Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Can We Afford To Lose Toronto Animal Services?

While we're still waiting for an official decision, it seems as though the KPMG firm is recommending some major changes with regard to Toronto Animal Services. Among the proposed recommendations is doing away with pet licensing, which in my estimation is perfectly reasonable, considering that the program runs at a loss. The bigger issue that has people up in arms however, is the notion of scrapping the program completely, and perhaps outsourcing animal care services. To save myself some time on this lazy day of summer, I'll direct you to this facebook group devoted to saving TAS (the facts are clearly outlined on the "Info" section of the page).

Clearly, simply doing away with Toronto Animal Services is not the answer, though as with most bureaucracies, some things will need to change (I'm sure no one would agree that a current response time of at least two hours for an emergency is anything to boast about). Do any of you have any suggestions? I for one would be in favour of a fee (be it $100.00 or so) to reclaim a found pet, and perhaps even a greater penalty if the animal is not tagged or chipped. With such a fee, funds could be directed toward one of the four TAS shelters, and hopefully could serve as a deterrent to those who lose their pets (GET A MICROCHIP!!, or at least have a tag with a name and number).  In addition, I feel it would be greatly beneficial to have a lost pet fixed, at an owner's expense, befor the animal can be reclaimed.  Do you agree with me? Perhaps you can pinpoint some areas for improvement.

If you'd like to speak on the issue, feel free to comment on the discussion thread on the facebook page. In addition, if you would like to write a longer piece, I'd be happy to post it on the blog under the "Opinions" section.

10 comments:

  1. Well Gord, even though I volunteer a lot to protect cats and dogs, I simply don't feel that TAS is a good use of money.

    - They have a $12 million budget.
    - They have nine managers making over $100,000
    - They ask for donations, when we have 100% volunteer run orgs that get no government money
    - They euthanize cats pretty quickly (2 weeks)

    I don't think they are efficient, and having pet owners pay $800,000 in licensing fees, of which $600,000 goes towards collecting the money is a good example of the inefficiencies of TAS.

    I have to wonder how much better spent that $12 million would be spent if it was used to provide low cost spay/neuter microchip services.

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  2. That's really helpful when looking at the whole picture...I had no idea the managers made that much! In addition, someone forwarded me an email from an individual who attended the meeting, where people were told that they could take their animals to the THS or OSPCA if needed.......I'm not a huge fan of either organization (though they do SOME good). Thank goodness for yourself & volunteers....why the upper management and boards of these organizations don't take a cut is beyond me.....I know so many people who would do the job for much less. I have a feeling people will learn more from these comments (myself included), which is awesome!

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  3. Anonymous, where did you get your figures from? What was the source?

    IMHO, TAS must be retained. First, it is the ONLY open-admissions animal facility in the City, meaning no animal can be turned away. How many people would make the trek to the OSPCA in Newmarket? That suggestion would just result in more animals on the street.

    Licensing is important revenue. The "knock on doors" program appears to have been mismanaged (yay, Miller regime), as has been the marketing of licenses. You tell me "It's the law" and I flip ya the bird. Better marketing would be the fact that if your pet is licensed, gets lost and you can be contacted, your pet gets a free ride home.

    As for Anonymous - TAS provides low-cost spay/neuter for cats. I am advised that donations support the shelters and the spay/neuter program.

    One thing that cannot happen is privatization of sheltering. That would be a nightmare and turn the shelters into killing grounds. The residents of London, Ontario are very angry about the current privatized animal services and want the City of London to take back those services. The history of privatized animal "care" is rife with horror stories. You simply cannot make money sheltering animals; if you think otherwise, you're delusional.

    A good presentation on TAS:
    http://iwantapounddog.blogspot.com/2011/07/presentation-to-july-25-2011-city-of.html

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  4. Admin, I believe there is an impound fee collected when a lost pet is retrieved by the owner. The section of the Toronto municipal code respecting animals (349) refers to fees but the fees don't appear to be published online.

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  5. Having greater fees to return a lost pet and an increased fine for untagged or micro-chipped pet is an great suggestion. I am more than willing to pay it if my dog gets loose.

    Your next point I strongly disagree with however. "In addition, I feel it would be greatly beneficial to have a lost pet fixed, at an owner's expense, befor the animal can be reclaimed"

    I hold off a spay till a dog is over a year for numerous health consideration. The benefits outweigh the risks. Who is to say my dog must be spayed at a certain age - most vets will tell a client before the first heat even though research shows the best time is when bones are finished growing (approx 8-10 mths). As well, recently a breeders dog went missing and many people looked day and night for her. Thankfully she was found. Who has the right to say this dog gets spayed before being returned?

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  6. You're absolutely right Miss Kodee, I should have been more clear in that I wasn't referring to fixing the young ones, for the reasons you outlined. I do wish there was a way to do more than "encourage" spaying/neutering though. :)

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  7. I'm with Miss Kodee about holding off on s/n. I also disagree vehemently with mandatory spay/neuter; public education is the key, and low-cost s/n facilities open to the public can only help.

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  8. Hello, my name is Laura, I'm a TAS volunteer and I'm the one who started the Save TAS page and wrote the information that you linked.

    I'd just like to address Anonymous' comment - TAS does not euthanize cats after 2 weeks. That statement is completely made up.
    On average cats spend about 1 month - 3 months waiting for a home. A few of them (usually kittens) wait less time, but many of them wait longer. After two weeks in the shelter, many of them aren't fixed yet or end up being treated for URI, which means they aren't even available. If we euthanized after two weeks, we'd have no adoptions at all.

    If a cat is healthy and friendly, the shelter is usually willing to wait it out. I could point you to the cats in this blog post I wrote, all of whom got adopted and several of whom were long-term. Madden wasn't even that nice of a cat, but they gave him several chances.

    Also I'd love to write a longer piece about this! How do I submit it?

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  9. Oh I forgot to mention - s/n for lost animals would be extremely hard to sell. What if the shelter operated on an owned animal and they died on the table? Or the animal had a medical condition of which the shelter was unaware? It would leave the shelter liable and it'd be hard to find a vet willing to operate against an owner's wishes.

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  10. Laura HP has a very valid point about s/n. There are medical conditions which preclude s/n'ing an animal, and any surgical procedure has risks, even minimally invasive. Operating on an animal without knowing history and having a pre-surgery workup would be irresponsible and lead, I believe, to tremendous liability for the City.

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