200 Lives in the Balance at Toronto Humane Society

The Globe and Mail, a Toronto newspaper, reports today that the Toronto Humane Society wants a do-over.  The shelter is asking the court to allow it to empty its cages and clean house, closing its doors to the public:

The closing, which was recommended by independent animal-care experts and approved recently by the charity’s board of directors, would last approximately six to eight weeks, with the shelter likely reopening in June. Such a move would leave the fate of the dwindling number of animals still inside the shelter, estimated at about 200, in the balance. Most have health and behavioural problems and, with slim chances of being adopted, many would probably be euthanized.

In an affidavit recently filed in court, THS executive director Garth Jerome outlined his designs “to rebuild the THS as a shelter and adoption centre from the ground up, and regain the public’s confidence in the organization.”

First step in regaining the public’s confidence:  Quit killing the shelter’s pets.  That would be my thinking anyway.

I think it’s reasonable to want some sort of epic rebuilding in a place as troubled as THS has been.  The director wants the place thoroughly cleaned, to get employees trained on a new computer system to improve administrative functions and to implement best clinical practices to improve pet care.  Those are good ideas but I don’t see why they couldn’t be done while animals are still in the facility, especially since the director states THS can reasonably hold 645 animals and they have only about 200 at present.

Alternatively the pets could be transferred, temporarily or permanently, to other shelters, rescues and/or foster homes.  In fact, in his affidavit (pdf) to the court, the director states that pets could be transferred or euthanized, as recommended by THS Vets:

In some cases, Dr. Lange has advised me that certain animals should be euthanized because their physical or mental health has deteriorated and they have little quality of life.

If a shelter pet is medically hopeless and suffering, the humane act is to euthanize that pet now – not in conjunction with a clearing of the shelter.  Otherwise, this is nothing more than a justification for convenience killing.

Also noteworthy in the affidavit:

  • The director blames the OSPCA for blocking the transfer of Pitbulls from the shelter to a rescue group in the U.S.
  • The new euthanasia policy at THS includes killing for population control.
  • The director airs some dirty laundry with regard to staff disputes.  Not sure what this has to do with the price of eggs in the court’s eyes, but he apparently felt compelled to include the information.

I don’t know what will happen to the 200 animals living at THS today.  My hope is that any who are medically hopeless and suffering will be euthanized in a timely manner.  And that the rest will still be alive, somewhere, when THS finally gets its act together.

3 thoughts on “200 Lives in the Balance at Toronto Humane Society

  1. While I can’t speak for the poor cats (as I don’t have any knowledge of them), I can assure you the 13 dogs remaining have NO major medical, behavioural or other issues! Some are high energy, need some retraining (or in the case of a couple of very young ones, training) none are aggressive and all are wonderful dogs (as were most of the dogs killed last week). We’re absoutely distraught. Worried sick. And I know from talking to one dog walker who also volunteers with the cats, there are LOTS of wonderful cats there too that dont’ deserve to die.

    Considering that since November 26, the THS has gone from 1100 to less than 200 animals, surely they’ve already “cleaned house” for those with any kind of issue.

  2. Let’s all return to our goal; removing the current board and management at Toronto Humane Society and rebuilding the Toronto Humane Society.

    That’s going to take cool heads and concrete plans.

    Look forward, not back.
    That’s how we can best serve the animals.

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