Thursday, January 29, 2009

Well worth driving over slippery roads for

Benoit, Bailey guilty of animal cruelty, assault
Digby County puppy brokers to be sentenced Mar. 26
by Jeanne Whitehead/Digby Courier View all articles from Jeanne Whitehead/Digby CourierArticle online since January 29th 2009, 10:51
The SPCA's Nancy Noel and Roger Joyce made the trip to Digby, on ice-covered roads, to hear the guilty verdict against puppy brokers Gail Benoit and Dana Bailey. Jeanne Whitehead photo
Digby County puppy brokers Gail Benoit and Dana Bailey were found guilty, today, Jan. 29, on two counts of animal cruelty stemming from the October 2007 seizure of 10 puppies from their Roxville property.
Gail Benoit was also found guilty of assaulting SPCA special constable Nancy Noel at the time of the seizure. Dangerous road conditions prevented Benoit and Bailey’s lawyer, Mike Powers, from attending court and Judge Jean Louis Batiot advised that sentencing will take place March 26. The 2007 seizure of 10 sick and malnourished puppies by Nova Scotia SPCA chief investigator Roger Joyce and special constable Nancy Noel followed complaints filed with the SPCA. Both Noel and Joyce were present for Judge Batiot’s verdict and say they hope Benoit and Bailey will be prohibited from owning animals. Such an injunction could conceivably come prior to the March 26 sentencing date. Joyce says he makes frequent checks on people who are prohibited from owning animals. In addition to the charges from the 2007 seizure, Benoit and Bailey face animal cruelty charges filed three weeks ago—relating to their 2008 sale of puppies infected with the deadly parvovirus. Gail Benoit addressed Judge Batiot after he read the verdict. “This has got to stop,” she said. “My family is terrified and people have threatened to burn my house down.” “The SPCA is corrupt,” she said, as she left the courtroom.

When silence isn't golden

A couple of days ago, this anonymous comment was left ( happily on this blog and not on the Pet blog.... thank you for recognizing that isn't the place to discuss these issues)
That dog Julie has a bio that states she was almost euthanized because her owner was done with her, she was too old now and had too many liters. So, the vet saw what a great companion dog she could be and saved it. So what about all the other dogs that this guy breeds and all the abuse the animals recieve under his care. Is the vet not responsible beyond this case? Is anyone responsible to ensure this man stops breeding and selling hound dogs?
As I understand it, Bill 186 actually does obligate vets to report abuse. In light of that, it would seem pretty simple, huh?
Actually its a double edged sword for a clear cut situation, let alone a sticky spot like this. At this point in time, its not illegal to relegate a good dog to being housed in a garage or worse, in an outdoor kennel or shelter. As long as they have adequate protection from the elements, the law doesn't get into the nitty gritty about how pets are living breathing sentient beings who need the company of their family/aka their pack to be complete and happy and whole. Which of course is why we refer to them as companion animals.
Nor does the law limit the number of litters that any individual dog should have. Under existing law, pets are considered to be property without the special protections that they really should have. I know I sound like a stuck record about this, but this is exactly why we need federal animal cruelty legislation to amend our Criminal Code and create a new category for animals.
Will that be enough to do the trick? Of course not. Until it is socially unacceptable to treat an animal badly, people with no moral underpinning to their characters will continue to overbreed, abandon and deny basic needs and care to the animals.
I can hear the heavy sighs, and before the keyboards catch on fire I would like to tell you a little true story. Forty years ago, one of my nearest and dearest friends had an unimaginable childhood. The children would have to creep out over the porch and hide in the barn when their father came home in drunken violent rages. This wasn't a secret, because in the bitterest winter weather, the children would have to take refuge with the neighbours.
The police knew this man drank ( and drove .... but that's another rant) but would not come to the house without three of their mates. The mother knew that if she called the police it would only be worse next time. In a small community like this, everyone knew. Their teachers knew. Their neighbours knew. Their pastor knew.
Everybody knew and everybody did nothing. Why? They felt it wasn't their place and knew there weren't enough laws with teeth to do anything about the situation.
Can you imagine that type of thing being so widely known and still happening today? Of course not. Why? Because it is socially unacceptable.
I'm fifty four years old, and so I am old enough to remember women being counselled against pressing abuse and harassment charges because it would be "bad for the man's career" No I'm not kidding. Back then priests were quite capable of suggesting that if women would be better wives there would be less "difficulties".
Can you imagine that type of thing now? Of course not. Why? Because the laws have been tightened up so that fewer things slip through the cracks. It didn't change overnight but it did change.
My daughter is only 31 and there have been tremendous changes in her lifetime. The ink was barely dry when she was born on the human rights legislation that guaranteed jobs would be protected while women were on maternity leave. When she was nine, the Employment Equity Act was passed. She was legally an adult before common law partner rights were recognized, safe houses became safer and women were no longer required to press charges against abusive partners.
That is why I know that we can change things for the animals. It is possible to create a climate where the majority of people will not tolerate the ill treatment of animals. If the European Union can do it for the seals, we can certainly do it for the companion animals here in our own country.
So where do we start? What do we do? Happily we're not starting from scratch. If the existing legislation is still inadequate, it is at least a beginning that can be built on. How can we do that?
Politicians always look at numbers. Last summer we saw first hand how quickly all politicians became 'tuned in' to animal welfare issues in response to the strong voter feedback about Bill 138. So how do we play the 'numbers game'?
One doesn't have to be an animal activist to speak up. I'm just a middle aged grandmother and I can guarantee you that people have become accustomed to listening to me. Why? Because I speak up. I email the appropriate politicians on every issue that concerns me. I don't wait for someone else to do it.
Expecting someone else to solve all the problems creates the type of climate where my friend and his brothers and sisters wound up in such an untenable situation.
Each and every one of you can be an 'army of one' for the animals. Every email that each of you send to politicians on every level makes a difference. Every phone call that you makes carries clout. Governments on all levels never have time to address everything. In this day of policies that shift with opinion polls, voter feedback is the most effective tool you have in your arsenal.
You can also lend the weight of your voice to the official 'voice for the animals' and get a society membership. When it comes to political clout, size really does matter. It is a fact of life that politicians just pay more attention to the groups with the (ahem ) biggest membership base.
In this house, silence may be golden when Ruby is trying to let me know that those darned squirrels are at the bird feeder when I'm trying to talk on the phone. But for everything else, silence isn't golden ... its a rusty and decrepit heap that should be sent to the scrapyard.
One of the prevailing sources of misery and crime is in the generally accepted assumption, that because things have been wrong a long time, it is impossible they will ever be right. John Ruskin

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Truth is stranger and sadder than fiction

This post has moved down to the bottom of the page .... its one of the rare copy and paste humour things that I occasionally indulge in : )))

Lost Black Lab named Shelby

Happy Update - Shelby has been found!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This was in my inbox tonight from Lab Rescue when the (very snowy) dogs and I came in from our last stroll of the evening
I'm looking for a lost female black lab. Her name is Shelby and she was lost in North End Halifax. She needs her medication so time is important. And with the snow I'm feeling just awful. So if everyone could keep theirs ears and eyes peeled for me I'd appreciate it. Give me a call 883-4799 any time if she's found.
Paws crossed on this stormy night

