Province urged to act in sheep farm probe -Toronto Star - Dec 1, 2008

Staff Reporter

Local politicians are appealing to Queen's Park to do something about animal neglect at the Port Perry sheep farm from which Jack the Donkey disappeared.

Scugog Mayor Marilyn Pearce sent a letter last week to Natural Resources Minister Donna Cansfield, asking her to make sure a provincial investigation into alleged violations of laws relating to the slaughter and butchering of sheep and illegal sale of meat is making progress.

"We wanted assurances that the minister was aware of the concerns for both the animals' welfare and the safety of the residents living near this farm," Pearce said, adding she has yet to receive a reply. "We asked her to personally intervene and to ensure that everything that could be done was being done."

We've done many stories recently about a farm at 2525 Ma Brown's Rd. after spotting a poster near Port Perry about a donkey named Jack, who ran away from the farm. A flock of 70 to 80 sheep and some goats are kept there by Andras Dios, who lives in Toronto but drives to the farm several times weekly.

Our curiosity led us to neighbours who directed our attention to limping sheep suffering from hoof rot, decaying bodies stashed behind a barn and body parts scattered in surrounding fields after sheep were butchered.

Neighbours have complained for years to the Humane Society of Durham Region and the Ontario Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, but the OSPCA insists the sheep are in good shape and that Dios has gone "above the call" in providing excellent care for his animals.

But OSPCA spokesperson Alison Cross would not comment last week on whether Dios has made any progress on an order to clean out sheep dung that covers the entire floor of the barn and is more than a metre deep in many places.

Investigators with the natural resources ministry have been to the farm twice in just over three weeks, including last Wednesday night, when several officers were there for about two hours. Brett Campbell, a senior investigations official, confirmed that its probe is ongoing, adding it could wrap up soon.

Readers have been asking for a list of officials they can call about the situation:

What's broken in your neighbourhood? Wherever you are in Greater Toronto, we want to know. To email us, go to and click on the submit a problem link. Or call us at 416-869-4823.


Comments on this story are moderated

I did blast and posted this issue everyplace I could find. -Even if this particular situation has been fixed, the message has to go out to hobby farmers that they have obligations to their "pets" -I did get a resopnse from Alison Cross that the situation has been recitified so Mr Lakey, if you could please do a final follow up

Submitted by ecogear at 12:59 PM Thursday, December 04 2008

Get your facts right. Here is the OSPCA's response. Jack Lakey isn't telling the whole story. I'm offended that he is twisting the facts and leading readers to stop supporting such an important organization. I urge you to learn both sides of this story before you decide to stop supporting the OSPCA.

Submitted by johnstone07 at 12:25 PM Tuesday, December 02 2008

to joshcna

Sorry joshcna, I didn't find the OSPCA's response very enlightening or fact-filled. They still sound whiny and like they aren't doing much. This isn't just Mr. Lakey trying to help these animals, neighbours have been complaining for a long time. I'm still withholding my donations.

Submitted by readandfeed at 9:43 AM Tuesday, December 02 2008

OSPCA's=Lip Service

What is with this disgusting situation? Whose getting paid for what? It's usually about "money"!!! Why is this taking soooo long??? Bureaucracy at it's best???

Submitted by The Truth Hurts at 9:14 PM Monday, December 01 2008

The OSPCA has responded..

I would encourage everyone to review OSPCA's response to this series at under Newsroom, and then Media Releases. They are disputing a number of 'facts' Mr. Lakey has brought to the table. Before deciding to stop supporting the SPCA, or any other charitable organization for that matter, one should ensure they have all the facts!

Submitted by joshcna at 1:38 PM Monday, December 01 2008


for the info re whom to contact. And it's nice to see politicians starting to get involved. Perhaps these animals can finally get some decent care.

Submitted by readandfeed at 10:17 AM Monday, December 01 2008

I have sent emails.

You should do the same if you agree with Mr. Lakey.

Submitted by $grand at 7:39 AM Monday, December 01 2008

OSPCA... pathetic

As a vegetarian, I find the entire thing disgusting. It's as if nobody cares. Thank you to Mr. Lakey for this continuing coverage.

Submitted by $grand at 7:38 AM Monday, December 01 2008

Thanks for the info!

