Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Fishing for answers



Anyone who has read either this blog or the old one knows how much I think of the cat cottages that are maintained with such love and energy by CAPS . They are immaculately kept and anyone going into the peaceful purring rooms would be hard pressed to leave without adopting one of the wonderful residents.
And now there is live entertainment for the kitties while they bide their time waiting to be adopted: )))
Living where I do, I am rarely in the 'market' for a cat. In fact my little mighty mini Morgan is the sole exception .... because I was so touched by her bravery when she was featured in the weekly S.H.A.I.D newsletter.
Sadly, this is such a popular dumping ground ... the most recent one to find his way here was Oscar. He was loved enough to be neutered ... but by the time he made his way to my door he was thin and limping and all scratched up.
When Oscar had his exam, my vet estimated his age at four years old. What kind of person would raise a kitten, get him neutered ... and then throw him away like trash when he was four?
My eldercat Bear has been here for fourteen years and was about Oscar's age when she came here.... and she was already spayed when she came here too.
People were dumping cats long before Bear was born and they will keep on dumping them. Why? They do it because they can ... because its cheaper than getting the cat spayed .... and of course they do it because they don't have to look anyone in the eye at a shelter or pound when they abandon a healthy loving pet.
It doesn't take any balls to abandon a good pet ... in fact I would say its the exact opposite. How can this kind of cowardice be stopped? What will it take to turn off the tap?
We already know the answers .... what we need is politicians who don't flinch or fret about upsetting their constituents. When I suggested to my MLA that we need legislation to ban the sale of animals in free online ad sites, I could hear his breath catch and his collar got two sizes too small.
At the end of the day, voter feedback is the most important communication tool in your arsenal. For instance, I recently emailed my (Liberal) MLA about my concerns when I read in the paper that Lloyd Hines would be seeking the Liberal nomination for his riding.
In my email I made it quite clear that I couldn't possibly vote for a party that would bring Mr Hines into their fold. Granted my MLA did call me, but he clearly did not read the email or coming out of the gate he would have understood that BSL in Guysborough wasn't demanded by the voters .... it was instigated by the new Liberal hopeful.
Voter feedback is a little like dog training. You would never expect your dog to get everything down pat the first time. Good trainers understand that good dogs are created with patience, repetition and of course practice.
Its the same with politicians. One email can easily be filed away and forgotten. If we are going to ask our MLA's to pass the laws that will help curb the homeless pet problem .... if we are going to ask them to go out on a limb ... then we have to provide them with the motivation to do so.
Good pets will continue to be dumped as long as it is legal to:
  • peddle living breathing sentient beings in free online ad sites
  • sell pets in pet stores
  • breed pets in "substandard breeding operations", and of course
  • breed any pets without a mandatory breeding license.

Good dog trainers set their dogs up for success. If we expect our MLA's to go to bat for us, we have to set them up for success too. Its not reasonable to expect our MLA's to be educated about all the issues. Its not enough to email our MLA's and complain.... it is our job as voters to inform our MLA's about the issues that concern us.

Martin Luther King Jr may have said "Cowardice asks the question: is it safe? Expediency asks the question: is it politic? Vanity asks the question: is it popular? But conscience asks the question: is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular- but one must take it simply because it is right." ..... but here in the real world, if we want our politicians to do what is right for the animals we have to provide them with enough voter feedback to make them comfortable doing so.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Another Update on Two by Two

Do you remember Bright and Leon , the two lovely five years olds from CAPS that I blogged about in Two by two ? Tonight when I was doing checks for site updates, I see that its happy tails for them too!

Sometimes 'hitchhiking' can save lives

My last seed order came in the mail yesterday ... promising better days ahead than this storm we have today. Even though its still snowing and blowing, after I have my tea I'll head out with the blower to tackle my lane. I could wait until the storm is over, but by that time there would likely be too darned much snow for the blower to clean up. I learned my lesson during White Juan, when it took a backhoe to do the end of the lane: (((
In my perfect fantasy world, I would have the resources to open an animal sanctuary .... but barring a miracle lottery super jackpot that isn't something I see in the cards. The reality is that waiting to do the grand gesture is the same thing as doing nothing at all.
I just processed the domain for the homeless pet site as its coming up to its first 'anniversary'. Its not a big thing... hey its not even rescue... but it is a thing that I have been able to do. The process of researching, developing and maintaining the site has afforded me a bit of a 'birds eye view' of rescue in ns. One thing keeps popping up in a variety of different guises - that we will never get to No Kill Nova Scotia unless we can get the pets to where the adopters are.
Happily the Metro Shelter is on the same page as this and are looking for a way to bring pets from the Cape Breton Branch to Metro when space is available. Every journey starts with that first step... and so the newly formed facebook group, Nova Scotia Pet Transfer has been set up to coordinate volunteer drivers for the animals..... beginning with setting up a solid network for the cb/ Metro run. Some great folks have already stepped up to the plate to help and it is to be hoped that the group will get the ball rolling around the province.
When people try to tackle anything by themselves in animal rescue it never ends well. Now I can't do much... and maybe you can't do much ..... but a whole bunch of that together can add up to a great deal of help for the animals.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Love means never having to say you're sorry

