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Stratford deserves better from its animal shelter

The recent killing of one-third of our shelter cat population (21 cats) by the Kitchener-Waterloo Humane Society (KWHS) has brought to light just how little control we, the Stratford-Perth community, have over the policies and practices at our local shelter.

Local donors, volunteers, members of other animal organizations and animal-lovers in general are outraged, not only by the needless deaths of animals with upper-respiratory infection, a treatable condition, but by the subsequent resignation of experienced, compassionate and dedicated shelter manager Sarah Tickner and one other staff member.

We, the community members of Stratford-Perth, contribute our tax dollars (through the animal control contract with the City of Stratford), our donations, and countless volunteer hours in animal care and fundraising. What we get from the management in Kitchener-Waterloo in return is zero decision-making power, accountability or transparency. Our shelter is currently 100 per cent owned and operated by the KWHS.

Where are the statistics about the number of animals euthanized annually due to untreatable illness or injury? The number of healthy animals killed due to their age, because they’re deemed “unadoptable,” or just for lack of space at the Stratford-Perth shelter?

Where are the budget documents that show how money is spent here, in Stratford? They’re not on any Humane-Society website that I’ve searched, and you won’t get them if you ask KWHS executive director Jack Kinch. I know, because I asked him.

I think that our community deserves better, and I think that we have a responsibility to demand better. We need access to all of the information so that we can understand what really goes on behind our shelter’s doors – not just the PR that we’re fed currently. And we definitely need a say in how our shelter is run.

I have withdrawn my volunteer services (in communications and fundraising) and financial support until KWHS proves to me that they have a plan in place, and a timeline, to make meaningful change. If they can show that they are working toward being truly humane by becoming a no-kill (that does NOT mean “no euthanasia” for untreatable animals), transparent, accountable organization that supports spay-neuter initiatives and gives Statford-Perth citizens a voice, I will support them once again.

I hope that happens, but it’s going to take some tangible evidence of that to rebuild the trust in this community.

I continue to encourage anyone considering a new pet to please, do adopt from the shelter. So many wonderful animals there urgently need loving homes.

Sharon Morrice
Stratford

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