I will be writing some letters today, for sure! I am thoroughly disgusted with the OSPCA. If this is what constitutes "excellent care" in the eyes of this organization, everyone involved with this particular situation should be fired and an immediate investigation launched into the practices of the OSPCA. It makes me wonder about the condition of the animals that are directly under their care.

Submitted by spiritofwicca at 6:36 AM Monday


Stonewalled on the donkey farm - Toronto Star - Nov 29, 2008

Our repeated pleas for clarification of cleanup order went unanswered

Staff Reporter

Sheep at a Port Perry farm are "not in distress," despite years of neglect and complaints from neighbours, animal welfare officials say.

As for the sheep dung that hasn't been mucked out of the barn in more than four years, piled well over a metre deep in places, a spokesperson for the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says it's an acceptable farm practice.

"If sheep dung in a barn is in a solid state, it's actually not harmful to the animal," said Alison Cross, who deals with media for the OSPCA, which is responsible for enforcing animal welfare laws in Ontario.

"It can actually provide heat in the barn. If it's not in a liquid form, it can actually not be harmful," Cross said. "There are some farmers who actually do keep that kind of practice in their farm."

So it's actually good for the animals? "It can be," replied Cross.

For several weeks, we've been documenting conditions at 2525 Ma Brown's Rd. near Port Perry, where 70 to 80 sheep and some goats are kept by Andras Dios, who lives in Toronto and drives to the farm several times weekly.

A poster about Jack, a missing donkey, originally led us to interview concerned neighbours, who spoke out about appalling conditions on the farm, including sheep lamed by hoof rot and decaying sheep carcasses hidden under boards – something we saw for ourselves.

Our story last Saturday quoted from an email to the OSPCA three years ago about pervasive hoof rot, knee-deep dung on the barn floor and sickly, underfed animals.

Scarborough dog breeder Tom Sloan, who wrote the email, said he was told an order was issued to Dios in 2005 to muck out the barn, a detail that was part of our story.

But in a "bulletin to supporters" on its website and a letter to the editor that appears on today's letters page, the OSPCA says the Star "provided incorrect information to the public" and there was no order issued to Dios in 2005.

The 2005 investigation "revealed the animals to be in good condition and not in distress," OSPCA chief inspector Hugh Coghill writes, adding that his organization "continues to work closely with the owner to ensure the animals on the property receive proper care."

Back on Nov. 17, we asked the OSPCA's Cross to confirm if an order to clean the barn had been issued in 2005. She said she wasn't sure she could release that information, for reasons of confidentiality, but said she'd get back to us that day, or the next day at the latest.

Cross didn't call back. We called her cellphone at least seven times over the next four days. Our messages weren't returned.

After another story last Tuesday, readers who had been writing to the OSPCA began forwarding us replies from Cross informing them there was no 2005 cleanup order. We finally reached her Wednesday and asked why the OSPCA wasn't breaching confidentiality by updating readers if that was the reason for denying us the information.

Cross said her organization finally determined last weekend – after the story on Sloan's complaint ran – that it was not a breach of policy to confirm there was no order.

Debbie Houghton, an inspector with the Durham Humane Society, told us in early October an order was issued last summer to clean the barn and that it would be complied with "in October." It wasn't.

She attributed the hoof rot to wet weather last summer, despite years of complaints to both agencies about sheep that could barely walk.

If conditions in 2005 did not warrant an order, and allowing sheep dung to pile up is actually a good thing, why order it to be cleaned out in 2008? Was the dung not deep enough in 2005?

Cross told us yesterday that as long as the animals can stand up without bumping their heads on the ceiling, the dung is not too deep.

So why issue an order? Cross said the reasons are confidential.

In its bulletin on the website, the OSPCA says two vets have examined the sheep and found them to be in "good physical condition."

We asked Cross who the vets were and when they visited. She said it was a matter of doctor-patient confidentiality that needed permission from Dios.

We recognize that the OSPCA and humane societies do outstanding work, rely on donations for operating funds, enforce animal welfare laws and don't have as many inspectors as they'd like.

But so much of the scant information provided by the OSPCA doesn't seem to add up, while requests for more details are parried on the basis of confidentiality.

More on Monday.

Comments on this story are moderated

About farming...

Growing meat in a lab can't come soon enough. After a lifetime living in this city and as the greenbelt grows ever more distant, things like farming only get more difficult to understand. Trust the OSPCA or trust my own limited understanding of decent practice? Tough call.