Even with the promise of another storm this afternoon, there were still plenty of signs of spring this morning when we went for our hike. From the big ravens to the little chickadees, every bird we saw had some little bit of nesting material in their mouth ..... and the boulders and bushes that have been buried for months are starting to submerge from their wintry hibernation.
Rescues and shelters all around the province are bracing themselves for their least favourite bit about spring .... the annual flood of kittens and by extension the hapless mothers who become homeless because someone was too careless or too cheap or just too darn stupid to spay their cat.
Now S.H.A.I.D does something that I really like .... when they have space, they will take the litter of kittens if the pet owner will keep the momcat and get her spayed. That's a great program, but SHAID is a little privately run shelter and they very rightly do not kill any pet in their care to make room for some more. There is always a waiting list for them as a result.
And of course, every private rescue has their own intake policy. CAPS does not take owner surrenders because it is committed to saving the lives of the pets who come into AC in Annapolis County. Private rescues simply cannot do everything on their own ... its not a matter of not wanting but rather an issue of picking their battles so that they can work with the resources they DO have.
Anyone who has read this blog, or the old one, already knows what high regard I hold TNR in. Its an effective and humane way to control the existing feral cat population with a proven track record of success.
But what about all the 'future' ferals and stray dogs too for that matter, that will wind up homeless this year and every year after. Until the tap is turned off ... there is no realistic chance for making any effective change.
Even the society doesn't have the resources to do the trick. So should we throw up our hands? Of course not.
We need a "Fix Your Mama" campaign. Anyone who works in rescue already knows that the Mama's sit on the shelf long after their babies have been adopted. Essie May has waited nearly a year and a half at the Valley Animal Shelter since her kitten was adopted. Marion 's kittens are all grown and gone and she is still waiting for CAPS to find a home for her. And those are only a couple of the many momcats who have been left waiting.
That's the beauty of 'fix your mama' campaigns. The rescues and groups take the kittens and puppies when they are weaned if the people will keep the moma's and get them spayed. In the course of my work with the homeless pet pages, it didn't take long to realize that the youngsters really 'fly off the shelf" in comparison to their mommies. ( The arguments in favour of adopting adults are a separate rant for another day )
Hand in hand with that, if the society could promote early age spay neuter, it would also 'nip things in the bud'. Even in this day and age, there are still so many good and kind pet owners who simply don't realize that they don't have to wait until their puppy or kitten is six months old to get fixed. There are so many benefits for early age spay neuter and society support for it could make all the world of difference.
This is March and most municipalities are firming up their budgets for the year ... so that makes it a very good time to contact your own municipal councillor and suggest that support for this measure be given to the rescue groups and shelters in your area. For information on contacting your municipality, http://www.unsm.ca/members.html
If the roof was leaking, it would get fixed before it fell in. Fixing the mama's doesn't just help with pet overpopulation .... it promotes pet retention as well. And that in turn promotes the kind of good values that will really help Nova Scotia 'come to life"

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Another innocent bystander


So many times we see such hard luck stories for the good pets that come into rescue. They've been penned and they've been chained. They've been hurt or neglected or abandoned. Or they have lived a miserable lonely life caged in what the CKC still refers to as a "substandard breeding facility"
Cedar is a different cup of tea altogether. She was adopted from rescue in Toronto and since then her 'mom' has done all the right things for her. She is a four year old spayed miss with great recall and has mastered all her basic commands. Cedar is currently in Starters Agility and has already shown the potential to be an Agility star with the right trainer.
So why does this wonderful girl need a new home? Her mom is very ill and rapidly getting too sick to look after her. Right now Cedar is still at home, but East Coast German Shepherd Rescue is hard at work looking for a good and safe home for Cedar.
After eleven years with a Scottish Terrier, I'm always impressed by the agility and flyball dogs. As they so diplomatically put it on the Westminister Dog Show, Scotties need an owner who is secure enough to accept that they will never be the boss: )))
If someone was was looking to dip their toes in the warmth of the agility community or is already there and looking for a new prodigy, Cedar might just be the kindred spirit they are looking for. She won't be everybody's cup of tea because she's not used to children and way too interested in cats. Like all reputable rescues, ECGSR never sweeps anything under the rug in their haste to get a pet adopted .... no matter how long it takes, they always look for the right fit so that every adoption is a Forever Home.
Its going to be sad enough for Cedar to leave such a loving home and so everyone is hoping that she can be adopted in time that she won't need to make a detour to wait in a foster home. The timeline is getting tighter on this as Cedar's mom is losing ground. It doesn't take any imagination to appreciate how much it would ease things for Cedar's mom at this time to know that her beloved friend would be settled and safe and loved.

