At the Toronto Humane Society (THS) on River St., animal cruelty investigator Tre Smith is shaking hands and accepting congratulations from well-wishing animal lovers. He's won awards for his work before, but today he's celebrating being back on the job.
The story as he tells it: When he arrived at the scene in Parkdale last July, Cyrus was nearly dead. The 50 kg (110 lb) Rotweiller was locked in a sweltering car, foaming at the mouth and gasping for air. The temperature inside the car was 70 C, and Smith said he had a clear mandate to follow.
"You can only imagine how he was cooking in there. I've been to hundreds of dog-in-car calls and you always try to prepare yourself but until you actually witness one ... it's a feeling of panic, it's a feeling of 'What am I going to do? I need to do something fast,' and that's when my training kicks in," he said.
Smith's training certainly kicked in that time. He smashed the window and dragged Cyrus out of the car, then called to bystanders to bring buckets of cold water.
The rescue wasn't terribly out of the ordinary for a THS officer. But the events that followed sparked quite a controversy.
The dog's owner Paul Solderholm appeared 20 minutes after Smith got there, wondering why his car alarm was going off. Smith said Solderholm became verbally and physically abusive, and after several cautions, he was forced to handcuff Solderholm and sit him on a bench.
"But even in handcuffs the owner was being verbally abusive, threatening, saying when he gets out, if he gets out... The girls helping me were afraid for their lives," he recalled.
So Smith handcuffed Solderholm to the car, right around the same time he said Cyrus became comatose. Confident Toronto police would arrive at the scene within minutes, Smith left Solderholm handcuffed to the car and took Cyrus to the Humane Society.
That's the first thing Tre Smith felt last night when he found out, in a call from his lawyer, that he had been reinstated as an animal cruelty investigator.
For the last four months, Smith has been in employment limbo. His rescue of a Rottweiler July 31, which involved handcuffing the dog's owner to a car, raised eyebrows with his superiors at the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals � and raised questions about the powers of non-police officers.
"I'm shocked," Smith said. "I've been conditioning myself for bad news for such a long time."
Smith lost his investigating duties in early August, days after the rescue, which occurred in the parking lot of a Parkdale apartment building. Smith broke the window of an SUV to get at Cyrus, a Rottweiler, described as foaming at the mouth and about to take its last breath.
As Smith tried to rehydrate the canine, its owner Paul Soderholm emerged from the building.
While each tells a different versions of the events that ensued, it is indisputable that Smith handcuffed Soderholm to his vehicle. When Smith left, bystanders beat up Soderholm.
The dog remains healthy and in the care of foster parents.
The incident uncovered a long-standing rift between the OSPCA and Toronto Humane Society, which deepened as the two independent bodies fought over everything from releasing information on the case to why Smith was under suspension.
full story: http://www.thestar.com/News/article/283910