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"i wonder what percentage of rescue people are crazier than shithouse rats?" - from a friend after reading about the death of Henry the Sharpei while he was being restrained by a would-be "rescuer" up at Toronto Animal Services North (Here, here and here - the last link is now dead with the police investigation going on).

Sometimes people are crazy from the get-go. Sometimes, a little crazy blossoms into a big crazy. Sometimes the work, the internal struggles, the losses make a once sane person borderline schizo.

Compassion needs a thick armour to protect it from blunt force trauma. Some people don't have those defence mechanisms in place in which case it might be better for them to stick to the non-lethal stuff. That's not a dig. We need our soldiers, our police to protect our innocent. That's not a dig against those who need protecting, nor is it even a compliment to those who do the protecting because sometimes those who are given the task of protecting turn out bad and become the ones we need protection from.

I'm sure the woman who walked out of that room with a dead dog at her feet, her clothes splattered with its blood and shit and piss, had no intention of incurring such events when she woke up that morning. I'm sure her intentions, at least in her own mind, were good.

And yet, there it is. Right there on the floor. Dog. Dead. Noose around its neck.

The dog would've died anyway. A few hours later, it would have been euthanized. Rightly or wrongly, for biting, it would have been euthanized. But that death would have been a softer death. Some anxiety perhaps as the dog is placed on the metal table, probably muzzled, and then a needle, a quick sleep, maybe some internal turmoil as the life inside realizes its end, death.

Whatever euthanasia would have been, it would not have been this. Not this wretched physical struggle for its life against some terrifying stranger. Who cares what the woman's intentions were. Who cares what the staff's intentions were. We look at the outcome. The dog suffers the outcome.

At some point, Henry starts to bleed. At some point, Henry pisses himself because he is terrified. At some point, Henry defecates because he is about to die. At some point, Henry dies.

I sometimes question my motives. Are they pure enough? Are they truthful enough? I sometimes question my methods. Are they objective enough? Are they effective enough? And now I question my own level of sanity, degree of compassion. This news, which once would have horrified me and compelled me to inform immediately, now I've sublimated for the last several days before feeling a need to write about it.

What percentage of rescue people are crazier than shithouse rats?

Maybe not many but that's still too many.

23 Comments to “Shithouse crazy”

  1. rockdove says:

    Haunting, beautiful, sad, disturbing.
    Thanks for writing this.

  2. Anonymous says:

    what does this say about Toronto Animal Services North??????????????? a terrible end for a sad dog that nobody cared about. and mistreated. And it seems that includes TAS north. Makes one wonder if all the good PR about TAS South might be just talk!

  3. In answer to your friend's question: maybe 90%. We have to be, to fight, day in and day out, for the few lives we can save out of the ocean of suffering. We have to be, to take one life saved as a victory when so many others have slipped through our hands, or never even got that far. We have to be, to take the anguish of each loss and then get up and risk another in the hopes that, this time, it'll be different.

    We have to be to believe, when every so often it *is* different, to hope that the future will be better than the past.

    As for how to judge your efforts, it's simple: are the dogs/cats/rabbits/animals you meet any better off for having met you? If the answer is yes, even if it is only to the extent of a few moments attention and affection, then who cares what your motives are, whether they are pure or self-interested, truthful or complete fabrications? The animals don't: they only know the kind hand rubbing the chin, the soft word, the chance to get out of a cage and walk on the grass, smelling the p-mail.

    Our inner lives don't matter sh1t: our actions do. Sure, we make mistakes, and maybe this was a big fat mistake, not insanity. But, as far as I can see, it is not you, or any of us, who need to be question our purpose, it is this one woman.

    Get up off the floor, lad. You didn't kill Henry, and I cannot imagine an iteration of the universe in which that could happen. You did, however, inspire a lot of others to get active, to adopt, to care.

    So, add it up.

    'Nuf said.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Oh, Dearest Fred:

    I know what your motives always are, as do all your tons of fans. Yes, pure, Yes, nothin but love.

    Hurt heart, full of anguish, oh yes, angry heart for the terrible suffering of this dog, yes. The woman who did this, she is the one who has to live with it now, forever.

  5. poignant, sad and definitely disturbing. most disturbing of all - its all true. and in the work of rescue (shelter), i think there are more crazies than there are dogs. it can be scary stuff.

    but we continue on...

  6. Anonymous says:

    thank you Tigerspirit! That say's it all. And helps with the blackness that we will feel when once again we try and fail to help some creature in need, as we surely will. I would add birds and insects to your list of creatures that should be better for meeting us. But maybe your "animals" includes all of nature? And our fellow human beings too.

  7. Maggi says:

    Fred, I commend you for questioning. Because, without questioning there is no change.
    I am still unclear on how this terrible thing came to be, though I am very clear on the result. One dog dead, in a terrible manner, a slight on TAS North..whether deserved or not, again, I do not know.
    Sometimes we can't know. Sometimes all we can do is wail and cry and gnash our teeth at the horror of it all and then pick ourselves up, take a good look at how things can change and then take action to change them. This is what YOU do, and do well. Speaking the animal's and your truth, is what you do. Thank you.
    Please take Tigerspirit's post and memorize it, for it is eloquent and true...just like you.

