Thursday, October 18, 2012

Henry Was A Sharpei Who Died At Toronto Animal Services In August. The Question Is How?

RIP Henry
Recently I have seen postings regarding the sudden death of a Sharpei named Henry who was housed at Toronto Animal Services North back in August. From what I gather Henry was turned over to TAS after biting one of his owners. From here there appear to be frightening circumstances that led to Henry's tragic (and I do not use the term lightly) death.

According to two eyewitnesses, Rita Mueller from Scooby's Dog Rescue entered the shelter in an attempt to remove Henry. When informed that Henry had a violent history Rita took it upon herself to enter Henry's shelter room in an attempt to control him. The following are two eyewitness accounts of what took place. They are posted on this Facebook page and I must say if true are quite horrifying :

Witness Statement 1-

Rita M was trying to rescue a Shar Pei named Henry who was surrendered by his owner to Toronto Animal Services. She did not share much info about Henry except that he bit the husband. I do not know Rita but went to Animal Services when I saw an online plea. The shelter told me that there is A LOT more to Henry's story that I was not told about. He has bitten everyone that came in contact with him and is not doing well so PTS is the best things especially since the owners have not been very honest about Henry's past.

- Rita then arrives at the shelter with (Person A) for support. She has many leashes and a muzzle with her in hope of pulling Henry out of the shelter that day since he was due to be PTS

-she did not have a proper choke leash so made a noose our of a regular leash and said she would use that instead .... I was under the impression she was a proper rescue and knew what she was doing

- it was my first time meeting her

- she was told by the shelter she had 30 mins only and is not permitted any help because shelter cannot put mine and (Person A's) life in danger

- instantly I saw Rita's hands start shaking and she said 30 mins is not enough time. Then explained that she had already tried to pull him 10 days before but he bit her on her finger

- I did not know this .... so understood why the shelter gave her 30 mins only because if she could not get henry to co-operate in the first 10 mins there was no hope anyways but Rita was certain she can try better this time having come in with more leashes

- we are escorted to Henry's quarantine area but are not allowed in. Only Rita can go in alone. But when the door was opened we observes how peaceful Henry was

- he did not instantly get up and attack or start barking from the get go ... my gut feeling is and I'm no expert is that Henry was just not feeling well due to years of neglect which was making him unhappy but he mostly did not want to be handled

- door closes

- Rita goes in

- comes back out 20 mins later with blood all over her!!!! We asked if she is ok

- she said its not her bleeding but him .... we asked shelter staff what to do ... Ali the shelter staff said maybe he tried to bite Rita through the cage

- Rita asks for a bit glove and says "she is just going to have to go in there and take him down" .... Ali says wrap it up cause you only have 5 mins

- 5 mins later we open the door ... Henry was noosed to a leash

- the other side of the leash which the humans hold was tied to his cage

- this means that when henry pulled back it got tighter unlike when we hold in our hands we can let go and the noose will loosen

- he had blood all over him and it all happened very quickly

- but the door was open henry was up gasping for air then suddenly collapsed and when he fell down he hung himself due to the way Rita had noosed and tied his leash to the cage 

- instead of releasing him from the noose and leash Rita proceeded to put the muzzle on him while Henry took his last breath and died in front of us

- shelter staff checked for heart beat and in matter of 5 mins Henry was gone

- Rita walked out like nothing happened ... washed her hands and shoes because poor henry was bleeding, urinated and took a poo because he was figthing for his life in there

- Rita then said she needs to get out of there ...

- (Person A) then informs me she had only met Rita that day and the story gets weirder

- she said Rita asked (Person A) to meet her away from the shelter first .... she will drive to X location get in (Person A's) car

- I asked why? She has a car

- (Person A) said she is not legally allowed to drive

- so I was thinking WTF

- then we had to drop rita off to her car and she said nothing

- we let her out of the car and she asked us if we wanted to go for drinks

- I said HELL NO ... I wanted to get back to the shelter

- I drove myself and (Person A) back to the shelter gave them my info and told her that OSPCA needs to presss charges on Rita

- Shelter staff was very shook up as well and said they will do what they can but nothing like this has ever happened


Anyway, this is my statement of what Elaine and Sienna told me right after they dropped Rita off.