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

When opportunites knock

From the online minutes of the January 12, 2009 SPCANS BOD meeting
4. Branch compliance with euthanasia policy - Cape Breton gas chamber
Mary Hill opened the discussion by noting that the gas chamber has been an issue since she joined the Board in February 2008 and that following concern expressed by several Board members, it was felt this was a good time to open the lines of discussion with Cape Breton about facilitating the phase out of this euthanasia method, which is against provincial NS SPCA policy.
Mel Neville indicated that the lines of communication with provincial were always open and expressed frustration that the provincial Board has not sent members to Cape Breton for a site visit. He reported that the Cape Breton branch has never received any complaints about their use of the gas chamber, and he noted that they use carbon dioxide rather than carbon monoxide. He indicated that while the Cape Breton branch will fight provincial all the way on this issue, they will change if they have to. Mel noted that for this to happen, his staff would have to be trained on lethal injection and provincial would need to provide financial support.
Action: Mary to contact provincial Board members regarding interest in visiting the Cape Breton branch to discuss euthanasia methods and adoption strategies, and will then coordinate with Cape Breton on meeting dates and arrangements

There is no delicate way to put this ... I was f***ing amazed when I read this tonight. While it doesn't mean that the gas chamber is going to be shutting down overnight, this is such a huge first step that promises some real light at the end of the tunnel.
The nagging and complaining fell on deaf ears for so long about so many issues. The current bod has been chipping away at all the longstanding problems, finding solutions where their predecessors only offered excuses.
When I was much younger, one of my all time favourite bosses got promoted to chief and I remember someone teasing him that 'now you won't have to do anything' I'll never forget when he looked them straight in the eye and said that " actually, now I'll be able to get more done"
The possibilities of what this bod could accomplish with an elected three year mandate should be enough to inspire the animal loving community to get their memberships ... and before the 1st of April so they can throw some tangible support behind this type of energy.
Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. Thomas Edison

Monday, January 26, 2009

Keeping the Pantry stocked

When I started out as a cook in the military, mess halls were busy spots and it wasn't unusual to feed five hundred for every meal. It certainly changed how I looked at food. When you go through ten to twelve fifty pound bags of potatoes for each meal, somehow that little five or ten pound bag never looks like enough. I remember the first Thanksgiving dinner I cooked in my first home after a couple of years of that ... the turkey was fine but I had enough stuffing for five birds and wound up with two dutch ovens full of gravy. After a while I got used to the idea that cooking at home would always seem like playing .... but more importantly that it was playing with an entirely different set of rules than at work.
I still can overproduce if I'm not careful ... I remember when I moved to the country and decided to try my hand at pickling. Well a few jars of this recipe.. a few jars of that one and next thing I knew I had over three hundred jars of pickles looking for a home. Fortunately people always like edible gifts .... but even so all of my friends still joke about that year.
Over the years I have learned to temper my seed orders for a garden for one. I still keep a fully stocked larder though and if the stores closed for a month, I would probably only run out of milk. That's especially easy to do when I am an empty nester whose biggest food expenditures are for the cats and dogs : )))
Tomorrow is budget day and I suspect no matter how the deck is stacked, there will be many here in this province who fall through the cracks. There have been so many jobs lost both here and for those who have 'commuted' out west to work. Sadly I think there are going to be a lot of empty pantries out there in the months to come.
When things get that tough, when it gets to be a choice between feeding the kids or the pets .... well we all know how that one plays out. If ever there was a time to think of creating a safety net for pet owners, I believe this is it. Tangible support could keep all the rescues, including the society, from being swamped in the backwash of these difficult days:
  • I do understand that the food banks sometimes have pet food ... but would this not be a good time to consider setting up pet food banks? In some instances, pet food companies themselves might be enticed to provide meaningful support .... the fact that there are both PR and tax benefits is always a good motivator.
  • It would probably also be a splendid time to encourage the municipalities to sponsor subsidized vaccination clinics.
  • those who are unable to keep their house would sure benefit from an information campaign aimed at landlords for renting to pet owners.
  • It is a very great blessing that the society is already laying the groundwork for both feral cat support and a high volume/low cost spay neuter program
  • In that spirit, this might be a great time to consider accepting surrendered litters of puppies and kittens if the pet owners keep and spay the mommies. That would also have the fringe benefit of helping with population control in a big way.
  • Set up a special help line so that when people really hit the wall the pets don't wind up dumped somewhere.
I don't think I'm being overly pessimistic here. The glass half full side of me would like to believe these days will turn around ... gosh someone's going to have to build the solar panels and the windmills, eh? What we need in the interim is to provide that helping hand so that good people do not spend the rest of their days regretting leaving their pets in the lurch.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Working with a broader canvas

Right now its snowing so hard that I can't even see the mailbox at the end of my hundred meter lane, let alone the neighbours on the hill across the way. But if something went wrong, even though I can't see them, I know that I could still pick up the phone and call on them for help.
It is like a breath of fresh air to see all the good changes that have taken place at Metro. Its easy to see why the head of the Metro Shelter Management Team is "so very proud of the staff and the work they have done in such a short time." That type of "extreme makeover" took a lot of faith and energy and trust on everyone's part.
Even people who don't pay much attention to the news know that there have been over a thousand jobs lost in NS during the last couple of months. Cape Breton has taken well over half of that hit .... and the CBRM is now facing an unprecedented debt if it is to meet the new environmental standards for waste water ( Before the keyboards catch on fire, now is not the time to be snide about how that issue should have been handled long ago )
Somehow I suspect that expansion of the CBRM branch shelter or additional funding for their AC contract isn't going to be in the cards anytime soon. Although in all honesty, if the infamous gas chamber was located in the middle of the Mayflower Mall, perhaps people might just get indignant enough to effect meaningful change at the branch. But here in the real world, that's not likely to happen either.
Successful solution of any problem always starts with playing the cards that actually lay on the table. One third of the population of the province ( as well as many of the remaining jobs) lie within the boundaries of HRM. And of course there are also a multitude of families who have opted to reside just outside the boundaries of HRM.
As Metro gets back on its fundraising feet, these numbers represent both potential adopters and donors. People already like the changes they are seeing .... and its one of those delightful truths that the better Metro does, the better they will be able to do.
If there are no meaningful and lifesaving solutions to be found at the CB Branch, it is the great hope of this middle aged granny that Metro's successes will enable it to "rescue' adoptable pets from CB. I am fifty four not fourteen and realize there is still work to be done before this is an achievable objective.
But from where I sit ... its much more plausible now than it was this time last year. We may not be anywhere near happily ever after with this, but at least its a possibility and not just a pipe dream

