TORONTO--The Toronto Humane Society will not regain the city pound contract that it lost in April 2000, Toronto health board chair Joe Mihevic told Brad Honeywill of the Toronto Sun on November 14, 2001, even if the THS members did just vote out of office the directors responsible for losing the contract.
While many humane societies are voluntarily getting out of animal control to focus on humane law enforcement and fighting pet overpopulation, the decision to leave animal control was essentially forced upon THS after former board president Jeannie Butler demanded that Toronto pay THS at a “break-even” level for impounding and either adopting out or killing feral and stray dogs and cats.
Butler said the $776,000 pound contract actually cost THS $1.05 million a year to fulfill. Instead of offering more money, the Toronto health department reclaimed responsibility for managing the city pound, run by THS since 1887.
As THS went no-kill by default, laying off 15 staffers, former board presidents Tim Trow and Brenda Bronfman-Thomas led a coup-d’etat–apparently as much against the influence of CEO Jack Slibar as against Butler.
Outspokenly critical of militant animal rights activism, Slibar became the THS general manager in the early 1990s after a board coup pushed by local furriers. Slibar axed the THS advocacy department, whose leaders went on to form the Animal Alliance of Canada.
An attempt to block the pro-fur takeover by preventing trappers and furriers from joining THS was judicially overturned–as was an April 2001 move by the Butler/Slibar faction to strip the membership of voting rights.
That maneuver, along with loss of the pound contract and a $2,000 marriage bonus allegedly improperly paid to Slibar, appeared to be the issues that moved the members to change the guard.
(Originally published in ANIMAL PEOPLE, December 6, 2001.)