Tuesday, December 28, 2010

OSPCA Apologizes To Woman For Euthanizing Cats She Was Trying To Rehome

The Ontario SPCA has issued an apology to a Spencerville woman over the euthanizing of three cats she brought into its Leeds and Grenville branch this past summer. But Marie-Anne Prefontaine says she still has concerns over some of the agency's policies regarding the process, and is sceptical that proper measures have taken place to ensure a similar situation doesn't happen again. Prefontaine -who says she has fostered animals for 10 years and worked at one time for an animal hospital in Kanata -turned four cats over to the Leeds and Grenville SPCA in July. She had been keeping the animals in her barn and hoped the branch could find them adoptive homes. A verbal agreement was reached, for which she says she had a witness. It stipulated that if a decision was made to euthanize the animals for any reason, she would be contacted first. But in September, she says, three of the cats were euthanized after biting SPCA staff. She got the call after the cats were put down. Prefontaine says she was devastated. "What really bothers me is they called me after the fact," she said. The SPCA has several grounds upon which it decides to euthanize an animal, Alison Cross, manager of marketing and communications for the organization, says. This includes behavioural issues that make an animal unfit for adoption. "There are several reasons," she said. "It can be health for that animal -whether it's the most humane option for their own health -and behaviour issues are a factor if there's a risk for people or other animals." She said the three cats Prefontaine brought in were euthanized for behavioural reasons, and said it is more common for wild cats to be euthanized than domestic ones. "I don't have statistics to give you the ratio, but if a branch has more feral cats -wild cats -it would be more common; but if there are more cats that come into a shelter that are more domestic, it wouldn't be as high," she said. And she confirmed the director of operations for animal welfare for the Ontario SPCA has issued a formal apology to Prefontaine. "She apologized to her, because there was an agreement made that, should euthanasia be an option for the animals, that we would call her," she said. "So she personally contacted her and said that things have been resolved, and we recognize that an error was made, and we're sorry for it." Cross says the agreement that Prefontaine struck with the branch isn't normally "part of the surrender process" in turning an animal over to the organization. The SPCA has investigated the incident internally, including communicating with local staff.
"We've investigated it internally, to our staff, and followed up with them as to the policies, procedures and protocols that were performed," she said. "We've also contacted the former manager to let her know what we've done." Prefontaine says she appreciates that the SPCA "took my concerns seriously", and said she received a letter from the CEO regarding the matter. She also says she was told by the SPCA that the employee who carried out the euthanizations has been reprimanded. But she remains concerned with what she feels are flaws in the organization's euthanizing policies, and said whatever procedures or policies are carried out moving forward, one thing can't be changed. "You can't go back and say, 'Sorry, we'll fix that,'" she said. "The animals are dead."
steve.pettibone@recorder.ca 

*Taken from recorder.ca