Toronto Mayor Rob Ford will try to privatize Toronto Animal Services. We must do everything we can to prevent that from happening.
It’s “cheaper to euthanize an animal than keep it in an animal shelter or find it a home.” And that’s why no municipality should consider contracting out shelters to for-profit companies, says Nicholas Gilman, Montreal SPCA executive director.Speed, efficiency and profit; unnecessary suffering and death for the weakest among us. Is this what we want for Canada's largest city?
“I hope that people recognize in Toronto the terrible problem we have had here with for-profit pounds,’’ says Gilman. He is referring to fallout from a CBC Radio-Canada Enquête investigation earlier this year in which a hidden camera was used to document questionable euthanasia practices at a for-profit animal pound that handled more than 30,000 animals a year under its contract with the City of Montreal.
Since the program aired, Quebec has drafted new animal welfare regulations, which include establishing norms for euthanizing unwanted or abandoned pets.
Unlike Montreal, which does not have a municipally run animal services facility, this city has Toronto Animal Services, which shelters and adopts animals, operates cat-sterilization clinics, responds to animal emergencies, issues licences and tags for dogs and cats, and more.
But for how long?
One of the recommendations contained in a KPMG consultant report to the City of Toronto, scheduled for executive committee review in September, is to consider outsourcing animal services.
The consultant also suggests that Toronto examine the value of its pet licensing program and consider increasing the minimum response time to animal emergencies to more than two hours.
The KPMG recommendations are only that, at this stage. But already the fur is flying.
Laura Heslin, a University of Toronto zoology student and volunteer at Toronto Animal Services, says she and other supporters of TAS have started an online petition and Facebook page in support of the city animal shelter and have also planned a rally for Sept. 6 — probably in front of City Hall, she says.
"We’ll be trying to raise public awareness about the possibility of TAS being privatized or reduced, and we’ll also be letting councillors know that Torontonians care about this issue and oppose cuts to the service," Heslin says.
People know about possible library cuts, she says, but few people know TAS "could be on the chopping block." She feels that privatizing the shelter and ending licensing of animals would mean “euthanasia rates would skyrocket and we’d set Toronto back about 20 years in terms of animal control."
Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker told the Star it would be a huge mistake to dismantle cat and dog licensing, which brings in more than $600,000 in revenue annually.
Increasing response times to animal emergencies is also stupid, he says.
“If someone phones in and says there’s an aggressive dog running around in a schoolyard, you don’t want to wait more than two hours," he says. The same goes for an animal that’s been hit by a car and is lying in the road, says De Baeremaeker. “Would we expect people to stand and watch an animal suffer for more than two hours?"
Please sign the petition and please circulate.