Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters
Humane Society says city has euthanized 25,000 animals in only 5 years
The Toronto Humane Society is howling mad that the taxpayer-funded Toronto Animal Services euthanized 25,000 dogs and cats in just five years. Figures the society obtained through Freedom of Information requests and obtained exclusively by the Sun show that 25,003 dogs and cats were euthanized by the city's animal services between 2002 and 2007, the most recent years data is available.
"These statistics are appalling and heartbreaking," Humane Society spokesman Ian McConachie told the Sun yesterday. "People in Toronto love animals ... I don't think they realize what their city and their politicians are doing."
The society is launching a call to action today, appealing for residents to push city officials to ensure animal services -- which received $54.5 million in taxpayer money between 2003 to 2008 -- euthanizes only when it's the humane option.
"Hopefully people will call their city councillor and say, 'I'm a cat lover or a dog lover and I don't want my tax dollars going towards killing animals,' " McConachie said.
The Humane Society's plea comes just days after city Councillor Sandra Bussin brokered a deal with Ontario Natural Resources Minister Donna Cansfield to relocate rather than kill a chihuahua-killing coyote or coyotes out of the Beach.
Bussin stepped in after residents circulated a petition demanding the wild coyote be relocated rather than euthanized. Now taxpayers are on the hook for the trapping and relocation -- an operation officials haven't put a price tag on yet.
In 2007, the combined euthanasia rate for animal services was 55% -- 4,130 cats were killed out of 6,284 admitted and 837 dogs were killed out of 2,707 admitted. By comparison, the privately funded Toronto Humane Society shelter only euthanized 7% of the pets admitted in 2007. "When we make the choice to euthanize, it's because the animal is sick," McConachie said.
Since 2005, the euthanasia rate for cats and dogs admitted to animal services has stayed above 50%. The euthanasia rate has been on the rise since 2002. At that time, animal services took in 9,584 cats and dogs but only euthanized 45% of them. That same year the humane society euthanized 18% of the pets it took in.
Calls to animal services officials were not returned yesterday.
Animal Services struggles with need for euthanasia
April 06, 2009 National Post
Toronto Animal Services has come under fire this month for figures showing it euthanized 25,003 animals --or about half of all animals admitted to the city-run shelter --between 2002 and 2007. The numbers were publicized by the Toronto Humane Society, which had worked with the city to shelter animals until the relationship ended in 2002. In 2007, 4,130 out of 6,284 cats and 837 out of 2,707 dogs admitted to Toronto Animal Services were killed, for an overall euthanasia rate of 55%, compared with the Humane Society's own 7% rate. Michael McKiernan spoke with Eletta Purdy, the manager of Toronto Animal Services:
Q Why is your euthanasia rate so much higher than at the Toronto Humane Society, especially in the last year?
A I can't really say much about their numbers because I don't know how they collect them or what they report. The type of service we offer is very different to other organizations and you get problems when you compare apples with oranges.
Q How does your service differ?
A We're obligated to enforce bylaws laid down by the city. About half of our budget goes on our very active field service, which goes out, across the city 24 hours a day, picking up stray and sick animals. Many owners also bring their pets to us at the end of their lives, when euthanasia is the only humane option and it's requested by the owner. That skews the statistics.
Q When do you consider euthanasia an option?
A Animals come in with many issues and it's an extremely stressful environment, especially for cats. Our first choice is to get the animal back to its owner. If we can't do that, it's about trying to find a way to place it in a new home. If it's too much of an issue, euthanasia can become the only option. We don't have a limit on how long we keep an animal and the decision is individual for each and every one.
Q People will worry that you are turning too easily to euthanasia. Do you think that's the case?
A We are always trying to push up the bar on how much time and effort we put into making an animal adoptable, but it's an uphill battle. If you have 30 healthy young cats that you're struggling to adopt out and you get one more with a health or behavioural issue, the odds aren't working in its favour.... If you keep the unhealthy animals, you run the risk of spreading it further and further.
Q Whatever the justification for the deaths, these numbers are huge. Does it not make you uncomfortable?
A Of course I am never happy about having to euthanize an animal unless it is the last resort, but you have to ask yourself how humane is it to leave a dog in a kennel day after day and watch its health and mental state deteriorate. That's why our focus is on improving adoption rates, because that will help reduce the number euthanized. The challenge is getting people through the doors and heightening awareness that we do adopt out animals. This year, we've taken a portion of the money raised through licensing and reinvested it in advertising our services.
Q Why is the problem so much worse with cats than dogs?
A We need a new mindset for cat owners. Where we are with dogs, that's where we need to get with cats. Make sure they're sterilized and if they're missing, call us immediately. We're going out to the community, asking them to think about how they care for their cat. Supervise them, think about creating an enclosure for them. Even put them on a harness and leash and take them out for a walk. I know myself that it can be done, because I do it with my own cat.
Shelters struggle with rise in pet euthanasia rates
'Appalling' Stats; Pet owners told to take more responsibility
April 20, 2009 Megan O'Toole, National Post
Recent revelations of alarmingly high euthanasia rates among cats and dogs by the very groups designed to save them have experts saying pet owners need to take greater responsibility for overpopulation.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) came under fire late last month for documents showing the U. S.-based animal-rights advocacy group killed 95% of the animals surrendered to them last year -- more than 2,000 pets -- while placing only a handful in adoptive homes.
Days later, Toronto's city-run animal services agency faced criticism for figures indicating its euthanasia rate was above 50%. The local humane society pointed to "appalling and heartbreaking" statistics showing that in 2007, Toronto Animal Services killed nearly 5,000 of about 9,000 cats and dogs admitted to the centre -- a shocking contrast to the humane society's euthanasia rate of 7%.
Both groups were quick to come to their own defence.
PETA accused the organization that published the 95% figure-- a group called the Center for Consumer Freedom, made up of a number of PETA's traditional adversaries, including Kentucky Fried Chicken -- of playing politics with a sensitive issue by skewing the facts.
In reality, more than 10,000 animals come through PETA's doors each year, most of which are treated at little to no cost to the owner and returned to their homes, said Daphna Nachminovitch, the group's vice-president of cruelty investigations.
But of the hundreds that are simply surrendered to PETA, the group maintains that the 95% figure, while accurate, is unavoidable because many of the animals are unsocialized.
Animal advocacy groups are united in their view of a common cause: the failure of many owners to spay or neuter their pets, leading to an overpopulation crisis. The reality of that crisis, according to figures provided by PETA, is that between three and four million animals in the United States are euthanized annually, or about 50% of the number placed in shelters.
Statistics from the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies tell a similar story, with about 50% of the 171,000 animals taken in by shelters countrywide in 2007 being euthanized. The vast majority -- 72% -- were cats.
"Most shelters these days are bursting at the seams," said Shelagh MacDonald, the federation's program director, adding the situation is especially critical for cats, which in many regions are unlicensed and allowed to roam loose in neighbourhoods.
Humane societies in British Columbia, meanwhile, have slashed their overall euthanasia rate almost in half during the last decade by dealing directly with the overpopulation problem. "There has been a real emphasis on finding alternate ways of dealing with the number of animals that come into our shelters," said Jamie Lawson, the organization's chief animal health officer.
Its policy strictly opposes the euthanasia of healthy, adoptable animals and aims to reduce factors contributing to the overpopulation crisis, such as unplanned breeding and abandonment. In cities such as Vancouver, animal-control agencies have turned to outside animal rescue groups for help fostering specific types of pets that cannot find homes elsewhere.