Humane Society Repossesses Cat From Owners Because Cat Allowed Outdoors

Toronto Humane SocietyMutts and Moms is not the only animal adoption agency that has taken pets away from homes due to violations in adoption contracts by pet owners.

Sheila and Jason Bulman received notice from the Humane Society in Toronto, Ontario that their adopted cat Georgia was being repossessed because the couple allowed the cat to roam outdoors. This was a violation of the adoption contract that the Bulmans signed when they first adopted Georgia.

The Humane Society told the Bulmans that they signed a contract and that Georgia is not an outdoor cat.

“It’s a really straight forward thing,” said Lee Oliver of the Toronto Humane Society. “You agree not to have the cat declawed. That’s a cruel and barbaric thing. You agree to keep the cat indoors. You agree not to give the cat away.”

The Bulmans said they know that they broke the rules but they only did it because Georgia really wanted to be outside.

Sheila Bulman said, “She howled and howled to the point the neighbors thought we were abusing her.” After a month of restraining Georgia inside, the Bulmans finally let her outside.

She added that the animal control officer told her the cat would be better off at the humane society in a cage than with her.

Jason Bulman stated: “The Humane Society has to acknowledge the fact that there are grey areas.”

Oliver said the Humane Society’s mission is not to please people, but instead to take care of the animals.

He added: “You have to provide a safe environment for the animal. We do turn people down and they do get upset and they say, ‘Better with me than in this horrible place.’ Well, not necessarily.”

Source: Globe and Mail, CityNews

28 Responses to “Humane Society Repossesses Cat From Owners Because Cat Allowed Outdoors”

  1. Nora and Rufus says:

    Although it is hard to accept by many people, and I do understand….. Cats do not have the restrictions of fences and such things when let outdoors. So many terrible things could happen to them out there and the only way to protect them is to let them out ONLY when you are with them and if a cat will not stay by your side, (some of them will) a harness and leash would then be required. Sad that our pets cannot roam without danger, and the contract when adopting the cat stated it clearly….the pet adopters signed it. We can only hope the cat is adopted again.

  2. David F. Prenatt, Jr. says:

    Points of order:

    - The cat reclaimed by the Humane Society was taken back because of manifest neglect.

    - The Humane Society did not take the cat back by force. They sought the assistance of animal control, and while your blurb does not say as much, by all appearances the cat was surrendered voluntarily.

  3. Macushla says:

    Whether people like it or not, you do sign a contact when you adopt an animal and you must live up the stipulations in the contact. Most of these agencies are only trying to do their best for the animal and we need to respect that.

  4. serijna says:

    I cannot believe anybody would leave an indoor cat free to roam.
    Eventually the cat will not return. Then you go thru the agony of trying to find out what happened. Sometimes you find her/him killed on the road.
    Most of the time, no trace. Also tame indoor cats/as opposed to ferals/ can very easily be picked up by strangers/sickos and subjected to all kinds of horrors.
    I do feed a small population of ferals/semi ferals, and go thru this agony many times when one does not show up for a few days.
    My inside cats never leave the house ofcourse, they do not even want to.
    I agree with the policy of this Humane Society.

  5. straybaby says:

    not all cats are indoor cats. if this was an otherwise good home, how about working on solutions instead of hard fast rules. can anyone say cat enclosure? or supervised outdoor time? working with a behaviorist on acclimating the cat indoors?

    hello, people, we need to educate and HELP, not be dictators. all that’s going to do is increase the shelter population. and does anyone think that a cat stressed in an indoor environment is going to be any less stressed in a cage at the shelter?! we don’t know that this was an indoor cat, so that needs to be considered.

  6. shibadiva says:

    This one is close to home because I support this society’s work and have had cats from them in the past. They are one of the few places in the Toronto area that euthanize only very ill animals or those that have absolutely no chance of placement because of temperament issues. They really go the extra mile to place difficult and special needs animals in appropriate homes. Their intake is high and from time to time, they waive adoption fees and stay open til midnight. They offer low cost spay and neuter, as well as discounts on pet food and supplies. And they do due diligence in terms of their adoption procedures.

    I doubt that they would have contacted the Bulmans had an enclosure or leash or some other reasonable means been used. But gee, who’s the boss in the Bulman home anyways?

