Toronto Humane Society Officials Charged with Cruelty
An Animal Rights Article from

November 2009

Five senior Toronto Humane Society officials, including president Tim Trow, and the board of directors were charged with cruelty to animals after a raid Thursday.

Around 3 p.m., the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, with the help of Toronto police, raided the Toronto group's 11 River St. location.

A Toronto Humane Society spokesperson called the OSPCA's actions disgusting and politically motivated. There has been a long-running feud between the two animal-care organizations, he said.

The senior officials charged with animal cruelty include general manager Gary McCracken, head veterinarian, Dr. Steve Sheridan, supervisor Andy Bechtel and manager Romeo Bernadino. Charges against Trow, McCracken, Bechtel and Bernadino also include obstruction of a peace officer

Members of the society's board of directors were also charged with five counts of animal cruelty, a provincial offence under the Ontario SPCA Act

All five people were led out of the building in handcuffs and taken to the police department's 52 Division. It is expected they will make a court appearance Friday morning at Old City Hall.

Charges stem from an investigation that began in early June, looking into the care of four cats that were found to be in distress, the OSPCA alleges.

Left to die, group alleges

Christopher Avery, criminal lawyer for the OSPCA, alleges dozens of animals were neglected at the Toronto shelter, including dozens left to die in their cages without proper care and nutrition.

During the June raid, one officer recalled a cat whose skin came off in his hands when the officer lifted the cat up, the OSPCA alleges.

"There is absolutely no disease control or pathogen control in this building," Avery said, adding that the shelter "is absolutely disease-infested.'

"The animals are left to catch horrible diseases and die in their crates, based on the euthanasia policy and refusing to allow the veterinarians who work here to do their jobs."

The shelter will remain closed to the public while the OSPCA investigates further.

The roughly 1,000 animals in the shelter home will remain there, with investigators going through each cage to investigate the conditions of each animal. This could result in more charges, the OSPCA said.

Not everyone agrees with what happened, though.

A volunteer at the Toronto Humane Society shelter said animals there are looked after. She was visibly upset and worried about the animals inside.

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