Mr. Happy had been caged at the Thunder Bay & District Humane Society since 2003. See the original information further down this page.
On May 29 2005, Local Dog Rescue received the following anonymous message through the "contact" page on our website. Remember, this dog had been caged at the shelter for two years and during that time had never, ever bitten or harmed a soul.
Below is the result of your Local Dog Rescue feedback form. It was submitted by mr happy (firstname.lastname@example.org) on Sunday, May 29, 2005 at 15:00:41
realname: mr happy
Additional Information: I cannot give you my name but I am a volunteer with the humane society. Mr Happy was sent out of town to a foster home. He then apparently became very agressive and was put down by a veterinarian in this town. I am sorry I cannot give you the rest of the information but I must remain anonymous. I assure you this information is true.
The public should make their own decision on what took place here. Based on reports from volunteers and board members, it is my opinion that the Thunder Bay & District Humane Society, headed by Jack Remus, had this dog euthanized for no apparent reason despite their "no kill" policy. In the 18 months he was in the shelter, he never harmed a soul. Did he really become "very aggressive" during the week he was in a foster home? I don't believe that for a second.
March 2005: This letter was personally delivered to Humane Society vice president Deborah Kinsella at her office in the Provincial courthouse. The letter went unacknowledged.
On the evening of Thursday April 21 2005, the Board of Directors met at the shelter. Two days later, after two years of confinement, numerous failed attempts at adoption, and talks of having him euthanized, Happy was gone. Visitors coming to see him on the weekend were told he had been taken to a foster home. Between Thursday evening and Sunday morning, this dog that had been labelled unapproachable and unadoptable by the Humane Society themselves, had suddenly found a foster home. Considering some of the volunteers spent more time with Happy than any of the staff, they are quite upset by the Humane Society's cold and callous response to their inquiries. "Confidential information" is manager Judy Atkinson's phrase of choice. Interesting though, because as long as Happy is in foster care, he is still legally available for adoption. So why the secrecy?
On Thursday May 19, Local Dog Rescue received in email requesting the removal of the Mr. Happy information from the website. My reply was as follows:
May 19, 2005
Hello ------. Thank you for your email.
Your statement is true; we can only ask for certain things with these animals. If in fact Happy has been fostered, that is great news. However it does not excuse the Humane Society from the treatment they provided.
The information on the website is not to focus on Happy and what a troubled dog he was, although that is important. The TBDHS could have approached a number of local trainers or behaviorists to assess him, as he was young enough that his behaviours could have been easily modified through training and socializing. Regretably, they acted only after the story appeared on the website and the OSPCA had been contacted about the poor treatment of this dog. At that point, Happy had been caged for more than two years, including "time" at the shelter from where he came. Can you imagine the mental stress inflicted on a dog confined to a cage for two years? I have worked with many dogs like Happy over the past 25 years. If the staff was able to handle him on a daily basis, that indicates he was a trainable dog, not the unapproachable monster he was made out to be.
The website actually has two purposes: First and most importantly, to facilitate the rescue of Happy from the shelter, which you say has been accomplished. Secondly, the public has a right to know about the type of treatment provided to animals at the shelter. Protocols must be put in place to protect future animals from this type of mental abuse, but these protocols have not yet been established. Until they are, the Humane Society will continue to undergo scrutiny. Our concerns are not aimed at the Animal Care workers, though that is another area for improvement. Specifically this is about management and the Board of Directors failing to adequately accomodate the needs of animals such as Happy or cats that have been caged for years on end. They have ignored these needs for too long and that is intolerable.
If you wouldn't mind, could you share a little about your relationship with the Humane Society and Happy? Having began my association with this shelter in 1998, I am familiar with operations as they occur behind closed doors, and I am only curious to know if you too are as familiar. I hope you understand that there are a lot of people with an interest in Happy. In the past months these people have been, for lack of better words, screwed over by the Humane Society and
they are very upset. Without proof that Happy is in foster care, I cannot assume your statement is accurate. If you could provide contact information so that a visit with Happy can be arranged, consideration will be given to updating the information on the website. Until then, that information should remain as it is a matter of public interest.
Local Dog Rescue
So far there has been no response to my request.
Mr. Happy, or "Happy" as he is also referred, came from a shelter in a nearby community where he had spent the first few months of his life. He has been caged at the Thunder Bay & District Humane Society an additional nineteen months as of April 2005. Now at the age of 3, Happy has spent 95% of his life in the cold hard concrete cell of the Humane Society.
Visitors may notice that Happy is on "cage rest". Shelter dogs forced to endure the stress of long-term confinement often suffer mental deterioration, resulting in unusual behaviors such as spinning and excessive jumping. This behavior resulted in Happy rupturing a crutiate ligament in his leg. The injury requires corrective surgery but so far has remained untreated since it occurred in 2004, more than a year ago. He is being given Glucosamine to help rehabilitate the joint, but this will not heal the injury. As the injured leg weakens, the other legs are forced to take on additional weight, often resulting in similiar injury to the other legs. Happy may experience lameness in his leg and suffer severe arthritis as he ages.
Anyone considering adopting or fostering Happy should be made fully aware of his condition before he leaves the shelter to avoid undeserving blame at a later date.
Happy is an otherwise healthy happy dog but has other issues that need a strong, patient and experienced hand. Prior to being given temperament tests by a (former) Vet Tech of the TBay Veterinary Hospital and experienced dog handler Dawn Sanderson, Humane Society manager Judy Atkinson discussed euthanizing Happy after deeming him "unadoptable". Of the two tests, one he failed and the other he passed. He is a dog that unfortunately found himself in a bad place and has not been given adequate guidance or training. He needs to find a caring patient home with someone who can work to undo the damage that has been done to him as a result of time served at the Humane Society.
Call the Humane Society at (807) 475-8803 or email if you would like more details about Mr. Happy.
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