Toronto Animal Cruelty Investigator Who Rescued Dog Still Waits For Decision About Suspension

Cyrus and Smith

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 Smith’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 Smith’s behalf. Now we have a new Minister in charge, Rick Bartolucci.

If it isn’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 Tre’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 Smith’s license.

Thank you for your time and support. Here is Mr. Bartolucci’s e-mail address:

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.

Lee Oliver
Senior Communicator
The Toronto Humane Society

Sources: The Star, Toronto Sun

(Thanks Lynn and Elizabeth)

17 Responses to “Toronto Animal Cruelty Investigator Who Rescued Dog Still Waits For Decision About Suspension”

  1. Tanya says:

    Permanently revoke his liscence for trying to do the right thing?

    At some point, we really do need to understand that humans (especially those in serious situations like cops, firefighters, etc) try to do what is best and most appropriate in the situation - and sometimes make poor choices. That doesn’t mean they are not good at their job, nor that they are a danger to anyone. It means — you’ve suspended him for longer than many criminals would get, call it a slap on the wrist and move on.

    Cause unless he has something else on his record, or unless you feel he was lying about feeling threatened by the man, then he did what he did to try to best mitigate the circumstances.

  2. Nora and Rufus says:

    This Guy is a HERO!!!!

  3. shibadiva says:

    Please write to Rick Bartolucci. This political nonsense has gone on far too long. The OSPCA (which licenses officers in Ontario) is a very worthy organization and I can understand their concerns about a tricky legal situation (the abuser, Paul Soderholm, who was roughed up by bystanders, is suing). However, correspondence from their CEO suggesting that Smith could lose his license is, IMO, uncalled for.

    I’d love to see Tre Smith back on the beat. He and the THS are a little too vocal for the OSPCA, I think, but they bring attention to the issues, particularly at a time when our antiquated anti-cruelty legislation sorely needs to be updated.

    More details on this thread:

  4. Lynn says:

    Tre Smith is a hero and I personally don’t see that anything he did was in poor judgment.

    Thanks, Emily, for going through the motions to obtain permission to print Lee Oliver’s email that I [and others] received.

    Please everyone, send an email to the new Minister in charge, Rick Bartolucci, who is more inclined to review the case. You can email him at:

    Please - send an email today in support of Tre Smith.

  5. Claudia says:

    I live in Manitoba, but this kind of thing could happen here too, so I wrote Rick Bartolucci:

    Hello Mr. Bartolucci,

    As someone who has had first-hand experience with animal cruelty and neglect (as an animal shelter volunteer), I urge you to reconsider the revocation of Officer Tre Smith’s license. If animal cruelty officers are not able to restrain potentially dangerous offenders, we will have similar situations as what is occurring across this great nation where police officers and RCMP are being killed by those who believe they are above the law. As someone who was not able to use a firearm or other device, I believe handcuffing the individual was a prudent decision in ensuring his own safety. The actions of the bystanders, while understandable, should be what is questioned here, not Officer Smith’s actions. As someone who cares about any living thing, I would have done the same in his situation. The perpetrator of this terrible act (the dog’s owner) will not suffer any consequences under our antiquated laws, yet, his dog suffered and nearly died — the person on whom he relied did not care one iota.

    Would it have made a difference if it were a suffocating child he was rescuing? Would he have been a hero then?

    The police department has said it was his right to use handcuffs as an officer and he has not broken any laws. We humans have made animals dependent on us. It is our responsibility to protect them. Officer Smith was just doing his job without risking his own safety.

    Please return this loyal individual to his duties. He cares and believes in what he does. He has a heartbreaking job that not too many people could stomach. There are already so few people like this — don’t make it one less.

  6. Anna_2007 says:

    ShibaDiva - Why don’t you start a petition at - this is the easiest and fast way to collect signatures with a well written letter to send to the dolt in charge of suspending TRE SMITH and to bring his name to the attention of every animal worker as a ROLE MODEL to emulate…and his actions that day as a TEXTBOOK example of what they should do in this situation…and perhaps also a petition to get that Ontario SPCA head totally fired, or else locked in a hot car for five hours…

  7. Anna_2007 says:

    In FL it is OK for the Catholic Church to molest little boys and torture cats.

    In Canada, they arrest animal welfare officers for rescuing dogs.

    World gone crazy.

    Is it time for the meek to start brandishing something, words, petitions, signs, with a little more Emphasis?

  8. Sharon says:

    Would he still be suspended if the guy had left his kid in the car to die of heat stroke instead of his dog? who’s to say that will not be the case next time? the cop should be back on the street and the criminal should be in jail. I thought Canada was better than we are. This sounds more like something that would happen in Texas.