Submitted by Common Voter at 11:25 AM Tuesday, December 02 2008

How disturbing! These animals need our help and NOW!

As a monthly supporter of the OSPCA, I am so disturbed by this. I just e-mailed them and told them that if they don't make the situation better for these animals immediately, I will be withdrawing my support. A new animal cruelty law was just passed in Ontario which gives the OSPCA more power to intervene on behalf of animals so I don't understand what the hold up is. I also e-mailed the MPP for Durham and asked him to intervene. I believe it is time to ask Queen's Park to investigate the OSPCA, after all they get taxpayers' dollars and animal welfare should always be their first priority. If they are not doing their job properly, that money should go to someone who cares. Thanks, Jack! Don't give up! The faces of those poor animals broke my heart...

Submitted by loveanimals at 12:21 AM Sunday, November 30 2008

Dear OSPCA. As a lawyer I can assure you that there is no doctor patient confidentiality between animals and vets. And further you are publicly funded and clearly in this case not doing your job. Seriously we are not stupid. Living in knee deep dung could not possibly be good for sheep. Someone out there, a nice farmer maybe please rescue these sheep or convince this man to stop owning animals if he won't care for them. And please no one buy this meat (as he appears to be using the sheep for)

Submitted by nmcp at 11:09 PM Saturday, November 29 2008

Don't give up, Jack

Confirming the dates of vet visits (if not the names of the vets themselves) is NOT a confidentiality issue. From Cross's comments it would appear that she knows little of the situation, farming in general, and her own organization's policies regarding open investigations. She shouldn't be talking to the press if she doesn't know anything about the case. As a person who has worked on many farms, I can honestly say that keeping an excess of manure in a barn for heat is hogwash. Yes, it tends to insulate, but if it's giving off heat it is because it is DECOMPOSING, ie: rotting. Rotting barn bedding leads to hoof rot. That, plus the ammonia given off by the animal urine in the same bedding must make for noxious and eye-watering vapors. The sad truth is that the Humane Society and the OFSPCA don't have a lot of power in abuse situations. So long as the animals have shelter, food and ample water available, these organizations will be reluctant to act despite public outrage.

Submitted by blythe at 5:26 PM Saturday, November 29 2008


I am disgusted by this! But, given what happened in my hometown a year ago, I am not surprised. The O.S.P.C.A. used to have a couple trailers and pound facility in my hometown of Parry Sound, the only shelter in a large area that was a little underfunded. Out of the blue, they told the town they were shutting down, unless the town stepped up to pay for a new shelter. When this didn't happen they effectively abandoned the area, knowingly leaving scores of cats and dogs to fend for themselves. Parry Sound has only been able to set up a small dog shelter, where dogs can only stay for 2 or 3 days, then they're euthanized. Cats have nowhere to go. The OSPCA walked away from a place they'd been using for years, completely ignoring the predence of helping the animals first. Sounds like this charity needs to be investigated.. where are all the funds going?

Submitted by girl_fireworks at 5:04 PM Saturday, November 29 2008

The Response From The OSPCA Does Not Add Up...

The lack of disclosure, use of confidentiality to dismiss concerns from the public and phone calls not returned creates, at the very least, the perception of a cover-up; at worst, professional and ethical misconduct. The credibility of the OSPCA is at stake (not to mention its ability to fund-raise in the future). The farm in question may only be one example today, but other examples could potentially come out of the woodwork -- if not now, perhaps in the future. The OSPCA must get to the heart of this issue RIGHT NOW, defend its position with FULL DISCLOSURE and stop relying on the public's faith in their ability to look after such defenseless animals. Well...

Submitted by Larry Perlman at 12:23 PM Saturday, November 29 2008


How this has gone on in the press for quite a while now yet the OSPCA and the Humane Society continue to pass the buck and refuse to take action. Doctor-patient confidentiality? Give me a break. Are the sheep supposed to start talking now? Poor animals. Keep on them Jack; as you say things don't add up. Like spiritofwicca, I won't be sending any more donations either, and I have been a regular donor to both organizations for years. I am appalled with how little concern they show for the animals and how much they show to cover their own behinds.

