this is a tough one … potentially political and highly emotional. i’m not sure i should be writing this blog entry … it has nothing to do with photography, however, everything to do with dogs and definitely rescue – which is something that you all know is very important to me. i should also be packing boxes right now doing a million other things to see to it that the move of home and scruffy dog studio goes smoothly over the next month (thus the lack of regular blog entries lately), but after reading this morning’s disturbing article in the Globe & Mail by Kate Hammer, i simply had to share … if only to spread the word to just a few more ears.
like most people, i prefer to give EVERY pet every last possible chance, however i’ve always been somewhat unsettled by the term “no-kill”. i’ve known of dogs languishing in no-kill shelters for years, in fact, their entire lives … living in kennels with only the most minimal of human contact and care and only the slimmest hope of having a real life. sure, you read of some rare cases that finally get adopted at the age of 10 or 11, but honestly, what kind of life is this for a dog? in cases like this, perhaps euthanasia isn’t such a bad thing, no?
of course, there are better alternatives! education. spay and neuter. stricter laws and penalties. whatever. but not leaving dogs to live out their lives in cages. or worse …
… the Toronto Humane Society … dogs and cats dying slow, agonizing deaths in their cages, denied the simplest of dignities and gifts we can give them – a quick release – simply because the organization is determined to keep its recorded euthanasia numbers down in order to better stay in the public’s favor and thereby garner more donations and funding. my heart breaks. if you’ve ever had an animal die in your arms you’ll know what i’m talking about.
read the article if you want the full story … The Globe & Mail: Killing them with kindness. but be warned, it’s not pretty.
it seems vets come and go from the THS … routinely quitting because what is demanded of them goes against their code of ethics, and even against the law.
By law, it is a requirement for veterinarians employed by humane societies to have language in their contract that makes them responsible for all decisions relating to the care of animals.
“I couldn’t work at the Toronto Humane Society any longer because it violated my professional oath as a veterinarian,” said Johanna MacNaughton, a veterinarian who resigned in April.
Another veterinarian, Amanda Frank, quit later that month for the same reasons.
“I would never make a euthanasia decision without great consideration, and I would only euthanize an animal if it was suffering with no chance of recovery,” said Dr. MacNaughton.
And an internal memo obtained by The Globe confirms that euthanasia decisions must be cleared by management, many of whom have no medical training.
i can only shake my head and try not to weep …
“It is heart-wrenching, I’ve watched critically ill animals suffer and die in my hands while I run around trying to get permission to euthanize,” said Magdalena Smrdelj, a THS veterinarian.
it seems that Kate Hammer’s article sprang from a recent adoption of a dog – now named Harley – adopted from the THS with a broken leg. yeah, you read that right. she’d been sitting in her kennel at the shelter with a fracture.
now okay, hold up … every story, EVERY story, has two sides. maybe this dog was being treated by THS staff, maybe it was some hairline fracture that couldn’t be cast, wired, whatever. but to have that dog up for adoption?! and to a self-proclaimed “low-income” couple who would then have to take on the expense of this ‘condition’?
but that’s not the real issue – at least, not for me – and it’s not the primary reason for my post … Harley’s suffering was minor compared to the other documented sufferings going on behind the walls of the THS. again, read the full article and view the photos to understand just some of these conditions … The Globe & Mail: Killing them with kindness
thank you to Harley’s new owners – Ainsley Kendrick and Dian Miguel – and of course Kate Hammer of the Globe & Mail, for bringing these atrocities to light. and thank you to the brave individuals – former and current THS staff members – who have risked their jobs to speak up in order to uncover a raft of disgraceful and unethical practices and ‘policies’ embraced by the Toronto Humane Society.
i hope that Kate Hammer’s article is just the beginning, and not only for the Toronto Humane Society, but maybe for other so-called “no-kill” shelters in this country and beyond.
and Ainsley and Dian, if you’re reading this and ever want to set up a complimentary shoot for your wonderful girl, just say the word.