Angry dog-walkers and humane society supporters blasted the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals after six pit bulls were put down on Friday.

During a protest yesterday afternoon at the Toronto Humane Society’s River Street shelter — temporarily operated by the provincial organization — demonstrators said the new OSPCA administration was “murdering” pit bulls.

“They say they are protecting animals but they are murderers,” said Rosana Martins, a volunteer who had walked several of the dogs that were euthanized. “There is no mercy. This used to be a no-kill shelter; now it is a high-kill shelter.”

The OSPCA took over the animal care at the shelter last November, accusing THS leaders of allowing animals to live in inhumane conditions so that it could claim low euthanasia rates. The provincial organization charged several THS officials with cruelty to animals and requested that a court-appointed receiver take over the THS.

The hearing in that case will begin in early April, said THS spokesperson Ian McConachie.

Volunteer Andy Blau said the shelter is a “hot bed” of rumours right now, with few answers from either organization, and the volunteers and donors consider euthanasia a huge issue.

“It leaves a great sense of futility for the volunteers to think ‘I am doing my best to make this animal’s life better but they are just going to kill it tomorrow,’” Blau said.

Rosaline Ryan, a spokesperson for the OSPCA, said the decision to euthanize the dogs was made by veterinarians for both organizations.

Ryan said she understands that emotions are running high. “The OSPCA works and deals with animals all the time so we totally understand.

“We have feelings too, where the animals are concerned.”