA sparks more protest:

On the flip side, Sykes argues the mass euthanasia of 350 animals at the Ontario Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals’ Newmarket shelter would have saved 2,000 animals. This is the number of animals which would have be dropped off at the shelter and adopted over the next four months. Now that the shelter is closed to the public and is under lock-down, no animals can be dropped off and adopted out.On the flip side, Sykes argues the mass euthanasia of 350 animals at the Ontario Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals’ Newmarket shelter would have saved 2,000 animals. This is the number of animals which would have be dropped off at the shelter and adopted over the next four months. Now that the shelter is closed to the public and is under lock-down, no animals can be dropped off and adopted out.

Now I'm not sure what that 2000 number stands for. Is that the number of animals dropped off or the number of animals saved because they're two very different things. I think the save rate is about 50% so that would mean either 4000 animals would've been brought in and 2000 adopted or 2000 animals would've been brought in and 1000 adopted out.

Either way that's still a lot of dead animals.

As much as some people like to denigrate the No-kill movement, there's some very handy advice from those quarters when it comes to saving animals and the main one is that it takes a community to save lives. This has been borne true this past week with the community stepping forward to help take in the animals the OSPCA would have otherwise put down.

Let's hope some hard lessons (hard on the dead animals) were learned here about how important it is establish and keep networks into the community if shelters want to lower their kill rates.

I know the OSPCA say that they did a call out to vets earlier on asking for their help before the decision to cull all the animals in the facility was made - and they got no response - but the idea isn't to ask for help at the last minute when the situation is already desperate but to create those networks beforehand and keep them strong all year round so that they are there when needed.

OSPCA lays off workers:

After 102 animals were euthanized last week, the shelter was emptied of the last remaining animals Friday, forcing the charity to layoff staff Monday, Cross said.

“That’s because we have no animals for them to care for,” she said.

Around 15 animals are still on the property in temporary shelters outside the main building. Those pets arrived at the shelter after the ringworm outbreak.

Cross said rumours on social networking websites that the layoffs occurred so three dogs could be euthanized were false.

“We’re not planning on euthanizing any dogs,” she said.

And finally, here's a link to a thoughtful post on the blog GoLightly Facts + Fiction called Letter to John Tory re: OSPCA which calls on people to get off the anti-OSCPA bandwagon. If you follow the link and read the post and decide to comment, please be respectful.

Card and heart

Regina, one of the readers of this blog sent Stella a beautiful hand silk screened card with one of her original prints on it along with a crafted heart.

(click on images to enlarge)

In the card she wrote:

Dear Stella, I understand your heart is in need of some assistance so I'm sending you some extra hearts to help, come what may.

Thank you so much Regina!

You can see more of Regina's wonderful work here and here.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Mary Lou - Jack Russell Terrier

Mary Lou is Jack Russell Terrier but she's more like a mini me version of a Jack Russell Terrier. I never knew they made them so small. She's a puppy mill rescue and has spent the first eight years of life in a miserable cage but will spend the rest of her life with a couple of wonderful adopters who will be picking her up and taking her home as soon as she gets her last vaccinations.

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

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Pill popping

Stella is on a steady diet of drugs because of her dilated cardiomyopathy. I expect this to be a preview of my own life when I hit post retirement except you can be damn sure my pill cocktail will include more of the recreational variety.

Sotalol is for keeping her heart rate steady. Sotalol is given at a dosage of one quarter tablet every 12 hours.


Pimobendan is the only one of the bunch made specifically for dogs which I have to buy at the vet's office. All the others can be bought at a regular drug store as they are human meds. I wouldn't be surprised if this one becomes a human med once enough dogs have been subjected to it and it's deemed safe (already being used by people in Japan). Pimobendan is a bit of a wonder drug. It makes the heart's muscles more efficient at pumping and increases the survival time of most dogs with DCM by several months. Stella gets three capsules of Pimobendan every 12 hours.


Benazepril seems to be only available these days as a brand name drug, Lotensin, which means it costs way more than it would otherwise. Benazepril lowers blood pressure to ease the strain on the heart. Benazepril is one tablet every 12 hours.