    This is a huge city, and it is irresponsible for anyone in such an urban environment to put their cats in danger.

    When I adopted Molly (from Toronto Cat Rescue, another agency here), Molly’s owners were going to have her euthanized because their 2 year old was developing allergies. Even though they’d been calling TCR practically every day to get the cat out of their house where they were reluctantly fostering her, they insisted that I allow Molly to go outside once she was adopted. Turns out Molly couldn’t care less, as long as she gets to sit beside an open (screened) window in the warm weather.

    If she’d started howling to go out, it would either be the occasional short supervised visit at the end of a leash in my fenced backyard (although the fence wouldn’t be a barrier for any cat), or too bad so sad get over it - you’re staying indoors. Fortunately, she is a reasonable girl and just happy to sit on the sunny windowsill or on my computer keyboard.

  7. Gindy says:

    Did the Bulmans’ have a large enough yard for a chain link dog enclosure? Could they not have fixed that up and put the cat in there for some outside time?
    Obviously, stray baby, these people were to lazy or ignorant to bother to read the contract the signed. As for help, what about the concept of responsibility. These are adults who are responsible for their own behavior, not 5 year old children who need to be hand held.
    I am glad the cat is back with a responsible party. And wtf was that stupid comment (in the full version of the story) about butter on the cat’s paws so it can find its way home?

  8. Jeanie says:

    there are ways to let a cat go outside, but not roam. I’m all for building catios - enclosed patios for cats! There’s also cat leashes and I’ve even seen people put their cats in enclosed baby strollers.

    Watch the video from Buddie’s catster page. Pretty funny:

  9. straybaby says:

    not everyone knows about cat enclosures, they are relatively new. not everyone knows that you can get behaviorists/trainers for cats etc. why do we assume all pet owners are fully educated in these situations and also in situations where they surrender animals? instead we automatically revert to lazy, cruel, neglectful, irresponsible, etc. and we should be surprised people are uninformed when they don’t know everything? nope, not if we don’t bother to tell them. they took the cat when she was gone if i read that right and don’t seem willing to help her get the cat back and keep it safe. one more home that could be open for a homeless animal shut down.

    question for ya’ll. do you know people (close friends/family, not joe blow down the street) who don’t keep pets up to your *standards*? if so, should they get rid off them or have them taken away? and what if they think you don’t keep your pets right? should you lose them also? is there a definition of perfect we should all be following here?

  10. Lynn says:

    David F. Prenatt, Jr. [October 22nd, 2007 at 12:28 pm]: What manifest neglect? Where did you get your info? Link?

  11. Lynn says:

    Do these agencies have surveillance cameras - how do they know when the animal can be snared?

    Straybaby makes an excellent point about homes being up to certain standards. Personally, I believe few homes are as good as mine, in terms of pet-friendly and pet-safety. [You might think otherwise.] But does that mean that I think all other homes with pets should boot them out the door because the homes aren’t good enough? Hell, no!

    I think the BASIC definition of a good pet home:

    1 - A human able to afford vet care.
    2 - A human who has the time to care and play with the pet.
    3 - A human who will love the pet and ensure its safety.
    4 - A human that will make certain the pet has good food and a clean environment.
    5 - A human who respects and follows the laws and regulations regarding pets.

    Sure, there are caveats for small pets and for big pets…..but by and large, I think those are the 5 basic tenets.

  12. Dennis says:

    I suspect this type of repossession has been happening for some time between some rescue shelters and the adopters when the adopters don’t abide by the contracts. When it happened, it probably didn’t make the news and we didn’t hear about them. As I said in the Ellen thread about contracts, most do not read what they are signing, don’t negotiate better terms, and don’t know when to walk away instead of signing something bad. And they don’t know when to ask an attorney instead. These news stories should be a learning experience!!

    There are so many possible objectionable clauses including: inspection of the home, ownership issues, prohibited actions, breech conditions, even damages and transfer of the pet for breech. We can each think of times when use of the conditions might be in the best interest of the pet or not. But the terms can also be an invasion of privacy, and have reasonable and unreasonable restrictions on ownership such as letting the cat outdoors or declawing. These are similar to owning property having a Homes Association with its Bylaws and rules. Still, the public needs to realize that the rescue shelters do have a right to write their own contract just as the public has a right to walk away and not sign it.