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Truth about Cats and Dogs

There is no denying that its tough to be a homeless pet. They are innocent bystanders that get caught in the crosshairs. Its an even rougher ride for the homeless cats everywhere in this province.
On any given day there are normally eight good cats for every good dog that is in the care of shelters and rescues around the province. And that's not even counting the feral cats who are automatically killed when they are captured by AC's around the province.
The few tiny pockets of protected cat colonies are outweighed by the ones who are swept up like trash in the wake of 'at large' municipal cat bylaws. Here in Kings County, guardians of cats running at large are subject to a $200.00 fine per cat. Tending a cat colony has become a clandestine activity that is directly dependant on the goodwill of one's neighbours.
Its just as tricky to be a "tame' cat. First they have the life and death testing to survive. Sadly, FIV tests do not differentiate between an infected cat and a vaccinated one. Cats are usually killed on the strength of one test without waiting for 28 days for a verification test.
Even worse, groups that use the saliva test instead of the more expensive blood test have a much higher rate of false positives. The actual percentage rate of FIV and FLV infections is under 4% for both feral and owned cats. Not to be mean, but in the newly published YTD stats on the society webpage, 32.4% of the cats taken in around the province are listed as euthanized for medical/behavioral reasons ... when the other 10.4% who are killed for lack of space are factored in, to date 43.8% of the cats who came into the society's care around the province never lived to tell the tale.
When you consider that these provincial statistics include the much improved adoption rates at Metro, its enough to make one weep about what is happening elsewhere.
To put that into perspective, in three months, 818 cats were killed ... and that doesn't even count the ones that were caught and killed by AC, the cats that were brought into the vets to be killed by their owners, the poor abandoned cats who starved or froze or became part of the food chain and of course the others who died a terrible and violent death by gunshot or beating or drowning.
It is a very positive sign that the society has taken an official position of support for TNR. Its a real bright spot to know they / aka the society bod are working on a plan for a high volume / low cost spay neuter program. I'm absolutely tickled to know that there will be an Alley Cat Bowl on May 9th ..... all the hard working little TNR groups around the province can sure use more tangible support.
Is that going to solve it all? Not by a long shot. Everyone, not just the society, needs to acknowledge some cold hard truths if they are going to get cats adopted:
  • Does it cost more to drop adoption fees than to care for cats for months and in some cases years?
  • Does an adoption fee really guarantee financial stability? While I have been waiting in my vets office I have seen people with good incomes refusing to buy food/get an x ray/blood test/etc because its 'too expensive" Having an income doesn't mean that they are prepared to spend it on their pets. Adoption screening that includes checking with vets is a more effective way to determine commitment to good vet care
  • Can anyone afford NOT to use adoption incentives and programs? Between the November Adopt a Senior Pet Month and the December Home for the Holiday's program, SHAID was able to find good homes not only for its seniors and long term residents but dozens of others who benefited by association.

In the interests of not putting any group on the defensive, there is a new term being used by some of our southern neighbours in lieu of the phrase "no kill" .... focusing on the more positive "guaranteed adoption" facility/group. Anything that encourages networking is of course in its own way an adoption incentive too.

Its way past time to find a new path, so that the leading cause of death for cats is not being rescued.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Sweeter than chocolate

From this morning's Herald
Tabby cat caught in trap will recover, but needs a home By BEVERLEY WARE South Shore Bureau Thu. Jan 22 - 5:43 AM
This cat will likely lose a couple of toes after getting his paw caught in a trap. Other than that, the tabby is recovering well at South Shore Veterinary Hospital just outside Bridgewater. (BEVERLEY WARE / South Shore Bureau

BRIDGEWATER — The tabby cat rolls on his side for a belly rub and purrs with delight as veterinarian Sally Ronalds happily obliges.
This fellow is the picture of contentment, save for the bulky fluorescent green bandage wrapped around his front left leg.
It hides the nasty damage wrought by a trap that clamped down on his foot. This cat dragged himself out of the woods with the trap still attached and hid under a house for several days.
"He’s a really nice boy," Dr. Ronalds said of the cat, who appears to be enjoying the life of Riley in the comfort of South Shore Veterinary Hospital in Wileville, on the outskirts of Bridgewater.
He has been here since Monday night. Now those who have been taking care of him want to know if this cat has a home. And if he doesn’t, they plan to find him one.
"He needs a big, strong name because he’s a big, handsome man; very strong," Dr. Ronalds said as she cuddles the nearly five-kilogram tabby. His foster parents — the ones who found him — think they may call him Trapper.
"There’s a good chance he’s going to lose a couple of his toes," the veterinarian said, but other than that he is fortunate to have escaped relatively unscathed.
This fellow has an amazing tale to tell.
Charlene Mailman’s dog was acting oddly last weekend, fussing around the doorstep of their home in North Brookfield, Queens County. They could hear a cat under there, but figured he would just wander back home.
But by Monday evening, he was still there — his cries loud and painful. Her husband Paul got a flashlight and could see the trap clamped onto the cat’s leg.
The cat ravenously ate the dog food they shoved under the doorstep, but he was stuck in there. Mr. Mailman eventually eased him out.
"We put him into a box, trap and all," and took him to the veterinarian, Ms. Mailman said.
"He was bleeding some. It’s a friggin’ sin, honestly," she said.
They arrived at the animal hospital at 8:45 p.m. Monday.
Dr. Ronalds cleaned his foot, gave him antibiotics and fed him. "He was very hungry."
Dr. Ronalds isn’t sure if this cat is somebody’s pet or just a well-socialized feral cat. He is well-fed and loves people.
He didn’t even get upset when she and Ms. Mailman held him down so that Mr. Mailman could take the trap off his foot. "He just lay there and let us do it."
The Mailmans are going to look after the cat until his owners claim him or a permanent home can be found.
Mike Boudreau of the Natural Resources Department said the trap is legal under certain circumstances. It is meant to trap weasels or muskrats. If it’s for muskrats, it has to be in or at the water’s edge. If it’s to trap weasels, the trap is supposed to be set so that nothing larger than a weasel can get caught in it. Traps must also be tagged.
Loretta Cook of Queens SPCA said the agency will take care of the cat’s vet bills and help find him a permanent home.
There was a time when I used to let any of my kitties go outside when they wanted. In all honesty, I don't think I could have kept my eldercat Bear inside when she was younger. Over the years things change. As this area has built up more, the little pocket of woods behind my house has become one of the few undisturbed habitats left for local wildlife.
With so many more predators on my doorstep, I'm just not tough enough to have outdoor kitties anymore. Happily Bear is wise enough to understand the limitations age puts on her reaction time too. Everybody else just automatically became an indoor kitty when they came in the door. Between the coyotes and foxes and eagles and hawks it is a very good thing for them to peruse the world from the safety of their window seats.
Two of my kitties are tabbies - George and Morgan - so I can tell you first hand that tabbies make great companions. They're affectionate and run to the door to meet you friendly. Like all cats, they are brilliant enough to become devoted to anyone kind enough to offer them a chance at a good life.
Like many groups without a shelter, the Queens SPCA generally has more kitties available for adoption than dogs. In the course of my work with the homeless pages, I have seen that they keep their adoptables listed on petfinder, for as long as it takes. According to Laurie, who runs HART , they really pull out all the stops for their adoptables because they even 'delivered' two kitties that she adopted to her in the valley a couple of years back.
Valentine's day is coming... adopting a good sweet cat is a better way to add ten pounds ... and will last ever so much longer... than any chocolates would.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Good reasons to make your own dog cookies

