Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Toronto Humane Society Interim CEO Christopher Barry Responds To Recent Allegations, Speaks On The Current State Of The Organization

An open invitation

Dear member:

One of the most gratifying aspects of being the Interim CEO of The Toronto Humane Society (THS) is the overwhelming expression of support I have received from our community, our membership and our donors who recognize that we are doing the best job possible to ensure a caring, clean and safe environment for the animals in our care.

I am also tremendously proud of the dedication and professionalism of the THS staff and volunteers who face many challenges as they strive to build a caring and compassionate THS.

As we approach our Annual General Meeting on May 31, I would like to share with you the reality of who we are and how we operate through this blog.

Our mission, vision and values

Our mission is to promote the humane care and protection of all animals and to prevent cruelty and suffering. Our vision is to be one of Canada’s leading animal advocacy, animal care and adoption agencies.

To that end we do everything possible to provide high quality care to the animals who are surrendered to us and to find them forever homes as quickly as possible. We provide expert veterinary care – from emergency support to chronic and palliative care.

At the THS, animals are never euthanized because of long shelter stays or a lack of space and healthy animals are never euthanized. We only review the possibility of euthanasia if an animal presents an issue that cannot be treated through behavioural modification or medical intervention. We give every animal every chance to succeed.

Our euthanasia rate is low at 2.3%. We never surrender an animal for research or other commercial use.

While our current license does not enable us to accept stray animals, we do have an arrangement with Toronto Animal Services (TAS) whereby we can provide immediate medical care for any animal that requires it. We accept stray animals on transfer from TAS once they are eligible for adoption.

The animals in our care

We presently house dogs, cats (including puppies and kittens) and special species animals. Our kitten nursery is open and we are saving many kitty lives. We cannot currently accept wildlife due to violations to our license made by a previous administration. However, we are working collaboratively with the Ministry of Natural Resources and will be in a position to reapply for our wildlife license in January 2012. Each week, we provide shelter to more than 20 ready-to adopt animals transferred to us from rescue partners.

Today we are adopting our animals out more quickly (the average length of stay for dogs is 4.5 days; and less than one month for cats). We are not yet able to use some shelter spaces that were previously used as these spaces were never properly equipped for sanitation (we are quite proud that the spread of infectious disease has been drastically reduced), and we have enlarged most runs and cages leading to healthier and happier animals. Many of our dogs are out walking (we now average four walks per day) and up to 130 of the shelter’s animals are out on foster care at any given time. Our volunteer and foster care programs are one of our fastest-growing areas.

Our programs and services

Every animal at THS is spayed or neutered before being adopted. Our volunteer-run feral cat spay/neuter clinics – our largest community outreach program – are reducing the number of homeless cats on Toronto’s streets. From June 2010 to present we will have held eight clinics, resulting in 220 treatments; two more clinics are scheduled later this month.

We are particularly proud of our new behaviour modification and dog training programs that are helping to keep more animals in their homes. These programs also assist shelter animals with behavioural issues find forever homes faster.

Our operations and facility

Thanks to an increasing membership and volunteer base and growing number of monthly donors, our revenue is up 4% from this time in 2010; at the same time our expenses have decreased by 15%.

We have no plans to sell our 30,000 square-foot facility, and are in fact constantly looking at further improvements to enhance the health and safety of our animals. Our efforts seem to be paying off: we have passed four inspections by the College of Veterinarians of Ontario since June 2010.

Improvements we made to enhance and enlarge our enclosures so impressed Dr. Tony Buffington, DVM, MS, a recent visitor from Ohio State University, that he has asked permission to share the specifics of what we have done with his veterinarian colleagues in the United States.

We have staff on site from 7 a.m. until 11 p.m. daily with 24 hour security and veterinarian on-call rotations.

I know we can count on our members to make the right decision on May 31 and to support the Board endorsed slate, made up of individuals who share the mission, vision and values of a revitalized Toronto Humane Society. In the meantime, I invite you to come and see for yourself. You are welcome to visit at any time. We are also hosting an Open House on May 28 & 29 from noon to 6 p.m. we’d love to see you there!

Please continue to watch my blog for regular dialogue on the issues you raise and updates on new developments at the THS