Saturday, November 5, 2011

ORA Member News: Toronto Model and Cat Committee Coalition

Fall 2011 has been a very eventful season for Toronto’s animals! Dean Maher, a local animal advocate, began an important initiative earlier this year to ban the sale of cats and dogs in pet stores. On September 21st, 2011, Toronto City Council voted unanimously in favour of the ban in a monumental step forward in the fight to end animal cruelty.

While animal advocates were still rejoicing the ban, another extraordinary event took place. Bill Bruce, the director of Calgary Animal Services, was invited to Toronto by ORA-Organization for the Rescue of Animals to speak at the Intercontinental Toronto-Yorkville Hotel. On September 30th, Mr. Bruce addressed a packed room of animal advocates, rescuers, representatives from sixteen animal organizations, and others who care for the welfare of animals. The group also included city councillors as well as directors and executives from nine animal services from the Greater Toronto Area to as far as Sudbury; people vested with the decision-making powers to make changes happen. What mutually motivated attendees was the desire to change the present situation, to learn about the “Calgary Model” and to find life-saving alternatives to the unacceptable killing of thousands of animals in pounds across the GTA. As Claudia Vecchio, chair of ORA-Organization for the Rescue of Animals stated in her introductory speech: “We hope that this evening will be the beginning of radical beneficial changes for the homeless and abandoned animals in our city.... that we will soon be able to speak about a Toronto Model inspired by respect, compassion and care for the animals.”

Our Toronto Model already seems to be taking shape. On October 25th, 2011, City Council voted 38 to 4 in favour of banning the sale of shark fin products in the city: another historic step raising Toronto’s profile in animal welfare. Much work remains to be done, but the time is right for change. We will need the cooperation of all of the city’s animal advocates and animal organizations to facilitate planning and implement long-term strategies. Setbacks are to be expected, but history is certainly moving in the right direction for our fellow animals. Positive changes are sure to come.

We look forward to providing further updates on more happy outcomes for the animal welfare initiatives in our city. In the meantime, a Cat Committee Coalition has been formed by several Toronto animal rescues, including ORA-Organization for the Rescue of Animals, under the coordination of Dean Maher and Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker. We look forward to achieving great things together for the welfare of Toronto’s felines, and we hope that you will all lend our new fellowship your fullest support.

ORA-Organization for the Rescue of Animals

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