Humane Society Investigator Suspended After Saving Dog’s Life


Tre Smith, a Toronto Humane Sociey Investigator, says that he was simply trying to save a helpless dog. But now, Smith could be in trouble for what he did.

Two weeks ago, Smith was called to an incident where Cyrus, a Rottweiler, was trapped in a car during an intense heat wave. The windows were not open and the car was extremely hot. Officials said that the temperature inside the car reached 158 degrees Fahrenheit. It was believed that Cyrus had been in the car for several hours.

When Smith arrived at the scene, he thought that the dog was near death. He saw that Cyrus was slumped over the back seat with his legs up and had a blank stare. The dog was also foaming at the mouth and non-responsive. Smith knew that didn’t have time to wait for the owners to return. He broke the car window and opened the car door to pull out Cyrus to safety.

After the window was broken, Cyrus’s owner came out to the scene when he heard his car alarm. Smith said that he had a difficult decision to make: either tend to the dog or hang onto the man. This investigator decided that he needed to save Cyrus.

Smith also stated that the man was dangerous and abusive, and for his safety and the safety of the people around the scene, he needed to restrain the suspect. Smith handcuffed the man to his car while he left to care for Cyrus. He also called the police to pick up the man.

Meanwhile, bystanders were helping Cyrus and pouring cold water on the dog. Veterinarians come on the scene and rushed him back to Toronto Humane Society to give him medical attention.

Fortunately, this 110 pound Rottweiler is recovering and on his way to being 100% healthy again. Cyrus is still receiving fluids and is getting around the clock attention, but he has made great improvements. Amidst his ordeal, he is still smiling.

But, it is not so happy news for Smith. While he was tending to Cyrus, two angry bystanders allegedly attacked Cyrus’s owner while the man was handcuffed to the car. The suspect was bleeding when police officers took him away.

“The police hadn’t got here just yet but they were almost here, and I had to leave because the dog was non-responsive, had stopped breathing and I had to stimulate the dog just to bring him back,” Smith said. “So I had to leave for the life of the dog.”

Now, the decision to save Cyrus’s life first and handcuffing the man may possibly have hurt Smith’s job. The Ontario SPCA has suspended his agent’s license pending an internal review. Smith is still able to work at the Humane Society, but he cannot investigate animal cruelty cases.

Smith said that he is shocked and deeply saddened of the news. A witness at the scene is supporting Smith and said that the investigator did his job 100%. He said that Smith needed to handcuff the man because he was erratic and threatening.

Cyrus’s owner has been charged with cruelty to an animal. If convicted, he can be fined up to $2,000 and jailed for six months.

Police have also charged the two bystanders who assaulted the man.

Many people were outraged by the response of the Ontario SPCA. They have sent angry emails to the organization saying that Smith should not be suspended and that he is a hero.

The SPCA said that they had no choice regarding Smith’s suspension. Chief Inspector Hugh Coghill agreed that he thought Smith was a hero for saving Cyrus’s life. But he said that the review is not about the rescue of a suffering animal. The review is to see if Officer Smith’s conduct was appropriate.

Coghill also said: “The priority for everyone in our organization is animal protection, but the way we provide that protection is just as important. We train our investigators to do what they do as effectively and safely as possible and we expect them to carry out their activities according to that training and our standard operating procedures.”

Source: City News

37 Responses to “Humane Society Investigator Suspended After Saving Dog’s Life”

  1. pat says:

    i don’t see how smith can be held accountable for the actions of bystanders. smith did nothing wrong and i expect him to be completely exonerated.

  2. badgerdog1887 says:

    If this were a child left in the car, this investigator would be hailed as a hero. It’s a living creature in a life-threatening situation. What’s the difference? There is none. I commend this investigator. He IS a real hero!

  3. Lauren says:

    Any heartless bast^%& that leaves an animal unattended in a car should have his/her rights automatically forfeited. Your negligence equals automatic forfeiture of the animal and your car. The car can be donated to an organization that helps animals. What kind of world are we living in that this even needs to be debated? Where is legislation to require at least basic responsibility of caring for a pet? I’m so sick of this sh**.

