To the Incoming Board of the Toronto Humane Society

The following is excerpted from an article by Peter Worthington in the Toronto Sun back in 2001:

Humane society members turf out old directors

Rarely has a volunteer board of directors taken such a shellacking as the one delivered by members at the Toronto Humane Society’s annual meeting this week.

The whole bunch of them got turfed out.

Elected by close to an 80% margin was the so-called “Members
Choice” slate, headed by former (and now the new) THS president,  Tim Trow, a retired lawyer in the attorney general’s department.

Ousted president Butler was bitter, saying her emotions ran from sad to angry. To grimaces from the membership, she said the THS was “better, stronger, healthier than ever before”.

Those who’ve read my outpourings over the summer, know I’ve been less than impressed with the THS board – especially when it
manipulated last year’s annual meeting to disenfranchise the
membership and make only the 12-member board voting members.

To be generous, ousted board members were more silly than
sinister – including allotting themselves and opponents (who refused the money) up to $50,000 in campaign expenses to get elected. Questionable, too, was giving $2,000 of THS money to CEO Jack Slibar as a wedding gift.

At the annual meeting, a succession of members stood up to scold, and blame themselves for not paying sufficient attention to what was going on until it was too late. Individually, they pledged to pay greater attention in the future.

Butler complained that THS lawyer fees ran to around $500,000 to fight Tim Trow’s complaints about management. The new board is a mixture of experience and newcomers – three are dissident members of the old board. Former THS treasurer Bob Hambley, an accountant, is now secretary-treasurer and it’s a fair bet he’ll be examining the books for any expensive lunches and frills that may be inappropriate for a non-profit charity that gets $1 million a year in bequests and over $5.5 from fundraising, donations, membership fees, investments.

Next week, meetings will be held with the Ontario Humane Society which was slated to disaffiliate the THS on Nov. 24 for its “lack of co-operation and apparent lack of response to cruelty complaints. The “new” THS board says it will be more aggressive about animal abuse, and seems eager to restore friendly relations with the city, which were acrimonious.

The spotlight now shifts to the new board.

If it goes off the rails, members and others will be watching. But for the moment, it’s a refreshing change from the past and renewed hope for Toronto animals in the future.

RedemptionThis time around, though, we would like all those contemplating candidacy for the THS board at the members’ meeting on May 30 to pass a pop quiz on Nathan Winograd’s book: Redemption: The Myth of Pet Overpopulation and the No Kill Revolution in America. You can borrow a copy at your local library. You may want to purchase your own copy for frequent reference. Some of you may want to donate copies for THS management to read too.

If you ask animal welfare professionals the best way to deal with pet overpopulation, they would say spay/neuter. But Winograd says they would be wrong. That is not to say that high volume, low cost sterilization services aren’t important, they are. In fact, they are crucial. But that is not why most dogs and cats are currently being killed in shelters. It isn’t “pet overpopulation.” What we are actually suffering from as a nation, what is actually killing a high number of animals, is an overpopulation of shelter directors mired in the failed philosophies of the past and complacent with the status quo.

Winograd’s vision is not easy. It requires effort, staffing and a passionate belief that it can be achieved.

If you can do this, you will make THS proud again.

An Evening with Nathan Winograd.


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