  8. Unknown says:

    Regarding this specific incident, surely there is something that violated protocol/procedure in what occurred. Is there any investigation into the incident by the TAS since the dog was in their care? Any report that will be available to the public as from what I have read, it is very hard to understand how this dog in a shelter ended up dead. These questions strike me as more important than whether rescue people are crazy. According to Scooby's Doghouse Facebook page, she thinks the shar pei could have died of an aneurysm. .

  9. Anonymous says:

    The woman that did this is WELL known in the North American rescue community. DNA'd, DNT,d and DNR'd with many shelters, transport coordinators and rescues. How is it that she is still allowed to rescue? How is it she is still slipping through the cracks? Why has she not been formally charged for abuse? This is not the first time that an animal has died or been abused by her own two hands!!! How many more animals are going to lose their lives in a horrific manner before she is finally stopped for good??? She is NOT a rescuer but a murderer!!!!!!!

  10. Janet says:

    I agree with Maggie....why did this happen and what is being done about this corrupt woman? How many more animals will she torture before someone does something about her and this situation? Has TAS north made a statement and if not why not..? This dear dog cannot just be left tortured and beaten and forgotten....this makes me sick I tell you. It sounds like something that goes on in the far south. Does anyone know of any happenings in this regard..?

  11. deva says:

    This is the first I've heard of this incident, and I am surprised by the circumstances leading up to it. Yes, there are crazy people in rescue, there will always be people to profit from those who cannot speak for themselves. Leaving aside the specific event of this particular dog's death (which should be thoroughly investigated) TAS should be looking at their procedures for working with rescues, knowing there are crazy people. Shelters I have dealt with require a minimum of two references before a pull is allowed. Some of them do background checks. TAS will need to reconsider their procedures to ensure they are protecting the dogs under their care.

  12. Anonymous says:

    madliberation are you saying that the word crazy shouldn't be used to describe the mentally ill or are you saying the word crazy shouldn't be used to described animal abusers or are you just tyring to get the whole english speaking world to stop using the word crazy. let us know how that goes.

  13. Anonymous, whether or not what you say is true, if you don't have the courage to post under your name or ID, why bother? This blog is a refuge of sanity for a lot of us, and we don't need to have the hysteria from the other pages leaking through in the form of unevidenced accusations. Please take it elsewhere.

  14. Anonymous says:

    They are all fucking crazy to different degrees. Their lives are unmanagable spiraling out of control so just like other predators in society they pray on the weak and defenseless. This is NOT meant to be a joke either.

  15. Unknown says:

    Okay - I had previously been told there were Animal Cruelty charges against Rita Mueller in Ontario (by an OSPCA officer) but even though I knew this to be true, I didn't post it here because I had no documentation UNTIL today. I went to the courthouse in Caledon and got copies - the charges are 1 year old and the case is ongoing; she has been to court on 5 dates and has an upcoming appearance next Tues. I am going to copy the 6 pages I have (not much info other than dates and description of the charges, but it does show there currently are 5 counts against her). To my knowledge she has never been convicted and given this, she can still "rescue" - but sharing this public info might just stop some places from sending dogs to her; might be something people would want to know before "chipping in" and I think, also info TAS North should have now if they didn't have before. I will share the pdfs and jpgs of this public info.

  16. Fred says:

    Thanks, Maggie. Great detective work. Let me know when the docs are up. Let's see if some more charges aren't stacked up on top of these pre-existing ones.

  17. Thank you. I'd also really like to see what is actually going on, because, although I am not in Toronto, I am active in rescue in Ottawa. This is the kind of documentary evidence needed to prevent the accused from just moving on to some new place, like maybe here. Maggie, you're a brick! Thanks again.

  18. Unknown says:

    I scanned them this eve and have pdfs and jpgs. Not sure exactly how to share them here; I have emailed them to a few rescue contacts in the US and one here in Ontario; also sent them to TAS North with an inquiry about Henry. Want to make sure the OSPCA knows and also the prosecutor in Caledon.

  19. deva says:

    For anyone who is not aware of it, there is an on-line database of abusers. I believe they must have a conviction to appear in the database:

  20. Anonymous says:

    Be strong and of good courage animal lovers and those who's hearts compel them to make changes for the defenseless. Like Munchausen by Proxy sadly there are those who torture the innocent and trusting. I dont understand it - maybe I dont want to, but the dogs I have rescued and loved are that much more precious when these horrors happen. Peace.

  21. Unknown says:

  22. Anonymous says:

    I would like to know why TAS north allowed Rita to go in there alone knowing full well that 10 days prior she tried to rescue him and she was severely bitten. When they told her according to the blog that she had 30 mins no more why was there no TAS overseer to make sure that everything was done correctly. If she didn't have the right protection why did they not offer her the gloves and the steel choke that they use themselves. I am not supporting Rita however I feel TAS should have made themselves more available in protecting all those concerned.

  23. dogluvr says:

    The sad truth is that animals lives are not considered as valuable as human life. And even human life these days seems to be of no concern to much of society. As this story unfolds we see that Henry was actually on his way to a new owner. All this broad had to do was deliver him. Instead she murdered him. Will she be punished? Not nearly enough to stop this kind of behavior from repeating itself.

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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.