Furosemide is a diuretic which helps keep Stella's lungs clear of fluid build up. Without this drug, Stella would basically drown. Unfortunately, it also makes her drink a lot of water, three or four times more than normal and of course that means many more washroom breaks. Stella's always also had a slight problem with incontinence because she was spayed too young (at 6 months) but before she'd just leave behind little dribbles. Now she ends up lying in big puddles without even realizing it. This drug will also ruin her kidneys so it becomes a balance between preserving one organ and destroying the other. She gets 2 of these pills every eight hours.


Diltiazem should lessen the strength of Stella's cardiac arrhythmias. If the arrhythmia gets out of control, she could collapse and die. This might actually be the best outcome considering some of the other possibilities. Diltiazem is given every 8 hours.


Pill times are:

8:00 AM
Sotalol, Pimobendan, Benazepril, Furosemide, Diltiazem

4:00 PM
Furosemide, Diltiazem

8:00 PM
Sotalol, Pimobendan, Benazepril

12:00 AM
Furosemide, Diltiazem

Pills for one week

Friday, May 14, 2010

I can't come up with a title for this post without encouraging violence towards this pathetic shit

'The person who did this was cruel and will likely do it again and could do it to a person next time.'

Well, he has killed someone already. Does that count?

Shocking Animal Abuse.

Windsor man, 51, charged in severe dog-abuse case

Update (10-09-20):

From Windsor man jailed for cruelty after strapping condom on dog:

Anjalo Abeywickrema didn’t know what to do with his new dog, Tyson, a three-year-old black Lab mix that urinated and “humped everything” in his house. So he placed a condom on his dog’s penis and secured it with rubber tubing.

Things I've learned over the last few months

1. Public pressure actually does have an effect on organizations, at least ones with somewhat sane individuals running them. I have to admit that my expectation with the OSPCA changing its tune was not great going into this thing three days ago after first hearing about the Newmarket cull.

The OSCPA screwed up but at least after all the public outrage directed at them, they've realized their gross errors and are attempting to screw up somewhat less. Not good enough for the animals already dead but better than the initial predicted toll of 350.

On the other hand, the THS took ten years to capitulate and it took handcuffing the senior management and marching them out of the building to do so and some of its board members still can't admit to any wrongdoing or errors. In their minds, it's still all everyone else's fault.

And then there's the Ontario McGuinty government who will probably never stray from their mantra of the only good Pit Bull is a dead Pit Bull and fuck you if your dog isn't a Pit Bull, we might kill it anyways.

2. If you get into this animal welfare racket, you're going to get shit on your shoes. Rob Godfrey, chair of the OSPCA, sure looked uncomfortable taking flak while defending the actions of the organization, not surprising considering they were mostly indefensible. I don't really blame him for this ... much. He probably took the board position thinking it would be just like any other board: meet once a month, discuss the big picture stuff, leave the operations to the salaried people, go to a bunch of fancy fundraisers to glad hand and then fugitaboutit.

Uh, not so fast Mr. Chairman. This is animal welfare. It ain't the Boy Scouts. If you don't know what you're getting into and you don't keep an eye on everything and everyone and all the time, don't be surprised if you wake up one day wondering why your world suddenly turned a nasty shade of slime brown.

All the exec types running in the Toronto Humane Society elections who think animal welfare is just like any other business might want to take note.

3. Death threats are a rite of passage. Doesn't seem to matter which side you're on, you'll know you're a somebody in the world of animal welfare once you get a death threat. If you haven't gotten a death threat yet and want to get chummy with the other players in the big leagues, you might want to consider faking one for yourself or getting your friends to write a few for you otherwise you're just a punk and no one's really going to take you seriously.

4. The public has an opinion and it's wrong. But we live in a democracy so you animal loving types are just going to have to suck it up unless you teach the public different. Until then, those furry creatures we seem to care for so much are going to keep on dying and being killed. Check out The Toronto Sun survey below (click on image to enlarge):

The majority of those who responded think the OSPCA cull is a good thing. The majority of those who responded think killng Pit Bulls is still a good thing.