I'd rather see this than tulips anyday

Do you remember Lulu and Rusty? They were the laid back lab senior lab sisters that I mentioned in Two by two .
Greenwood is a small place and still has that friendly strike up a conversation with total strangers quality to it that I really love. The other day, I was in the pet aisle at Zellers and there was a lovely couple who were clearly getting ready for a new dog with bowls/toys/etc. When they told me they were adopting two sisters from Lab Rescue, I knew right away who they meant.
I'm sure none of my former students at the cooking school would like to hear that while I may have great difficulty remembering people's names, I have no trouble at all remembering the animals. Happily my vision was better in those days, because if it wasn't for name tags I wouldn't have known the students' names until graduation.
These days every time I turn around I meet someone who has adopted one of the great pets available in NS. The other day I met Arthur ... an enormous English Mastiff that was adopted by my best friend's neighbour and is clearly the apple of her eye. He goes galloping out in her back forty with her every day and is clearly devoted to the person who has given him such a great new life.
If I look out my window, my tulips are still covered with two feet of snow, so its nice at least to see something cheerful happening with pet adoption. Good intentions won't be enough to get us there, the road to No Kill Nova Scotia will be paved with pet adopters.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Update on Ben

Remember Ben, the sweet golden mix at the Clarenville SPCA? I have it on good authority that his pending adoption has been confirmed! Have a great life sweet boy!

The Kings Branch Wish List

From the paper copy of the spring newsletter that came i the mail with my Kings SPCA membership card (the branch site is at http://www.kingsspca.com/ :


























NS Needs an Underdog Railroad

Late last night, I had a very interesting and promising email. Anyone who has followed the progress of the new provincial board for the society knows that they've done a lot more than just blow smoke. Practical measures have been implemented to the structure of the society that have enabled them to move forward in a better way for the animals.
In particular, the newly created Metro Shelter Management Team has made a big difference for the animals in its care. Policy changes and sweat equity have created a more user friendly Metro that in turn has boosted their adoption rates.
So back to the email .... now Metro is looking for a way to bring a few (6) dogs at a time, on a regular basis, from the Cape Breton SPCA to Metro. Because of the distance involved, they are looking for volunteers to help rather than tying up shelter staff every couple of weeks.
Over in Nfld, they have a great group called Pet Transfer, that don't actually do rescue, but work to get the animals at risk to the groups, like the Clarenville SPCA that I blogged about the other day, who can rescue and rehome them.
Here's today's 'what if" - a volunteer network of drivers here in NS who could help relocate pets ... not just between Metro and the CB branch, but between any groups or even to adopters.
For instance .... this middle aged granny wear trifocals and has very little peripheral vision ... which would make me as much of a hazard on the highway as Mr McGoo. I would not have been able to adopt Miss Ruby had my brother not been able to bring her here from her foster home in the city. (Yes that's the same brother whose band is playing tomorrow night at the SPCA fundraiser : ))))
Now someone like me would be more likely to apply to adopt from Cape Breton / Yarmouth/ the LA Shelter/ Pet Projects and everywhere in between if they didn't have to hop in the car themselves and wreak heaven knows what havoc en route !
There's an old saying in the mess halls .... its just as much work to cook a meal for two dozen as it is for two hundred.
Like Pet Transfer, a volunteer network wouldn't do any of the actual rescue - it wouldn't take applications/ check references/ etc. It would provide logistical support for the groups and shelters ... and perhaps in the process enable them to adopt more pets.
Not everyone can, or should, be a foster parent. Nor can everyone have their own rescue .... that's how people wind up on the eleven o'clock news with the SPCA vans in their dooryard. Being a volunteer driver now and then might just be the perfect fit for the people who want to make a difference but are only free to do so now and then.
Who knows what wonderful things could come of an 'underdog (and cat) railroad' for all animals in the province, eh?
"The line between disorder and order lies in logistics…" -- Sun Tzu

Thursday, March 19, 2009

More Cape Breton Fudge

From this afternoon's CBC news website
Decision to euthanize cats with needle upsets Sydney shelter staff
Last Updated: Thursday, March 19, 2009 12:39 PM AT
CBC News
The SPCA's new hands-on method of euthanizing cats is distressing some animal shelter workers in Cape Breton.
SPCA animal shelters in Nova Scotia will no longer use carbon dioxide gas, so cats will be injected with a lethal mix of drugs — the same method used to put down dogs.
Patsy Rose, manager of the Cape Breton SPCA branch, said the provincial society that oversees branches across Nova Scotia decided to adopt lethal injection for cats after receiving complaints about the use of gas.
Rose said that means her Sydney shelter's eight staff members will have to hold cats as they die.
"When you do lethal injection, you're holding the animal in your arms," she told CBC News. "It's harder on the staff so it's more stressful on them."
With the old method, she said, workers put the cat in a chamber and leave the room as it fills with gas.
"People think CO2 and gas and it's a horrible thing, but it isn't. It's a quick, fast death for an animal. Not that death is nice, but sometimes it has to happen," Rose said.
Rose said while the carbon dioxide tank is an acceptable way to euthanize cats, veterinarians consider lethal injection to be more humane.
Workers at the Sydney shelter are being trained in the new method. Rose said she doesn't know when the shelter will make the switch, but it should happen by the end of the year.
"They don't want to do it, but they will have to do it," Rose said. "But they're dead set against it."
The Cape Breton SPCA put down more than 1,000 cats last year.
Rose said the shelter will no longer euthanize cats for the public. Instead, people will have to pay more to have it done at a veterinarian's office.