Submitted by readandfeed at 9:51 AM Saturday, November 29 2008


this story has turned my stomach. I will definitely NOT be donating to OSPCA until they clean up their act. This is disgusting. The farm must stink to high heaven. Where is the area's MPP and MP? why aren't they involved? why don't the neighbors start a petition? why don't the neighbors just get in there and clean up the mess and dump it on the OSPCA's property for THEM to clean up?

Submitted by licketysplit at 8:12 AM Saturday, November 29 2008

O.S.P.C.A. Let us Down!

Most Farmers are good people. Now, the ones that are not, have license to stop shoveling manure. Yes, heat comes off a pile of droppings mixed with straw,but tell that to the survivors of people forced to endure the same situation on the death trains to concentration camps! Oh, I forgot,We are supposed to be cruel and irresponsible to animals in a barn. What the "Hey" No one seems to cares even when caring people give money,report abuse, inspect, send letters or go public in the newspaper! For the Love of JACK! Stop making an "ASS" of yourselves "Humane" people! I thought the letters O.S.P.C.A. stood for Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals ? Please keep on this Jack the fixer, The Toronto Star represents TORONTO THE GOOD. Mr. Dios, Please FIX YOUR TRACTOR ! Please sell Jack to me. I will give him a GOOD home. The "Other Jack" has my phone number.

Submitted by Silent tears at 8:08 AM Saturday, November 29 2008

doctor-patient confidentiality?!

So, we'll have to get permission from the sheep before you reveal their medical records?!

Submitted by cubiclehell at 8:02 AM Saturday, November 29 2008

Stonewalled on the Donkey Farm

Just another case of cover ups and of agency's which should be protecting animals rights falling down on the job. The OSPCA needs an overhaul and freely dispense information about matters under their jurisdiction. After all, it's we who pay the bills. geezer

Submitted by geezer at 7:44 AM Saturday, November 29 2008

Better photo caption?

Urbane, the donkey, hired to duke it out w/coyotes on account of some diseased,dying sheep wishes that some/anyone would get up, off their ass, and help.

Submitted by boreal65 at 6:55 AM Saturday,

An outrageous situation!

Perhaps, it's time for an investigation into exactly what is going on at the OSPCA. It seems pretty clear that animal welfare is no longer their priority. It isn't a matter of them not having the facts. For some reason, they apparently refuse to act on them. Are they waiting for these poor creatures to drown in their own waste before they get off their butts and do something? I urge every animal lover out there to write to the OSPCA and tell them in no uncertain terms that what is going on at that farm is cruel and that immediate action must be taken to alleviate the suffering of those animals. Further, although I have donated money to this organization for years, they will not see another penny from me until this disgraceful situation is resolved. I suggest you all do the same.

Submitted by spiritofwicca at 6:31 AM Saturday, November 29 2008

The OSPCA won't be getting any more of my donations

Surely there are better people out there to do the job - people who actually CARE about preventing cruelty to animals. It seems that a whole lot of people at OSPCA need to be fired. They expect people to support their organization when they pull stunts like this?

Submitted by gills62ca at 6:21 AM Saturday, November 29 2008

Does anyone smell something here?

Something smells real bad here concerning the OSPCA and the Durham Humane Society. Toronto Star, keep up the GREAT work here. Be relentless. Make 'em nervous and accountable here. Jack, you sure know how to "sniff" out a story!

Submitted by The Hawk at 6:03 AM Saturday, N


Readers riled about animals' welfare - Toronto Star - Nov 25, 2008

Staff Reporter

When will someone in authority finally get serious about enforcing animal neglect laws at the Port Perry farm from which Jack the Donkey ran away?

It's a question being asked by many readers, after several Fixer columns on conditions at 2525 Ma Brown's Rd., where a flock of 70 to 80 sheep and some goats are kept by Andras Dios, who lives in Toronto but drives to the farm several times weekly to look after them.

Our Saturday story quoted from a letter of complaint three years ago about pervasive hoof rot among the sheep – a problem that's just as bad today – and knee-deep sheep dung covering the entire barn floor, which was never cleaned out despite a 2005 order, and is now well over a metre deep in many areas.

The inspector who has handled the file since 2005 told us a second cleanup order would be complied with "in October." It hasn't been. She attributed the hoof rot to wet weather, despite years of complaints to the Humane Society of Durham Region and Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals about sheep barely able to walk.

We've gotten many emails and calls from readers who are angry the neglect has not been stopped.

