Earlier this week, the York Region shelter was closed and staff were sent home after an outbreak of ringworm infected the animals. It was reported all 350 of the pets were to be euthanized to stop the spread of the disease.
But on Thursday, a spokesman for the OSPCA said the fate of the remaining animals will be decided on an individual basis.
Rob Godfrey, chair of the animal protection agency, said most of the animals — about two-thirds — will be re-examined and treated on a "case by case" basis. No determination will be made on whether to euthanize the animals until they have been examined, he said.
About 230 pets — most of them dogs and cats — will be treated for ringworm infection. According to the OSPCA, 96 animals are already being cared for by volunteers.
"There's great optimism" that most of the animals will survive, Godfrey said.
Pet lovers protestedEarlier this week, the OSPCA said its veterinarians and experts decided the way to deal with the ringworm epidemic was to destroy the dogs, cats, rabbits and other small animals in the Newmarket shelter just north of Toronto.
That led to protests from people who thought the action was too extreme.
Even Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty got involved in the controversy. He said Wednesday that "when you're talking about animals and animal welfare, it's something that can be very emotional, that can be very near or dear to the hearts of people."
The OSPCA said the outbreak was caused by human error — that protocols for identifying ringworm in animals were not followed. The shelter will undergo a thorough cleansing and an inspection to ensure the ringworm is eradicated before it reopens for adoptions.
In the meantime, new trailers have been brought to the site to help house staff and animals. Some of the infected pets will be cared for by volunteers, veterinarians and other shelters.