I found this in my inbox this evening
PetSmart is voluntarily recalling seven of its Grreat Choice Dog Biscuit products that contain peanut paste made by Peanut Corporation of America (PCA). PCA is the focus of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration investigation into potential salmonella contamination of peanut butter and paste made at its Blakely, Georgia facility.
Regular readers know that I had been a cook for thirty years before I retired. As a single Mom, cooking and baking skills often saved me quite a bit at home ... not to mention what they did for our quality of life : ))) And of course they were good life skills to pass on to my daughter as well .... after all one can't possibly know what one is eating if somebody else has to prepare it, hmmm?
For years I used to bake the dog cookies on Friday nights. Back in those pre wheat free days, the cookies were made from whole wheat flour and did double duty as the Friday Night Munchie test for my teenage daughter and her friends. ( Just another tool in the mother's arsenal ... like insisting that teenagers always kiss you goodnight when they come home because its harder for them to hide booze on their breath that way : )))
I have this theory that environmental air quality issues are directly responsible for the wheat allergies that so many dogs have now.... but I'm wandering afield here. The point is that especially in this day and age, if you have the time it is well worth it to develop the skills to bake your own treats.
The second favourite recipe for my gang is Oatmeal Chicken crisps:
soak 2 cups of quick oats in 3 cups of hot stock, stir in 1/2 c margarine and add 2 eggs to the mix after 20 minutes. Combine 1 and 1/2 cups each of soya milk powder and cornmeal with 3 cups of whole bean flour or 4 cups of brown rice flour. Combine all ingredients and knead well. Resist the temptation to add more liquid, just keep kneading until the dough feels like play doh. Roll out to desired thickness on a cutting board. You can use fancy shapes but I normally cut them in squares unless I'm making them as presents for someone else. It doesn't matter how big or small you cut them as long as they're all the same thickness.... so you can even cut some small ones for the kitties while you're doing this because they really like them too... at least in this house. Bake on the largest pan you have, or two 9 by 12 pans in a preheated 350 degree oven until lightly browned. Turn off oven and leave in until crisp. ( not to be confused with blackened please ) Any dough that is leftover can be frozen and saved for an emergency situation ... which in this house is when there are no more left and Mom is busy writing something.
The great thing about learning to bake for your dogs is that they are generally pretty forgiving of anything short of crispy black. I have been told that using recipes with chick pea flour is a great preventative for cancer but given McG's health issues i don't think I'd take that one to the bank.
The other great thing about making your own treats is that dogs really do appreciate the little things. And of course, if you live far from the 'civilized' comforts of the city and its surrounds, where there are no doggy bakeries to be found, the homemade bits are the only game in town.
Of course the best bit is not worrying about missing food alerts like this one.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Learning to crawl

Update on this Post: I received word from a very reliable source that Metro is listing all its adoptables on Petfinder. They are over the moon about the fact that in the past month their adoptions have doubled. They should be shouting this from the rooftops by using the "adopted' option on their petfinder listings to create a separate page of "I've Been Adopted" listings because this is very good news indeed.
This morning when we came back from our morning hike, I found this comment waiting to be approved for this blog,
does anyone know if that dog Sing Sing with the unbelievable sad eyes was adopted. You can no longer view her profile, it just says she has been removed from petfinder. I hope this means Sing Sing found a home? I wish there was more follow up on adoptions.
I try not to play favourites with groups, but in the course of my work with the homeless pet pages I cannot help but have a special affection for those who use their 'happy tail' petfinder option on their site:

  • first and foremost of course it lets everyone know that the pet has lived to tell the tale
  • they understand that the best path to success is to "do a good job and tell everyone about it " to paraphrase one of my heroes, Nathan Winograd,
  • it lets potential adopters know that pets don't 'sit on the shelf' indefinitely and if they are interested in a pet they should not wait to apply
  • it encourages support from donors who will not provide support for groups that kill their adoptables, and of course
  • It really shows they have nothing to hide

The Metro Shelter just launched their lovely new website this month. Its easy to navigate and they are very wisely using the available customized pet lists from Petfinder to list their adoptables.

Why not set up a customized list for the "I've been Adopted" pets. This is not the same thing at all as asking current adopters to send in happy stories and pics of their new buddies. While that is also a laudable tool to encourage other adopters, the Petfinder List lets the light shine in the dark and grubby corners.

Its actually a pretty simple equation: List all the adoptables + List all the pets who have been adopted = real transparency.

While I'm on the topic, I must say I don't very much care for the little qualifier they are using
Insiders Tip
That while every effort is made to keep our online “adoptables” up to date, this sometimes becomes a difficult task. For the most accurate listing of available animals please visit the shelter during normal business hours. Many animals find their forever homes before they even get a chance to be listed on the shelter website.

Right now there are 14 dogs, 17 cats, an unnamed number of kittens and 2 bunnies listed for Metro on petfinder. Admittedly that is a vast improvement from before, but still falls short of the new policy that rumour tells me is supposed to be listing all their adoptables in a timely fashion. More importantly, people are still so accustomed to being suspicious of the society's "doings" that it is extra important to go the extra mile with transparency right now.

That being said, I do understand that there are a lot of good pets that never need to be listed on petfinder because people with preapproved adoptions will be called about them first. That's how I adopted my Ruby ... ARC, SHAID and Lab Rescue were looking for an adult girl for me and when Ruby was rescued they sent me her pictures and the rest was history : )))))

But I'm wandering afield. At the end of the day I still believe the society is on a better path than they were before. There is still work to be done of course and I do understand "Rome wasn't built in a day". If you really want a glimpse of the possibilities ahead, go read the survey on the front door of the society's webpage

As you can see, there are some promising ideas there to tantalize the animal loving community. But as a mother and a grandmother I can tell you that its just as important to learn to crawl and then to walk, before taking off in full flight.

Laundry room chat

From this morning's Herald
Not masters of their domain
Woman buys Internet names of puppy mill suspects
By JEFFREY SIMPSON Staff Reporter Tue. Jan 20 - 4:46 AM
A Halifax woman has seized the Internet domain names of a Digby County couple facing animal cruelty charges to prevent people from buying their puppies.
Joan Sinden, who lives in Spryfield, last week bought and, which link to a site on her server with information about the activities of the husband-and-wife team with a controversial history of selling allegedly unhealthy dogs.
"I just want to educate people," Ms. Sinden, a self-described animal activist dedicated to stopping puppy mills and brokers, said in an interview Monday. "I thought someone should do it and I already had most of the information together already."
The Nova Scotia SPCA this month laid eight charges against Dana Bailey, 46, and his wife, Gail Ruth Benoit, 39, of Roxville for allegedly selling four dogs that died hours after their new owners received them last summer.
Mr. Bailey and Ms. Benoit each face four animal cruelty charges under the Criminal Code of Canada and four under the provincial Animal Cruelty Prevention Act. Autopsies showed the dogs died of parvovirus, a highly contagious canine illness often fatal in young dogs.
The couple are due in Digby provincial court on Jan. 29 on other charges stemming from the SPCA seizing several seriously ill puppies that were for sale.
Ms. Sinden said she hasn’t had any personal contact with Ms. Benoit and Mr. Bailey and doesn’t know anyone who has bought animals from them; she just wants to persuade the couple to earn a living another way.
"I have owned dogs that came from puppy mills and I have seen the effects of it," Ms. Sinden said. "I see the fact that their teeth are rotten and they have no hair and that they’ve had a really shitty life and I don’t think it’s right for animals to have to live like that.
"While they’re alive, they should have a certain quality of life, just like humans have a certain quality of life. I don’t think that animals are any different than us."
Her website links to information about parvovirus and news clips of the couple on YouTube, including a hip hop-style montage.
Mr. Bailey said he isn’t responsible for the deaths of any dogs and doesn’t plan to check out Ms. Sinden’s website.
"There are so many websites out there now, another one ain’t gonna hurt one bit," he said. "I’m not one bit concerned."
Mr. Bailey said he and Ms. Benoit, who declined to comment for this story, are still selling dogs and have no plans to stop.
"We’ve got proof of what the dogs died from but we’re not bringing it out until after the SPCA goes through with some more so-called charges — and then we’re going to show what the dogs died from," Mr. Bailey said.
"I have video of what the dogs died from."
David Tidswell, 21, of Halifax, said he recently found an ad of Ms. Benoit’s on the classified website offering a purebred chihuahua for $300. He said he was selling his computer at the same time and struck a deal to make a trade.
They met at an Esso gas station parking lot in Bridgetown on Jan. 3 at about 10 p.m. After getting the dog home, Mr. Tidswell said, he did some research on the Internet and learned about Ms. Benoit’s alleged selling practices. A few days later, the dog became ill and died, he said.
This middle aged granny thinks its wonderful to see this in the Herald. Why do I think that? Very few people read a paper from cover to cover. Most folks pick and choose the topics that interest them and/or the headlines that catch their eye.
There is a whole world of good people out there who simply don't concern themselves with animal issues or politics. A story like this one could open the door ( and the eyes ) of some of these folks. For a lot of people, getting involved with anything is like going to the lake at the start of summer... " its great once you get in"
Regular readers of Joan's blog, knows that she did this a couple of days ago. Joan is no stranger to animal welfare issues and over the years has tirelessly campaigned and educated and informed from both her blog and her really interesting website, ( Although if you are reading this blog, you very likely have Joan's blog and site bookmarked.)
I'm fifty four years old and I have learned that life is seldom written in black and white. But one thing I do know for sure is that both the animals and the animal loving community have benefited from Joan's love of the animals.
Years ago, when feminism was in its heyday it scared the pants off men. As a knee jerk reaction, both bosses and husbands tried to divide and rule. I wish I had a dime for every time some poor insecure fool suggested that I might have a point , but I didn't want to wind up as one those man hating/masculine/pushy/ or in other words undesirable women.
In many instances, women were the worst obstacles to women's lib. Sadly happily married women never worried about property rights until after their husband left and they faced some cold hard truths. Career 'girls' only grew up when they realized they were being paid much less than men to do much more.
Right here, right now the same thing is happening with the animal loving community. Are we always all going to be on the same page? Of course not. Does that matter? Not if anyone wants to move forward.
And that of course is the hitch. To get ahead, let alone to No Kill Nova Scotia, the animal loving community has to get past their differences and focus on their common ground.
Back in my days as a sgt, it was occasionally necessary to be a bit rude to get the point across to some of my thick headed neanderthals. In that spirit, I would tell them to stop stepping on their own d***s.
It was a damn shame when women were often the biggest stumbling block on the road to equal rights. In the life and death world of animal welfare, its almost a crime for animal lovers to hold up progress by bickering.
Over the years I haven't always liked, or even personally respected everyone that I worked with. I'm fifty four years old and understand that some jobs are just too darned big to do on my own. Its time for everyone in the animal loving community to decide if they need to be right or if they need to get the job done.
"Do something - lead, follow or get out of the way" poster in Granny's laundry room.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Are Ya Gonna Dance?

