Well, there I was, writing a rational, objective post about working together....
I took a break to read Garth Jerome's affidavit about the plan to close down Toronto Humane Society for a death-dealing reboot (available on many sites)....
And felt physically ill.
It scared the $#!@ out of me.
If you haven't read it, you'd better. Fast.
I could nitpick like crazy, but I'm going to restrict myself to the high points.
First, never once does Mr. Jerome refer to the objects contained in the Letters Patent of THS. Mission statement, policies, blah blah. What do the objects in the THS Letters Patent allow Toronto Humane Society to be?
Next, Mr. Jerome consulted with the Edmonton Humane Society, among others. According to paragraph 5 of Mr. Jerome's affidavit, it appears that Edmonton Humane Society has a 50% kill rate (intake 10,000; adoptions 5,000). If Edmonton Humane wishes to provide detail that refutes the appearance, I'd really like to see it.
In all the talk about mission statements, policies, procedures, retraining, trips to Edmonton/Toronto, laptop computers....not one word about how much this will cost and where the money is coming from for all these plans.
Now, paragraph 18 of the affidavit. Mr. Jerome wants to invite a "consultation/assessment team" from the Humane Society of the United States to "spend a week at the shelter and conduct a wholesale review of our operations".
The Humane Society of the United States ("HSUS") is a lobby group. It does not operate a single shelter.
According to people who can do math (not me), in 2008 HSUS spent $28 million of their $125 million budget on fundraising -- $28 million on political campaigns and $12 million on "strategic communications'.
HSUS gave less than 1% of donations to shelters.
Want to know how much money HSUS has in the bank? In 2008 - $204, 868,764. Yes, that's millions.
HSUS was lobbying for the deaths of the Vick dogs while using them in fundraising campaigns. HSUS has called for the deaths of dogs and puppies seized in fight busts, never once allowing for temperament assessment and rehoming. HSUS never had care of the Vick dogs.
HSUS used a picture of Fay, a severely injured "pit bull", in a fundraising campaign. HSUS never had care of Fay. HSUS didn't even get the dog's name right. After some serious screaming worldwide, HSUS gave a lousy $5 grand to the rescue actually caring for Fay (which would have been a drop in the bucket for HSUS, and a pittance towards Fay's vet costs).
HSUS supports mandatory spay/neuter. Mandatory spay/neuter can eradicate a domesticated species in one generation.
HSUS opposed feral cat trap/spay/neuter/release programs.
HSUS does not support no-kill.
HSUS apparently has crossleadership with PETA. PETA wants to end animal ownership, including pets. PETA killed almost 100% of the animals entrusted to it in 2009..and 2008....and 2007....
Nathan Winograd has covered HSUS, as has Pet Connection blog and KC Dog Blog.
HSUS states in its IRS filing that it wants a representative in every state in the U.S.
Is HSUS looking for a foothold in Canada?
This is the objective post that got waylaid...
Keep your eyes on the prize.
There's a minor flurry going on between what I call the "puppies and kitties" crowd (read: the ones controlled by their emotions) and those who can see the long-term, who have their eyes on the goal of rebuilding the Toronto Humane Society.
Dissension serves no one, especially not the animals.
Focusing on the short term obscures and detracts from the historical issues at THS - institutionalized hoarding, inhumane treatment of terminally injured or ill animals by allowing them to die in their cages, squandering donor funds on lawsuits (detailed in the mainstream media - are the THS lawsuits against the OSPCA, Hamilton HS and a former employee still ongoing?), the lack of control, transparency and accountability. Read the affidavit for the search warrant against THS if you need a reminder about its animal care.
Garth Jerome, the new Executive Director of THS (N.B. an Executive Director is a paid employee, not a member of the board of directors), has issued a statement that the board of THS has approved a plan to shut the shelter for six to eight weeks. Mr. Jerome's affidavit sets out a whole bunch'a stuff.
Why did the THS lawyers call a reduced animal population a "death spiral" on March 2, 2010 but aren't calling emptying and closing the shelter a "death spiral"?
I do not think that THS should be emptied "...by means of adoption, fostering, transfers to rescue groups, and euthanasia...". Rescue groups are overburdened as it is, most run by volunteers who pay much out of their pockets without the $9M in revenue THS had in 2008 (wonder what the legal fees are to date for all the to-ing and fro-ing?). Fostering had been shut down at THS, last I heard? That leaves adoption and euthanasia. How many of the animals left at THS have medical or behavioural issues that make them unlikely candidates for adoption?
Neither the board nor Mr. Jerome appear to have made concrete plans for all the kittens that will be born very shortly.
Nor has anyone addressed where the money is coming from. Were the independent animal-care experts paid? Who would pay for an Edmonton animal are trainer to stay in Toronto and train THS staff, or for THS shelter supervisors to go to Edmonton? The THS proposal includes deep cleaning, staff retraining, a new computer system for tracking animal intake and care, cosmetic changes to the public areas of the facility, and a "new infrastructure for the conduct of future operations".
Hey, Board of Directors, why wasn't this done BEFORE the OSPCA bust?
There should also be a savage structural check of the building, particularly its wiring, in light of the rodent infestation it's had for years.
Where is the money coming from? THS hasn't allowed new memberships since August 2009. I know several people with applications and cheques sitting in a pile on someone's desk. The board had time to decide to close the shelter, why didn't they deal with the backlog of membership applications? Aren't members important? Who is going to donate to a shelter where they can't be a member and have a vote, or to a closed shelter?
Brian Shiller of the OSPCA is quoted in the March 30, 2010 Globe & Mail article stating, "Most of the members of the board of directors have “indicated an intention to resign shortly". Hey, enquiring minds want to know - who hasn't said they'll resign? If most of the board is going to resign, then why should that board be allowed to decide to close the shelter?
Cool heads are needed now. Fact, not opinion, is needed now. The goal needs to be kept uppermost.
The shelter needs to be kept open, particularly in light of coming kitten season. Kittens need feeding every 2 hours round the clock if Mama is dead or can't be found.
BUT the board who sat for years, either overtly or tacitly endorsing the behaviour of management (the sin of omission is as grave as the sin of commission), cannot be allowed to remain.
A shelter cannot be no-kill unless it turns animals away. The goal should be humane low-kill. Allowing terminally ill animals to die in their cages is not humane.
Only by regrouping, coalescing, sticking together and keeping our eyes on the goal - the removal of the current board and management of Toronto Humane and the rejuvenation of the Toronto Humane Society and replacement with a board committed to animal welfare (not rights), transparency and accountability - can those goals be achieved.