    There is a fine line between a contract protecting the pets and becoming overbearing and pointedly intrusive and unacceptable. I’ve even read of one contract where the “adopter” never owns the pet, only becomes the caretaker. That’s not right either. Such deals aren’t proper but they probably are legal, until some State Legislatures draft laws to eliminate this hole. Meanwhile potential adopters must ask to read their contract FIRST before looking at and being taken by the pets. If the adopters don’t understand some terms in the contract, they should ask an attorney to review it for a fixed fee and perhaps a half hour. Adopting a pet is a long term commitment and not free.

    While this discussion has focused on rescue shelters, I would like to point out that the pet breeders ALSO have contracts and MANY of those are also very restrictive. I had one breeder at a cat show tell me in the course of conversation that she repossessed a young cat after the new owner had the cat declawed. The breeder then had the cat euthanized to eliminate the pain the breeder believed the cat was suffering. I am not making a judgment on declawing, but I don’t believe in doing that.

  13. meh says:

    The City of Toronto passed a by-law a few years back that forbids allowing cats to roam free, but I don’t know how rigorously its enforced. Complaints about roaming cats usually bring out Animal Control, who’ll pick up said cats and impound them. Also, City of Toronto now requires that cats be licensed.

  14. sylvia says:

    I have only one question; how did the humane society know the cat was let outside? Do they spy on the rescuers? Watch from unmarked cars? Bug the place or maybe the cats? Huh??? Personally I do not think cats should roam loose outside. Too many dangers but am even more concerned with the new “big brother is watching” attitude of some rescue groups.

  15. catmom5 says:

    Sorry, but I stand with the humane society on this one. When we adopt out we make very sure that the adopters know exactly what they are signing. There are a lot of cats available to people who choose to let them be indoors/outdoors. These folks signed the contract and, my guess, knew exactly what they were signing. With that said, we offer follow up support and I’m wondering if the adopters contacted the humane society for ideas in dealing with their unhappy indoor only cat. Sometimes that helping hand you need is at the end of your own arm. Sure, not everyone is aware, but everyone could ask!

  16. mittens says:

    i think all the shelters/rescues that pull this sort of micromanaging , insane , invasive crap are doing a great disservice to both the animals and to the humans who care enough to pay money to save unwanted pets. people are going to stop funding their work and adopting animals from them if their tactics and demands become too restrictive, too meddling, and drastic. i love my cats dearly-i can barely raise my voice to them for fear of upsetting them and i spoil them rotten- but i will be damned if some meddlesome tyrannts are going to inflict their POLITICAL views of the treatment of pets on me. at the end of the day they are, according to law, my property. i feed them. i pay their outrageous vet bills and unless i am physically abusing them or depriving them of food and care no one is goddamn touching them while theyre under my roof if i dont say so. theyre my kids- i’d protect them from all comers. theyre animals for christ’s sake. we provide less stringent legal restrictions to child abusers and foster homes that end up killing actual human children.

    here in my state we’ve had several instances of human children dying under foster care in the past year wherein Child Welfare did nothing to save them and never attempted to remove them from homes in which there were signs of abuse. i’m suppose to think some self appointed animal messiahs are the only ones who have a right to invade someone’s personal property to confiscate personal property because they let it crap outside on someone’s bushes? the real truth is probably they have so much trouble prying animals away from actual abusers ( specifically because the pets weren’t acquired with a ‘ contract’ to anyone)because the common law has always viewed them as property which we all have a right to( there have been examples of people ‘ stealing’ dogs who were clearly being abused who found themselves brought up on theft charges)-that they’d rather flex their puny power over anyone who they can technically slap it over- no matter how petty the alleged ‘ violation’.

    ive chosen my rescues carefully.i refuse to deal with anyone who thinks theyre going to co own my pet. ive found most of the people i deal with and still contribute to merely want to make sure youre not going to sell the pet to a lab or breed it like a machine or keep it chained to a 1 foot lead on a log in the yard. that’s reasonable. we want to protect against actual ABUSE not make it so people live in fear that their generosity is going to be rewarded by pet napping by nazis whose only concern is their own personal, ego fueled quasi-religious agenda that boils down to controlling other humans and using poor unfortunate animals as an excuse for their megalomania and OC disorders.

