Three months ago, Tre Smith, an animal cruelty investigator for the Toronto Humane Society, saved a dog from an extremely hot car. After saving the dog’s life, Smith has been suspended for the past three months by the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Smith responded to a call where Cyrus, a Rottweiler, was stuck in a car during an intense heat wave. He broke the car window, and pulled out Cyrus to safety. Cyrus’ owner came out when he heard his car alarm go off. Smith said the man seemed to be dangerous and abusive and could be a potential threat to people around the scene.
Making a quick decision, Smith knew he had to get back to Cyrus and save his life, so he handcuffed the man to his car while he went to tend to the weak dog. While the man was handcuffed, bystanders threw objects at the man, and he was bleeding when officers took him away.
After the incident, the Ontario SPCA suspended Smith’s license pending an internal review to see if Smith’s conduct of handcuffing the man was appropriate.
For the past three months, Smith has been “pushing paper” around while the Toronto Humane Society and OSPCA have been arguing over access to information, incident reports, decisions and disclosure.
“The irony is that people who are caught and punished for animal cruelty get less time than what I’ve served,” Smith said. “The clear victims here are the animals of Toronto. By taking my license away, it’s one less officer on the road protecting animals from cruelty.”
Two weeks ago, Smith received a letter from OSPCA saying that they are “seriously considering” revoking his license. OSPCA CEO said that this was intended for Smith to present his side of the story to the organization.
Toronto Humane Society spokesman Lee Oliver said, “Police said Tre didn’t do anything wrong and that it is his right to use handcuffs (as an investigator). The OSPCA then said his suspension was because Tre didn’t file (incident) papers on time.”
Despite the controversy, Smith did recently receive an award for saving Cyrus’ live from the International Positive Dog Training Association.
For Cyrus, he has fully recovered from the incident, and he has moved in with a foster family who is asking for temporary custody. Since Cyrus is evidence in criminal proceedings, he cannot be legally adopted. But for now, he is enjoying his time with the family, getting three walks a day, and playing with his toys.
Several Itchmo readers contacted the Toronto Humane Society and this was the response that they got from Lee Oliver about Smith’s case and what can be done to help Smith’s case:
During the summer you wrote in support of Toronto Humane Society animal cruelty investigator Tre Smith and his rescue of Cyrus, the Rottweiler locked in a sealed and overheated car. As you know, Agent Smithâ€™s license was subsequently suspended by the Ontario SPCA, a move the THS never supported. (Smith works for the THS but is licensed by the OSPCA.) Several THS supporters wrote to Monte Kwinter, the Provincial Minister in charge of the OSPCA at the time, urging him to intervene on Agent Smithâ€™s behalf. Now we have a new Minister in charge, Rick Bartolucci.
If it isnâ€™t too much trouble, would you consider writing the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, Rick Bartolucci, and asking him to please help save Treâ€™s career? While the previous pleas to Mr. Kwinter fell on deaf ears, we hope that the new Minister may be willing to listen.
This is especially important now, as the OSPCA seems poised to permanently revoke Agent Smithâ€™s license.
Thank you for your time and support. Here is Mr. Bartolucciâ€™s e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
By the way, Cyrus has had a full and miraculous recovery and is currently living in a secure THS foster location awaiting the end of the legal wrangling.
The Toronto Humane Society
(Thanks Lynn and Elizabeth)