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Toronto Humane Society, Tim Trow, Judge Elizabeth Stewart

Judge orders Tweety Bird back to Granny

By John Lawrence
Friday, May 26, 2006

I must admit that I am glad to have once lived in Toronto. It puts a great many things into perspective and after dealing with the most bizarre politicians and special interest usurpations of the same, almost nothing surprises me. Almost.

I almost fell off my perch on Tuesday when I thought I heard that some elderly woman had had her pet cockatoo removed from her care by Toronto Animal Services.

I was shocked. Aghast even! (I love these words.) I was horrified. Could it be that Granny has been abusing Chrissy all these years? No doubt an acclaimed international panel was brought in to try and justify this callous, underhanded treatment. Who was behind it? An animal inspector named Sylvester perhaps? Thufferin Thuckatash!

Questioning the care that Granny, who just happens to be 85-year-old Elaine Menna, could give to Chrissy, the president of the Toronto Humane Society, Tim Trow, stated that Chrissy arrived at the Society in August, 2005, and that at that time had almost no feathers on her chest, legs, and wings. (What else is there? I suppose that the Humane Society is politely trying to assert that Elaine brought her bird in naked. Not a stitch on her. I am surprised that they knew it was a bird.)

He also stated that in the past 9 months that the bird had grown much of its plumage back after socializing with other birds. Meanwhile, Julie Dabrusin, a lawyer representing the humane society, told the judge that the group neither alleged that Chrissy had been abused nor needed protection. These two stories simply don't mesh.

For her part, Elaine states that she was having difficulty with finding a place to live as certain arrangements that were in place fell apart at the last minute. Starting to fret over the wellbeing of her cockatoo, Elaine turned to the Toronto Humane Society. I believe she will not make that mistake twice. After placing her trust in them for Chrissy's care, Elaine was mortified when told that she would not be getting Chrissy back. I can only imagine her grief. She did the right thing. She took the Humane Society to court.

On Wednesday, her lawyer, Brian Shiller, produced a host of medical records proving that Elaine not only loved her pet, but took top notch care of it as well. (Good thing the medical records weren't sealed to protect the bird's privacy, huh? You know; bird/vet privilege) In the 14 years that she owned Chrissy, she had spent thousands of dollars on veterinary bills over a span of 68 visits. That hardly sounds like she is neglectful.

It was noted that Mrs. Menna was in a distraught state at the time she placed Chrissy in the care? of the Toronto Humane Society and that she did not realize that the papers she signed took away her bird and friend forever. When pressed in court, the Humane Society official that processed the paperwork regarding Chrissy stated that she could not recall telling Elaine that she would lose all ownership of Chrissy.

Yesterday, a wise judge, apparently working alone, put Tweety back in the arms of Granny.

I have no idea who Judge Elizabeth Stewart is, but if she reads this column, she should call me. She has a free lunch waiting for her.

John Lawrence is the editor of He is a father to 5 wonderful children, has been married for 15 years, worked at Canada Post for 16 years, and enjoys writing in his spare time. He currently resides in the community of Courtice, Ontario, 20 minutes east of Toronto.
John can be reached at:
Columns 2006 2005