From the publicly available online minutes of the society BOD meeting on Nov 24th:
9. Membership Committee Report and Recommendations
The following six recommendations from the Membership Committee that were circulated to the Board prior to the meeting were discussed:
1. Recommend "non-voting" membership status for paid staff.
2. Adoptees are currently granted a one-year membership; recommend that we add an option to the adoption application forms for them to "consent" to being members so they are aware.
3. Recommend that a membership cannot be bought for another person unless that person is receptive to same, as indicated by completing an application, including membership dues.
4. Standard date to renew memberships - April 1st recommended because members that are thinking AGM will also think about their membership. As we are all aware, we are inundated with solicitations pre-Christmas. After school, a major portion of the public are concentrating on many other things.
5. Recommend that we ask [name omitted], who provides computer and tech support for the Provincial Office, to develop a database for the membership that would include automatically sending out renewal notices via email and the ability to produce up-to-date membership lists whenever needed.
6. Recommend that the Chair of the Membership Committee be responsible for the Voting Members admittance to the AGM.
Following discussion, Board consensus was that the standard expiry date be January 1st, with a cut-off date of April 1st to purchase a membership and vote at that year’s AGM.
Motion by Jim Kochanoff to accept the Membership Committee recommendations, with the noted revision to the renewal date.
Motion seconded by Scott Millar.
Motion passed by majority vote.
No objections, one abstention.
In camera discussion held regarding the April 2008 AGM membership list.
It was noted that there were irregularities with the 2008 AGM membership list and that the newly approved procedures for membership applications will help prevent such irregularities in the future.

Why do I think this is worth mentioning? After all, according to the new Animal Cruelty law, para 7, (6) Annual general meetings of the Society must be open to the public.
Open yes, but if you want to vote, you still have to get a membership. And according to these rules, if you want to vote, get your membership by the first of April. No fooling.
I also really like the non voting membership idea for paid staff. In the interest of fair play it protects the staff from becoming pawns out of concern for their jobs. It also keeps the playing field more level by not giving any candidates any extra leverage. As do the new proposals for 'gift' memberships.
I didn't know about the membership for adopters but also think that's a splendid idea. Encouraging adopters to be ''part of the family' makes sense on a lot of levels. During the adoption process, they experienced first hand the level of support and customer service from the shelter. And of course every adopter is potential foster/volunteer/donor and of sometimes even a repeat adopter.
The diplomatic mention of the irregularities last year is just another reason I like the way this BOD has been doing business. Instead of wasting energy with mudslinging and making excuses, they are working at making positive change.
I know I go on and on like a stuck record, but as with anything else, if you want to have a voice then you really need to vote. Or like that old poster I have hanging around here says: Do something... lead, follow or get out of the way!

Update on Noah

Remember Noah? The wonderful people at P.E.T. PROJECTS believe they have found a good safe WARM home for Noah.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Teach Your Children Well

I'll be the first to admit I'm not a perfect parent. There were so many times my daughter used to yearn for a more conventional Mom instead of the windmill tilting feminist mother she had.
And I was definitely not the kind of mainstream Mom that her friends had. I refused to marry her father simply because we were in that minimal percentage that the pill didn't work for. From swimming to skiing and everything in between, we enjoyed a lot of time together doing outdoor things .... which of course meant that indoor things like housework didn't come anywhere close to the standards her friends' Moms kept.
As she got older, there were just so many more things to be embarrassed about. I never wore a bra off duty. Her friends' parents made some pretty sweeping judgements about me based on the fact that there are only so many hours in a day ... as a single shiftworking Mom, I wasn't going to spend more money on more babysitters so that I could spend more time away from my daughter by dating. And of course the fact that I'm a decent amateur carpenter was just one more thing that set me apart from the pack.
The lovely thing is that long before she graduated from high school we had become the best of friends.
Like everyone on this planet, she has grown up to be deliberately different from her Mom. At times I am bemused that I have raised such a lovely young woman. She is devoted to her husband and married him in the Catholic church he was baptised in. My beautiful granddaughter was a deliberate choice rather than the unanticipated blessing my daughter was. And yes, Colin and Justin would be hard put to find fault anywhere in her immaculate home. ( Whereas in my house they would weep at the leashes and dog coats hanging to dry on the ornamental wrought iron candle holders handy the wood stove ... lol )
More importantly, she grew up believing that it was the most natural thing to bring along our pets with us when we were posted .... and this was back in the days before all the military had the great moving benefits for pets. She took it for granted that once they came in the door, pets were part of the family for life.
In spite of the different window dressing, in our hearts we are very much the same. We are both strong willed and determined women. And we are both animal lovers.
When she met her husband, he had a young cat named Eddy. Eddy was there for their courtship and wedding. He kept her company when her husband deployed , and later on in a time of their choosing, Eddy was right there with her for long power naps while she was pregnant.
Eddy is living proof that it is completely possible to have a cat and a new baby in the same house. ( A little while ago I penned a little prenatal brochure for petowners for the society and the material in there was tried and tested first hand with Eddy : )))
When they moved to Ontario last year, Eddy came along.... singing for nearly the entire journey : )))
Even though she wouldn't want the four cat/ three dog petting zoo her Mom has, my daughter has seen first hand how much fun two cats can have. So now Eddy has a new friend, a beautiful adult kitty that they have named Belle. They used petfinder to search for Eddy's new buddy and brought her home this weekend from the Arnprior SPCA.
Anyone who reads this blog knows how important this middle aged granny thinks that humane education is. But I think my Dad hit the nail on the head when he used to say that with kids, 'more is caught than taught". All the humane education in the world isn't worth a hill of beans if we don't put our money where our mouth is.
When you teach your son, you teach your son's son. The Talmud

Fairy Tale for the Over Forty # 1

Once upon a time there was a woman and her dog. There was nothing in the dog's history to inspire her to behave in a socially acceptable fashion. There was nothing in the woman's experience to have the skills necessary to undo years of harm overnight.
The woman and the dog were bound by love. When the 'sheriff' used a wicked bylaw to seize the dog and order it to be killed, the woman leaped into the fray and fought for her dog with every weapon she could find.
After months of struggle the dogs life was saved by a judge who recognized the bylaw for the wicked thing that it was.

