The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals raided the Toronto Humane Society Thursday afternoon. President Tim Trow and four other staff members are facing criminal charges, including animal cruelty.

Trow is facing two charges of animal cruelty, two of conspiracy to commit an indictable offence, and three charges of obstruction of a police officer.

Head veterinarian Steve Sheridan, shelter manager Gary McCracken, business manager Romeo Bernadino and shelter supervisor Andy Bechtel were also arrested on charges of animal cruelty and conspiracy to commit an indictable offence. As well, all five and the board of directors face five provincial counts of animal cruelty.

Ian McConachie, spokes­man for the Toronto Humane Society, said the police and the OSPCA effected a search warrant.

“I’ve been asked to leave the shelter,” McConachie said at 3:45 p.m. Thursday. He said he was in a state of shock and everyone inside the Humane Society was surprised and alarmed.

Volunteer Bev Mitchell said she could smell the pepper spray and said it was affecting the other animals.

At 5:30 p.m., OSPCA veterinarians were still inside the building at Queen and River streets. “We’re going to be here for quite a while,” said spokesperson Rosaline Ryan. “There are quite a few animals to look at.”

Thursday’s raid and charges come after a tumultuous year for the THS. The OSPCA launched its investigations in May after a newspaper report described a dysfunctional shelter at which animals allegedly suffered because veterinarians were overruled and staff intimidated by Trow, a retired lawyer known for his opposition to euthanasia.

Latest From ...