    SMITH, YOU ARE A HERO!! What can any of us do to help you? Thank god you found him and the dog is alive and he only has Smith to thank. Let the owner legally persue the bystanders for beating his a**. I can’t say I wouldn’t have done the same. So what he was handcuffed and couldn’t get away - such was Cyrus, you fu**.

  4. Denise407 says:

    This man definately is a HERO. I sure hope he is exonerated. I absolutely hate when people leave their dogs in the car. They should use some common sense

  5. sylvia says:

    Sorry to see that the bureaucrats in Canada are as inept and “politically correct” as those in the US. Ignorance and lack of common sense will be the end of both our countries. Hello Toronto SPCA:
    Smith did his job and followed the law.
    the dog owner broke the law and deserved to be handcuffed.
    the dog’s life was in danger and needed the most immediate attention.
    the people who beat the owner also broke the law so charge them.
    fire the fools who suspended Smith!

  6. Jenny Bark says:

    Badgerdog I so agree with you. Pat I pray your right. The link above city source you can find out about both of them & e-mail. This is one story I am going to follow up on. I like how the people want toughter laws.

  7. Tammy says:

    He’s a hero. I would of done the same thing in that situation. If not the dog would of died and that is what he is suppose to do. I think he should be able to keep his job. We need more people that really care. Some people would of just ignored it like they do with elderly and children. I know the dog is grateful too.

  8. shibadiva says:

    Itchmo, thanks for posting this important story. Tre Smith has done a lot of very good work for THS, and before this incident, was recently hailed for rescuing two dalmatian puppies who were being abused by their owner. The puppies had originally been returned to their owner, on orders by the province’s Animal Care Review Board. The order was thankfully overturned, and the puppies re-homed as far as I know.

    Toronto Humane Society was ordered to suspend Tre by the Ontario SPCA which enforces the SPCA Act and oversees the province’s humane societies and 170+ inspectors.

    The case also has implications for the revision of animal cruelty law in this province, something that is very long overdue. Our antiquated laws will let the former owner of Cyrus the Rottweiler walk away with a maximum fine of $2,000 and 6 months in jail. Jail sentences are seldom handed out, and offenders usually pay less than the maximum.

    There is a ton of info about this hot case on the THS site:

    And apparently it is making its way around the web, with over 10 Facebook sites and blogs now calling for an end to his suspension.

    Please help by writing to the THS to support Tre, and write to the Ontario SPCA to let them know how you feel about his suspension.

    More info about the need for changes to Ontario animal cruelty legislation here:

  9. Baaboo says:

    A true hero and God Bless you. You should be given a medal !!!!!

  10. wescott20 says:

    Hopefully there will be enough of an outcry that Smith will get to keep his job, or at least get an even better job opportunity in another community where whatever agency is in charge of animal welfare would appreciate a hero like Smith’s dedication to doing right by the animals. He lives up to everything a humane officer should be. The owner of that dog is obviously a bastard and I guess the witnesses there thought so too but Smith was not responsible for what they did to the guy. The Ontario SPCA clearly does not put animals first…perhaps the public’s reaction to their outrageous decision will bring about a change in their priorities.

  11. FiverCat says:

    Please please please, take 2 minutes out of your day and write to Hugh Coghill, Chief Inspector, Ontario SPCA who has suspended Tre Smith and cc to the Ontario Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, Monte Kwinter as well as the Toronto Humane Society.;

  12. HighNote says:

    We need more caring people like smith in this world. He certainly could not have taken the time to worry about the man, he had to take care of the dog. What happened after he left was not his responsibility. Maybe the police should have responded quicker. I really can’t blame the bystanders for wanting to punch him out anyway. I would have wanted to myself. I wouldn’t have but I sure would have wanted to.
    Too bad Smith could not have locked the man up in a car and let him see how it feels!

  13. The Groom Room says:

    The only mistake he made was handcuffing him to the outside of the car, he should’ve cuffed him to the inside where he could’ve cooked like his dog.

  14. Pat Pearson says:

    Well, I took the time to write Hugh Coghill & Monte Kwinter. I hope it helps. In my opinion, Tre Smith is truly a HERO & certainly doesn’t deserve to be suspended. It really is a disgrace when dedicated & compassionate individuals are prosecuted or persecuted for saving an animal while non-caring, animal abusers are allowed to get away with despicable acts of cruelty.

