At the Toronto Humane Society on Friday night, five well-loved Pit Bulls were euthanized along with one other dog and 30 cats.
All of these dogs had shelters or rescues willing to take them in. They would have been moved out weeks ago but for legal concerns around transporting them through the province (because Pit Bulls are banned in Ontario). Volunteers were in the midst of working out an acceptable transport plan when the euthanasia took place.
People simply disappeared, always during the night. Your name was removed from the registers, every record of everything you had ever done was wiped out, your one-time existence was denied and then forgotten. You were abolished, annihilated: vaporized was the usual word.
A new euthanasia policy is in place that takes into account the future of very aggressive or sick animals, according to executive director, Garth Jerome.
“We can’t be a sanctuary. We have to be a shelter. We can’t house animals indefinitely.”
Were these dogs ill or dangerous? There has been some debate in the blogosphere about temperament testing, but these dogs were ultimately failed by a perfect storm of BSL, inadequate sheltering and, now, expediency. Read for yourself at Tailspin, One Bark at a Time and The Examiner.
In an affadavit, Mr. Jerome stated that the transport of the dogs was a priority and pointed at the OSPCA for shutting it down for reasons unknown to him. Reliable sources, however, say that arrangements had been made with the OSPCA for the dogs to be driven to the U.S. on the 29th. The decision was taken by THS to euthanize them just the Friday before their intended release.
So why did the executive director not know or act?
Marcie Laking, a long time volunteer who was familiar with the dogs, blamed their deaths on bickering among THS staff, volunteers and the OSPCA.
“If we spent half as much time trying to adopt these animals as we did taking shots at each other there’d be no animals in the shelter, they’d all have homes.”
Day by day and almost minute by minute the past was brought up to date. In this way every prediction made by the Party could be shown by documentary evidence to have been correct; nor was any item of news, or any expression of opinion, which conflicted with the needs of the moment, ever allowed to remain on record. All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and re-inscribed exactly as often as was necessary.
Kate Hammer’s explosive review in the Globe and Mail articulates what some of us have suspected. THS is seeking court permission to shut down the facility, clear the cages, and start over.
The OSPCA states that such a draconian direction should not be taken lightly, certainly not without the approval of the membership. THS has been closed to new members since last year. Most of the board, meanwhile, are expected to resign or be removed. One might expect that donations and bequests, however, might be cancelled because the donors did not sign on for this new direction.
Mr. Jerome’s ambitions, set out in the affadavit quoted in Ms. Hammer’s article, sound mostly laudable, but where is the credibility of these promises, given what transpired on Friday and what is about to occur? Actions speak louder than words.
The animals are the pawns in this recalibration.
Never again, the negligent and megalomaniac betrayal of a venerable institution whose mission, set by John Kelso in 1867, was to help the sick, homeless, orphaned and needy animals of Toronto.
And never again, the expedient and institutionalized slaughter that took place in March, 2010, by those who did not understand that their job was to protect our animals, and who had sadly lost sight of the vision of the Toronto Humane Society.
Update, April 1:
After months of legal haggling, a deal has been struck to allow THS to close its doors on April 12 in order to do the necessary cleanup to start anew in June. THS and OSPCA agreed to this on the basis of the resignation of the entire board of directors. A new board will be elected at a special members’ meeting at the end of May.
In the meantime, the remaining 200 animals are to be adopted out, placed with rescues or euthanized. Any animals remaining on April 12 will be removed by the OSPCA.
The deaths would appear to be explained by the sudden cage-clearing to enable the Fresh Start. Is this ready-fire-aim management style an indication of what to expect afterwards?
And why are THS and the OSPCA tying the hands of the adoption staff, who have a week and a bit to do their best for the animals, by restricting hours to noon – 6 pm and letting the website lapse with broken links, inaccurate, incomplete and uninformative adoption postings? Additional information on the animals can be found on Facebook, One Bark at a Time and Help the THS Kitties.
Someone please send the management a copy of Nathan Winograd’s Redemption and make sure that any candidate for the new board can pass a pop quiz on the same.
Lest we forget: Smokey, Tiger, Captain, Peti and Socks.
Photos by Mel Laking.
Miniluv image: Cafepress.