"I'm completely outraged about this," said Susan Hughes, who asked us to publish numbers of officials to whom she could complain.

Nancy Glanville said she's a generous donor to the OSPCA, "but I won't be giving them any more money (and) I'm going to tell everybody I know not to give money until they get this straightened out."

Bonnie Shulman's email criticized us for "not fixing anything. A real Fixer would have fixed this terrible situation and given the livestock a better quality of life," adding we should call People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and ask it to take on the case. No thanks.

We called Hugh Coghill, chief inspector for the OSPCA, who told us yesterday it's not its problem, and we should call Durham humane society. But the humane society had earlier told us the inspector on the case worked for the OSPCA.

In our last call to the local inspector, she said she would no longer comment, referring us to a spokesperson, who ignored many phone messages from us last week.

We tracked down the Durham humane society's president, Karin Martens, who said she knew nothing about it. "I'll look into it and get back to you," she said.

We'll keep writing about the farm until the situation improves, and later this week provide a list of officials readers can call.

What's broken in your neighbourhood? To email us, go to and click on the submit a problem link. Or call us at 416-869-4823.


Comments on this story are moderated

Having been raised on a farm, it is unbelievable that such situations are permitted to exist. Question: if the owner is butchering the sheep, what is done with the meat? Sold in local stores and restaurants? Where are the meat inspectors in that case? In the largest city in the country, this passing of the buck from one agency to the other is par for the course. Keep up the fight against this travesty.


Submitted by labellea at 1:08 PM Wednesday, November 26 2008

No One Passes The Buck Like Government Agencies

The crime of this all is that the animals have no voice, we have to be their voice. However, I personally have called, Port Perry Councillor, OMAFRA, OSPCA Durham Police,Durham SPCA, MNR, Food and Agriculture, MOE, 2 Port Perry newspapers, the list goes on. The answer, you have to contact "this dept, out of our scope, or.... we have been told to leave this to MNR". Unless you take pictures at the instant the abuse, neglect is happening,nothing will help the animals. My donations to the SPCA have also stopped.

Submitted by 2Totos at 8:09 AM Wednesday, November 26 2008

If we don't pass the new animal protection laws!

Really nothing can be done as the laws are now written. But it is true that the larger organisations are in it for the money-couldn't care about any animal. Its been about money for awhile!

Submitted by wsharp at 1:25 PM Tuesday, November 25 2008

Stop passing the buck!

As I posted last week, I am disgusted at these so-called animal welfare groups passing the buck. Just what do the Humane Society and the Society for the PREVENTION OF CRUELTY to Animals do??? Sounds like a no-brainer to me. Count me in as someone else who will withhold any future donations.

Submitted by readandfeed at 10:49 AM Tuesday, November 25 2008


While these organizations bicker back and forth over who holds responsibility, these animals continue to suffer. This is unacceptable. I bet if we held back on our donations to both of these organizations until these animals were removed from that property, there would be some very fast action taken! Both of them are supposed to deal with cruelty and neglect. Somebody had better start doing their job and fast!!!

Submitted by spiritofwicca at 9:45 AM Tuesday, November 25 2008


It amazes me that this sort of mistreatment could go on so long. If these were cute little puppies it would already be resolved with a heart wrenching press conference and lots of photos. Who cares which organization has jurisdiction. Do your job people.

Submitted by Maxbear at 8:52 AM Tuesday, November 25 2008


If I could, I would collect all the sheep dung and place it at the feet of Karin Martens, Hugh Coghill, Andras Dios, and the inspector dealing with this issue for more than three years, as well as the offices of the OSPCA and Durham Humane Society. They all certainly deserve it, and more...

Submitted by Larry Perlman at 6:45 AM Tue


Neglect concerns first raised three years ago - Toronto Star - Nov 22, 2008

Staff Reporter

Animals welfare officials were told in 2005 about neglect of livestock at a farm near Port Perry but have done almost nothing to stop it, despite many complaints since then.

In spring 2005, an inspector with the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals issued an order to Andras Dios, who lives in Toronto but keeps about 80 sheep on a farm at 2525 Ma Brown's Rd., to clean out knee-deep sheep dung covering the entire floor of a large barn that shelters the animals.

More than three years later, the only thing that's changed is the dung is a whole lot deeper, and hard as a rock.