Honestly, this is the best argument that I've heard yet for getting rid of the gas chamber at the Cape Breton SPCA Branch shelter. The very fact that it made it possible for workers to be less distressed about killing cats with the gas chamber should be a red flag.


For the benefit of anyone who still doesn't get it, I have taken the liberty of quoting an article that was published by the No Kill Advocacy Center and is available online at http://www.nokilladvocacycenter.org/pdf/No%20Gas%20Chamber.pdf
Unconventional Wisdom

Every issue we look at a bit of traditional animal sheltering “dogma” and analyze
it to see if it is true. We also offer a No Kill alternative - what we call “No Kill
Know How” to give a different perspective oriented toward preserving and
protecting life. If we accept responsibility for the dogs and cats in our shelter
instead of hiding behind conventional wisdom, we are better suited to meet the
challenges involved with saving lives.



A CALL TO BAN THE GAS CHAMBER


Conventional Wisdom
While sodium pentobarbital injection is the preferred method of killing dogs and cats in shelters, gas systems are acceptable if used correctly or for other species of animals.
No Kill Know How:
Webster’s dictionary defines euthanasia as “the act or practice of killing or permitting the death of hopelessly sick or injured individuals in a relatively painless way for reasons of mercy.” Unfortunately, in most shelter environments, animals are not solely being killed because they are hopelessly sick or injured, but rather as “population control.”



In this environment, shelter killing—particularly of healthy and treatable animals—raises a host
of ethical questions and dilemmas, many of which are being raised by the public in communities across the country.
At the very least, shelters who kill, particularly those which kill large numbers of animals, are obligated to ensure that employees are technically proficient, competent, skilled, compassionate, properly trained, and doing everything in their power to make sure the animals are as free from stress and anxiety as possible. The use of a gas chamber does not allow this.
A “relatively painless” death can only occur in an environment where sensitivity, compassion, and skill, combine with efforts to minimize distress and anxiety. By contrast, gas systems take time to kill— during which animals experience distress and anxiety, and can struggle to survive.
They can result in animals surviving the gassing, only to suffer even more. And they take longer to kill if animals are young, old, or have respiratory infections, which is common in some shelters. They are designed for the ease of shelter workers, not care and compassion for the animals.
The use of such systems to kill animals is universally condemned by humane advocates and progressive shelters, and has been outlawed for dogs and cats in several states including New York and California.
According to Dr. Michael Moyer, V.M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania College of Veterinary Medicine: "There is no progressive sheltering agency of any scope or stature willing to philosophically embrace gas systems for the killing of any species of animals. Sheltering is deliberately, inexorably, and philosophically moving away from mass killing as an acceptable method of dog/cat population control.

That there are technical features of one system that distinguish it from other such systems is irrelevant. Profit center analysis, head-to-head demonstrations, ease of use, load capacity—none of these are capable of overcoming the
humane and philosophical objection to mechanized death at the core of those who have moved away from this technology.
In short, they should never be used."

From the Euthanasia Facts article on the Animal Liberation Front Website
http://www.animalliberationfront.com/Practical/Pets/PetCare/EuthanasiaFacts.htm
California banned the use of CO gas chambers for euthanasia effective January 1,2001. Many injection givers initially resisted the change, because injection requires two workers and extended physical contact with the animal, but once they understood the process, they realized it is better for the animal, and actually less stressful for them. For some animals, the gentle touch of a shelter worker during the euthanasia process may be the only real affection they have ever had. The lethal injection technique allows the worker to comfort the animal and experience closure of the death process. Three states (AZ, SC, TN) specifically allow nitrogen gas, and three (OK, SC, TN) allow carbon monoxide; all of these states also allow lethal injection, with gas as an alternate method. Gas chambers have many limitations which make the method less practical, slower, more dangerous to staff (a shelter worker died of CO poisoning just last year), and ultimately more expensive than lethal injection.
Abuse of the chamber is common. While shelter policies commonly require physical separation in individual cages and close observation of the process, in many cases animals are simply shoved into the chamber, the door sealed, the button pushed, and the employee walks away. The sponsor of the bill in Tennessee that would mandate lethal injection said of the gas chamber that it "results in a slow, painful death." Ronald R. Grier and Tom L. Colvin's 1990 Euthanasia Guide for Animal Shelters recommends that all animals should be tranquilized before placement in the chamber --something that is virtually never done in practice.
So let me get this straight, leaving the room so one didn't have to watch the cats die is not what should have been happening? Hmmm.

