Garth Jerome, the Executive Director of the Toronto Humane Society (THS) has posted a letter on the shelter’s website in response to the public outcry over the killing of 25 pets last week. It reads, in part:
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:
- An in-house SAFER test was performed an all the dogs.
- A number of rescue groups were approached to assess the dogs, with their own tests.
- A “scorecard system”, developed by veterinarians was used to assess health, pain, suffering, temperament and many other parameters.
- Independent consultants were asked to evaluate the dogs, based on their current condition.
- 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.
- 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.
SAFER test – meh.
“A number of rescue groups” and “independent consultants” – Any who are willing to go on record and stand by their evaluations? I am interested to hear from these rescue groups and consultants to learn the qualifications of the individuals doing the testing and the tests they used.
Scorecard developed by Vets – Ix-nay on ets-vay evaluating emperament-tay. They should eval the dogs for physical health only, unless they themselves are also behaviorists.
Taking Mr. Jerome at his word, I take it these dogs were so dangerous that, although they’d been living at the shelter for years, they couldn’t be kept alive another 6 days until the scheduled meeting. OK, if they were truly that dangerous, how come so many people affiliated with THS had a “huge emotional connection” to them? Is this like those TV shows about women who start up relationships with mass murderers in prison? Because honestly, I don’t get how you can acknowledge the bond between these dogs and the shelter workers in the same breath as implying that any one of these dogs might have killed someone tomorrow.
As I’ve said before, I do understand and agree with the euthanasia decisions that sometimes have to be made in the case of dogs deemed dangerous where no reasonable sanctuary option exists. That said, Ima go ahead and call bullshit on your justification for killing these dogs. I don’t know the details on the 19 cats but I doubt they were dangerous. And I’m highly suspicious that all 19 were deemed medically hopeless and suffering on the same day. Unless you have thousands of cats in your care, 19 long term shelter residents just aren’t going to all reach the point where death is a kindness in one day.
I hope some of my experienced trainer and rescuer friends will chime in with their opinions. And anyone else who’d like to contribute to the discussion too. Please read Mr. Jerome’s entire statement and see if you glean anything from it that I may have missed.