Our story two weeks ago was about Jack the Donkey, who vanished from the same farm in September, prompting neighbours to put up posters about his disappearance that suggested he'd been mistreated.

We went looking for Jack, who has yet to be found, and ended up at the farm, where we learned that many of the sheep were suffering from hoof rot from standing on the dung and wading through urine and feces in the barnyard.

Several sheep we saw were limping badly due to hoof rot, a bacterial infection.

Dios butchers the sheep in a utility shed but doesn't properly dispose of the leftover body parts, which we found scattered in fields around the barn, where it attracts coyotes at night.

We also found the bodies of dead sheep hidden beneath boards near the barn.

Neighbours have long complained to the OSPCA, the Town of Port Perry and the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, but the problem remains unchanged. The Ministry of Natural Resources, which investigates on behalf of the agriculture ministry, confirmed it is investigating Dios, but refused to provide any details.

The OSPCA issued a second order a few months ago, again requiring Dios to muck out the barn. An area of less than 10 per cent of the barn floor was partially cleared a few weeks ago, but there's been no other activity to comply with the order.

Debbie Houghton, the inspector who issued both orders, said early last month that the barn would be cleared "in October," then left The Fixer a Nov. 7 voice-mail message saying a Bobcat excavator being used to clear the barn had broken down, adding the job would be done in "a couple weeks."

In our only interview with Houghton, she attributed the pervasive foot rot to wet weather last summer, saying it was a common problem with livestock at other farms.

Our investigation has determined there was never any Bobcat at the farm, only a man with a pitchfork and wheelbarrow who abandoned the job after a few days.

The cleared area has been barricaded with plywood, ensuring the sheep don't have access to it and are confined to areas still covered with dung when they come in at night.

We called Houghton on Nov. 12 and left a message. She called back Nov. 14 and said she would no longer speak to us, referring us instead to Alison Cross, public relations manager at the OSPCA's head office. We left a message for Cross later the same day.

We called Cross again Monday, asking for details about the 2005 order and the OSPCA's efforts to ensure compliance. Cross took down our questions and said she'd get back to us "before the end of the day," if not Tuesday. We've been waiting for an answer since, despite many calls to her cellphone and office number.

After our stories, Scarborough dog breeder Tom Sloan called to say he complained several times to the OSPCA in 2005 about appalling conditions he observed at the farm, when he visited another dog breeder who lives in a house on the farm but has nothing to do with the sheep.

"The sheep (dung) looked like it was three feet deep throughout the whole barn, but there were old horse stalls where it was about up to the top rail," Sloan said, adding he saw a goat standing on top of a dung pile so high that it was bumping its horns on the ceiling rafters.

Sloan said he called the OSPCA's head office in the spring of 2005 and spoke to an official, Wendy Sunega, who said she'd pass along the complaint to the area inspector. Not long after, Sloan said, the dog breeder who lives at the farm found an OSPCA letter in the farmhouse mailbox, ordering Dios to clear the dung within 30 days.

But on several subsequent visits to the fellow dog breeder in the summer of 2005, Sloan noticed nothing had been done to comply with the order.

Distressed at the condition of the animals, he sent an email to Sunega that November, a copy of which he provided to The Fixer.

"I know goats tend to be thin-looking, but these animals look like walking skeletons," wrote Sloan.

"Several sheep could not walk on all four legs and a few could barely stand.

"The bald turkey population is kept in a stall 24-7 ... with the avian bird flu about, I was not going to get anywhere near these bald birds.

"The sheep are also kept in this same horse stall area. The three-feet-deep pile of manure reported to you in May has now grown to five feet deep."

Sloan's letter provided an address for Dios at his apartment on Dundas St. W. and concluded by saying he was asking for the OSPCA's assistance

A reply to the email from Sunega says Houghton "has attended again, so for more information please feel free to contact her," at the same phone number we used to reach her.

Sloan said he subsequently left several messages for Houghton, none of which were returned.

What's broken in your neighbourhood? Wherever you are in Greater Toronto, we want to know. To email us, go to and click on the submit a problem link. Or call us at 416-869-4823.


Comments on this story are moderated


... how everyone seems to be passing the buck and no one wants to take responsibility. I am disappointed in the OSPCA's response to this. Kudos to you Jack for keeping after them.