I distinctly remember reading in the online minutes from the site visit at the Branch that there was a discussion of a 'properly run gas chamber' and that it was "also suggested was that they go to the media with the changes they HAVE made to make the shelter more humane. "

Somehow I don't think that this thinly disguised plea for sympathy for the workers .... which is in reality actually a gambit to justify past and continued use of the gas chamber .... is quite what the board had in mind for improved media relations.
The suggestion that the society has only recently taken up a position against the use of the gas chamber is hopefully an unintended slur on every other branch in the province. Anyone reading that article would have no idea that the CB Branch has been the lone holdout and would instead think that the CB branch workers are the only ones too sensitive to follow the "new' policy.
No sir... I do not think thats the media blitz the branch was meant to do at all!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Practice, practice, practice











Those of you who followed my old blog knew that until last spring, I had a wonderful Golden named Ben. I had adopted him from Maritime Golden Retriever Rescue ... and before he came under their loving umbrella, he had been in the care of the Clarenville SPCA in Nfld.
In the course of letting them know how well Ben was doing, I wound up becoming 'pen pals' with one of the volunteers at the shelter. We are both animals lovers and have the common perspective of not being 29 anymore either : ))) Our friendship has also opened a window into an important part of her world - the Clarenville SPCA where she volunteers.
One of the things that I really like about the Clarenville SPCA is that they understand the importance of getting their adoptables out their on the web. No matter how busy they are, ALL their adoptables are listed and everyone has an appealing bio to draw adopters in. They have learned it is time well spent and many of their adoptions have been a result of interest that was sparked on their site http://www.clarenvilleareaspca.ca/index.php
Just as she pops into the homeless pet site now and then, so do i pop into her shelter site. This morning, I saw a golden guy who just tugged at my heart - his name is Ben too and this is what they have to say about him " Poor Ben is back with us again. He was turned into us when his owner moved and "wouldn't" take Ben along. We found him a new home but he was returned for "getting into the garbage". Ben is so sad to be once again homeless it is breaking our hearts. He is a good boy, house trained and already neutered. Ben is a Golden Retriever mix who is about middle age at 7 years old but he still has a whole lot of love in his heart for a new owner.....a forever owner this time he prays!"
Gosh ... whenever 'buyers remorse' rears its ugly head with pet adoption it just saddens me. A dog isn't an accessory or a gadget ..... but a sensitive living breathing sentient being who is just as unsure of his or herself as the adopter.
Good grief ... Ruby was here for quite some time before she realized that we didn't have to get up in the middle of the night and go out to investigate every time she heard a coyote! Something in Henry's unknown past had made him so afraid that he was here for months before he didn't growl if I stood over him in the dark ... and he is still VERY careful of any man holding a shovel/newspaper/etc...
The only dawg here who rolls with everything effortlessly is McG ... and that is because he has lived his whole 11 year life with the same person ... which is how it should be for all dogs. When people have a past, when they've been mistreated and/ or divorced, no one expects them to trust 'carte blanche' right away.
Why should we expect a good dog to automatically know that they are safe and secure after they have been mistreated or had their hearts broken? At the end of the day, dog training is a lot like that soccer ad on right now for Sport Nova Scotia .... it take practice, practice, practice.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Note on Saturday's Rally in Moncton for Better Animal Cruelty laws

There are some very good pics on Moncton columnist Brian Cormier's Blog , Successful rally in Moncton yesterday re: enhanced... of the rally with lots of great pics and info.
Its a very good thing that he posted this, because there was precious little coverage by the CBC website. As a sidebar note to that, unless CBC views an item as being of national interest, that local news events completely fall off their radar on the weekends. The Canadian portion of their website, particularly the provincial stories, sits in limbo every weekend.
If one only read the CBC news website .... and in this busy world there are many who do just that.... one would seldom see any animal welfare stories, and so would wonder what all the animal lovers are 'spouting on about"
There's a lot of great information online about animal welfare issues. From finding the right pet to animal law to advocacy issues .... if you want to find it - its definitely out there.
And that's the key. If you want to find it. Existing sites are often 'preaching to the choir" and are seldom sought out by those who either unawakened or simply unwilling to change their tune.
Last summer, when my daughter was still in Nova Scotia, she was appalled to find out that none of her coworkers and only a few of her clients remembered anything at all about the Celtic Pets seizure.
If one of the biggest seizures in the province passes unnoticed, how can one hope to reach more people about animal welfare issues? As a sidebar note, I really like the poster contest that I saw on the front door of the society webpage. Getting a poster contest out into the NS schools is a great way to spread the word.
We could sure use a regular columnist in our own Herald... if there will be any left....sigh.... who could do a weekly feature on animal issues around the province. Maybe it could be 'ghosted' for a spokescat and/or a spokesdog .... gosh, if I'm not careful my imagination could run away on me with this! Shelters and groups could be featured... adoptable pics and bios could be run.... fundraising activities around the province could be mentioned .... ahhh you know how fast my fancy takes flight about these things : )))
Honestly, I don't see a downside to this. Animals create interest and traffic ... which would of course help the paper. It would be good community relations for a paper that has subscribers around the province. It would be good for the animals and the good folks working on their behalf. All that, and it just might open up an eye or two along the way. What could be better than that, eh?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Meet the "poster kids' from the St Catricks Day pages : ))))





