Yesterday Rita, from 'Scoobys Doghouse' rescue contacted me via pm about a Sharpei named 'Henry'. She said he was in the OSPCA in Toronto and he had until 10am to be rescued or he would be PTS due to aggression. I asked if there was a court order, she said no that he only had to be muzzled. I contacted two friends who live in the Toronto area, and within hours it was arranged to pick up Henry and Elaine was going to foster him until a suitable sanctuary or rescue could be found to place him. Rita met up with Sienna in a mutual place, Rita said she can't to the SPCA because she wasn't supposed to be driving. Sienna rushed to meet up to drive her. Sienna and Rita met up with Elaine who was already waiting for them. At this point Elaine had spoken to the SPCA and found out that there was no rush on Henry, he had until Tuesday! A worker also said he had taken Henry out for awhile and he was really good.

According to the SPCA rules, Rita was the only one allowed in to retrieve Henry and the girls were going to be waiting for them in the waiting room. Rita had only brought a glove and a thin leash. They questioned her about that, having had aggressive issues they wondered if the leash would be sufficient. Rita said she would just use the glove and grab him and bring him out to them. She opened the door where they saw Henry very calm in the cage with an inquisitive look. Awhile later, Rita opened the door and to Elaine and Sienna's horror they saw Henry dead on the floor with urine and feces around him and blood all over Rita's arm. She had used the leash around his neck and tied it high on the bars of the kennel and he strangled to death. They asked where the blood came from, it was Henry's not hers. She said he had bad teeth and that must have been where it came from. Elaine and Sienna were in a state of shock and very shaken, they said Rita's disposition was baffling as if it didn't even phase her. They quickly drove her back to her car and returned back to the SPCA to see if anything could be done, and they told them that Henry 'belonged' to Rita. His owner surrendered him to her.

End of Statement


From what I now gather this case in in the hands of the OSPCA and Rita Mueller has been charged with animal cruelty (she has since found guilty of animal cruelty for another case and is awaiting sentencing in Febuary).

Today I received a response from a Toronto Animal Services supervisor :

"I can confirm that on August 24th the North Shelter had a Shar Pei named Henry in our custody. Unfortunately Henry died under unusual circumstances.  I notified the OSPCA to report the incident and request an investigation. The OSPCA is conducting their  investigation into all the circumstances surrounding the incident and Henry's death and I am confident they will address the complaint appropriately. 

I want to assure you that Toronto Animal Services takes these matters very seriously and  we have conducted a parallel review of this incident.  We have written new policies and procedures around the presence of Animal Service staff during the transfer of care to ensure further incidents involving the transfer of animals is minimized. 

Thank you for your inquiry and I trust you understand that, until the OSPCA investigation is heard in court, we are not able to comment on the specifics."


First I'd like to thank TAS for the response and being as transparent as they can under the law. I have a feeling that perhaps a volunteer or employee may have gone against protocol in allowing Ms. Mueller into Henry's room unsupervised. Unfortunately this decision resulted in a tragic result, though it appears TAS is doing what it can to prevent such an instance in the future. Must they share some blame? Of course, but at least they are being proactive.

On to Rita Mueller and the government :

I see little need to address Rita Mueller or her actions. We all feel the same way. What needs to be addressed is the LACK OF ACTION taken by the government. Rita Mueller should not have been allowed any contact with Henry. Animal "rescuers" with prior convictions or current charges can no longer be allowed to profit off of the backs of the very animals they hurt. I am going to do my very best to further this agenda, and will start by creating the Ontario Animal Abuse Database on The Toronto Pet Daily devoted to listing individuals with prior CONVICTIONS and outstanding warrants for animal abuse charges. If you wish to help I urge you to email and send any court documentation on such charges or cases. Enough people involved in animal rescue visit this blog, and it is my hope that word will spread to help prevent further abuse of a system so badly in need of reform.

***Update : The provincial court in Caledon has confirmed the Rita Mueller of "Scooby's Doghouse" rescue has been convicted on two counts of causing distress to animals. These charges date back to 2011, and Ms. Mueller will be sentenced in February 2013. Apparently Ms. Mueller had 29 dogs in her "care" at the time the charges were laid. With regard to the charges focusing on Henry the Sharpei, I have no doubt Ms. Mueller will have to appear again before court in the near future.