    if someone’s in their backyard swinging the cat by the tail- by all means take it away with my blessing. but short of clear pointed abuse, i feel these organizations are going to be losing public support if they continue to find light shone on their unreasonable actions against people. pet owners arent the enemy- treating them as such instead of encouraging their charity is not the way to open up more homes to your unwanted animals. i would never adopt or contribute to any organization that pulled a Mutts and Moms or anything similar and i am one of those who gives often and adopts a lot and more often then not adopts the unadoptable.

    i’ve broken the law to save animals from abuse- and i’d do it again. that anyone would consider taking animals away from caring owners instead of being reasonable and only doing such in the case of clear abuse and cruelty is horrifying to forces us all in to a place were we lose rights over our own families and homes and allows organizations to use the government to enforce political views that might even contradict common law. i dont think it’s a place we can go and preserve our freedoms and rights and i dont think it helps animals one bit in the end. people will just turn to puppy mills and craigs list or careless backyard breeders to get pets and the effects on the health and well being of these animals and other animal populations they come in contact with would be hugely detrimental.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Mittens, THANK YOU and so very true! I agree 100% and I’ve seen the damage done with many potential ( very good) homes who will not adopt or have been refused due to unreasonable demands by these agencies.

  18. shibadiva says:

    Oh for Pete’s sake, THS doesn’t spy on owners. It was a neighbour who called the humane society. Thankfully, they didn’t call Animal Control who would have euthanized the cat within 3 days if the owners didn’t show up. THS would keep this cat forever if it didn’t find a new home.

    That THS does NOT kill is a source of criticism from agencies that do.

    They run these amazing adoptathons whenever things get a little crowded, waiving adoption fees and staying open til midnight. At their August 18 - 20 adoptathon, they placed 230 cats, 26 dogs, and 46 small pets.

    And they really advocate for special needs and older pets, looking for the right family for placement.

    Thanks to a strong donor base, they just completed the construction of a Cat Sky House - another storey on top of their River Street shelter, in order to look after more cats.

    THS takes strong and vocal positions about amending our antiquated cruelty legislation, and against breed legislation (Ontario recently went after pit-bulls, and now they (or anything resembling a pit-bull, whatever that means) either need to be shipped out of the province, or muzzled and spayed/neutered). They are also vocal about the Chinese fur trade, bear bile farming, rodeos, the seal hunt, breed bans, NY City carriage horses, and other issues.

    Ellen? What, 10 days with Iggy, possibly two weeks, of which 9 days were spent at a boarding/training facility? And before that, the border collie pup that she passed on to someone else?

    So what’s happening on her show this week? More reruns? I suspect her PR folks or maybe her lawyer recommended she not talk about Iggygate. But what if… she actually ran a show that supported animal rescue? She’s such an animal lover, isn’t she? Hey, that would be a Meaningful Commitment…

  19. shibadiva says:

    What sort of agencies are y’all running up against that have such stringent requirements that get your knickers in such a twist?

    My Molly Cat came from Toronto Cat Rescue and there was a friendly conversation in a local coffee shop before we settled on the adoption. Molly came along after Strega Cat had passed; Strega was adopted from Toronto Humane Society with no hassle at all.

    My little dog was shipped to Ontario from a shelter in the US midwest and, apart from a contractual clause to return him if need be, and a pleasant home visit from a local woman (who is on their board of directors), all I got was a whole bunch of positive support during the grueling mid-winter transport.

    Why are y’all getting such grief from agencies?

  20. Jenny Bark says:

    My Kitty (almost 12 yrs) was a wild cat when I got her. It was 3 months of pure He!! for all so us ( Kitty, dogs husband & myself). She is a very happy cat & inside only cat because I’m scared to let her out & get hurt. I think most, not all, Itchmo cats are inside cats BUT a whole lot of America’s cats are not.I don’t know about all the areas but where I live there is no law that says cats have to be inside cats.

    I don’t think it’s right what some shelter & rescues have to say about there contracts & imo adoptions are going to get real slow. I do know they lost me & most people I know. No I’m not afraid of being black listed & imo no one else is either.

    Read the comments in the Glob above, people are mad & say they are not going to adopt or are going to lie. Please read the comments on other non pet sites people, not the shelter or rescue workers you can tell by the post who they are, but the people are mad. Imo not as many babies are going to get adopted. They are talking about getting them out of the paper or buying them.