Like any other epic tale, there is more than one moral to this story:

  • mob rule can still overrule good judgement (by all parties). The ridiculous, illiterate and sometime venomous emails I received from both Brindi supporters and detractors would sicken a stout heart to read.
  • the squeaky wheel does get the grease. If Francesca hadn't kicked up such a fuss, not only would Brindi be dead but HRM would still have that 'wicked' bit in Bylaw A300.
  • better late than never. People ( many of whom I am sure have never adopted a rescue dog with issues needing rehabilitation ) were pretty sanctimonious about what Francesca could have done to avert the situation instead of being willing to give her the opportunity to work with her dog for pawsitive change
  • necessity is the mother of invention. This case highlighted the 'wicked bylaw' as nothing else had. Public meetings that had been held before the bylaw was passed were sadly under attended. Was it Abraham Lincoln who said that if you want to change a bad law, then enforce it.
  • All is fair in love and war. In her often desperate and determined struggle, it was inevitable that Francesca would just plain piss some people off with some of the things she did. I'm not making excuses for her, but is there anything any of us wouldn't do for our pets? The only difference between what Francesca did before and someone like me is that I have the dog experience to be able to nip things in the bud. I'm betting money that before long, Francesca will too.

We don't often find happily ever after outside of a fairy story. At the end of the day, Brindi gets to live and HRM will (in time) get a better bylaw, one that will be crafted with some input from the society this time.

If that's not happily ever after its pretty darned close.

Lizards for Luke

If you are looking for a very meaningful way to 'share the love' on Valentine's Day, the Ssafe Haven Society is holding a benefit for a little guy named Luke
Loving Lizards for Luke
Date: Saturday, February 14, 2009
Time: 12:00 pm until 4:00 pm
Location: venue to be determined
Luke Sanford is 12 years old. He and his Mom, Linda are adjusting to becoming a small family, as his dad no longer lives with the family having recently moved out of the home. In a few short days, he will be undergoing his second surgery for a brain tumor. Luke and his Mom were also the victims of theft over Christmas; the thief stole some money and what was to have been Luke’s main Christmas present.A small admission will be collected at the door and they will be having a 50/50 draw and a silent auction, as well as a variety of children's games and activities in the Kids Corner. Come to see, pet and hold a wide variety of lizards, snakes and amphibians in a hands-on reptile safari on behalf of the Ssafe Haven Society for Reptiles and Amphibians. They hope that you will come to enjoy the festivities and show your support for Luke and his family. It will be an afternoon of fun for the whole family.There is no greater way to show love for another on Valentine's Day. If you would like to donate items for their silent auction or to make a monetary donation, please contact Denise directly at
This event is being planned by Denise McKay, who is the Adoption and Rescue Coordinator for Ssafe Haven Society for Reptiles and Amphibians. She may be reached by e-mail at or you can visit their website: Ssafe Haven Society for Reptiles and Amphibians ( which btw is in my very humble opinion a shining example of what can be done with a simple little petfinder page. As soon as a venue has been determined I will post it here on this blog. )

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Cold Comfort

One of the most interesting postings that I had during my military career was a four year stint at the military cooking school. I was very lucky to land in there at a time when the entire program was being revised and really learned a lot while researching new lesson plans.
So I know a thing or two about what people need to stay safe in the cold. To start with, everyone needs to:
  • stay dry
  • layer
  • have protection from the wind, and of course
  • eat more ( including fat )

That of course is what a healthy, well nourished adult needs. Those who are either very young, elderly, malnourished or sick need extra nutrition, care and of course warm shelter to survive. In the old days, people often died in the winter because they did not have the resources to survive in the cold.

On an arctic day like this, its impossible for me not to think about the plight of the thousands of stray and feral cats who are out in the cold. Its tough enough to be one of the estimated three hundred thousand strays and ferals in NS ... on a day like this is it positively lethal.

If it would be deadly for a well nourished and healthy housecat, just imagine how tough the cold is on little cats who haven't had the benefit of good nutrition and care. But it doesn't have to be like that. Anyone who is familiar with Trap Neuter Return knows that feral cats can be well provided for. If you want to see some great examples of what can be done, Pierre's Alley Cat Society has some great shelters for its feral kitties.

TNR is not a radical new concept. For nearly twenty years, Alley Cat Allies , has inspired hard working little TNR groups around the continent to save the ferals.

TNR has been strongly supported in a position statement by humane groups around the continent, including our own provincial society

TNR is recognized as one of the five critical lifesaving "ingredients' for a No Kill Community:

  • low cost, high volume spay neuter program
  • effective adoption strategies
  • pet retention programs
  • feral cat assistance, and
  • rehabilitation and training programs.

Without better support for the hard working TNR groups around the province, we will never get to No Kill Nova Scotia. It is a great first step for the society to officially support TNR. It is also a great first step for the society to have taken such a strong position about the shortcomings and flaws of ByLaw A 300.

And therein lies the rub. Until the issue of 'at large' cat bylaws around the province is addressed, AC officers around the province will continue to catch and kill thousands and thousands of stray and feral cats every year. Why do they do it? They do it because there is no provision anywhere in the bylaws for properly maintained feral cat colonies.

The society is the official voice for 'those who cannot speak for themselves". Individuals like myself and individual TNR groups can express ourselves to our local politicians until we are blue in the face. Change in the Animal Control bylaws around the province will only be effected by official input from the society to all the municipalities in the province.

In the course of my career I have also done logistical planning, so I understand full well that with so much 'catch up' work to be done by the new BOD, it is unrealistic to expect everything to be addressed at once. One only needs to read the online minutes of the BOD meetings ( which is in itself an innovation ) to see how much has already been done.

They've come a long way in a short time. But on a day like this, how many cats will run out of time because existing bylaw discourage kind hearted folks from caring for strays and ferals?

