Yesterday, a group of us attended a rally at Queen’s Park to support MPP Frank Klees (Newmarket – Aurora) in bringing important amendments to Bill 50 which currently grants sweeping police powers to the OSPCA – powers that have been abused and which were thrust into the public eye most recently with the ringworm outbreak at their Newmarket shelter. You’ll recall that the OSPCA intended to quietly euthanize all 350 animals for a highly treatable condition. The story was leaked and public outrage halted the killing plans. But not before 102 animals had been put down.
My head is still spinning from the heartbreaking stories told by speakers at the rally.
Frank Klees spoke about the need to take legislative change forward demanding oversight by the Ministry of Community Safety, and the separation of policing powers from sheltering within the OSPCA.
Cheri diNovo (MPP, Parkdale – High Park) was present as a speaker at the Bill 50 rally as well as the Civil Liberties/G-20 rally which followed, and she eloquently pointed out the chilling comparison.
The stories followed.
Susan Pitney recounted the seizure of her elderly beagle, Little One, who is diabetic and blind. This happened last August. A year ago. And Susan has been fighting relentlessly to overturn the OSPCA’s decision and get her companion back. She does not know where Little One is or whether she is still alive. Read the story in Susan’s own words.
Sunny Reuter became interested in provincial animal legislation after the OSPCA seized and killed her dog Arko while she and her daughter were on vacation in August 2003. Arko was a Turkish Akbash dog, a lean white sheep guarding breed. Elderly and thin, he was mistaken for an emaciated Great Pyrenees while being boarded at a Schomberg facility and euthanized hours before Sunny returned. Sunny faced criminal charges which were dropped when she was able to produce a veterinarian’s report verifying Arko’s good health prior to boarding.
Sunny also recounted the story of the “Limping Pig”, whereby a rare 800-pound prize black boar was seized by the OSPCA at Canaan Farm in Niagara. Jack, the boar born with a limp, was inhumanely shot in his pen because the OSPCA assumed he had been abused. The farmer was criminally charged. Those charges were dropped pre-trial.
Colleen Hervieux passionately recounted the seizure of the horses on her northern farm and its devastating effect on her family.
As Cheri diNovo stated, “I’m more and more concerned, the more I hear deputants today, that the OSPCA seems to be some kind of rogue organization with no accountability, no oversight from anybody, and, for those who are caught by the OSPCA, no right of appeal.”
Another family had 87 animals seized on a first visit. The father suffered a heart attack immediately thereafter. The animals were ordered returned to the farm by the Animal Care Review Board. The family could not afford to pay OSPCA seizure costs. Criminal charges were laid. The farmer states he pled guilty to a single charge of a dirty budgie cage. The Ontario SPCA is currently suing this family civilly.
The rally was organized by “Reform Ontario Animal Rights” (R.O.A.R.). Join their Facebook page for more background.
Download Frank Klees’ petition here and present the original signed copies to your MPP. Ask your MPP to read the petition into Hansard and notify you when that is done. Although you can forward the signed petitions to Frank Klees, this is preaching to the choir. It’s important to get the word out to your own MPP and ensure that s/he is onside with these important changes to the legislation.