Marina Korchounov’s Story

My name is Marina Korchounov. I am a resident of the Richmond Hill area. Here are two of my kids who have been involved in our story. I have to share my story with you. I will read it because it’s difficult for me. This is the letter I sent to the board, and I will read it.

“The reason I seek your attention and help is the fact that my dog who has been living with me for the last 13 years in three different countries and has always been considered a member of my family and treated respectfully was taken by the representatives of SPCA, along with the police forces, on June 1, 2006 at 4:05 p.m. by force.

“I view this act as illegal and cruel because the dog, being old and helpless, may suffer serious emotional problems as a direct consequence of it. This, in my opinion, is a real cruelty, which I personally strongly object to. Despite the dog’s poor health condition due to his age, I made efforts and attempts to do my very best to help the dog feel comfortable and safe. In fact, in August 2005 he started having problems with his eye and paws. We invited a vet over to our house, Dr. Jia Asianova, who diagnosed the dog with arthritis (which is a common condition for German shepherds of this age, according to her opinion). An ointment and eye drops were prescribed to alleviate his eye condition. In addition to that, a heart problem was diagnosed and it makes the use of anaesthetic treatment highly risky to his health. According to the vet’s conclusion, arthritis in dogs is an incurable condition and there is a high chance that the dog may not survive the surgery of eye tumour removal. So, following the vet’s recommendation we just tried to make the rest of Terry’s life as comfortable as possible, giving him our love, affection and care. All members of our family love him and my kids,” at that time nine and seven years old, “are especially attached to Terry. Seeing him being taken by force caused serious psychological trauma to them.

“On Friday, May 26, at 2:28 p.m., Inspector Linda Goczan … came over to my house, following our neighbour’s call to [the] SPCA claiming, without any reason of factual proof, that our family doesn’t take care of Terry. The order was left, demanding us to take the following steps in order to comply with the SPCA requirements: ‘Have the animal examined by a veterinarian with special attention to left eye and general health.’ This was supposed to be done by Monday, May 29, [at] 9 a.m. The time given to us was not reasonable because it was [a] weekend. However, I managed to contact the veterinarian, Dr. Asianova, who attended Terry in August 2005. She was unable to come immediately and she confirmed her opinion: She can try the surgery but chances are slim [that] the dog will survive. In case we decide in favour of surgery, it should be done either before June 4, 2006, or after June 10, because she will be out of Toronto within this period. It’s a tough decision because, in case Terry dies I will blame myself for the rest of my life, and due to my financial situation I can pay for the surgery after June 5, 2006. We agreed that after Dr. Asianova returns to Toronto, I would give her a call to arrange an appointment for the surgery.

“Having explained all this, I believe I made my point clear: We don’t want our friend and member of the family to suffer the shock of being separated from home and loving owners and strongly believe that in the interests of his well-being, it would be best to have him back and join our family. I expect that your understanding and co-operation will help us.”

Another letter:

“On June 1, 2006, our dog, German shepherd Terry Korchounov, was taken from our house by force by the OSPCA representatives and police forces. This act of cruelty towards Terry and disrespect caused emotional shock and psychological stress in all members of our family, especially our children. Seeing him being taken by force caused serious trauma to them.

“Our kids never saw people in uniform talking with their parents in such unrespectful manner, blaming them for [the] dog’s sickness. Terry was [a] nanny for our kids and he was our first child. But unfortunately his poor health condition was a result of his age and common for German shepherds.

“When the SPCA agents and police forces came into our house, Terry was lying down on the floor and scared. He didn’t follow their command to stand up because he didn’t understand English and was trained to listen [to] just his owners.

“Kids were hugging the dog, crying and ask to leave our dog with us. Oldest daughter took her savings and asked policemen, ‘Please take money and let him live with us!’ My husband Dmitri was sitting on the chair (his English very poor) and trying to say something but agents didn’t listen [to] him. They just blamed us. When Dmitri was trying to stay, the policemen immediately called for [a] support unit. One of [the] policemen talked to me how bad owners we are. Agent Goczan threw the order and told me, ‘You can continue to watch your TV. We will take care of your dog!’

“They grabbed Terry—he was crying—and took him to the car. Two OSPCA cars, four police vehicles have been too much for our small community. Now our neighbourhood [is] thinking we have problem with law.

“Our life was changed. We still can’t believe it happened with us. Terry [had] been part of our family over 13 years in three different countries and [had] always been loved and treated respectfully—been taken away by force.

“We can’t believe it can be done in [a] democratic country. It [was] possible in Stalin’s Russia.

“What kind of lesson our children took?

“How it will be reflected in their lives?”

How did the SPCA help our dog? Nobody gave us the answers.

The rest of the story: We took our dog back after two weeks. My husband lost his job because he was always with me. I lost my position—I was a senior sales director with Mary Kay cosmetics—because I was not working the time. After this huge shock, I’m still recovering.

After we took Terry home, two months later he was paralyzed after the shock. For almost three months, my husband and I carried him in and out for his needs. Later, he died.

You can see this picture on the other side of my letter. This is the picture my oldest child made after Terry’s death. She had been a student at an art school, and she finished her education at the art school because she just can’t make any pictures after this. Maybe you will take this as a sign. After they took Terry for cremation, I found this exactly after. I took this as a sign, because I think we made everything right and what we met with was just not fair.


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