OSPCA denies Humane Society has been 'vindicated'
The Toronto Humane Society says it has been "completely vindicated" of accusations that it mistreats animals in their care, but a provincial animal welfare organization said a search of the shelter revealed some concerns.
The Society has been accused of letting animals suffer unnecessarily because of their restrictive euthanasia policy. But on Wednesday, the Society released a news statement saying that the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) did not find a single animal suffering and needing to be euthanized during a search of the shelter yesterday afternoon.
However, OSPCA spokesperson Kristin Williams said that there were four examples at the shelter that raised flags.
"We were hoping not to find anything but what we found was four cases of animals where the standard of care was not being met," she told ctvtoronto.ca in a telephone interview on Wednesday. "Four cats were in serious distress."
When asked if she thought the Society was wrong in saying it was vindicated, she replied, "I would (say that.)"
The THS said the OSPCA issued orders in those four cases because their veterinarian recommended different treatment plans for the cats.
"It was agreed that two cats in the hospital be given a dental consult and two other cats receive additional fluids."
The OSPCA revoked the Society's affiliate status yesterday pending the outcome of the organization's investigation.
The organization decided to investigation the THS as a result of a series of articles that appeared in the Globe and Mail newspaper that accused the Society of permitting animals to suffer unnecessarily. The article also told a story of improper management of staff, volunteers, resources and finances.
The OSPCA said that since the articles were published, the organization has received "dozens of additional, credible complaints outlining serious concerns that point to a pattern of poor care over the course of many years."
Hugh Coghill, OSPCA chief investigator, said his organization is required to investigation credible allegations against an affiliate member.
The Society says its euthanasia policy does not cause the animals in their care any unnecessary harm.
"As we have repeatedly stated, the Globe & Mail articles do not accurately portray the Toronto Humane Society and the diligent care animals receive when they are in our clinic shelter," said Ian McConachie, THS spokesperson.
McConachie said the Humane Society is in the business of saving animals.
"It's our policy that we will do everything that we can to maintain that animal's life and quality of life for as long as possible."
But Toronto veterinarian Barb Bryer says that prolonging an animal's life is not always a realistic or reasonable option.
"I don't think it's acceptable to say (an animal is) dying and we are going to let you die slowly and on your own," she said.
Bill Bruce, the Calgary director of animal and bylaw services, says the decision to euthanize is a difficult one and therefore, the focus should be on keeping animals out of shelters in the first place.
In Calgary, more than 90 per cent of dogs and almost half of cats are licensed, which Bruce says contributes to help keeping animals out of shelters.
McConachie said the Society is hoping the OSPCA will end its investigation soon and restore the shelter's cruelty investigative powers.
Williams said the OSPCA is still reviewing information and that the investigation is "ongoing."
"We're continuing to investigate and will continue to talk to witnesses and review information that is brought forward and that will drive the investigation," she said.
With a report by CTV's Paula Todd in Toronto