  15. Pit Bull Lover says:

    The Toronto Humane Society and the city of Toronto (and its animals) are lucky to have someone like Tre Smith working for them. Would Toronto and the Ontario SPCA prefer the widespread negative publicity they would have received if the dog had been allowed to die of hyperthermia? And all because the THS investigator was apathetic or too afraid to act out of concern for his/her job?

    [PBL thinks the internet is a wonderful thing and a powerful tool by and for The People — and for the animals, too!]

  16. shibadiva says:

    To be fair, the OSPCA does take animal cruelty very seriously. They have over 170 inspectors working flat out province-wide to shut down puppy mills, and abusive situations involving pet guardians and livestock owners. Our provincial legislation is antiquated. It is from the 1800s, the days of Black Beauty. Conscientious members of parliament like Mark Holland have been trying to get updated legislation passed which will allow inspectors to do their jobs without being handcuffed by bureaucracy.

    The OSPCA is 100% behind the moral judgement of Officer Smith to save Cyrus’ life. The issue is allegations and lawsuits which could be levelled against the two humane organizations as a result of the subsequent assault on the pet guardian. Apparently, the assailants have been apprehended.

    IMO, the responsibility for the assault falls on the residents who beat the guardian, and the humane organizations should be fully exonerated. Even if the guy hadn’t been handcuffed to his car for the duration, I suspect someone would have beat him up anyway.

    In related news, there have been a number of incidents since the Tre Smith case where dogs have been left in cars during the sweltering heat wave. Most recently, a dog was left for 7 hours while its family entertained themselves at an amusement park.

    As Inspector Coghill of the OSPCA points out, there is no shortage of uncaring people.

  17. purringfur says:

    I wrote in in support of Officer Smith also and asked if Canada had a jail cell for Cyrus’ owner that stayed at a steady 158 degrees Fahrenheit!

    Here are a few hard virtual smacks for the “owner.”


    Those who want to give the owner some virtual smacks, line up behind me!

  18. AM says:


    Why must this world go out of it’s way to make the Good Guys into the “bad guys”.

    Who care’s if the abusive sorry excuse for a human got some boo boos while a LIFE was being saved. Maybe he would learn getting a taste of his own medicine (oh no wait he’s probably too busy crying like a baby for boo boos when his dog was on death’s door to learn anything).

  19. mittens says:

    he should have penned a myspace page on the meaning of life, gotten drunk and shot the dog- then he’s be a ‘philosopher’.

    we give people power to enforce the few laws we have protecting animals and then we punish them for doing so. the same can be said for border guards and even those who look into the abuse of children.

  20. KimS says:

    The Humane society officer did the right thing. If I was a bystander I would have probably F#cking killed that guy. I hope the dog makes it, is healthy, not traumatized and goes to a good and loving home.

    The Humane society of Ontario needs to grow a pair and realize that their employee acted properly and heroically.

  21. nora says:

    Kim S, You took the words right out of my mouth. Ditto!

  22. rose says:

    The Humane society officer acted appropriately. I hope dog lives and the Humane officer gets a better job where he’s appreciated for his actions.

  23. Lynn says:

    Good grief! What’s wrong with these idiots for suspending him? I agree with “The GroomRoom” who wrote, “The only mistake he made was handcuffing him to the outside of the car, he should’ve cuffed him to the inside where he could’ve cooked like his dog.”

    I wrote the following persons and hope you will, too.

    ‘’; ‘’; ‘’; ‘’

    Feel free to copy my email if you wish:
    I am mortified that Agent Smith has been suspended. Your agent did what he needed to in order to carry out his responsibilities of protecting the animal. It’s as simple as that. If that had been a child and Smith had stayed at the scene with the child for the sake of monitoring the parent, thereby putting the child’s life in danger, then you would not have suspended him. What’s the logical difference?

    Suspending Smith was NOT the responsible thing to do. That the public chose to retaliate against the dog’s owner is a separate issue for which Smith should not have been held responsible for, in spite of the fact that it was Smith who handcuffed the owner. Anyone who leaves a child or animal in a car unattended on a warm day should have all rights revoked. And probably ought to be fed to an angry crowd.