5. There's been massive media coverage of the Newmarket OSPCA in the last few days. Worthington at the Toronto Sun must be just positively tickled like a little girl trying on her first pink dress. They've had more giddy coverage of the downturn for the OSPCA in the last three days than they've ever had with their begrudging coverage of the THS affair.

Unfortunately, whenever there's animal welfare coverage of any kind, meatheads inevitably come out to disparage anything to do with helping animals. Why help stupid animals when there are hungry children in Africa? they whine.

Why is it these saints never show up in, say, the entertainment section of the newspaper and post comments like, "How dare you go out and watch movies when you could be helping starving children?" I've never seen any of them show up in the auto section with, "Why are you buying new cars when you should be spending your money on starving African children?" Nor have I seen them post in the sports section, "Stop watching hockey and go help starving children in Africa."

There is something intrinsic to animal welfare that brings out the best and worst in people in both those who participate and those who observe. You don't get into hands-on animal welfare for money. You don't do it for popularity. You don't do it for power. You do it solely for compassion. I guess that really pisses off the assholes.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

OSPCA holds press conference on Newmarket euthanasias

A bunch of videos at CTV including Godrey's remessaging ("CTV News Channel: OSPCA addresses euthanasia concerns") and another with a perspective from a vet ("Canada AM: Dr. Michael Belovich, veterinarian") plus a couple of interviews with protesters outside the facility: 'Miscommunication' caused euthanization scare: SPCA

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

One in three hundred

I can't look at the pictures. Talking about the deaths of three hundred plus animals is a lot easier than even looking at the picture of one being lead to what might be its last few moments of life. The worst part is how trusting they are. That Husky, eagerly jumping over the low barricade for the person in the head to toe biohazard suit, happily going for a walk with her.

I couldn't do what that person is doing and this isn't a case of me pretending to be morally superior. It's weakness if anything. I once thought about being a vet and then quickly realized that I'd never be able to euthanize animals on a regular basis. Vets have to be made of hardier stuff.

I happened to be taking Stella to see one of those vets today. Trying to get a sense of this super Ringworm strain which the OSPCA claim has infected the animals in their Newmarket facility and thus requiring mass euthanasia, I brought it up with the vet and the vet techs in the room with us.

They didn't come out fully and say so but I could tell they were sympathetic to the situation the Newmarket OSCPA is currently in and there were no outright condemnations of the OSPCA's methods. I left it at that because when dealing with people who have the well-being of my dog in their hands, I didn't really want to get into any kind of involved discussion with them which might throw them off the task at hand.

This short exchange did lead me to wonder if perhaps the OSPCA does have some sort of valid justification for what they are doing in Newmarket and are just being extremely inept at getting the reasons across to the public or rather is it perhaps that a lot of vets are just desensitized to euthanasia. I suppose vets have to be desensitized to a certain degree. A surgeon can't perform surgery if she gets queasy everytime she cuts someone open. And I'd most rather have a vet cool, calm and collected when it comes time for my own dogs to go than someone whose bawling their eyes out along with me.

The OSPCA is saying the decision to cull the three hundred plus animals at the Newmarket shelter is a veterinary one and management does not interfere with veterinary decisions especially when there is a public health risk involved. But in a shelter situation, where dozens of animal are euthanized weekly, hundreds if not thousands annually, can a vet become too desensitized to the point where euthanasia becomes a common and convenient alternative to treatment?

Three hundred animals put down at once is a lot but how long would it have taken the Newmarket shelter to put down that many animals under "normal" circumstances? If they're anything like a typical North American shelter, not long would be my guess. A month? Two months? I protest when I hear three hundred animals might be euthanized and yet if they are like a lot of shelters, they may very well kill thousands or more a year (Animal Shelter Euthanasia at the American Humane website). Even if this particular shelter doesn't, others more than compensate.

Vets inside shelters must be accustomed to those high numbers of euthanasias otherwise how could they continue to work in those environments? Coping mechanisms must kick in. 300 deaths is a lot but maybe it's a molehill, not a mountain, for a shelter, for any shelter accustomed to death as most must be.

