Sunday, June 24, 2012


ORA's gentle big boy loved everybody
On June 20th, 2012, at 4:40 pm, Spencer, ORA’s spokedog, succumbed to Cushing's Disease complications. He was over 12 years old.

Spencer came to us when he was still a puppy. Bought at a pet store, product of a backyard breeder, he was given up soon after by his original owners who found out that a dog was more work than they had anticipated.

Spencer immediately adjusted to his life with us. He had no issues, just an immense joy of life. As a puppy, Spencer used to run up to anybody he encountered in his long daily off-leash walks in the York Regional Forests. The forest with the ponds where he could swim in and fetch wooden sticks was Spencer’s heaven. His puppy cuteness and gentle social manners procured him great popularity amongst the forest hikers and horseback riders. Spencer, on his part, made sure that nobody ignored him. He was constantly in search of attention and affection. He would wait to be patted and complimented by passersby, and then, filled with happiness in his eyes, he would calmly return to us, visibly showing disappointment if anybody would ignore him.

Spencer grew up to be a medium large dog, but he still maintained his way to “greet” all passersby. However, as an adult dog, his rather imposing appearance occasionally scared some people and those were the only distressing moments in Spencer’s life. Spencer liked dogs, too, and he showed curiosity for horses (were they just oversized dogs?), but he was not too fond of cats, although he tolerated them.

Undoubtedly, humans were Spencer’s passion, the ones he knew as well as any strangers. This salient characteristic made him the perfect candidate to participate in all of ORA’s events: he joyfully accompanied ORA’s volunteers to fundraising events, participated in seminars and he was admired for his impeccable behaviour. Spencer was also the designated dog for ORA’s animal educational programs in schools as he loved children and he enjoyed to be hugged by them.

In his 12 years with us, Spencer saw many dozens of dogs, coming and going, of all breeds, small and large, with all kind of different temperaments. He befriended some, while he would just ignore the newcomers at other times. He was never aggressive towards any dog; he never felt that he had to affirm his leadership. He was Spencer, the “Star” behind any possible competition. He was right. Of all the dogs that passed through ORA, although some stayed with us for a long while, volunteers and supporters usually remembered only one name: Spencer. Just a week ago, a horseback rider stopped Corinne Thaw, the co-founder of ORA, and our main caregiver for ORA’s dogs, as she was walking the usual pack of dogs in the forest, and asked whatever happened to that cute puppy named Spencer. The rider had lived out of the country for a number of years, but she still remembered him. Spencer was a memorable dog.

ORA’s gentle big boy loved everybody, but recognized only one master: Corinne Thaw, who was Spencer‘s trainer and caregiver for 12 years. Corinne identified and developed his potential and Spencer dearly loved and followed her.

Although we are mourning Spencer’s death, and memories of him are all around us, we are comforted by the certainty that Spencer was a happy dog and that he had a wonderful, happy life. We just hope that wherever he is now, he can run in a forest and go up to people for a pat or a hug.

Claudia Vecchio, Founder
ORA-Organization for the Rescue of Animals
"For the love and respect of all animals"

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

VICTORY: Public Pressure on Petsmart Stops Sales of Pups from Puppy Mills

Claudia Vecchio, 6/12/12
Founder of ORA

For over two years, every weekend, puppies bought from puppy mills were “adopted out” at the Mississauga Petsmart located at 5800 McLaughlin Road.

This activity started around the beginning of 2010 at the previous Petsmart location of 5950 Rodeo Drive and continued at the new site on McLaughin Road until very recently. We got inside information that Petsmart finally ended the arrangement because they “discovered” or could no longer hide the fact that all purebred puppies ranging from Shi Tzu to Maltese to Pugs and everything in between brought every weekend at the Mississauga store were not rescued, but rather deliberately bred and bought from puppy mills.

The enquiries from Petsmart customers about the origins of these purebred puppies were getting more insistent and could no longer be overlooked and ignored. The answer, week after week, that the many puppies were all rescued from puppy mills could not satisfy even the most naïve and simple minded person. Where were the mothers of these puppies? “Already adopted” or “too shy and left at home” were the usual answers.

The weekly exhibit of all those purebred puppies, bought at a volume discounted price from puppy mills, as it was then revealed, offered for “adoption” (rather we should say offered for sale, as it does not seem that anybody was ever declined and the puppies were given out unneutered) were bringing in great business to the Petsmart store. Not only were the puppies bringing in curious customers, but also the adopters ended up purchasing all needed food and supplies starting a profitable customer relationship with the store that could continue for the entire life of the adopted puppy. With such lucrative returns in sight, Petsmart managers were closing not one, but both eyes to the despicable activity going on, welcoming with open arms whatever generated the increased volume of business, no questions asked.

A few day ago, I called the store manager, in fact, I called the top manager and the second-in-command on two different days and I asked for an explanation of what went on. The unanimous official version they came up with is that the purebred puppy weekend adoption was stopped because, they say, Petsmart found out that the woman who was taking in the puppies every week did not have non-profit status. Interestingly, her non-profit status was never requested earlier, as she operated as an associate of Kool Kat, a “non-profit” rescue run by a cat breeder. Under pressure from the public, the puppy trafficking has finally been stopped, but Kool Kat, who was associated with that trafficking is still a Petsmart adoption partner, adopting out cats at several Petsmart Mississauga stores.

I asked Jay, the top store manager at the 5800 McLaughlin Road where did he think those purebred puppies were coming from week after week. He replied that they had heard allegations the puppies could have been obtained (not rescued) from puppy mills but they never enquired, Jay said, because they trusted Kool Kat that sponsored the puppy adoption.

The fact that Petsmart now hides behind futile excuses, indicates that they knew or suspected the truth all along, but for business interests conveniently refused to acknowledge it.

The lack of ethics of Petsmart towards animals has been proven on more than one occasion. They still sell small animals, and investigation on their suppliers as well as on in-store neglect towards small animals throughout the years is disconcerting. Fortunately the Mississauga Petsmart sale of puppies from puppy mills has finally come to an end, thanks to the vigilance of animal caring customers and their pressure on the management.