Protest continues as 50 animals euthanized at OSPC

Amber, a golden retriever, joins a group of protesters outside OSPCA headquarters. (May 12, 2010)

More than 100 demonstrators, many with their own pets, continued protesting at the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals headquarters in Newmarket through Wednesday.

Shouting “This is murder” and “Stop the murder now,” demonstrators expressed their disdain and disapproval of the decision to euthanize animals at the OSPCA.

The protest got quite heated with a lot of yelling and screaming as the day wore on. At least two people were given trespassing tickets by police. One woman who received a $65 trespassing ticket told the Toronto Star in an interview that she had wanted to adopt a German shephard that she had been walking and a cat.

“Number one, if I could have had one of each (a dog and a cat) that certainly would have helped,” said Christine Condy, referring to perhaps saving some of the euthanized animals. “Perhaps we all could have done that.” Condy came prepared with a cat carrier and a leash. But when she walked on to the OSPCA property the police took her to the car, interviewed her and gave her a ticket.

As the demonstration continued some motorists passing by the demonstration honked in support.

So far 50 animals have been euthanized at the Newmarket shelter following an outbreak of ringworm disease.

“Fifty have been euthanized, sadly,” said OSPCA chairman Rob Godfrey. “I’m heartbroken about the 50.”

Godfrey added, however, that the OSPCA has considered each euthanization on a case-by-case basis.

He said some of the dogs that were put down had been slated for euthanization due to other health problems prior to the ringworm outbreak.

Godfrey defended the controversial decision to euthanize most of the 350 animals at the shelter, even as demonstrators protested outside the shelter.

“If we wanted to do ‘mass euthanization,’ it could all be done at once,” he said. “I think it lends credit to the fact that we are doing this on a case-by-case basis.”

The OSPCA’s York Region branch decided on Monday to heed the advice of its veterinarians and euthanize all of the dogs, cats and small animals staying at its shelter.

Public outcry quickly followed the decision, but the OSPCA says it is a last-resort solution to a ringworm “epidemic” that’s overtaken its facility and infected everything from the walls to six of its staff members.

On Tuesday night, Godfrey confirmed that 20 animals could be saved and 10 would be transported to private veterinary clinics for isolation sometime on Wednesday.

He said most of the animals affected by the fungal disease are cats, but 15 of the facility’s 45 dogs have been euthanized thus far.

Of the 45 dogs, 10 are in the process of being moved into isolation and 20 more are still awaiting assessment, Godfrey said.

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