Thursday, May 31, 2012

OSPCA Returns Dog To Owner After Online Petition Amasses Signatures

UPDATE: Mono resident Tracy Cleeves has her companion, Niki, back.

According to her sister Marie, who created the online petition titled “Orangeville SPCA: release Niki back to her owners,” Tracy went to the Orangeville branch of the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) on Wednesday night (May 30) to get Niki back. In a posting on the petition page, Marie said  Tracy ended up paying $365 for Niki, a purebred Jack Russell Terrier who had come into Orangeville OSPCA’s possession after going missing in May.

The Orangeville branch of the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) has gone too far, according to Mono resident Tracy Cleeves, but the animal shelter claims its done nothing wrong.
Cleeves, who has brainstem and lymph node cancer, relies on her Jack Russell Terrier, Niki, for comfort and companionship. After the purebred canine went missing several days ago, however, the OSPCA took ownership of Niki, spayed her, and plans to put her up for adoption.

“They destroyed my dog. They did this without permission,” Cleeves said. “I’m really upset Niki got fixed. They should never have done that.”

The timeline leading up to Niki’s procedure and the date she went missing vary, depending on which side the information is coming from.

While acknowledging her health conditions can cause some memory loss, Cleeves is adamant Niki went missing on May 20, yet OSPCA spokesperson Alison Cross claims the dog was brought into the shelter on May 15.

Both sides acknowledge on May 21 a flyer was placed under the shelter’s door providing information about the missing dog and Cleeves’ phone number.

According to Cross, the shelter contacted Cleeves the next day to tell her she could have Niki back for $270 — a mandatory fee dictated by Mono’s animal control bylaw.

“We still had the dog in our care and the (five business day) holding period was still in effect,” Cross said the OSPCA told Cleeves. “We explained to her the next day that the holding period was coming up (on May 23) and if they didn’t claim the dog, it’d be placed up for adoption, and that it’d be spayed.”
That isn’t what Cleeves recalls hearing. On May 22, she said the OSPCA told her Niki belonged to them, she was at the veterinarian’s office getting spayed and it’d cost her $475 to get her dog back.

“They said that I no longer owned her. They were getting her ready for adoption,” Cleeves said. “I said, ‘You can’t do that, she is my dog’.”

According to Cross, Cleeves wasn’t sure her son, who the OSPCA said is Niki’s owner, wanted to keep the dog on May 22.

Cleeves told OSPCA staff she’d call them back with her son’s phone number so they could see if he’d release the dog to them, Cross said.

“That is not true,” the Mono woman countered. “I never told them that at all. I told them it was my son’s pet, but I’m the owner.”

Since the OSPCA claims Niki has been at the shelter since May 15, the five-day business day holding period ended on May 23.

With the animal shelter set to put Niki up for adoption, Cleeves’ family and friends have been circulating an online petition, which had more than 330 signatures on Wednesday (May 30).

“I’m really missing my dog. I just don’t know what to do without her,” said Cleeves, who lives on a limited income.  “They’ve caused me nothing but stress and distress.”

To get Niki back, Cross said Cleeves will have to pay $350, including $290 for the adoption and a $60 boarding fee. When Niki came into the OSPCA’s care, she added the dog didn’t have tags and wasn’t microchipped.

“This is a great reason why people should microchip the pet,” Cross said. “We could have easily returned it to the owner on May 15, if it was microchipped and this could have all been prevented.” 

**Taken from