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Toronto Humane Society to review its operations after several employees charged

TORONTO - The Toronto Humane Society will bring in an outside expert to review its operations in the wake of a raid that resulted in animal cruelty charges against five employees, including the agency's president.

TORONTO - The Toronto Humane Society will bring in an outside expert to review its operations in the wake of a raid that resulted in animal cruelty charges against five employees, including the agency's president.

The society issued a statement Saturday saying it will hire a "well-respected expert in the field of animal care" as interim executive director.

"This person will conduct a thorough review of society operational practices including staffing levels, the number of animals taken in, and assist in the hiring of a new executive director," the statement said.

The society also promised to install a well-respected veterinarian to head its clinical team to ensure the best possible care is being provided to animals.

The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals raided the humane society Thursday and said it found animals in such poor health that four of them had to be put down.

A day later a mummified cat was found on the premises, which one OSPCA official described as a "house of horrors."

The humane society statement decried the OSPCA's tactics and disagreed with its allegations.

However, a humane society spokesman said the group is having a serious look at its operations.

"Whenever the public has questions, I think it's good to reassure them and let them know that we're not merely saying 'everything is fine, nothing to see here' - we are going take an internal look at ourselves," Ian McConachie said in a phone interview with The Canadian Press.

"I don't think there's any problem reviewing our practices and determining if there's anything we can do to improve the shelter. I think all businesses and organizations should do that on a regular basis."

One official described the shelter as a "house of horrors," saying a mummified cat was found as well as living animals with health problems.

The society's president, Tim Trow, the shelter's chief veterinarian, Steve Sheridan, general manager Gary McCracken, supervisor Andy Bechtel and manager Romeo Bernadino were all led away in handcuffs after Thursday's raid and charged with cruelty to animals.

In an interview last week, McConachie predicted the humane society would defeat the charges, which are unproven, in court.

The humane society doesn't have anybody waiting in the wings to assume the executive director's job, McConachie said Saturday. Interviews would be done once the shelter reopens.

The OSPCA has indicated to the humane society that the shelter is to reopen Tuesday.

The bail conditions for the five people charged prohibit them from returning to the shelter, McConachie added.

 
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