My brain is too small to comprehend 300 deaths. I just look at the doomed individual animals and that's hard enough. I hope for the best for those remaining creatures at the Newmarket OSPCA but I know they are only the tip of a sorrowful iceburg which has this week broken the surface into our la la la happy petland dreamstate. Next week, the tip may be hidden again, but the iceburg will still be there and getting larger by the day.

Updated news on the ongoing Newmarket OSPCA cull at The Star, OSPCA fundraiser cancelled over protests.

Euthanizations ongoing at OSPCA Newmarket shelter

50 gone already.

From The Star, 50 animals already euthanized at OSPCA:

“Fifty have been euthanized, sadly,” said OSPCA chairman Rob Godfrey. “I’m heartbroken about the 50.”

Godfrey added, however, that the OSPCA has considered each euthanization on a case-by-case basis.

He said some of the dogs that were put down had been slated for euthanization due to other health problems prior to the ringworm outbreak.


He said most of the animals affected by the fungal disease are cats, but 15 of the facility’s 45 dogs have been euthanized thus far.

Of the 45 dogs, 10 are in the process of being moved into isolation and 20 more are still awaiting assessment, Godfrey said.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Looks like they're reconsidering

From, .You may be able to help save animals

The Ontario SPCA is asking qualified residents and local veterinarians who can treat ringworm to contact them with services you can offer to help save the remaining animals that were scheduled to be euthanized today.

The euthanizing of more than 350 dogs, cats and other pets went on while protestors cried and pleaded for the animals to be saved.

Tanya Firmage, the acting director of animal care, is asking qualified residents to contact the Ontario SPCA directly.

You can contact Anne Buonaiuto at 905-898-7122 or e-mail

Professional dog groomer Erikah McNeice is donating her time to shave and give medical baths to infected animals saved from the Ontario SPCA. Ms McNeice can be reached at

Now let's hope there are some heroes out there who can give these animals temporary homes.

OSPCA, please reconsider

350 dead animals.
Thousands of pissed off members and pet owners.
Another animal welfare organization with its reputation shot.

I hope the OSPCA reconsiders what they are about to do.

Ringworm infestation in a shelter is no walk in the park. It never should have gotten that bad. People royally fucked up. But, the plan to cull all the animals at the York Region OSPCA shelter is like trying to cover up a big pile of crap with a bigger pile of crap.

I don't say this because I think I have easy answers for controlling and quelling ringworm outbreaks in a shelter environment. Everything I've been reading about this from reputable sources tells me that the protocols needed are tough and demanding and some animals can take up to 6 months to be cured if at all. It's not just a matter of rubbing some cream on a few lesions. Nor is it just a matter of getting some nice people to come round and foster the animals for a while until they get better.

The OSPCA is worried about the zoonotic aspect of ringworm. Transference might be rare (I don't know) but it does happen. What if the foster's child picks up the ringworm from the foster cat? The child gets lesions and the parent has to take time off from work to bring the child to the doctor for meds. The other kids in the child's class also need to be told to watch out for lesions and not to touch the child so that they don't get infected. The parent has to disinfect the house from top to bottom because even though the cat has been kept in a cage in the kitchen, the child has been all over. The parent doesn't do such a great job and six months later, the child gets ringworm again. The parent gets pissed off and decides to sue the OSPCA for knowingly fostering out a ringworm infested animal even though he signed a release form.

The OSPCA is also thinking about all the animals that they could be saving but can't because they'd have to keep the York facility closed to intakes for weeks to months while there are ringworm contaminated animals residing there. Sure, they could have protocols in place to try to reduce the spread of infection to new animals but whatever protocols were there obviously didn't work or weren't followed. By wiping the slate clean, they would have the facility disinfected and up and running again in a week or two.

Yes, there are probably other reasons as well why the OSPCA would want to get rid of all the animals at their York facility but unless all the animals there are deathly ill from other underlying diseases, none of these reasons are good enough. These reasons don't balance out the animal lives lost. These reasons don't balance out the human cost. They don't balance out the collective guilt, anger, despair we will all feel knowing that another organization people entrusted to look after the welfare of animals has messed up in such a big way.

