Owen Sound Animal Shelter Under Investigation

Resident cat at Owen Sound Animal Shelter.

Resident cat at Owen Sound Animal Shelter.

Looks like my local shelter, the Owen Sound Animal Shelter, has been emulating the Toronto Humane Society – and not in a good way.

The Owen Sound Animal Shelter is an independent entity from Owen Sound Animal Services, just as Toronto Humane Society is completely unaffiliated with Toronto Animal Services. Like THS, Owen Sound Animal Shelter is a ‘no kill’ facility, stating that it euthanizes only the animals too ill or too aggressive to be placed for adoption.

Like THS, this (perhaps initially well meaning policy) has degraded into a distressing combination of too little veterinary treatment for some animals, combined with overly enthusiastic, poorly carried out euthanasia for others.

From the Owen Sound Sun Times

Candice Ford says she is still troubled by the memory.

As she tried to comfort an obese, geriatric cat, an operator of the Owen Sound Animal Shelter struggled to euthanize the animal by repeatedly attempting to inject the killing agent T-61 into its heart, without sedation, the former shelter volunteer and employee said.

“He poked her more than once and this poor cat was obviously suffering. But he couldn’t find the heart and he kept trying and trying,” said Ford

The Owen Sound Animal Shelter has been under investigation since 2008, when former employees of the shelter started coming forward with complaints about the treatment of animals at the facility. Their litany of offenses committed at the shelter echo those we’ve been hearing about at the THS. In addition to misuse of veterinary euthanasia drugs, the former shelter workers also allege –

..that between 2005 and 2008 they witnessed:

• Stray or feral cats euthanized, without being registered in the shelter’s database.

• Cats and dogs euthanized for reasons other than aggression or illness, despite the “no-kill” policy.

• At least three dogs — an aggressive dog named Blondie, a Labrador-collie cross named Tripp and an elderly bulldog named Sumo — living in a cage for years, with little exercise.

• Cats with abscesses not treated by a veterinarian.

• Animals dying shortly after procedures not performed by a veterinarian, including a kitten that had maggots removed from its head, a pregnant cat that broke its leg and a dehydrated orange tabby that was force-fed fluids.

• A freezer full of euthanized animals emptied about twice each month by Gateway Cremation Services of Guelph.

• Animals sprayed with bleach and other cleaning agents while cages were cleaned.

Owen Sound Animal Shelter is also accused of gross mismanagement, including –

spending donated money inappropriately, posting pictures of euthanized animals as adopted and refusing to accept local animals while housing cats and dogs from Quebec and the United States.

I’ve been rather surprised at how many shelters are now seem to be doing that latter item – cherry picking cuter, ‘more adoptable’ animals from distant cities, rather than actually offering a service to the homeless pets in need in their immediate areas.

The Owen Sound Animal Shelter has been under investigation by the OSPCA, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Ministry of Natural Resources, Owen Sound Police Services and City of Owen Sound. So far, no charges have been laid, but “The OSPCA and OMAFRA have six months from the receipt of a complaint to gather sufficient evidence to warrant laying charges.”

Read the full article here.

Free roaming strays beat building new shelter

This just in from Arkansas, where the Helena West animal shelter director has decided that letting his city’s strays run free in the National Forest beats more complicated measures, such as caring for them or trying to arrange for them to be adopted out

Ark. city releases shelter dogs into forest

LITTLE ROCK (AP) — Unable and unwilling to keep abandoned dogs in a dilapidated shelter, the city of Helena-West Helena is taking strays to a national forest and leaving them on the side of the road.

“They are better off free,” Mayor James Valley said Thursday. “Pardon the pun, but it was just something that was dogging us. So it would be easier for us until we get a facility and have a plan that we just not be in the animal shelter business.”

But the St. Francis National Forest isn’t in the animal shelter business, either.

“In the code, it is illegal to release animals, livestock or abandoned personal property on national forest land,” spokeswoman Tracy Farley said.

Valley said the city’s animal shelter was so run down that a regional humane society worker cut its locks last winter and released all the dogs. The city then temporarily moved its shelter to four uncovered pens at the city sanitation department.

After people complained the animals were still not properly cared for, the mayor decided the animals would be better off in the forest. The city street director on Wednesday took about 10 dogs to the forest after feeding and watering them. About three dogs were kept to be put down by a veterinarian, Valley said.

He said the city would need $50,000 to $60,000 to open a new animal shelter — and also must enforce existing animal-control laws.

“We have a leash law that we’ve been trying to work our way into enforcing. It’s been so lax,” the mayor said. “People are not buying leashes or tags for the animals. We could literally pick up every other dog in the city.”

If animal-control officers get a call now, “they’re going to pick the dog up and probably just take them to the other side of town,” Valley said. “And it’s going to be someone else’s problem. … or maybe they will take them to the forest.”

You’d like to believe this is just a joke, wouldn’t you? Unfortunately, here’s a video clip just to back up how surreal-ly real this story is.