Update January 3 : There is now an arrest warrant issued for Rita Mueller. If you have any information call Crime Stoppers or your local precinct. It saddens me that a warrant has been issued SIX MONTHS after the alleged murder, but for now that is neither here nor there. Let's bring this animal killer in!


January 4 : This morning Rita Mueller surrendered to police at 32 Division. My latest article with regard to Ms. Mueller's past actions will be on the blog later toay.


  1. OMG this is such a horrific story! First let me say I am so glad that Toronto Pet Daily is starting an Ontario Animal Abuse Database. Such a database is long over due!! What I don't understand is why TAS didn't check this woman's references and at the very least why they didn't check in on what she was doing! Truly the mind boggles. Henry was in TAS' care so they were responsible for his well being! From the sound of it, Rita Mueller just came in and in effect slowly strangled Henry to death. The agony that this dog must have been in! I hope in this case the OSPCA DOES charge this woman for cruelty. And if she really does belong to Scooby's Dog Rescue, well then Scooby's Dog rescue needs to be looked in to as well!!!! Furthermore, I hope TAS changes its protocol and never just lets someone in with an animal without checking them out and checking in on them. Henry I apologize to you that the human race is capable of such evil behaviour. Forgive us and may you rest in peace and find eternal love and joy in the arms of St. Francis.

  2. and WHY when this occurred in August is the OSPCA dragging its bloody heels??

  3. ConcerneddogrescuerJanuary 3, 2013 at 2:54 PM

    This is one sick woman!!!!!

  4. I remember when this happened and can't understand why charges have taken so long to be laid. This monster of a woman could be anywhere by now. As far as TAS goes I have found them to be such a wonderful organization who take excellent care of the animals in their shelters. We adopted a lovely older dog also named Henry from the North branch in the summer and I was so impressed with everyone we met there. I am sure that there was no intent on anyone there to put this poor dog in danger. An animal abuse registry is such a long-overdue necessity and should be updated and posted in every shelter in the country. I hope this woman is found before she can cause any further harm and that an example is made of her. This country needs some laws with harsher penalties against those who would abuse animals.

  5. Too little, too late if she got away ~

  6. Would love to strangle this bitch myself!

  7. I actually adopted a dog from this woman in August 2011 by finding her post on Kijiji. She claimed he was rescued hours away from being gassed in North Carolina and she coordinated a team to bring dogs from kill shelters in the states to Canada. From what I can gather this is still true.

    Unfortunately, even though she seemed to be extremely passionate about rescuing dogs (she worked with volunteers that fostered some dogs for her, got them out of shelters before they were killed and was networking to try and get them adopted at such places like Pawlooza) and I gave her $100.00 extra for the dog (I did feel at the time she was doing great work - she brought several dogs to meet me at a dog park and knew all of their stories and traits), she never returned my calls or emails after I adopted the dog to get his papers (she didn't want to release them immediately in case the person who adopts does not decide to keep the dog after a week or whatever).

    The dog (who happened to be half sharpei and half boxer) has turned out to be lovely but he was skin and bones when I got him even though he had supposedly been in custody for a couple of months. I don't regret adopting the dog and I don't feel that she meant to hurt Henry but like many animal lovers she got in over her head.

    It's terribly heartbreaking that this happened to Henry and I believe in my heart that Rita didn't mean to hurt the dog and thought she was saving him from being killed and it turned out horribly wrong. I have seen dogs with my own eyes choke themselves until they pass out wearing normal collars and leashes on walks - I am thinking that Henry had fear aggression and panicked when she leashed him but Rita did not release the leash around his neck when she should have.

    I believe she feels very anguished about what she did and would not attempt anything like that ever again. The truth is that she has saved perhaps hundreds, maybe thousands of dogs lives from old dogs to puppies with parvo virus that needed thousands of dollars in vet care.

    I'm not meaning to defend what she did but I believe it was a terrible accident and not on purpose. If she really hated dogs and meant to hurt them, she would stay home with her 29 rescued dogs and torture them (which as far as I know she did not). Her behavior afterwards does seem likely to be a state of shock and she wanted to get out of there as soon as possible.