What time is it? Its time to help both the feral kitties and the society out. Its time to remember that the way ahead is always paved by voter feedback. Its time to let the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities ( Phone: (902) 423-8331 Fax:(902) 425-5592 E-mail: ) know that the plight of feral and stray cats in Nova Scotia is important to you as a voter.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Unchaining Noah

I'm in and out of the petfinder and rescue listings around the province every day. This evening after our post supper stroll, I was deeply saddened to see this new listing for a sweet senior gentleman named Noah .
Oh dear - I was called about this dog this morning who has been tied out 24/7 for all of his life and who's owner died several weeks ago. As I drove up, three men were trying to coax him out of his house...the only house he has known. The opening was for a puppy, but somehow he had manage to crawl inside. His face was gentle, but he was really scared. I could see that he was shivering. He looked so pitiful. I brought treats along and introduced myself to Noah, but I noticed his eyes watching the men. After their attempts for about an hour, to get him out, I asked them to step away and behind the truck. Gently I spoke with Noah and reassured him that I was there to help. I took a hold of his rope and lured him out with treats in my hand. He slowly came to me, his hind end limping. I called the vet clinic to see if we could get him in for a check up. I assumed due to the extreme cold, he was in a fair bit of pain. We managed to get him over to the car, but he didn't seem to understand. It took another 1/2 hour to get him in for the journey to the vet. I spoke to him along the way and he settled in and laid down. At the vet clinic, he wagged his tail and was a perfect gentleman. Yes, he is old. Yes, to rescue a dog that has had very little contact with humans and still wags his tail is unreal. If I was tied out on the end of a rope for 14 years I'ld want to bite someone's face off. He will be in the clinic overnight for observation. He needs a warm, loving caring place to carry out his remaining years on this planet. If you are interested in giving this to this old fella, call 875-2367, e-mail or call me personally at 637-1560. I don't know how these dogs stand such loneliness and isolation. Poor guy. Needs a chance to know love. Shelly
As someone who is doing whatever it takes to keep my old friend McG comfortable and happy in spite of his serious health issues, stories like this just make my blood boil. I'm fifty four years old and I know that I mind the cold much more than i did even a decade ago. On a day like this even my younger dogs are quite happy to watch the squirrels from the cozy comfort handy the wood stove.
I can tell you from personal experience that introducing a good dog like Noah to the life that all dogs should get to lead is one of the most rewarding things that anyone can do. It is a joy to share the discovery of every new comfort and pleasure and treat with them. And I know I say this a lot in my pet blog posts, but there REALLY is more love than you can possibly imagine waiting for the person who opens their home and their heart to a good dog like Noah.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Sad Catch 22

The year before I retired, I built a nice little workshop next to the house. Its 20 by 28 feet and even sports a cozy wood stove. I knew I might not have time to actually do much woodworking for a while, but wanted to get it completed while I was still working.
And I was right... I didn't actually have time to putter around in it until this year. But in the meantime, the building has served its main purpose of being a good snug secure place for my Dad's woodworking tools. Its also a great place to keep my two freezers... they certainly don't have to 'work' as hard to stay cold out there and of course if the power is out everything will just stay colder in an unheated building.
Its not a big deal that I didn't use my little woodworking shop right away. I paid for it with my own money. Its located on my own land. And before the keyboards catch on fire.... it is an uninsulated building with no running water or drainage. Its only ventilation is a couple of windows and the little wood stove is the only heat source. It is my dream workshop but would be a woefully inadequate space to shelter animals.
Its not a big deal for my little workshop to sit empty on these chilly chilly days. In this weather, if I'm going to be outside, its on the move with my dogs : )))
It is, however, a really big deal for the Kings County SPCA shelter to be sitting empty and unused for the second winter in a row. According to their own website, The SPCA Care Centre is not open permanently yet. It is being opened for this purpose at this time only. The building will be closed again at the end of the day. There won't be any animals in the shelter until we are able to operate it. While the Board is actively working to obtain sufficient funding to make that happen as soon as possible, there is great concern over the decision to use the facility at all.
Concern? I would think there would be more 'concern' about the fact that the shelter still isn't open. Unlike my little workshop, this shelter was paid for by donations from animal lovers who had the very reasonable expectation that the shelter would be opened once it was completed. Unlike my little workshop, the shelter has the power to save lives.
Instead, most of the adoption page on the site is devoted to a lengthy explanation as to why the 'quality' of their adoptions is more important than the 'quantity' is. I haven't heard anything quite like that since the interesting and often innovative justifications I would get as to why homework wasn't done/curfew was broken/etc....
Like a stuck record, I often go on and on about how animal welfare issues pass under the radar for so many good people in the province. But here in Kings County, there are very few people who don't know that the lovely new shelter is still sitting out there on Country Home Road like a jilted bride left waiting.
It should be no surprise that the Kings County branch is having trouble fundraising. Support will be even harder to find for a shelter that has sat empty for well over a year now.
Its a shame, because there is an opportunity here for the shelter to be so much more than one of the most talked about white elephants in the county. Its a new shelter, so there are no old protocols to unlearn. There is a clean slate available that could be such a shining star for the society.
Honestly, I could spend half the night writing about the possibilities. But tonight, on this cold cold night, it will still be sitting empty while the animals are left out in the cold.

Still think there is nothing wrong with online ads for pets?

From this mornings Herald
'She said the dog was fine' Halifax man says accused puppy mill owner traded him a sick chihuahua By AMY SMITH Provincial ReporterWed. Jan 14 - 5:39 AM
David Tidswell says he didn’t see the warning signs when he arranged to pick up his new chihuahua at a Valley gas station earlier this month.
Ten days later, the dog, which he named Keelie, was dead.
Now the Halifax man wants to warn people about the woman he says traded him the dog for a desktop computer.
Mr. Tidswell, 21, said it was after he brought the dog home that he learned the woman he got the animal from is facing four animal cruelty charges under the Criminal Code of Canada and four under the provincial Animal Cruelty Prevention Act.
The Nova Scotia SPCA laid charges last week against Gail Ruth Benoit, 39, and her husband Dana Bailey, 46, of Roxville, Digby County, who sold four dogs that died hours after their new owners received them last summer.
The couple is due in Digby provincial court on Jan. 29 on other charges stemming from an SPCA seizure of several seriously ill puppies that were for sale.
Mr. Tidswell said he found an ad on the classified website, offering a purebred chihuahua for $300. He said he was selling his computer at the same time and asked the dog seller if she was willing to make a trade.
When she agreed, he said they arranged to meet at an Esso gas station parking lot in Bridgetown on Jan. 3 at about 10 p.m.
Mr. Tidswell said in an interview Tuesday evening that he should have been more wary.
"The signs weren’t clicking in," he said. "I was in excitement mode. I was getting a dog."
Once he got the dog home, Mr. Tidswell said he did some research on the Internet. It was then, he said, that he realized he had bought the dog from Ms. Benoit.
He said he called and asked her if the dog was healthy.
"She said the dog was fine," he said. "It was probably nervous and whatnot. And the dog had just had a litter of puppies, apparently."
But two or three days later, Mr. Tidswell said, Keelie started getting sick. He said the dog became lethargic, her eyes were bloodshot and had mucus in them, and her breathing was rough. Soon, the dog was vomiting and had diarrhea and dark urine, he said.
Mr. Tidswell, who said he works from home but did not want to say what he does for a living, said he didn’t take the dog to the vet because he was waiting for his paycheque to come in.
He said that on Monday night, he gave her a bath, wrapped her in a blanket and set her on the couch. When he returned, Mr. Tidswell said, the dog was dead.
Mr. Tidswell said he called the SPCA to lay a complaint against Ms. Benoit but was told the agency couldn’t do anything because he had already disposed of the dog’s body. He said he also called Ms. Benoit on Tuesday morning.
When reached by phone Tuesday evening, Mr. Bailey refused to comment on the allegations. However, he told CTV News there was nothing wrong with the dog.
"The dog was eating good here. The dog just had pups," Mr. Bailey said.
"I told him to send more confirmation of the dog dying and he can have his computer back," Mr. Bailey said.
How is it, when there have been so very many sad tales like this in the news, that people are still buying pets from people like Gail Benoit? Its a busy world for most people and unless an issue personally affects them or someone close to them, it is entirely possible for big issues to pass under the radar for most good folks. Its not that people haven't got a heart, they just don't have the time to follow every last thing in the news.
I know I go on and on about this like a stuck record, but as long as it is legal to use online ads for the traffic of live animals, this type of sad story is just going to keep on popping up in the news.
And before the keyboards all catch on fire, I've heard all the arguments in favour of the online ads:
  • It would be a restriction for reputable breeders who want to advertise. Not to be mean, but any breeder that needs to use a free online ad site to peddle their puppies is clearly over producing ( Deciding where to draw the line between commercial production of a profitable product and reputable breeders who devote endless time and resources to maintaining the breed standard is a rant for another day ) ;
  • The public is entitled to be able to buy dogs cheaper than the breeders or pet stores. Well... the public is also entitled to be protected against the unscrupulous people who take advantage of their desire for a pet
  • Rescues and shelters are already too full and cannot take the pets to give away on the site. Hmmm.... why are the rescues and shelters too full? Is it because pets don't get spayed or neutered? Is it because its too easy for uncommitted pet owners to 'dispose' of their pets. Or is it because the free online ad sites provide a cloak of secrecy that hides these activities from their neighbours.
  • Some people can't afford to get a pet any other way. Sadly there are often more medical and emotional costs involved with the pets peddled online This is not to be mean, but if one can't afford an adoption or a breeder's fee, the odds are good you won't be able to afford to properly care for your pet. (Sadly it is not uncommon for good pets to be taken to the vets to be killed by their owners because the owners cannot or will not pay for needed medical problems that occur)
  • Its a free country and people have a right to do what they want with their animals. Actually that's not true and the reason we have any animal cruelty legislation at all is because we as a society recognize that animals need protection. (The fact that we need better legislation on both a federal and provincial level is a rant for another day as well )

