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It was only a matter of time before Toronto Animal Services started to feel the squeeze coming down from City Hall with their new belt tightening policies. There were promises of no cuts to essential services during the election but of course one's person essential service is someone else's second helping of gravy.

There used to be five animal control officers on-call for after hours work for all of the GTA. These are the people who would be called if there is an injured or dying animal on the road after being hit by a car or if the paramedics are faced with a snarling dog protecting its unconscious owner or if the police are doing a drug bust and they're uncertain about the guard dog in the dealer's apartment.

These calls, on average, take about an hour which would include driving out to the location, securing the animal, driving the animal to where ever it needs to go and taking appropriate action - of course some take less time but some take much longer especially if securing the animal is an issue. Five ACOs for all of the GTA is not a lot and on-call nights could get pretty busy for them and this after pulling a full day's shift and to be followed by another full day's shift.

Now the five on-call ACOs are being cut back to only two, one person working west of Yonge and the other east of Yonge. It wouldn't be a far stretch to imagine there are likely going to be nights when it's going to be impossible to get out to all the emergencies or at least get to them in time. This means that when an animal gets hit by a car and lies suffering on the side of the road and someone calls it in, that animal may just have to wait an hour or two before an ACO shows up to assist it, if anyone shows up at all.

Perhaps I shouldn't be so pessimistic. Maybe this will be the year when animals finally evolve and learn that they shouldn't get into trouble after hours and save all their accidents for 9 to 5 and then we won't need all those on-call ACOs after all.

Or maybe not.

So, if one night you stumble upon an animal, injured and unable to move, and you call Toronto Animal Services and they tell you all two of their ACOs are busy and there's no one else available, you'll know it's a direct result of a bunch of city politicians and bureaucrats deciding that alleviating animal suffering is just too much gravy.

7 Comments to “City of Toronto belt tightening may lead to animals suffering”

  1. Laura HP says:

    The minute he was elected I knew it would hit us. This won't be the only change for the worse.
    I am so sick of the damn 'gravy train'. The 'gravy train' is also known as 'the services that make this an enjoyable/safe city to live in'.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Well, that sucks. I live in one of the most populated counties in FL. Our animal control is not available after 6pm. Police will respond to human dog bites and that is it. If you find an injured animal, as a citizen you can keep it until morning, take it to the ER vet yourself, or monitor it and see if its still around come morning and call then.

  3. Kaylen says:

    This is very sad. I hope the local newspapers pick it up.

  4. Has there been an MSM story on this? How did word of this get out?

  5. E-mail:

    Office of the Mayor
    Toronto City Hall,
    2nd Floor,
    100 Queen St. West,
    Toronto ON
    M5H 2N2

    Tel: 416 397-FORD (3673)
    Fax: 416 338-7125

  6. Fred says:

    Hi Soche, as far as I know there hasn't been any media on this. The employee cutbacks are on public record, or they should be.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Someone needs to pick this up. In my job, I see it everyday and there's nothing we can do about it. Won't come to dogs left in a car, tell citizens to keep a dog until they can come during the day, won't come out for injured animals - saw a cop have to shoot a deer that might have survived if they came out. Contract them out!

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A request

The reason for this blog is to help get specific dogs adopted from TAS but equally important is to try to normalize the idea of shelter dogs being just as good and just as desirable as any other dogs including those which are regularly merchandised by backyard breeders, puppy millers and those few remaining pet store owners who still feel a need to sell live animals. The single greatest stigma shelter animals still face is the belief that shelter animals are substandard animals. Anyone who has had enough experience with shelter animals knows this is untrue but the general public hasn't had the same experiences you've had. They see a nice dog photo in a glossy magazine and too many of them would never think of associating that dog with a dog from a shelter. After all, no one abandons perfectly good dogs, right? Unfortunately, as we all know, perfectly good dogs are abandoned all the time.

The public still too often associates shelter dogs with images of beat up, sick, dirty, severely traumatized animals and while we definitely sometimes see victims such as these, they are certainly not the majority and, regardless, even the most abused animals can very often be saved and made whole again.

Pound Dogs sometimes discusses the sad histories some of the dogs have suffered. For the most part, though, it tries to present the dogs not as victims but as great potential family members. The goal is to raise the profiles of animals in adoption centers so that a potential pet owner sees them as the best choice, not just as the charity choice.

So, here's the favour I'm asking. Whenever you see a dog picture on these pages you think is decent enough, I'd like you to consider sharing it on Facebook or any other social media sites you're using (I know many of you do this already and thank you for that). And when you share it, please mention that the dog in the photo is a shelter dog like so many other shelter dogs waiting for a home. If we can get even five percent of the pet buying public to see shelter dogs differently, to see how beautiful they are and how wonderful they are, and to consider shelter dogs as their first choice for a new family member, we can end the suffering of homeless pets in this country.