On my way to Beth’s soccer practice yesterday, I heard a blurb on the radio about how Frank Klees, MPP (Member of Provincial Parliament) told the legislature that the Newmarket OSPCA was going to euthanize all their animals because of a ringworm outbreak, and that three employees had been fired because they objected to the number of euthanasias. His statement that "We have a repeat now, at the same shelter, of what took place nearly a year and a half ago" was pretty concerning, given the severity of the earlier "ringworm" debacle. Klees, the veteran PC party MPP, has been a vocal critic of the OSPCA in the past.

Later that night, I found a little more information, which was mainly centred around complaints about the number of animals being euthanized for various reasons, and a subsequent statement by the OSPCA that there was no outbreak.

Now, it appears that a protest is being planned for today (Friday), although it’s not really clear to me what they are protesting. Maybe there’s more to it than is being reported and an outbreak or cull is actually underway. However, in the absence of that, their protest is better directed at the state of the animal population rather than OSPCA euthanasias.

While I don’t have a lot of confidence in Newmarket OSPCA management at this point, it’s hard to blame the them for euthanizing a lot of animals. It’s a function of supply and demand, as well as limited capacity.

North America wide, the euthanasia rate for cats entering shelters is about 50%. That’s a staggering number, but it’s not usually the fault of the shelter system – it’s because of the massive overpopulation of cats. When twice as many cats come in as there are available homes, something has to give. You can either build new shelters every year (obviously unrealistic), pack current shelters to the ceiling with cats crammed into crates in every corner (a perfect situation for a large outbreak and hardly fair to the cats) or euthanize many and focus efforts and resources on the most adoptable animals. As much as the "no-kill" concept has market appeal, it’s completely unrealistic for cats at this time because of the simple fact that millions of new cats are born every year with no hopes for a home. A small shelter can run as a no-kill shelter, but that just means that they limit their admissions and/or don’t accept cats with limited adoption potential. A large shelter like Newmarket that takes whatever cats arrive will euthanize many of them, even without an outbreak going on. In fact, to do things right, a large shelter has to euthanize lots of cats to allow them to properly care for and find homes for other cats. Sad but true.

So, while euthanasia is obviously undesirable and it gets people worked up, yelling at the OSPCA doesn’t do anything. They’re not going to stop euthanizing cats, because they can’t. Efforts are better spent helping deliver care to stray animals and preventing the cat population from expanding.

One of the most important things anyone can do to help the problem is make sure to (as Bob Barker used to say) have your pet spayed or neutered (and pass the message along to those you know as well!).

  • carolyn

    “Not clear what they are protesting” Seriously? They are protesting that the euthanasia stop. They are protesting that it never stopped in the first place. They are protesting the lies.
    Education is everything! Did you know that the “new” facility was renovated to hold LESS animals? No wonder they’re killing them, they have no room for them.
    There are MANY no kill shelters in existence.
    The 102 that were killed 2 years ago did NOT have ringworm as was originally reported. Those were all lies. They killed them to make room for the renovations.
    People offered to take in animals, local vets offered their services – OSPCA declined. Why? Do you see the power they have? That needs to change and NOW.
    The management needs to go. They needed to go 2 years ago.
    There is HUGE oversight needed into this organization.
    They are evil, they are crooked, they are liars.
    You’ll never change stupid pet owners into getting their animals spayed and neutered – have you seen the cost of that??? If vet services were more reasonable, maybe you’d see more responsible pet owners.
    This all just makes me ill. I am the PROUD owner of 2 cats and 3 dogs – all rescues. I made a commitment to them, and that is that I will love them and nurture them for the time that I have them, when I rescued, I committed – some don’t. And those that don’t should have animals. Period.
    The OSPCA as we know it now in Newmarket, needs to go.And someone needs to investigate THEM.
    To quote you “it’s hard to blame them”. Are you kidding me?
    And who are they to investigate Marineland – good grief. Stupid is as stupid does. Ugh.

  • Elsa Kahler

    Although I do appreciate that you have stated that you have little confidence in the management of Newmarket OSPCA (especially in light of your previous involvement with them), I have concerns that you may be viewing this primarily from a clinical and statistical perspective. This is to be expected considering your station in life. I certainly agree with you that pet owners have an obligation to ensure that they are not adding to the over-population situation. I, however feel that it is absolutely possible to use solutions, other than culling the population, to provide adequate care for the animals that currently live. There are forerunners, such as Nathan Winograd, who have used creative and highly successful methods to provide a no-kill solution. Perhaps it is time to add some creative humanity to the hard-nosed and sometimes myopic clinical view.

  • That view is absolutely cruel. Killing healthy or mildly diseased animals just because there are just too many or humans say that cannot care for them seems unacceptable to me in a civilized country. Obviously owners should take steps against overpopulation, but breeders or pet stores should also consider the idea of neutering the animals before sale for some circumstances. The most fortunate thing is that animals themselves do not know what exactly they will suffer, or else we would be even more cruel. Imagine a similar situation for ourselves. We are taken by some strange extraterrestrials, are put in foreign and stressful place, and we learn that they are planning to kill us because we are too many, or give them an eachy disease or whatever. Horrible!