There are risks with trying to save animals from a ringworm infested facility. In animal welfare, though, there will always be risks. An adopted out dog might bite, a cat might scratch, a bunny might ... chew on a table leg (?). You do what you can to protect yourself against liability while adopting out as many animals as you can but this isn't just a numbers game.

The currency of animal welfare is compassion. Compassion supersedes risk, supersedes cash flow, supersedes even the logic of numbers. Compassion says you do not kill the old dog in front of you so that some other possibly more adoptable dog can have its cage space. Compassion says you do not euthanize a sick animal simply because it's cheaper to bring in and adopt out healthy ones. Compassion doesn't make sense but you still have to make room for it. Without compassion, it's not an animal welfare facility. It's a factory. People don't donate to factories, they buy widgets from them.

There is a risk with trying to save these sick animals but if the OSCPA doesn't try to save at least some of them, they risk losing the organization's appearance of compassion and once that's gone, they'd better have some pretty fancy widgets to sell.

Update: How you can help.

Ringworm dooms 350 animals at York OSPCA


From The Star, OSPCA to euthanize 350 animals at York Region shelter:

Approximately 350 dogs, cats, rats and other small animals – will be put down over the next two or three days after an attempt to contain the fungal infection failed, said the society's chief executive officer Kate MacDonald.

And ...

As police and security guards monitored the scene, allowing only OSPCA personnel through Monday night, MacDonald confirmed Newmarket shelter manager Denise Stephenson was fired 10 days ago. “It was due to protocols breaking down,” she said when asked if Stephenson was fired because of the outbreak. “An outbreak like this is containable when protocols are followed.

And from CBC News, York shelter to euthanize hundreds of animals:

An OSPCA official said the fact that the ringworm had spread to rabbits was of particular concern. The official said it meant the ringworm was jumping to species not normally susceptible to the disease. There was also concern the ringworm could be passed to humans.

And from The Sun, Ringworm forces killing of 350 animals:

OSPCA spokesman Rosaline Ryan told the Sun Monday night that the animals — including 60 dogs — “need to be humanely euthanized,” after ringworm tore through the Woodbine Ave. shelter. Two turtles are the only creatures that won’t be put down, she said.

Continued here.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Ralph - German Shepherd/Husky

Ralph is a happy-go-lucky dog and he's very smart. He knows his basic commands, especially when you've got a treat in hand, and he's attentive to his person. There's something quite human-like in his expressions, like maybe he's trying to communicate something and I'm just too thick to pick it up.

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

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Out and about with Stella 2

Queen West mural

Cherry blossoms at CNE grounds

Inukshuk at Battery Park

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Rupert - Rottweiler

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

Friday, May 7, 2010

Eva - German Shepherd Corgi mix

At least I think she's got some Corgi in her. Just look at those ears.

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

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Secret of the Dog Whisperer

by Charlie Murphy. Hilarious.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Terri - German Shepherd mix

Something about Terri's colouring, that cool ash gray mixed with brown, is quite contemporary, like it was premixed on some designer's palette and brushed on. She's a beautiful dog, enjoys life and likes a good laugh.

Terri - German Shepherd mix

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

Monday, May 3, 2010

Dog adoption super strategies - updated

I've been reading some really informative information about adoption strategies and how to improve them so that shelters can better compete with pet stores and backyard breeders. While some of the advice is quite good, coming from experts and people who actually know what they're talking about, I've always liked to pride myself in thinking that I'm someone who thinks out of the box so I've come up with some additional adoption strategies which I call super strategies because they are super.

1. Add "Loo-hoo" to the end of every name. Cindy might sit in her cage for weeks but Cindy Loo-hoo will get adopted in no time. Annie becomes Annie Loo-hoo. Mabel becomes Mabel Loo-hoo. Don't those names sound so much more appealing? For male dogs, instead of adding "Loo-hoo", add "Big Nuts".

2. Point out to the potential adopters some benefits to dog ownership they may not have thought about such as:

i. Everyone blames the dog for their own farts but did you know you can also blame the dog next time you crap on the kitchen floor?

ii. Your dog can help you get into shape by hitting the play button on the DVD player with the Tae Bo video in it when you're too lazy to get your ass off the couch to find the remote control.

iii. A dog is not only good for scaring away thieves but is also good for biting the postman - which is good if you don't like the postman because he's the father of that goddamn kid running around in your house. Goddamn postman.