Every now and then, I try to spark a little extra interest for the animals on the homeless pet site. Whenever I do this, I let the groups and shelters know to give them a chance to feature any of their kids.
Now admittedly, the St Catricks Day feature is a thinly disguised way to promote the beautiful black kitties around, but I was delighted to have the fun pictures that S.H.A.I.D sent to help dress it up.
On behalf of Brandy , Jack , Kirk and Tiny Tot and of course every good cat in rescue around the province, I would like to thank the fun folks at SHAID for taking the time to do this. The other two kitties are Magick, who is the official SHAID shelter mascot and Leo, who was just adopted.PS the smiley face kitty is Magick too!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Better than brownies for breakfast

I must confess that sometimes, on a chilly morning when we come back from our morning hike, I indulge in a brownie instead of the healthy porridge I normally try to stick to. But this morning I read something sweeter than that: )))
The Top Story from this mornings Cape Breton Post
Cape Breton SPCA preparing to remove its gas chamber
Cats will be put down by lethal injection
ERIN POTTIE The Cape Breton Post
Kelly McDonald, shelter assistant with the SPCA in Whitney Pier, holds one of the many cats available for adoption. Shelter officials are changing the method of euthanization for those cats which are sick or cannot be adopted. Nancy King - Cape Breton Post
SYDNEY — The Cape Breton branch of the SPCA is removing its gas chamber used to euthanize cats.
Branch manager Patsy Rose said the non-profit shelter is trying to acquire funding so staff can be trained to lethally inject felines in an area plagued with an overpopulation of companion animals.
“It’s not going to be something that happens boom-boom because our staff has to be trained,” Rose said. “We’re hoping by the end of the year we will have this out and gone, maybe sooner, but that’s our plan for 2009.”Cape Breton commonly euthanizes dogs by lethal injection, but unlike other SPCA branches in the province, has been relying on a chamber of carbon dioxide to euthanize cats for more than 20 years.
“We’d loved to be able to say we don’t do (euthanizations) anymore; only if they are sick or injured. It would be great,” said Rose. “That’s one job that no one wants to do, but with so many animals being out there and people not having them spayed or neutered we end up getting overpopulated and we just can’t find homes for them all.
”The Cape Breton branch is one of the busiest in the province and has to euthanize large numbers of cats and dogs each year, though those numbers are declining.Over 3,900 animals were admitted to the Whitney Pier shelter in 2008, including 2,414 cats and 1,522 dogs.
Of those, a total 1,096 cats were euthanized last year, most were domestic animals, with 194 were put down as a result of space constraints and 902 for medical or behavioural reasons. Rose said those numbers represent a drastic cut in euthanizations compared to previous years as a result of increased adoptions. Adoption rates rose from 60 per cent in 2006 to between 80-83 per cent this year.
Numbers are expected to lower next year as the branch is no longer euthanizing animals for the public, as of last week. Instead those animals will now have to be taken to a veterinarian.“It’s not going to change anything as far as euthanasia. We still have to euthanize animals,” said Rose. “It’s just a different method of doing it. It’s just a better method.”
Animal lover Angela Granchelli of Halifax, formerly of Cape Breton, said gas chambers bring about varied public perceptions.
Granchelli is not a member of the SPCA organization, but similarly promotes spaying and neutering animals to avoid overpopulation and further euthanizations on her website www.novascotiacats.com.
“The public hate the gas chamber and there’s different theories as to why. Some people think it’s because people equate it with the Holocaust,” said Granchelli. “I don’t know if that’s true, it certainly doesn’t sound very pleasant. It may or may not be less humane but people certainly view it as so. It can be for feral cats because a lot of them have respiratory illnesses so it’s a really unpleasant death if they have a respiratory illness because they can’t get the gas into their lungs.”
The Cape Breton SPCA and Cape Breton Regional Municipality are currently working toward lessening the cat population through a feline sterilization program. The program spays or neuters approximately 300 cats per year and is available for low-income cat owners who make below $25,000 annually.
I noticed in the comments on the articles that one person wrote: Ok to whoever said the cats don't feel it, you need to go into the shelter and watch one die in it yourself before you say that. it aint pretty and they most certainly do feel it and in fact they actualy scratch and claw to get out as they suffocate to their death it's very disturbing and nothing like the slow death you describe in a car. i am so glad that the provincial SPCA is finally forcing these people to get that disgusting thing out of there. Now that sounds like someone who did work there but didn't have the stomach for killing with the gas chamber.
As part of my military training, over the years we all had periodic NBCD training - Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Defense. My least favourite part of the training was the part where we were in the gas chamber when they released the gas and THEN had to put on our gas masks. Even knowing it was training, even knowing I had the refuge of the gas mask as soon as I could get it properly on my face, it was still a horrible thing. If I knew it was going on, if I knew it would end and it was still that bad.... imagine what it must be like for cats and dogs who have no idea whats going on .... and who have no relief at hand.
At the end of the day, there are few who would argue in favour of the use of a gas chamber anywhere.
Discussion of the accuracy of the Branch claims to improved adoption rates for this year vice their traditional creative license is a separate rant for another day.
Right here, right now .... it is still a pretty big deal for the branch to be announcing both their plans for removing the gas chamber and their new policy of not accepting animals to be killed at the owners request.