  9. shibadiva says:

    Sharon, the maximum punishment the abuser can get here is 6 months in jail and $2,000 fine. This is way less than what you would get in most US states. Our provincial and federal laws here are pathetic, although there are movements afoot at both levels to get this changed.

    I see Toronto Humane Society taking more action to get laws changed than the OSPCA which seems to be mired in the status quo. The latter had a whole bunch of issues last year with insufficient funding and most of their board of directors quit. The issue here appears to be a dog-fight between OSPCA and Toronto Humane. The animals are the ones that suffer.

  10. shibadiva says:

    Anna, good idea. Here is what I found on Care2. Everyone please add your names to this petitions!

    There is also a petition to toughen up our animal cruelty laws which, unfortunately I am blocked from right now, but you can all link to it on the PetitionOnline site from my blog:


    Here is some info on what Mark Holland (member of parliament) is doing to push for better federal laws:


  11. Kevin says:

    Same thing happens to our Border Patrol Officers. They try to do their jobs only to be put in jail. Seems that only criminals have rights!

  12. Silva says:

    I think that the Officer did the best he could do. Obviously since he received an award it tells you how people feel. Perhaps it is time that people be restricted from having animals when they abuse them. Our laws are in dire need of change. With these people who are cruel to their animals, it doesn’t stop there. They are also cruel to people. Surely that should give people something to think about to encourage change.

    Lets get with the times. The man was trying to save the dog. He was one man. The crowd didn’t care for the man. I wonder why?


  13. Jake says:

    I am a grade 6 student who is doing a project about animal cruelty and I chose what happened to Cyrus as my topic. I am having trouble though trying to find out what happened in the case to the owner Paul Soderholm?
    Was he charged with animal cruelty? Will he serve time in jail? Was he fined? If anyone can help me find out what happened it will help me have a better project.
    I am glad that Cyrus is okay and I feel bad for Tre Smith - he is a hero.
    Thank you for your help.

  14. Debbie says:

    I heard about this incident and I would like to say if it wasn’t for Tre Smith the dog wouldn’t be here today. You know people are doing there job and isn’t that the most important thing. That Tre was doing is job right. I know when you are in an intense situation you are not thinking twice what to do with the owner you want to let the dog live. Tre had to do what was safe for him and the dog. As for the people who were throwing things at the owner that as nothing to do with Tre. Is it our fault that we live in a society not just Canada but all over the world that people are just cruel to one another. No, because this is what happens when you have a bunch of people you can’t never please. I am interested in doing what Tre does but hearing his case it makes you feel like you can’t trust the company or the training that Tre received. What happen to sticking up for what is really right here. The dog lived, Tre did is job the way he was trained to do and it is not our fault for the behaviour of other people and their animal. This is why criminals get more freedom and rights no wonder it is hard to find cops, they have no more rights if they are just going to get in trouble for the job they do. Canada is probably better off not having any good cops if they can’t do anything right.

  15. animal cruelty investigator says:

    […] cruelty investigator for the Toronto Humane Society, saved a dog from an extremely hot car. ……Animal Cruelty Investigators Find Dozens Of Neglected DogsContent is posted freely by web site […]

  16. Dustin Wade Hawker. says:

    Hi my name is Dustin Wade Hawker, i’m in grade’10 and live in Brampton,Ontario & I am an animal lover my-self! - When i’m 18 I would like to apply for a career as an OSPCA Police Officer/Investigator just like Smith! - I think as an OSPCA Investigator Smith did the right thing when he handcuffed the criminal to his car so that he can attend to the injured dog Cyrus! - It is not his fault that the bystanders did what they did to the criminal and their for Smith should not have to be doing desk work with a suspended license - he should be back on the Force because it is quite oviouse that he is a caring & loving type of person to animals of all kinds who need his immident help & care to survive! - Thank-you all for listening to what I have to say about Smith’s case & I hope that some time soon the case against Smith will be droped & he will be back on the force & rescueing animals in need by 2009! - I am also very happy to here that Cyrus is ok & in good hands & has fully recoverd from this horrible situation! - Good luck smith & you are deffinetly a true HERO in my book!

  17. S. Anderson says:

    Are you kidding.? If these people had their pet or child left in car and this officer saved them, he would be a hero. Of course the man was out of control and had to be handcuffed, he was caught being neglect and abusive. Tre did his job. Tre does his job, but where are his colleagues standing up for him? They need to grow a spine and state anyone who mistreats animals and people will be punished. Simple.

E-mail It