By Tim Trow
This is the first time since the astonishing events of a year and a half ago that I’ve spoken or written to fellow members of The Toronto Humane Society. More about that later. The important news, and why I am writing to you, is what is currently happening to the animals in need of our care in Toronto. And it’s not a pretty picture:
The current Board of Directors has been shutting down programs that took decades to build:
* No more native wildlife rehabilitation;
* No more lost and found as relied upon for generations;
* No more cruelty investigation;
* Animals for surrender rejected;
* Orphaned kittens barred from the nursery;
* Cages demolished and accommodation drastically reduced.
Visitors go to the shelter and see empty cages and they ask where all the animals are. Families go to the Adoption Centre in North York for a pet only to find it deserted. Tragic since, in its first year over a thousand families found a new best friend there. Donors see how little the Society is doing and have cut yearly donations to only a fraction of the $10 Million they used to give before this Board took office.
The most needy animals have been abandoned. The Mission Statement – “We Help All Animals” – once proudly displayed in the lobby, has been painted over. When they ran for election, Board members never said they would abandon the most vulnerable.
An accident can happen in even the most loving home, when an animal slips out a door or window into the night. So many people have told me how a possible tragedy turned to relief after they phoned the Society and were told that their pet was safe. Pet owners have now lost that security because the current Board of Directors has told the staff to not to keep lost pets.
But another devastating change may still be ahead of us. This Board is rumoured to have secretly commissioned an appraisal of the building at 11 River Street with plans to close and sell the building. Friends, we haven't put so much into caring for animals to see this happen. What would the generations before us who built the Society think of us if we allowed 11 River Street to be sold out from under the animals.
Our shelter was designed by the prominent architect John Parkin to last well into the future. It’s just undergone a $4 Million modernization. Simply from a financial standpoint, selling a uni-purpose building for what may be no more than land value is folly.
I am glad to be in touch with you again. As you know, reputations were attacked by the laying of animal cruelty charges by the OPSCA against the Society, myself, the volunteer former Board members, and our dedicated senior staff. Since then these charges, as well as many wild allegations, have been put under a microscope by the proper authorities and the verdict is in:
* Crown Attorney's office: no credible evidence of wrongdoing;
* Canada Revenue Agency: no irregularities or misappropriation of funds;
* Provincial Public Guardian and Trustee: no misuse of charitable donations;
* Provincial Animal Care Review Board: no finding of animals not put down that should have been; determined shelter clean with appropriate sized cages;
* Ontario Veterinary College: no finding of interference in the work of veterinarians;
* Society auditors KPMG: financial statements in good order and sound budgeting.
The truth is out: allegations were unwarranted. The Society was handling a full workload and doing fine by the animals. And certainly none of these authorities said that there was any need to abandon the most needy animals.
It is clear that a year ago we all, including myself, ought to have communicated better. I’m sure I made mistakes. But my heart was always in the right place. I feel sorry for the volunteers, the staff, and their families, who suffered because of what current Board members and others said about their hard work. Now that these employees have been vindicated, they should be welcomed back to help the animals. Instead, this Board is spending a great deal of money on Bay Street lawyers to prevent these dedicated people from returning.
Let's waste no time. We must alert our friends to what's happening. I urge you to start today. There is the additional danger that we, as members, could lose our say if we don't act now. This Board has been busy re-writing the by-laws that contain the election rules.
Friends, let’s get to work.
If you haven't done so already, please renew your membership. Our vote is all that gives us a voice at the Society.
To read more please visit TimTrow.ca, email or write me to share your ideas. Then we can move forward together.
Please renew your membership today. The Society and the animals have never needed us more.
Some of you have already set up websites. You can visit http://www.supportanimals.wordpress.com. After all, we have to speak for the animals because they can't speak for themselves.