I have dealt with this shelter on numerous occasions.
This is where I took Shadow to be put down in the fall if you all remember.
They helped me out when my own vet wouldn't. They are an amazing bunch of people in there.The animals are very well cared for by a loving staff. I have always been impressed with them there. It's very sad that this has to happen. I'm sure it is devastating for all of them
OSPCA begins mass euthanization at Newmarket shelter
‘Very aggressive strain’ of ringworm and human error blamed for blanket euthanasia.
A worker blocks out the windows at a the Newmarket OSPCA, where hundreds of animals were to be euthanized after a severe outbreak of ringworm. (May 11, 2010)
Colin McConnell/Toronto Star
OSPCA to euthanize 350 animals
Construction worker Jason Francis rushed to the Newmarket OSPCA Tuesday morning after he saw his cat on the front page of the Star as one of 350 animals scheduled to be euthanized.
“It was kind of a shock,” Francis said, standing outside the animal shelter desperate for word on the fate of black and white J.J. “We thought for sure someone would have picked him up.”
Inside, the euthanasia had started, OSPCA chief executive officer Kate MacDonald confirmed.
Staff inside the building wore white hazardous material suits, latex gloves and plastic covers over their shoes. Windows were blocked with black garbage bags and a few cats were visible near disassembled cages. The doors were blocked with quarantine tape.
J.J. was one of 350 animals sentenced to death after a ringworm outbreak at the shelter. The OSPCA disclosed Monday that cats, dogs, rats and other small animals would be euthanized over the next two or three days because of the highly contagious disease.
A combination of a “very aggressive strain” of ringworm with “human error” caused the drastic response to the outbreak, MacDonald said. She would not elaborate, but yesterday confirmed to the Star that Newmarket shelter manager Denise Stephenson was fired 10 days ago.
“It was due to protocols breaking down,” she said. “An outbreak like this is containable when protocols are followed.”
Asked Tuesday whether animals were screened before they were admitted, MacDonald said that was one of the protocols being reviewed.
About 40 OSPCA volunteers and community members turned up Tuesday to demand answers from the shelter.
“I’ve been here five years,” said volunteer Marilyn Challis as she walked out of the office. “It’s totally unnecessary.”
Francis said he regretted bringing J.J. to the shelter. “There was nothing wrong with him before he came here.” With his boss’s permission to take the morning off, Francis vowed to stay until he got J.J. back, if the cat was still alive, and take him to live with Francis’s mother in Burlington.
Francis, who lives in Keswick, got J.J. as a Christmas present for his family from a litter a friend’s cat had. When his youngest daughter turned out to be allergic to cats, J.J. was taken to the OSPCA for adoption.
“It was a very difficult decision and it was not made lightly,” OSPCA spokeswoman Alison Cross said outside the shelter Tuesday morning.
“We understand this is not anything anyone wants to happen and that people are upset. We’re upset as well.”
Engineer Jason Claxton, an OSPCA donor, left disappointed with the answers he heard.
“It just seemed like a lot of the answers were canned,” Claxton said. “I did not believe a lot of what they were saying.”
The OSPCA’s spaying and neutering clinic next door to the shelter was still in business Tuesday, with a steady stream of people bringing animals in. The society said walls and doors separated the clinic from the shelter and there was no chance of contamination.
Two security guards patrolled the parking lot entrance, checking for employees’ identification.
“I’m pretty pissed off about this,” said Chris Payne of Friends of Forsaken Animals, a cat rescue group. “This is just so wrong and they’re letting people in [to the spaying clinic]. Can they 100 per cent guarantee that these animals won’t catch anything?”
Of the euthanasia, she said, “They’re not giving the animals a chance. They’re just wiping the slate clean.”
The society consulted with experts before making its decision, said Cross, adding that employees have been particularly affected by the news.
“They’re sad. They’re really sad,” she said.
“These are the animals they care for every day. They worked really hard to get rid of this fungus.”