Thursday, March 25, 2010

One Individual's Account Of The OSPCA Meeting Last Night

"Tonight from 7:30 pm to 9 pm the OSPCA held a "Question and Answer" style meeting at the Grand Hotel, downtown Toronto. Present were Kevin Strooband (lead investigator), Kate MacDonald (CEO) and Linda MacKinnon (member of "Association for the Reform of The Toronto Humane Society) among other OSPCA officials, and "ART" members.

Before entering the meeting we were questioned more then once if we were members of the media. They were neither notified nor allowed to be present during the discussion. The OSPCA stated this was not the kind of meeting that required note taking as it was a casual information discussion.

The room was packed and emotions ran high. The OSPCA demonstrated their remarkable ability to avoid straight answers to questions. One question posed was if it is true cats with FIV or Diabetes are being euthanized simply because they possess this treatable disease. Their response was, "There are cats with FIV available for adoption, this is a fact". Right. Well, that doesn't exactly mean you aren't still euthanizing other FIV positive cats does it?

There was apparently a cat euthanized that very day that a volunteer described as a very sweet cat that had FIV. An OSPCA vet stated the cat was euthanized due to a dental condition that made his mouth sore as well. "If you stroked your hand against the cat's mouth it would meow in pain". Are both these medical conditions not treatable? Many sick animals are in pain. Many sick people are in pain. That is not a justifiable reason for euthanasia. Now if the cat's "dental condition" was untreatable and going to cause it chronic extreme amounts of pain then that could be a justifiable answer. This was not the case.

There were many questions regarding euthanasia policies. They stated both in their own facilities and within the THS, euthanasia is entirely in the hands of the veterinarians. They were further probed, if this were true, why are animals euthanized due to lack of space? They digressed by saying no animals have been euthanized at THS due to lack of space. They neglected to clarify how a veterinarian would determine animals to be euthanized do to lack of space, which they confirmed, is something that "regrettably has to happen". It was then stated that not every OSPCA facility or affiliate facility is equipped with a veterinarian to perform this duty. In those cases euthanasia is not in the hands of a vet. What a round about.

They confirmed they have not been accepting new intakes due to lack of staff. However, they have removed many THS employees and are not accepting any new volunteers. Their doors are locked from 7 pm to 7 am. A question was posed if there was a sign on the door or anything to direct people to another facility in Toronto where they could take an injured animal. They said there are pamphlets inside that instruct people to take all animals to a Toronto Animals Services facility. Obviously this isn't much help to someone stuck outside the building at the front door. They stated people who show up to the facility between 7 pm and 7 am can "knock on the front door and a security personnel will direct them to take the animal to Toronto Animal Services". Unless a security personnel is permanently stationed near the front door where they could hear someone knocking (which they are not) they cannot guarantee this. Which is indeed what they claimed. Keep in mind Toronto Animal Services has replaced the city pound. Their main interest and concern is not rehabilitating sick or injured animals, it’s controlling the animal population.

I asked if they could confirm that the majority of OSPCA board members are paid member affiliates or employees. They stated 10 of the twelve board members are paid affiliate members, two of which are paid employees. This distinction to them ensured that there was no conflict of interest of any members. They also confirmed that there are two board members that are not a member of an affiliate facility and they are considered 'B' class members that do not have a vote. Kate MacDonald, CEO of OSPCA, stated she has been with the organization for a very long time and is not aware of a report by management consultant firm Grant Thornton that concluded "perceived conflicts exist because employees of affiliate societies are permitted to serve on the board". Grant Thornton was hired to do a governance review of the OSPCA in 2006 and urged that, "Employees should not be eligible to serve on the board.”

At the end of it all, the meeting held by OSPCA in an attempt to stop this Sunday’s protest, only confirmed that the rally is a necessity. I, and others will be there with bells and whistles on."

**The Toronto Pet Daily neither supports nor opposes these statements, and we can not speak to the validity of the statements, though we felt the need to publish this writing in an effort to ensure that those pets who can not speak for themselves are being treated with the most humane care throughout this process. Let your voice be heard by commenting, and for more of the author's thoughts on the situation, visit her blog by clicking here.

1 comment:

  1. The two Grant Thornton Reports, were commissioned by then Minister Monte Kwinter in 2006 if memory serves. The contents are not available to the public.

    quoting an OSPCA media release... CEO Kate MacDonald joined the OSPCA "June 4, 2007 and brings over 17 years of professional experience in the not-for-profit sector with an impressive mix of management, fundraising, financial and communication skills, in addition to expertise in organizational analysis and cause marketing. Kate comes to the Society from William Osler Health Centre Foundation where she held the position of Vice President, Development, providing senior leadership to the $120 million capital campaign. Kate’s extensive background also includes leadership roles with United Way, Canadian Living Foundation, and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation."

    Following the Grant Thornton reports, the province agreed to bestow a one time 1.8 million dollar grant to the OSPCA.

    Subsequently, 29 OSPCA directors (out of 36)resigned. Eight sent an official request to the Premier asking the province to investigate the organization and to remove enforcement powers. CEO Judi Marshall also left.

    The province responded by revising the OSPCA Act (Bill 50) granting the OSPCA additional enforcement powers including the right to warrantless entry. The government also bestowed an additional $5,000,000.

    The OSPCA is a provincial police force, a charity, a NON governmental agency.

    As it stands the OSPCA does NOT answer to the government or the Ombudsman and the organization is NOT subject to Freedom of Information.

    I am most definitely pro legislatively enshrined accountability, transparency and independent oversight of the OSPCA, (not to be confused with being anti OSPCA).