Thursday, February 21, 2013


In addition to our usual rescue work, in the last 18 months, ORA has done a tremendous effort to stop the killing of healthy animals in pounds.

At this purpose, ORA–Organization for the Rescue of Animals has brought to Toronto in the fall of 2011, Bill Bruce, the former director of Calgary Animal Services who has been able to introduce in Calgary innovative life-saving measures.

In April 2012, ORA has also organized, in Toronto, a seminar with Nathan Winograd, the Leader of the No Kill movement in the United States who has helped and inspired over 70 communities to became No Kill. After ORA’s Bill Bruce and Nathan Winograd’s event we have assisted to the spontaneous creation of countless No Kill groups that are trying either to put pressure on the pounds in their communities to become no kill or have started working with their local pounds, when these are receptive, towards the implementation of life saving measures.

In the late summer and early fall of 2012 even Toronto Animal Services launched a series of public consultations on three topics, one being the feral cats issue. Although feral cats have shared the human landscape for thousands of years, in our modern times , some people have become intolerant towards outdoor cats and often either call their local pound to remove them or take the cats directly to the pound. As feral cats are not adoptable they end being killed. This is an unnecessary atrocity, it is immoral, costly to taxpayer and damaging to the community. because the city rodents are taking over.

As a real estate agent for over 20 years, I have seen the rodent problem taking over. 20 years ago there were complaints of rodents presence in some marginal areas of Toronto , but now even upscale communities often complain about a rodents problem. Cats are the only deterrent, so why killing them, when they fulfill such a wonderful; community service to keep rodents at bay?

ORA’s September 13, 2012 public submission to Toronto Animal Services public consultation was suggesting that:

"No stray or feral cat that arrives to TAS in reasonably good health should be killed. All feral and stray cats should be neutered and returned to the same place where they were picked up…. Feral or stray cats in relative good shape have obviously found sources of food to sustain them and they should therefore be neutered and returned. There is no logical reasons that could justify killing them, especially since Toronto is afflicted by an increasing rodent problem”

Feral cats are not homeless and they do not deserve to die just because they are not someone “pet”. They do belong outdoor and the animal caring people can just help them by supplying food and providing outdoor properly constructed shelters for the winter months. Trap Neuter and Return is a practice implemented worldwide to humanely control cat population and it has been proven to be very successful.

Although weeks ago, a staff of the city of Toronto has already informed us that ORA’s feral cat proposal had been accepted, we were very glad when just a few days ago we received the formal confirmation from Toronto Animal Services in an e-mail to Toronto rescue groups

We are now ready to implement our Feral Cat Policy where all healthy feral cats that enter TAS Animal Centres will be returned to their location of origin or relocated when necessary!”

This is a great progress towards the implementation of No-Kill in Toronto. Lives we be saved and we are applauding this new program, although this is just a first step and the idea of what is a “healthy cat” is subjective and subject to discretion. Would an eye infection, ear mites, or a rotten tooth for instance disqualify a cat from being considered “ healthy” and therefore from being neutered and returned? In any case the acceptance to neuter and return any healthy feral cat who is brought in the pound is a step in the right direction and a great victory towards the embracing of the no kill principle.

We hope that all other pounds in Southern Ontario will follow suit. Obviously that is going to be more difficult to implement in municipalities where free roaming cats are not allowed.((How ridiculous is to forbid free roaming cats, what is coming next, stopping free roaming birds?).

It is important that the animal caring community ask and expect changes. Pounds directors and staff are paid by tax payers and they are accountable. Public participation and intervention is extremely important to bring about the necessary changes to save the lives of all the companion animals ending up in pounds. ORA has offered its support to the everyday implementation of new feral cat program and we will continue to work towards educating the community towards a peaceful coexistence with feral cats. Our offer is out, accepted or not, we will continue tireless our rescue and advocacy work, but please bear in mind we need your help, the help of all our volunteers, supporters and donors. The new feral cat program will likely save hundreds of lives every year, but thousands of companion animals, surrendered and tamed cats, dogs and pocket animals are still being killed: a lot remain to do.
If you wish to volunteer, donate or support ORA’s work, please e-mail us at or call 416 726 5762 or 416 726 8895.

Claudia Vecchio
ORA-Organization for the Rescue of Animals