Toronto Humane Society

Employees blame management.

“Bob Hambley is saying the same thing over and over, that it’s all politically motivated. And it’s not. The facts don’t lie,” said Russell, 24. “I’m in there every day. I’m working with those animals hands on. I see what goes on. … I know that the accusation that animals are suffering is 100 per cent true.”

“People don’t know what to believe about all this,” said Davidson, 35. “They keep hearing it’s politics. … There is, of course, a big feud between the THS and the OSPCA. But there’s so much more.”

Volunteers blame management.

Despite the effects of extreme understaffing on animal care, a problem linked to recent charges of animal cruelty against top THS officials, many potential volunteers have been turned away over the years or quit in frustration amid plummeting morale, sources say.

One woman was even told by senior management to “take time out” as a volunteer after raising an alarm about the treatment of nursery kittens.

“We’ve lost a lot of people,” said Jill Maddams, who has been volunteering at the humane society for six years. “We have a lot of trouble retaining people because of the way volunteers are treated there…. What we’re finding now is that they’re turning people away, saying they have enough volunteers, when in fact they don’t.”

Experts call for national governing body to audit shelters.

“There’s actually very few federal laws protecting animals and the degree differs from province to province,” said Tina Widowski, the director of the Campbell Centre for the Study for Animal Welfare, at the University of Guelph.

For Widowski, the idea of a national body ensuring standards of care for domestic animals is possible.

According to Widowski, an infrastructure exists for animals used in research and teaching under the Canadian Council on Animal Care, which requires all university and research organizations using animals to receive regular auditing of its facilities before they receive funding.

“That’s the one area that we’re really well organized on for ensuring minimum standards of care and it would be very beneficial in all of different animal industries,” said Widowski, “It would be good to have similar sorts of guidelines and similar sorts of regulatory bodies that would regularly audit, in some way, and ensure those standards are met.”

But Widowski acknowledges the creation of such an organization to monitor shelters would be challenging and the price tag, steep.

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