If you haven't already read them, the online minutes of the meeting that was held with the Cape Breton SPCA branch and three directors from the provincial board make for very interesting reading:
Meeting of Provincial Board Representatives
and Cape Breton Branch Representatives
February 14, 2009
Sydney, NS
MINUTES
Present:
Mel Neville (President, Cape Breton SPCA Board of Directors; Director, Nova Scotia SPCA Board of Directors)
Whitfield Best (Director, Cape Breton SPCA Board of Directors)
Patsy Rose (Manager, Cape Breton SPCA)
Dave Rozee, DVM (Advising Veterinarian to Cape Breton SPCA)
Andrew Morrison, MVB, BSc (Director, Nova Scotia SPCA Board of Directors)
Kat Horne (Director, Nova Scotia SPCA Board of Directors)
Sean Kelly (Director, Nova Scotia SPCA Board of Directors)
Animal Control
Mel reported that their town council sponsors the Cape Breton SPCA to do low-income spay/neuters. It was suggested that if they are getting funding for a spay/neuter program, they need to capitalize on this and ensure that the City understands the cost of such a program and determine at what level they are willing to contribute.
Mel reported that they are currently in negotiations for a new 5-year contract with the City for Animal Control services, including a cat-call pickup program where the SPCA would be asked to go to specified locations and collect colonies of cats that have been reported by the tenants as requiring removal. Mel was asked to ensure that they request a "pay-per-call" fee system for this program; otherwise, this will cost them too much to manage.
Discussion was held around the fact that the Cape Breton SPCA has shared Animal Control/Cruelty staff; that is, they have staff acting in both the Special Constable role for cruelty as well as the Animal Control role for the City. It was discussed that it is very important that when the staff member is doing an AC function, they wear their AC coat; when they are doing an SPCA cruelty function, they wear their SPCA coat. Discussed at length why it is so important that the two are kept separate.
Gas Chamber
Some initial discussion was held around the fact of whether the gas chamber is a more humane method of killing than T61. While all agreed that T61 is not a preferred method vs. vet-supervised euthanization, Sean listed the requirements of a properly run gas chamber and pointed out that the cost Public Minutes of Provincial and Cape Breton Branch Meeting of February 14, 2009
of euthanizing properly using the gas chamber would be more expensive than doing vet-supervised euthanizations.
Further, discussion was held that there is a movement of the general public and membership that the perception and intolerance of the gas chamber in North America is a reality. The Nova Scotia SPCA has had a policy against the gas chamber since 2001, so the reality is that the gas chamber must be removed. After some discussion, it was agreed by all that in order to move forward in the eyes of our membership and the general public, the gas chamber at the Cape Breton SPCA shelter would be removed in accordance with Nova Scotia SPCA policy.
Discussion was then held around the plan and process of getting this done. It was agreed that the Cape Breton SPCA would develop a plan of action to include a target date for removal of the gas chamber. Mel was asked to provide this proposed plan of action in writing to the provincial board of directors and to call upon any board members that he would like to receive assistance from in order to achieve this goal. Kat, Sean, and Andrew all offered any assistance required to get the plan of action done.
There was much discussion surrounding the issue of money. Patsy reported that they are unable to afford changes, yet reported that they are spending $15k-$25k per year on disposal of bodies. Patsy reported that they are killing feral cats at an alarming rate and when asked why they are taking in feral cats only to kill them, they said they felt it was the humane thing to do for them. Much discussion was held around the myth that feral cats are better off dead and all agreed that they would immediately cease killing of feral cats after receiving a recommended policy from Sean on feral cats. Sean is also to provide CB with an information letter on feral cats that will be passed on to the public letting them know that the CBSPCA no longer accepts feral cats.
Patsy also reported that they spend a lot of money euthanizing unwanted pets that they simply have no room for. She reported that people will call them and say "come get my dog or I will shoot it" so they go pick up the dog and bring it in and either euthanize it or euthanize another dog to make space for that one. Again, discussion was held around the fact that while we think we are doing the most humane thing for the pet, it is wrong to accept a pet only to kill it and all agreed that they would immediately cease this practice and that unless they have room for a surrender, they are to refuse to take it and if there is any kind of threat of cruelty to the animal, they are to record the license place of the owner and have a special constable follow up with them.
As a result of this discussion, it was agreed that the Cape Breton SPCA will write an intake policy that includes taking surrenders only if there is space, what the fee will be to accept surrenders, and that there will be no more intake of feral cats unless the animal is injured or pregnant. They were asked to submit this policy to the board of directors as soon as possible. Sean offered to provide them with a copy of the draft new intake policy that the Metro shelter has just written.
Cape Breton Public Relations
Discussion was held about the general attitude towards the Cape Breton SPCA and the general feeling that much of the attitude is unjustified. Mel and Patsy both pointed out that they are doing the best they can with what they have and that they feel they have been treated unfairly by some groups of people, that they receive little support from the provincial board, and that they often don’t know what the board is doing. It was noted that Mel is part of the provincial board, that the board is there to support all the branches, and that attendance at meetings must happen in order to get that support and to learn what the
Page 2 of 3 Public Minutes of Provincial and Cape Breton Branch Meeting of February 14, 2009 Page 3 of 3
board is doing. Mel reported that he has had issues with phone line quality with the skype for board meetings, and Sean reported that we are no longer using skype as it was not successful so we are now using conference lines so those problems should be gone and that Mel’s participation at provincial board meetings is strongly encouraged.
We discussed at length that perception is reality and that the Cape Breton shelter needs to get into the media. They had concerns about things that some people were saying about them or writing about them on the internet, and discussion was held that people have a right to their opinions and that our job as a society is that when we disagree with what people are saying about us, we must write a press release or go to the media and defend our position, let the public know the struggles they are under, and ask for public support. Kat talked about the things that the Metro shelter has done to get public support and Sean described how one bad-luck story in the media generated $7,000 in donations. Mel acknowledged that they need to find ways to get the message out there more and pointed out that they have a PR student who has offered to volunteer with them. We offered to write press releases for them any time they need help on that front and that their PR student is welcome to contact us for any support they need. It was also suggested that they put together a list of any and all possible questions that may come to them at the AGM and formulate the answers so they are prepared to discuss their situation. Also suggested was that they go to the media with the changes they HAVE made to make the shelter more humane.
We also discussed and agreed that a big step in taking accountability for changes to the gas chamber situation is to make the minutes of this meeting public.
Training
Mel reported that they are in need of training for their special constables. Sean reported that our Chief Provincial Investigator is building a training program and that there will be a training session in the coming months and that one special constable from Cape Breton will be brought in to complete the training.
Summary and Recommendations
Dr. Dave Rozee stated that he felt very encouraged by outlook of our group, our approach, and that he appreciated that we came to meet with them. He also pointed out that he liked where the conversation was going and felt hopeful for change. Mel and Patsy both commented that this was the first time they felt that anyone actually cared about their situation and that anyone was willing to help them.
As noted above, it was agreed that both an intake policy as well as a plan of action to remove the gas chamber would be submitted to the provincial board of directors as soon as possible.