With the latest provincial cabinet shuffle, we have a new Minister of Agriculture in Nova Scotia, the Honorable Mark Parent. Politicians actually like to get voter feedback as it helps them keep current with the issues their voters actually care about. If you wish to let the new Minister know how you feel about the traffic of pets in free online ad sites, then he may be contacted at the Agriculture office at or at his home riding office at

If you wish to contact your own MLA, you will find theri contact info at :

If you wish to express your concerns about this issue to the society, the appropriate emails are either or

A few months ago, a facebook group, Change the Law - Stop Selling Pets Online in Nova Scotia, was started. sadly there are only 45 members, which is far short of the numbers needed to let our MLA's know that this is an issue of concern to animal loving Nova Scotia voters.

Remember, this isn't a wild idea cooked up by animal 'activists' to impose restrictions on everyday people. This is a public safety issue that will protect both the animals and the good people who just want to have a great pet. The only people who will be restricted by this legislation are the unscrupulous who take advantage of the unwary.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

LA Shelter is looking for help for a brave little survivor

The LA Animal Shelter is looking for help with Sasha's veterinary fund. Sasha is a 7 or 8 year old female Lhasa Apso. Until she was surrendered to the LA Shelter, she was used to produce litter after litter of puppies for sale.
As a result, she has a number of health problems and will require ongoing veterinary care. The surgery that was just done to correct a number of the health problems caused by overbreeding has stretched the resources of the LA Shelter to the limit. As a direct result of being used as a puppy machine, Sasha still has a number of health problems that will require ongoing care to bring her back to health.
Sasha is a sweet little dog who loves to cuddle. The LA Animal Shelter has set up the Sasha Fund so that they can help this good little dog have a chance for a good life. For those wishing to help, they can donate through the Canada Helps link on the LA Animal Shelter website they should specify that the donation is for the Sasha Fund.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Why Adoption Incentives and Promotions work

This November, both S.H.A.I.D. and the Metro Shelter had special November Adopt a Senior Pet incentives. Then in December,S.H.A.I.D. had another special promotion... the Home for the Holidays special adoption fee for its longest residents. So how did that work?
Well, all the original senior pets from Metro have been adopted, and SHAID only has a couple of its senior kitties left.... who by the way still qualify for SHAID's ongoing Senior to Senior adoption incentive.
Out of the original fourteen longtime residents that SHAID started with in December, only five are still available. With that kind of success, SHAID has extended their Home for the Holidays program for another week until the 17th of Jan.
Why do adoption incentives work? Is it because the fees are lowered? Or is it that the incentives get attention for all of the pets in the shelter or group? Right now SHAID has three pages of Happy Tails on its Petfinder site. When they started the promotion, there was one page of Happy Tails.
To put that in plain english.... each petfinder page has room for 25 listings. So if there were at least fifty adoptions in that time period and roughly ten good pets were part of either promotion .... then its plain to see that for every pet that qualified for a special fee, four more were adopted out in that time frame.
I'm just a middle aged grandmother, but from where I stand, that looks pretty darned good to me. I think its fairly safe to say that promotions are good for all the pets at the shelter or group. Why they work is they catch attention.
In the course of my research, I've seen some pretty innovative programs around North America:
  • 'buddy programs" or two for the price of one adoption fee for kitties. What I really like about that if one already has pets, the 'new kids' will be bringing their own 'friend' with them .... anyone who has shared space with a cat can tell you how very particular they can be about choosing their friends : )))
  • Free bag of food ..... right now there is a very cool version of that at the Yarmouth SPCA who are once again a Pedigree Partner shelter. Their adoptables go home with a really good bag of treats and coupons.
  • Free leash for the first twenty five adopted in the week/month
  • Free 'how to decide what pet is best for you' workshop for potential adopters
  • Lowered or dropped fees ( but not screening) for kitties during the 'dump season'
  • Giving a special focus for a month, such as adopt a senior pet month in november
  • Senior to senior pet adoption incentives
  • Free "I was adopted from ...." scarf for adoptable dogs or its alternative...."I adopted my best friend from ...." bumper stickers with adoption
  • and one of my favourites.... a January campaign by one group to adopt out its chubbier pets : ))))

Adoption incentives are not at all the same thing as putting the adoptables 'on sale" Rather they are:

  • attention getting devices to spark more public interest in adoption,
  • a way of undercutting the competition "the free to a good home"
  • good population control, because every spayed or neutered pet from rescue is one less that will create more homeless pets in the future
  • a great way to broaden the base of appeal for animal rescue volunteers and donations ... every adopter has the potential to become 'part of the family' in the future and of course
  • there is a ripple effect with every positive adoption experience, as the adopters friends and family spread the news by word of mouth.

There are still some good and well meaning folks in animal rescue who claim they cannot afford to offer adoption incentives. In my humble opinion, we can't afford not to and will not get to No Kill Nova Scotia without them.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Just for the Record

Of course illiterate and uninformed comments will not be posted ..... save your breath to cool your porridge and go back and acquaint yourself with the facts. I expect ALF would be horrified to have you for their self appointed spokesperson.

Monday, January 5, 2009

More Charges for the Digby Puppy Brokers

From tonight's CBC News website

Digby puppy brokers charged with neglect
Last Updated: Monday, January 5, 2009 6:20 PM AT
CBC News
A couple from Digby County, N.S., have been charged a second time over the alleged sale of sick puppies.
Gail Benoit and Dana Bailey are accused of selling four puppies that were infected with parvovirus, a highly contagious virus that destroys the lining of a puppy's intestinal tract.
All four animals died within hours or days of delivery last year, said Sean Kelly, spokesman for the Nova Scotia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
"The parvovirus is an incredibly disgusting disease where the animals have incredible diarrhea," said Kelly. "They're vomiting. It's easy to tell they're in distress."
"Getting the parvovirus is not neglectful. Not treating the parvovirus is neglectful," he said.
Benoit and Bailey face criminal and provincial charges of neglecting animals.
They went on trial last fall for allegedly selling sick and malnourished puppies in 2007. A judgment in that case is due at the end of the month