    Further, your laws appear to be in dire need of revision.

    I find your actions deplorable. Please reinstate him immediately.

    Your Name, City, State, Country]

  24. pat says:

    if the excuse for suspending smith is fear of litigation, the ths needs to realise that unless they confront this head-on and defend the actions of their officer, they will substantially diminish their effectiveness as an enforcing entity. the proximate cause of the assault on the dog’s owner was *not* the fact that he was handcuffed, but the fact that he abused his animal. he shouldn’t have been assaulted and those who did that should be prosecuted, but smith had more to worry about than protecting an abuser from an angry public. i can’t imagine anyone beinf stupid enough to bring this into court, but if the owner files suit, i think ths has an obligation to defend this officer in court, and the dog he saved, if they are to remain a legitimate protector of animals.

  25. Ash says:

    Tre should be suspended for a week on triple pay, and given a medal and a tickertape parade when he comes back.

  26. Bonnie says:

    Well I can not put everything that I want to in this email but I want to say that the officer made the right decision the only other thing that I think that he should have done is lock that asshole in a car with the windows up and make sure he has a full length coat on and he can take it off– what the hell are the people at the Ontario Humane Society thinking????? Are they not suppose to protect the animals or is that not their business anymore????

  27. Stefani says:

    What a fabulous man. What can we do for him?

    The Toonces Project
    “Is Your Pet Safe at the Vet?”

  28. Elizabeth in LA says:

    Bravo to Tre Smith! Your actions were brave and correct. Best wishes to you and to your speedy reinstatement! I have written in support of your actions. I would have done the same thing. Be proud of saving a life! Thank you!

  29. mzcelie says:

    This great guy deserves a medal!

  30. mzcelie says:

    This great guy deserves a medal…the owner got what he deserved…I’d like to take a crack @ him myself…………..

  31. Megan Ball says:


  32. Toronto Animal Cruelty Investigator Reinstated | Itchmo: News For Dogs & Cats says:

    […] August, Smith had been suspended after he saved Cyrus, a rottweiler, from a hot car and handcuffed Cyrus’ owner to the car when he came to the […]

  33. Alexis says:

    i have to say something, DOG ABUSERS NEED TO GET THERE MIND TOGETHER! *crys* im seroius i mean like what if u were that dog and a stranger comes to help u while u were a baby! its the same for that dog! and i would seroisly start a riet if it was me!!!

  34. Jacky says:

    Kennel do this well, from China, Japan, I am

  35. karin says:

    what he did was what he was trained for. i have see a deer with an arrow stuck in his back hine quarter, but when i told the person that shot him to go and put it out of it;s misery i just got laughed at. the person that saved the rotti should be honored for saving his life.

  36. Gigi says says:

    April 21th, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    I am very suprised about this decision, I am from Germany and something like your decision would not even be allowed to say. This rescuer is a hero, the window can be replaced, is just a material factor, but the dog would not have survived, if this great person would not have done something.
    He does need his job back immediately and promoted. This other person of the car should get improsement for treatet a helpless animal this way. I would like to put him into this car, for a long time without water, and nobody shall help him, I am so upset, how can a decision be made this way, I hope, the person can sleep well. It is making me sick.

  37. Josh says:

    I understand both sides of the store here. I agree with what the officer done for the dog and I support his rescue efforts 100%. Anyone who saves a life-whether a human or animal-deserves a hand shake and honored. However; having some law enforcement background myself you can not handcuff anyone to a car and walk away not supervised. I can understand him being charged with the assaults because his actions lead to the guy being attacked. The officer should have secured the individual in a vehicle or should have brought the dog over where the guy was handcuffed. PLEASE TAKE NOTE that I am not taking up for the other individual. The officer saved the dogs life and he should not lose his job. I simply want everyone to see BOTH sides of the story. I understand you guys are mad at the other guy and I am too but at the same time, you can’t handcuff someone to a car and walk away. When you place handcuffs on someone you are detaining that individual for further questioning. I would have sat him down on the sidewalk or walked the guy over to the vehicle and sat him down beside it while I assisted the dog. Once you place handcuffs on a individual they become your responsibility. I support the officer 100% and he should keep his job and be praised for saving a dogs life.

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