The Inmates Run This Asylum

This evening, on Animal House CallsAnn Rohmer skewered marketing guru Rob Godfrey, volunteer chair of the OSPCA board of directors.

Despite today’s searing headlines and public outcry about 350 killings that started this morning (had it not been for a leak at the Newmarket “shelter”, they would have gone relatively unnoticed or so it might have been hoped), Rob assured Ann that twenty animals have been deemed “safe for sure”. Keep upping those number, Rob, to, say, 350 minus the ones that OSPCA has managed to kill already.

See, the ringworm that infests the Newmarket facility is an unusual, rare strain of ringworm, and besides, since it’s a shelter, some of the animals were unhealthy to begin with and are beyond treatment. That could mean a dog needed dentistry, say, or a cat was FIV+, therefore beyond treatment according to the OSPCA which routinely kills for space and convenience, but definitely treatable by other shelters and veterinarians.

Rob acknowledged that a number could be treated if they were isolated, and admitted that veterinarians and others have stepped forward to do just that.

We’ve asked them before, he complained, and no one stepped forward.

It’s only today, he said, that good veterinarians have stepped forward. “That shows the power of the media.” (Submissive rollover).

Why did the crisis arise in the first place, asked Ann.

Well, it was human error and failure to follow protocols, and the manager in question has been released so that’s fixed. Did I mention that it was an unusual, rare strain of ringworm?

Besides, the whole thing’s been misreported by the media. See, it always had to be on a case-by-case basis, which is downright slow and inconvenient because all of the animals could have been sent packing over the Rainbow Bridge on the weekend before any nosey reporters or animal activist types got their hooks into this story.

But (insert look of concern) it’s now a Public Health Issue. Six shelter workers have contracted ringworm and gone and spread it Dog knows where. Ken Brown of York Region Public Health has suggested that the threat from the shelter animals is sheer nonsense (this blogger’s words, not his).

At this point, we were relieved that Ruby Richards called in from Durham Humane Society for some sober discussion. They’ve had two outbreaks of ringworm in ten years. The last time it happened, the shelter closed for two months while the animals were treated.

Ruby told us that ringworm isn’t a fatal illness. Shelter staff took precautions and no animal was ever euthanized.

Rob was speechless through all this.

No, at Durham, staff and volunteers were prepared for the possibility of becoming infected with this minor itchy ailment, because they believed in helping the animals.

It’s like athlete’s foot, said Ruby.

We were still spinning from the OSPCA spin, though, so Ann asked Rob what the Real Truth was.

There are some severe cases, and it’s been recommended by two veterinarians that these animals be euthanized, Rob advised. And a whole bunch of experts too.

Ann asked what other issues the animals had besides ringworm but, well, Rob didn’t have an answer, so we’ll all just have to take the word of the two mystery veterinarians that some number of animals will be euthanized for some undisclosed reason.

These decisions have been made by experienced professionals including veterinarians, Rob said. Accountants too.

He also commended Rick Bartolucci (who told Frank Klees today that his ministry had no jurisdiction over this as OSPCA is a charity) had been “great”. I expect Premier Dalton McGuinty would be “great” too since he’s also disavowing any legislative power to police the animal police.

Ann asked how the OSPCA is going to win back the faith and trust of the public, not to mention the donors.

Well, Rob said, we’re still the policing organization fighting animal cruelty. And we take in sick and injured animals.

Last time I looked, the OSPCA’s euthanasia rate was easily 50% and, if you bring a cat in, they’ll tell you it has a 1% chance of being adopted and then only if it is very, very cute.

“We’ve been transparent about all this. We’ve been around for so many years and never hidden the reason we euthanize. Sometimes it’s best.”

Breaking news!

The OSPCA is now asking qualified residents and local vets who can treat ringworm to contact them with their services to offer to help save the remaining animals – Tanya Firmage, the acting director of animal care, is asking qualified residents to contact the Ontario SPCA directly via Anne Buonaiuto at 905-898-7122 or email abuonaiuto@ospca.on.ca. Please forward this information to anyone  you know who may be able to help.

THS has also reached out to the OSPCA. THS staff and volunteers are willing to go to Newmarket to help treat the animals.

OSPCA, the solutions are staring you right in the face.

Donors and sponsors, the facts about the OSPCA are staring you in the face too.

Don’t forget about the Friends for Life Walkathon coming up (or not) on May 16, sponsored by IAMS and PetHealth. No dog required.

Help OSPCA Animals.

9 responses to “The Inmates Run This Asylum

  1. I am more than willing to help but I am not “qualified” which is just another barrier put up between those who care for the animals and the animals who need our rescue. Well written

  2. Given the way human beings treat each other, it’s not surprising that they can do this to creatures that can’t protect themselves! Most boards of directors should be put in cages — that’s about the size of their mentality.

  3. brilliant! Red Star – yeah for Ann Rohmer! They really thought they would slip this by with no one noticing that 350 animals are suddenly GONE? Their arrogance is unbelievable.

  4. Excellent – thanks Ann Rhomer!
    The whole situation is just pathetic and disgusting.

  5. I am looking for stats from the OPSCA — animals brought in, reclaimed, adopted out, killed. You mentioned a rate of 50% killed in your post. Do you know where I can see the stats?
    Thanks.

  6. Published stats for the OSPCA seem to be scarcer to find than hen’s teeth. Hopefully some will be forthcoming from staff and volunteers who are speaking out now.

    Suzanne Lee mentioned the high kill rate. Have a look here:

    http://brindlestick.blogspot.com/2010/05/ex-ospca-worker-spills-few-beans.html

    The numbers on cats are anecdotally quite a bit higher, based on what people have been told when they surrender a cat.

  7. Some few organizations post them which I am usually surprised to see because the numbers aren’t very pretty. There is a glut of animals that fall into the category of “behavioral/medical” and are killed. In one facility, of the 316 dogs killed in 2009, 311 fell into this category. 1844 cats also fell into this category.

    A category of convenience, no doubt.

    I am also curious how many other animals were killed before last week at OSPCA if ringworm was identified in February. Doubt we will ever know.

  8. Possibly just their usual number (which is still obscenely high) as the had 350 animals at the time the story broke. I’ve heard they don’t have a huge amount of space there to house, say, anywhere near the number that THS had last summer.

  9. Just wondering what does “qualified” really
    mean?

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