Claudia Vecchio, 4/29/12
Founder of ORA
On Friday, April 29th, 2011, Treena and Britain were killed at the Hamilton Animal Control (HAC).
Tuesdays and Fridays are killing days at the HAC. Every Tuesday and Friday morning before the pound opens, cats marked for killing are administered horse sedatives and then put down at an average rate of over 20 at a time. Treena and Britain were two of the 2,231 cats killed by the Hamilton Animal Control in 2011.What makes the case of Treena and Britain different?
We do not even have a picture of Treena or Britain. We do not know their story. Were they someone’s beloved pet who was allowed to roam outside and for that reason were they picked up by the pounds staff as no free roaming cats is allowed in the city of Hamilton? Were they surrendered by their owners who thought the pound would have adopted them out? Were they missed by their caregivers who probably just thought they had strayed away and gotten lost, then never thought to contact the pound or never had the time to visit the pound during their short opening hours?
The reality for cats entering Hamilton's Animal Control facility is that there are no second chances. The Hamilton Animal Control is not open for public adoptions and the only possibility for an animal to escape from death is either to be saved by a “recognized rescue” (that means a rescue who does not question the actions of the HAC) or for a few purebreds or especially attractive ones to be handpicked by the Hamilton Burlington SPCA that occupy the front of the building. Interestingly, against all evidence to the otherwise, the Hamilton Burlington SPCA proclaims to be No Kill, while its chair is the vet who, twice a week, does the killing himself at the back of the building at the HAC.
Last year on April 28th, local rescue groups collaborated as usual to save all of the cats marked urgent so we expected that the killing would have been cancelled April 29th. For reasons unbeknownst to us, (and note that what happens at the HAC stays at the HAC, absolute secrecy, even though the staff are just civil servants paid with taxpayers’ money and therefore accountable for their actions), one staff member independently decided, after the pound had closed, to mark Treena and Britain for death. Before the pound opened on April 29th and without, therefore, the possibility for any rescue to know in time to save them, Treena and Britain were killed by the vet (that is, the chair of the Hamilton Burlington SPCA).
Similar episodes, we were told by trusted sources, have happened before, but this is the first time that we at ORA-Organization for the Rescue of Animals were made aware. We found the whole situation absolutely heartbreaking and disgusting - and we decided to take action.
ORA started two online petitions on Causes and Care2. We called on fellow animal advocates for help and together, we organized rallies to speak up against the murderous modus operandi of the HAC. Treena and Britain’s death and what followed made us realize that while we at ORA have rescued hundreds of animals since our founding in 2002, we must also consider the bigger picture: the thousands of animals we cannot save directly, those unfortunate beings whose lives often end so violently in shelters and pounds. We have to ensure that they, too, can be saved. With vision in mind, ORA invited Bill Bruce to Toronto on September 30th, 2011, and more recently, Nathan Winograd on April 14th, to share their expert knowledge and first-hand experience helping to save the lives of shelter animals.
Animal advocates and animal caring people who attended these seminars have arrived at the realization that NO-KILL is neither an illusion or a dream; it is something that can easily be put into practice. It has been done in so many places where more and more pounds and shelters are embracing NO KILL. No Kill advocates in Toronto and Southern Ontario are now organizing and actively working towards the triumph of the No Kill revolution. There is no going back.
So while we commemorate Treena and Britain’s murder this year in the name of the many thousands of companion animals senselessly, pitilessly and unnecessarily killed every year in pounds in Toronto and in the Greater Toronto Area, we remain optimistic about the future. Treena and Britain are like the “unknown soldiers” who died in our ongoing fight to stop the killing.
Treena and Britain, we deplore the violence that has been committed against you! You will always have a special place in our hearts and we will think of you every time we encounter an obstacle or experience a temporary setback in our mission. You will be our inspiration to remain steadfast, and to see our No Kill efforts through to the very end. All shelter animals have the right to live. No More Killing!
Read more about the cause inspired by Treena and Britain at the HAC-STK Blog by ORA Volunteers.