Submitted by readandfeed at 3:54 PM Saturday, November 22 2008

Legislate stronger consequences

Please legislate stronger consequences. Until people ( who ARE primates) learn that another living being is not a light switch, all genus and species are at risk of abuse. Clearly, this attitude of human superiority and lack of empathy with other living forms is a pervasive and majority thought. Please give animal welfare groups more power to protect. Thank you.

Submitted by moss67 at 1:01 PM Saturday, November 22 2008

The OSPCA often has it's hands tied.

However, if this organization has been negligent in dealing with this situation, it needs to be held accountable. With the new animal protection legislation, animal control officers will have much greater freedom to investigate and actually do something to alleviate the suffering of animals as opposed to handing out summonses which are often ignored or dismissed by judges who simple "don't get it." Animal welfare organizations work hard to ensure that animals are kept in humane conditions. Unfortunately, until very recently, the laws were so weak and ineffectual that there was often nothing substantial that could be done.

Submitted by spiritofwicca at 6:03 AM Saturda


Farmer's wife says we don't know Jack -Toronto Star - Nov 11, 2008

Staff Reporter

It seems we got it all wrong about Jack the Donkey and the Port Perry sheep farm he ran away from. Or so says the wife of the "farmer" who owns Jack.

Our Saturday story was about how Jack vanished in late September from a farm at 2525 Ma Brown's Rd. on Scugog Island, and how we learned about abuse and neglect of the donkey, a large flock of sheep and other animals at the farm when we went looking for Jack.

Neighbours have complained to authorities for years about the farm, where the barn floor is covered with rock-hard sheep dung that hasn't been mucked out in four years. It is run by Andras Dios, who lives in an apartment on Dundas St. W. in Toronto and works full-time in construction, but drives to the farm to care for the flock of upwards of 100 sheep.

The donkey's hooves had grown so long they curved forward, forcing Jack to painfully walk on his tendons, until the Humane Society of Durham Region ordered Dios last summer to have them trimmed every six weeks. The sheep also suffer from hoof rot.


The environment ministry has ordered Dios to "abandon" a well in the barn used to water the animals by Dec. 15, saying it is contaminated by manure. Neighbours say he butchers the sheep in a utility shed, sells the meat and doesn't properly dispose of the leftovers.

When we met up with Dios at the farm last Thursday night, he and his son were being questioned by officers from the Ministry of Natural Resources. Dios ordered us to leave when we tried to ask him questions.

Both ministries refuse to discuss their investigations with the Star.

But after the story, we were contacted by Dios' wife, Emma, who insisted they love Jack, take excellent care of all the animals and are victims of mean-spirited, "evil" neighbours who cause trouble by making groundless complaints.

Emma Dios said they rescued Jack from an abusive situation several years ago and nursed him back to health, which explains the joy exhibited by the donkey whenever they arrive at the farm. Jack "runs when he sees our car," because he knows they're bringing scraps of dry bread, she said.

We asked why the hooves of such a well-loved donkey would be allowed to grow so long. Dios explained the donkey wouldn't let her husband clip them.

Why wasn't the manure in the barn mucked out for four years, we asked? How should I know, Emma Dios said, adding that she's a city girl who enjoys attending opera.

Her husband was raised in Romania, said Emma Dios, where farmers let manure from livestock accumulate on the floor of barns to keep the animals warm, and clean it out only when they absolutely have to.

She claimed to know nothing about the ministry order to abandon the well, saying her dog drinks from it and she has used it for cooking.

If it's contaminated, it's not from the manure, but more likely from a malicious neighbour who "put something" in it, she said.

Progress is being made on an order to remove the manure, she said, adding that it's being done with a wheelbarrow and pitchfork after an excavating machine broke down.

Later this week, we'll have an update on what authorities are doing and an interview with a dog breeder who complained to the humane society about the farm in 2005.

What's broken in your neighbourhood? Wherever you are in Greater Toronto, we want to know. To email us, go to and click on the submit a problem link. Or call us at 416-869-4823.


Farm conditions called neglectful -Toronto Star - Nov 8, 2008

Staff Reporter

Jack the Donkey has run away from home, but if you lived where he did, you'd take off, too.

People often put up signs about missing pets, but it's not every day you see one about a missing donkey, as we did near Port Perry recently.