3. Put two dogs in a kennel. If someone shows interest in one of the dogs, tell the person that the two dogs are bonded and they need to be adopted out together. If the person protests or gives some excuse about not being able to take on two new dogs, start dancing around, waving your arms in the air and making weird guttural noises and then suddenly stop and with one eyeball stare at the guy and tell him you've just cursed him so that his penis will fall off. If the person's a woman, this strategy probably won't work.

4. A nice way to bring some attention to a dark coloured dog is to tie a colourful bandanna around its neck. Either that or make the dog look like Megan Fox. Again, this strategy will generally work better with men.

5. One strategy that often works with women is to tell some sob story about the dog. Really try to give it lots of juicy detail to get the woman to really empathize with the dog. If that doesn't work tell her you've slept with her boyfriend and he really isn't all that hot.

6. Have a "trade in day" event. This is where you advertise to the public that they can bring in their old dogs and trade them in for younger ones, maybe even for puppies if you've got some. When someone shows up with their old dog to do this, take him into the sub basement and throw him into the fiery pit to Hell. This won't increase your adoptions but it might make you feel better and it also gets you bonus points with Satan. You can also have a "moving day" event or a "doesn't match the new furniture" event.

7. Tell the potential adopter that you've got the most amazing dog just for her. Take her to any dog and ask her to say "Hello" to it. As soon as she's done this, you say "Hello" in a dog-like voice but try not to move your lips. Then point to the dog and say, "Ta daa. A talking dog!" It may take a couple more lines of dialogue before the potential adopter is convinced. If she still isn't convinced and walks away, say in your dog voice: "Yeah, well, I slept with your boyfriend and he's not all that hot," and then shrug and point at the dog.

8. If you're showing an older couple around, tell them that a dog is a great child replacement for empty nesters. Tell them that it'll be just like it used to be when they weren't so old and were surrounded by children who loved them but who have now all left home and hardly ever call anymore and are already planning on how to spend their inheritance money. If the old fogies say something like they like not having kids around and can now spend more time traveling or whatnot, start bawling your eyes out and in between sobs tell them that you just lost your own parents last week when they were murdered while on vacation.

9. Sometimes dogs stay in a shelter way too long through no fault of their own. People just pass them by. You must make every effort to help these dogs find a home. Next time someone comes in looking for a dog, show the person this particular dog. If the person shows disinterest and starts to walk away, proclaim in a loud and determined voice, "Okay, that's it." Take a bottle of vaguely sinister looking pills (you can use Tic Tacs dipped in blue food colouring for this) and start popping them into your mouth and swallowing. When the person looks horrified and asks what you're doing, say: "I made a pact with myself that if I didn't get this poor dog adopted out today by 11:00 [use whatever time it is at the moment], I'd kill myself because I have failed this animal." This should be enough to encourage the person to adopt the dog. If the person still does not show interest in adopting the dog then throw the rest of the "pills" in the person's face and say, "Fuck you, at least I tried," and walk away.


10. When I was a kid, like 10 or 11, I had this next door neighbour who was like 5 or 6 and he used to be able to vomit on command. He had an older sister who I had a crush on. Sometimes he'd chase his older sister around while trying to spew on her. She'd start screaming and then he'd take his pants off and then continue chasing her while trying to vomit and she'd scream even louder. I'm sure you can understand how being vomited on by a kid with no pants on is much worse than being vomited on by a properly dressed one. The rest of us kids in the neighbourhood would get in on the action and chase him around (while he was chasing his sister around) and whenever we could, we'd pick up some dirt and throw it at him. Ah, lovely childhood. The next time you've hit an awkward moment of silence with a potential adopter, feel free to use this story as your own and place yourself in any of the three main roles. It will help to cement the bond between you and the adopter. Also, this last point rounds out this list to a nice even ten points and I was told that's the way lists should be done (instead of leaving it at nine).