    In the Glob it said AC(dog catcher) said the cat was better in a cage than with the parents who adopted the cat. Yes it did say a neighbor turned them in but why would AC (dog catcher) be saying that if he didn’t pick the cat up. If you watch the video on the City News it says the shelter has 700 pets they must have a lot of people working their to spend time with each animal & love it for it to be better off than the picture of the cat laying in the bathroom sink looking so happy.

    Mittins I agree with you too & it it is the same way here in Pa about foster parents & children protection services (cys). Straybaby & Lyn I agree with you all too.

    The babies have to be first in a loving home not in a shelter or boarding place or even in a foster home but with someone who loves them & wants them. Don’t get me wrong I’ll go after anybody who abuses a child or animal but having someone who loves & feeds & vet you even if it is not our perfect way we think it should be is always better than a shelter or being killed.

    About Ellen imo if the police would have did their job right M &M wouldn’t even have been able to take the Iggy. Read tmz under Ellen name, the police says they overstepped taking the dog. Imo the contract won’t stand up in court.

  21. Jenny Bark says:

    Btw my kitty is not de clawed & is an inside cat. My dogs have a very, very large fenced in yard. Our babies not only go to the vet for yearlys but also for wellness checks. Our vet knows us all on a first name basis & we have enough money if they get sick. They are not alone in the house for more than a couple of hours. They are not aloud to use the doggie door at night. They all go on vacation with us in the motor home They are taken care of where they will live in our will. They are loved & we are loved.

    We didn’t need a contract to do any of the above & will not co-own a baby for some one who doesn’t even know our babies or family to say where they can live or if who we leave them to is good enough. Real funny die & in comes the shelter or resue worker to do their thing because they think they know what they are doing. Our coffee pot is always on for anybody or everybody BUT.

  22. June says:

    I don’t think we have all the details on this. Couldn’t the family have picked up the phone and asked the Humane Society for advice? Cats that are allowed to run loose here are usually eaten by coyotes. There is one tough guy that has made it for a few years.
    I don’t get all the anger and fear about agencies, nor the comparison of private pet rescue people to state welfare workers. This is about pets, not kids. I am suspecting that the NAIA is fear-mongering and agitating people about rescues.
    There are always exceptions, (BTK was animal control and code inspection, after all), but generally I suspect someone that is constantly having trouble with animal control, their neighbors, or embroiled in contract lawsuits is either a puppy mill owner, BYB, or just plain antisocial.
    I don’t want anyone in those 3 groups messing with laws. They cause enough trouble for society as it is.

  23. Don Earl says:

    Hey, if a person isn’t responsible enough to honor a contract, they sure aren’t responsible enough to own a pet.

    The shelter wasn’t spying on these people. They turned the cat loose, left for the day, the neighbors complained, and the cat was picked up by animal control.

    Hello stupid! That’s why they made you sign the contract in the first place!

    I rescued my cats as feral kittens. When I found them they were sick, cold, covered with fleas, hungry and full of worms. The part of the litter I couldn’t catch ended up as racoon food.

    Warm, safe, healthy, free from parasites and with full tummies - that was the best it had ever been in their little lives. They did NOT want to go outside. I saw no reason to teach them to want to go outside. Keeping them as indoor only pets has NEVER been a problem.

    If the rescue operations that are stuck taking care of the results of negligent pet owners say, “We don’t want to rescue this pet next week because we placed it with the same kind of jerk who put it here in the first place.”, well, it seems to me they have a good point and are in the best position to make the call.

    If a person has a 30 acre farm, where their pets can’t bother anyone else and won’t put a burden on society, that’s fine. If a person has a city lot, with 10 homes within rock throwing distance that will be impacted by bad actors, that’s a different story.

    Like Will Rogers said, “Your right to swing your fist stops where my nose begins.”.

  24. Paul says:

    I just had to say: I agree with mittens and Jenny Bark 100%.