The sign said Jack absconded from a farm at 2525 Ma Brown's Rd. on Scugog Island, but oddly, it was posted by a neighbour instead of its owner, and suggested mistreatment was the reason for the donkey's disappearance.

Call The Fixer a jackass (lots of people do), but a runaway donkey with whom we share a name fires our imagination, so we phoned the neighbour who put up the sign.

We never expected it would lead to a farm that has generated complaints to authorities about neglect and abuse of a flock of sheep dating back several years.

The farm is operated by Andras Dios, who butchers them in a utility shed.

A recent tour of the farm revealed a sickening situation, including an accumulation of rock-hard sheep dung on the barn floor that's more than a metre deep in many places.

The manure has so thoroughly fouled a well used to water the sheep that the provincial Ministry of the Environment has ordered it to be "abandoned," or filled in, by Dec. 15.

We found rotting carcasses of dead sheep hidden under boards, body parts from the butchering strewn in fields and piles of bones where bodies were dumped, which contravenes Ontario's Dead Animal Disposal Act.

"It's pretty sad when your kids don't want to go for a bike ride because they're afraid of finding body parts on the road," said a neighbour who asked not to be named, adding that coyotes invade the farm and surrounding properties almost every night to scavenge for leftovers.

The barn is also home to malnourished cats, at least one litter of skin-and-bones kittens and a duck with no feathers.

Some of 70 to 80 sheep suffer from hoof problems. Several were limping badly during a recent visit. "Ovine foot rot," as described in veterinary texts, is an interaction of contagious bacteria causing tissue scalding.

Neighbours have complained often to the Humane Society of Durham Region that the sheep are not properly cared for. Some died in last summer's heat because of a lack of water and excessive fleece because they hadn't been sheared.

Their grazing area is so closely chewed that the sheep stick their heads through the fence to get at grass on the other side. Neighbours say they found the body of a sheep dangling from the fence last summer after it strangled itself.

Our probe led to a moonlight meeting Thursday in the farm lane with Dios and his son Mark, who live in an apartment on Dundas St. W. in Toronto, and two investigators from the Ministry of Natural Resources, who were questioning them when we arrived.

Standing in the headlight beams of two vehicles, the investigators were discussing farm management practices with father and son, with Mark loudly proclaiming they're the victims of malicious neighbours, one of whom he says threatened his mother with a baseball bat when she was at the farm.

The investigators refused to talk about their business with the Star, saying we'd have to get our information from a more senior source.

We tried to talk to Dios about what happened to Jack, how he raises the sheep and what he does with them, but he said no thanks. When we told him there'd be a story about it, he ordered us to leave his property.

Rodger Dunlop, a supervisor of agricultural investigations with the natural resources ministry, said his office investigates on behalf of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, but he refused to say what the investigators were doing at Dios' farm Thursday night, or if any charges were laid.

"I'd prefer to let our investigators finish the job they're doing before we talk about it," Dunlop said yesterday.

Brent Ross, a spokesperson for the agriculture ministry, also refused to comment. But he said the slaughter of animals for food falls under meat regulation provisions in the Food Safety and Quality Act.

"Meat that is sold, donated or otherwise given to the public must be slaughtered in a federally registered or provincially licensed abattoir, where the animal is humanely slaughtered and undergoes rigorous testing and inspection to ensure the meat is fit to enter the food chain," Ross said.

Until Jack disappeared in late September, neighbours say, he would often break loose and show up at their properties, adding everyone loved the "mammoth" donkey except the owner of a nearby farm where Jack would sometimes chase the cattle.

It was evident from Jack's hooves that he was neglected, neighbours said.

They had gone so long without being clipped that they'd begun to curve, forcing the donkey to walk painfully on his tendons.

Debbie Houghton, an investigator with the Humane Society of Durham, said she issued an order requiring Dios to have Jack's hooves clipped every six weeks by a vet, based on the complaints.

Dios has also been ordered to clear the manure from the barn, which Houghton had earlier said would be done in October.

In a phone message yesterday, she said she was told the barn, in which the sheep continue to spend their nights, would be cleaned out in "a couple weeks," adding Dios told her that an excavating machine he was using had broken down.

We'll keep you posted about developments on the farm, and if you happen to see a stray donkey, please let us know.

What's broken in your neighbourhood? Wherever you are in Greater Toronto, we want to know. To email us, go to and click on the submit a problem link. Or call us at 416-869-4823.