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Animal cruelty investigation underway into Ontario property overrun by cats

LIAM CASEY, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Aug 1st, 2017

Ontario’s animal welfare organization says a hoarding issue may have contributed to a situation at an abandoned rural property where local rescue groups say they’ve found dozens of cats, both dead and alive.

The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said it is in the midst of an animal cruelty probe, which began in December, involving a home and a barn in Beamsville, Ont., in the Niagara Region.

No charges have been laid in the case but the OSPCA said it has been working with a woman who they said used to rent the home on the property.

“It did appear to be a hoarding situation,” spokeswoman Alison Cross said Monday. “We were there, feeding animals, going back daily, addressing any concerns of animals that might have been appearing – they are roaming outside, so it’s not easy to find them all.”

The woman who lived on the property may also have been collecting dead animals “from roadkill and other things,” and putting them in barrels that have been found at the site, Cross said.

Local animal rescue organizations recently became involved in efforts to care for cats found alive on the property.

Pam Huson, who runs the Beamsville 4Paw Rescue, said the animal control organization in the area asked her and several other rescue groups on July 19 for help dealing with the situation.

“It was a nightmare,” she said, noting that cats had overrun the property.

Huson said her organization saved about 70 cats from the site and another group, Project Save A Cat’s Life, said it rescued about 30 cats.

The groups also found dozens of dead felines, Huson said.

The dead cats were found inside the home near windows and doors, which were riddled with scratch marks, Huson said.

“The stench was so awful that we were throwing up,” Huson said.

The groups also found the bodies of dead cats inside rain barrels on the property, Huson said.

“We followed the flies and the maggots and the birds and the stench and that led us to the barrels,” she said. “It was shocking.”

In all, Huson said rescue groups have counted 153 dead cats and four dead dogs found on the property so far.

The OSPCA said it was concerned that the rescue groups may have tampered with evidence in its investigation.

“We recognize the passion behind the rescue groups wanting to help the animals, but when it comes to an investigation there is a process that has to be followed, or else you can jeopardize the investigation,” Cross said.

She said the OSPCA was still waiting for evidence from the rescue groups on the number of cats, alive and dead, found at the site.

Huson said, however, that she has offered all of her evidence from the property, from photographs to veterinary reports to her own accounts, to OSPCA investigators who handling the case.

The cats that have been rescued from the property are doing well after being treated for a variety of illnesses and injuries, she said, and are healing in foster homes.

“They’re happy, they’re cuddly,” she said. “After the long weekend, we’re going to have an adopt-a-thon.”

Toronto firefighters will soon be equipped with naloxone kits

CRISTINA HOWORUN AND NEWS STAFF | posted Tuesday, Aug 1st, 2017

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As the city deals with a weekend surge in Fentanyl related overdoses, Toronto firefighters will soon be equipped with life-saving naloxone kits.

Deputy Fire Chief Jim Jessop told CityNews they’ve been looking at the issue for some time now and have started to put the wheels in motion.

Naloxone is a powerful medication used to block the effects of opioids, especially in overdose.

Mayor John Tory confirmed these plans while speaking with the media on Monday.

“We have plans afoot to have our firefighters have naloxone kits available to them which help again in instances in which they’re the first responders that arrive first on the scene of an overdose,” Tory said.

Approximately 2900 firefighters will have to undergo medically-supervised training. Jessop estimates the cost for initially equipping firefighting apparatuses and stations will be about $40,000.

This comes after a startling weekend surge of overdoses on Toronto streets.

Since Thursday, 27 overdose cases have been reported and Toronto Police confirm four deaths are Fentanyl related.

Police believe a batch of heroin laced with Fentanyl is to blame for the deaths.

The spike in overdoses prompted police to issue a public safety alert on Saturday.

Tory said he’s “deeply troubled” by the recent spike in deaths and overdoses.

“It’s a very, very perplexing and troubling problem. It’s such a tragedy to see this number of people dying and to see this number of people having overdoses that they’re experiencing without losing their lives,” the mayor said.

Jessop said firefighters are often the first at the scene when responding to overdose calls.

Toronto paramedics have been equipped with naloxone kits since 2015.

Toronto police currently do not carry the drug but Tory said he’s willing to reconsider that should medical and emergency officials consider it a necessary step to save lives.

“If they think that a broader distribution beyond the expansion that we’re about to undertake to firefighters and beyond of course the paramedics who already have it … if they think it’s going to make a significant improvement in our ability to stop these deaths, then I am willing to look at it,” Tory said.

Police spokesperson Mark Pugash has previously said police don’t carry naloxone kits because paramedics are equipped and respond to the same calls.

Toronto police to beef up security at Jays games, other large events

MIKE VISSER AND ADRIAN GHOBRIAL | posted Tuesday, Aug 1st, 2017

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TTC buses and city maintenance trucks are just two of the tools Toronto Police are now using to help protect crowds during large public events.

The security changes come in light of recent terror attacks in Europe, including ambushes that killed 12 people at a Christmas Market in Berlin, Germany and 7 people on London Bridge. In both attacks a vehicle was driven into large crowds of pedestrians.

Those acts of violence have prompted Toronto Police to take action.

 

TTC staff confirm Toronto Police requested buses for the purpose of creating a safety perimeter during the Pride Parade in June and during Canada Day festivities at Nathan Phillips Square.

Toronto Police are now employing the help of TTC buses and other large vehicles to create a safety perimeter in areas where large events are taking place

 

“What you’re seeing is us using not just front line police officers, but other vehicles in order to provide that enhanced security,” Toronto Police Service spokesperson Meaghan Gray confirmed during an exclusive interview with CityNews.

“If we look at some of the incidents that we’ve seen in other parts of the world where vehicles have been used, we’re always looking at that as a possibility when we look at those types of events where there are large crowds gathered.”

Bremner Boulevard was completely shut down to vehicle traffic on Sunday following the Blue Jays game at Rogers Centre. Condo residents in the area have been told they’ll have to deal with similar closures for most if not all of the team’s remaining home games this season.

Mario Coutinho, Vice President of Stadium Operations and Security at Rogers Centre, confirmed the changes in a written statement to CityNews.

“The Blue Jays and Rogers Centre are committed to providing guests with a safe and secure environment. We continue to work with Toronto Police and our emergency services partners on a postgame traffic management plan, which is now in effect for all future Rogers Centre events.”

Gray confirms specially-trained officers are also being deployed to protect large events such as sporting events and public celebrations. A Public Safety Response Team was recently established as part of a transformational task force headed up by Chief Mark Saunders.

“It’s a dedicated group of officers that are specially trained to support the front line in providing just that enhanced presence when it comes to large-scale events and other needs that can support the front line in delivering policing,” said Gray.

One Toronto Police officer told CityNews on Sunday that concrete barriers will be installed along Bremner Boulevard to prevent vehicles from mounting the sidewalk and hitting pedestrians.

Coutinho would not confirm that plan, writing only that “with respect to any future security updates to the building’s exterior, this is currently being addressed in collaboration with Toronto Police and the City of Toronto.”

While you may notice additional officers and security barriers at future events in Toronto, Gray insists these are simply an extra precaution.

“We have no specific threat that we’re responding to. We’re just reconsidering how we police these large-scaled events where we have large crowds of people. I think that citizens can expect to see a little bit more of that in the days and weeks and months coming forward.”

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