    The last time we were looking for a dog (Austin, Texas), we were looking specifically for a German Shepherd. We had a GSD previously, we know the breed, and so we know it’s a good fit for us. What we found was the city shelter allows the rescue groups to ‘pre-adopt’ dogs before the general public can even see them. The result (at least at that time) was that there were essentially no GSDs for adoption. The rescue groups (which presumably had the GSDs) wouldn’t even return calls or email (we never found out why…). We did find a GSD at the Humane Society (they run a separate shelter), but we were rejected (quite rudely too) because we had the nerve to say that the dog would be in our outside, fenced yard while we were at work, and also whenever she wanted when we were home. That was unacceptable to them. No discussion, no compromises. After that, the adopting process was unacceptable to US. In fact, we used to contribute to the Humane Society, but no more.

    So, we got on the Internet, found a great breeder, and paid $$$$ to get a great longhaired GSD (just like our last one). We love her, she is very happy, and she spends a LOT of time inside. But, when she just has to go run around, she takes a few laps around the back yard.

  25. 3FURS says:

    In life QUALITY matters more than Quantity. An animal rescue takes a dog or cat that has been living on the street, in all sorts of weather–boiling hot or freezing cold, and eating whatever scraps of spoiled food they can find. Or taken from a puppy mill cage where they lived in their own waste and were rarely fed. Now the animal rescue places the animal in a sterile cage and feeds it regularly. So now, animal rescue will only let someone give the animal a home, if they can give the animal a life like the rich and famous. Otherwise the animal will contiue to live in a cage. Wouldn’t it be kinder to the animal if it had a home ?? Not all animals will treated as royality, but if there are some less than ideal issues, in the long run it will be better than a cage. Put yourself in the animal’s shoes, wouldn’t you rather live a life where the good outweighs the bad. Animal rescues can keep records, and if the adopters want a second animal they must bring in the first one to show it’s in good health or a letter from the vet to show why the animal is not here. That way, if the animal was sold to a lab or killed through neglect, their name would be black listed.
    We don’t live in a perfect world, but this way more animals would have a chance at a happy life, and shelter cages wouldn’t be so over crowded.

  26. Don Earl says:

    IMO, shelters would do well to conduct ongoing seminars/classes to educate the public on responsible pet ownership.

    A lot of people really don’t understand all the issues, or that the issues really are valid issues. What appears to being viewed as arbitrary rules imposed by this shelter for no good reason, is in fact very good standards.

    The only possible exception being that they expect everyone looking to adopt a pet to understand what it takes to be a good pet owner.

    Given the chance, I’m sure a lot of those being turned down could be very good pet owners. I think it’d make more sense to say you have to know what it takes to be a responsible pet owner before you leave with a pet, than to say you have to be a responsible pet owner before you come in.

    Instead, why not say, “We have a 4 hour course Saturday afternoons that you have to complete before adopting a pet.”? Give people enough information to make good decisions and maybe a lot of the problems will go away by themselves.

  27. Tanya says:

    I am so sick of this.

    Shelters take this shit way too seriously. People have different needs adn views on animals, and at some point you just have to understand that you want to do what’s best for the pets you adopt out, but you are neither gods nor the arbitraitor of all that is good in the treatment of animals.

    people will simply buy from puppy mills and leave our poor shelter animals in shelters if we don’t get over this nonsense.

    We all want aninals to be well cared for, but at some point shleters need to simply give warnings, or remind people what is in thier animal’s best interste, etc.

    but to say “you cannot give your animal away without our say so” is stupid. the pet is not yours any longer, it is mine. legally and morally. and i know who my pet loves and who loves my pet. and if i suddenly get cancer and can’t have the fur around, it’s really my business not the shelters, who i give my pet to for long term care or even permanant care if necessary.

    this is getting so out of hand.

    why are we living in teh world of Big Brother.

  28. Chris says:

    Most of the people at The Toronto Humane Society are bonkers.

    If you ask me, that organization is more about making money than helping animals.

    Every year at holiday time it’s the same thing, namely that they get the media involved with some campaign about how they desperately need people to adopt animals. They play up the puppies and kittens thing every year. And then when you go down to attempt to adopt one there are no puppies and kittens, they don’t have any. And the reason they do this is they’re really just attempting to solicit donations. They don’t want you to come down and adopt a pet, they just want you to send your money to them!

    And if you go down to actually adopt a pet, the minute you walk through the door they treat you like a POS.

    My advice is support your local shelter. Or better yet, support the local person in your neighbourhood that takes in and cares for strays. It seems like every neighbourhood has someone like this.

    These are the real people who really care about animals for the right reasons.

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