Outraged protesters want police to lay charges
A moment of silence was held Sunday outside a Newmarket shelter for the animals euthanized by the OSPCA as a result of a ringworm outbreak.
But amidst the tears and despair was plenty of anger and outrage.
More than 100 protesters, many dressed in black, called for the resignation of the board of directors and urged York Regional Police to lay criminal charges against the organization for causing unnecessary suffering, pain and death to the animals under its care.
“We beg you to charge the executives under the Criminal Code of Canada for the senseless slaughter of these beautiful animals,” Lesly Blank, a rally organizer and volunteer walker at the shelter, yelled through a megaphone at the police guarding the property on Woodbine Ave. “They killed those animals needlessly.”
Blank said the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals didn’t follow protocols.
“They failed to exercise reasonable care or supervision of animals in their custody,” Blank told the gathering. “If all of these animals had not been in their custody, then they would not have been exposed to ringworm infection that resulted in unnecessary pain, suffering and death.
“There has been a breach of trust . . . Police need to lay charges and let courts decide.”
About a dozen small crosses, some with leashes hanging from them, lined the ground at the edge of the property facing the roadway. There was also a small wooden coffin with flowers.
There were also several signs, some that read “OSPCA Slaughterhouse” and “OSPCA Evil.”
Following intense public pressure, the OSPCA suspended plans to euthanize as many as 350 animals at its Newmarket shelter.
Although at least 99 dogs and cats have been euthanized, one dog, a German shepherd named Sago, continues to be a symbol and a rallying cry for the protesters.
The dog was among three put down for behavioural reasons about the same time the shelter suspended its euthanization plans, Blank said.
Protesters, who tried to adopt Sago but were refused, insisted she wasn’t aggressive.
“This beautiful dog was made a scapegoat,” Blank said. “She was a big dog with a very big bark but you don’t kill dogs because they bark.”
Protester Mary Mulholland urged others to keep coming to the shelter every day until the board resigns.
“We cannot just be here today. We have to be here every day until they resign,” Mulholland said, breaking into tears.
“You volunteers have touched these animals. I’m so proud of you. You made them happy for the time they had. Remember when we go home at night we get unconditional love from these animals, every day of our lives.”