The Animals Have Names

OSPCA animals

The pictures of the animals available for adoption were quickly taken down from the York Region OSPCA’s website last night. The Toronto Star managed to scoop a few of the photos and names before the Newmarket shelter’s lockdown.

Clockwise from top left, some of the 350 animals facing the planned mass cull at the “shelter”:
Scoops, Sweetie, Sago, Benji, Goliath, J.J., William and Brynn.

The killing started this morning.

Hundreds of animals have been sentenced to death following a ringworm outbreak at the OSPCA shelter in Newmarket.

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.

Volunteers and members of the community quickly stepped forward, once they heard about the plan, but the place is in lockdown, with volunteers evicted and a security patrol in place at some expense. J.J.’s previous owner, who had surrendered the black and white cat to the shelter due to allergies, was horrified to learn of the cull and has taken the morning off work to try and pull J.J. out. Yellow lab Goliath’s adoption was pending and his new family was ready to pick him up.

In April, volunteers and members of the Toronto Humane Society had acted quickly before the THS shelter’s closing in April to rehome the remaining animals under threat of having them shipped off to the Newmarket facility. Reading last night’s news was truly frightening déjà vu for those who had lived through through the massive culls at the THS.  But the THS volunteers and the public stepped forward to foster and provide homes for the seemingly “unadoptable” animals left – those with FIV, diabetes, dental issues, age and, yes, even ringworm.

Until the Newmarket outbreak, many of the 350 animals were advertised for adoption, and they are certainly treatable. As Toronto vet, Joanna Coote stated in the Star, “animals afflicted with ringworm are usually only euthanized if they have other diseases or complications.” I would add to that “of an terminally untreatable nature”.

Now the OSPCA’s own own volunteers and the community have also offered to step forward and help rehabilitate these animals, yet the shelter has been locked down.

A few volunteers gathered outside the shelter Monday night as news of the looming euthanasia plan spread. More are meeting at the facility this morning, along with the community and the media.

“We have offered help,” said Ruth Wozniak, a volunteer at the shelter for 10 years. “A number of animals who are not infected will be euthanized.”.

Wozniak said York Regional Police were at the shelter while OSPCA officials spoke with the volunteers.

The Toronto Humane Society is calling on the OSPCA to rethink its plan to kill the animals.

“This type of action to respond to a treatable condition such as ringworm is unprecedented,” Humane society president Bob Hambley stated in a press release Monday night. “The OSPCA is taking the easy solution rather than working to save animals lives.

“The OSPCA needs to reconsider this solution and consult with outside experts to look at treatment alternatives to save these animals lives.”

Hambley accused OSPCA CEO Kate MacDonald of failing in her duties to protect animals and said she should resign.

He called on Premier Dalton McGuinty to order an investigation into the OSPCA’s care of animals at the shelter.

“It was due to protocols breaking down,” MacDonald said of Stephenson’s release. “We have a scenario here with human error that has now been fixed.

Yes, after five weeks of dithering, the OSPCA fired the shelter manager some ten days ago, ;ostensibly based the decision to euthanize on the opinion of a  couple of staff veterinarians, is now spinning the Public Health angle, and has locked out the very people who could help with this difficult but temporary challenge.

I would agree with Bob Hambley, though, that expediency appears to be trumping concern for the animals in the care of the OSPCA. The proposed draconian plan is a betrayal of the OSPCA’s volunteers, donors and the community who gave their time, money and interest because they believed that the Newmarket facility was a shelter.

Mr. Hambley is not off the hook, however, as THS is one of those outside experts that has already dealt with ringworm outbreaks. Whether Kate steps down, everyone is fired or the Newmarket shelter is razed are all arguments to be thrashed out after the animals are safe. Mr. Hambley apparently has an empty and squeaky-clean shelter with trained staff available. Perhaps he also has other proactive solutions and will not simply leave this to the new board at the end of the month.

MPP Frank Klees (Newmarket- Aurora) is appalled at the cull and has called on the province to step in immediately.

This comes as a shock to the community, and we can’t just allow this mass destruction of these animals to take place without absolute assurance that there are no other options available to us.”

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for community safety minister, Rick Bartolucci, confirmed the OSPCA is an arms-length agency of government and the minister does not have the legislative power to intervene.

So who is policing these people?

Should the OSPCA not retract this shameful plan, I cannot imagine why any of these folks would continue to offer support. Except that, like the volunteers at the Toronto Humane Society, it is in their nature to do whatever they can for the animals when the agencies in charge have dropped the ball.

Thank you for your message. I am away from the office, returning on Wednesday, May 5, 2010. I will respond to your message, as required, upon my return. For immediate assistance, please contact Anne Buonaiuto at If you would like to make a donation, please visit us at and click on the ‘Donate Now’ button. We thank you for your support.

Sincerely, Kate MacDonald

For more, visit Tailspin for an eloquent review of this heartbreaking story.

What can you do?

Voice your opinion today, as time is of the essence, to the OSPCA, Ontario MPP’s and Premier McGuinty, and get the word out to everyone you know to do the same.


3 responses to “The Animals Have Names

  1. heartsick doesn’t begin to cover it – we still mourn our 6 lost dogs … I can only imagine how the OSPCA volunteers are feeling about SIXTY. And the hundreds of other animals – being murdered for WHAT? For what reason? Butchers.

  2. Ringworm is treatable! The OSPCA has proven time and time again that they do not know how to run a proper animal shelter and the government should shut them down and replace them with people who’ve run smaller independant animal shelters that actually care about animals!

  3. If you’re as outraged as I am by this carelessness on the part of the York Region OSPCA, then email them directly at – and tell them what you think!

    Also, contact their sponsors who, by supporting this organization, are contributing to their negligence. Start with M&M Meat Shops, one of their primary sponsors: and Pet Valu:

    Let’s make these people accountable for their actions, since they were the ones that were entrusted to look after these animals. “Human error”… indeed.

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