When I read the horrifying news this week the Newmarket OSPCA was putting down over 350 animals due to a ringworm epidemic - with 50 already euthanized - I thought it had to be just dumb, blind panic. A Chicken LIttle response. But my colleague Tom Walkom offers another rationale today: it may be all about money. As Tom writes:
But in the end, it seems to have decided that it was more efficient — that it to say, less costly — to eliminate the existing animals in its shelter and start all over again. In pure profit-and-loss terms, that calculation is probably correct. But some of us thought that Ontario’s animal welfare charity actually cared about animals.
This is not the first time the OSPCA has made decisions that make no sense. It was, according to court documents, the OSPCA that ordered five "pit bulls" (and proof of breed should be taken with a grain of salt) killed at the Toronto Humane Society recently after, according to court documents, the animals had already been accepted by U.S. pit bull rescue groups. And that's on top of the animals put down when the THS, too, decided to "start all over," as the Newmarket OSPCA branch seems to have done.
Walkom and others have already presented the case against this Newmarket debacle with eloquence and passion. I merely want to pull together some of that comment and raise questions. (I should note I have had animals with ringworm and gotten through it successfully. An epidemic is far more serious than the treatment of a few pets, however it's inconceivable the public charity supposedly dedicated to the welfare of animals chooses the killing option.)
- OSPCA officials have said the last-resort decision was taken on the advice of veterinarians. Who are they? Let's have their opinions. I know my vet doesn't agree. Online, the OSPCA simply makes a couple of terse statements, saying the York region branch in Newmarket is closed until further notice because of the ringworm epidemic and advises people to call 1-888-668-7722 if they have questions. .
- Police and private security were brought in after OSPCA officials said they'd received death threats. No details have been provided. When the Toronto Humane Society announced plans to euthanize its animals and start over, the same claim was made. Then, I followed up, trying to get some details about these threats - were they to the Toronto staff or the OSPCA, were the police brought in, what division, was an official report made? I came up empty. I'm not saying there were no threats, however they are both hard to prove and potentially a strong PR tool. Are these real death threats or, as some have suggested, something more innocent, such as the shocked response of an animal lover asking hypothetically: "How would you feel if you got put down for having ringworm?" Not the most ideal language, but not a death threat.
- It appears the OSPCA is doing huge damage to its own future interests. Walkom's reaction that he may rethink his decision to give to the OSPCA could well be repeated among hundreds of supporters, How many donors - including pet food companies - are going to stop their support?
Here's the address for Facebook's group discussion of the OSPCA decision: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=121586771193663&v=wall&ref=mf-
It appears the OSPCA is backing down. So here's a final post from Fred offering hope on his superb animal blog. The OSPCA now reports it needs help in treating ringworm: Tanya Firmage, the acting director of animal care, is asking qualified residents to contact the Ontario SPCA directly. You can contact Anne Buonaiuto at 905-898-7122 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
That is great news. It does, however, raise the question: Like, Duh! Couldn't the OSPCA have made this appeal BEFORE killing some 50 animals?