At the end of the day, this is more than any board in the past has done about the Cape Breton Branch. When previous boards allowed the branch to continue using the gas chamber, not only were they permitting an obscenity, but they never provided the Cape Breton branch with any reason to stop the killing.
I really like that the site visit wasn't conducted like a band of avenging angels but rather by trying to offer achievable solutions to help the branch meet their goals. As a sidebar to that, I REALLY liked that in that spirit, the board members brought back eleven dogs to Metro.
Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph. - Haile Selassie

The world is a dangerous place

From Mark Holland's Website http://www.markholland.ca/issues/animals.htm
Mark Holland campaigns for effective animal cruelty bill - now called Bill C-229
Mark Holland believes strongly in the need to reform the Criminal Code to better protect animals from intentional cruelty, and he has worked to raise the profile of this issue since first being elected in 2004.
On November 26, 2008, Mark re-introduced his private member's bill on animal cruelty. Now numbered C-229, it is identical to the private member's bill C-373 which he tabled in the 39th Parliament on October 30, 2006, and the former Bill C-50, introduced by the Liberal government in the 38th Parliament. Since first introducing Bill C-373, Mark has worked cooperatively with respected national and international animal welfare groups which are campaigning for effective animal cruelty law reform. Their concerted efforts are focused on convincing the Conservative government to introduce his bill as government legislation.
Provisions of the Criminal Code dealing with animal cruelty have changed very little since 1892 and they are extremely antiquated. This has often made it difficult to obtain convictions against animal abusers, and when convictions are obtained, the penalties are often too light. These laws were also written at a time when animals were protected by virtue of being property.
Shocking cases of animal abuse are often in the news. Most recently, in Didsbury, Alberta, a Labrador-border collie cross named Daisy Duke was tortured and dragged for a kilometre behind a vehicle, with duct tape around her legs and mouth and leaving a trail of blood. She had to be euthanized she was so badly injured, and her owner and a juvenile have been charged.
Serious violent criminals such as serial killers often begin with animal abuse, which can be an early indicator of crimes against people. Therefore, effective animal cruelty legislation can allow the justice system to intervene early in people who might go on to other serious crimes.
In 1999, the federal government introduced legislation to reform animal cruelty provisions as part of a larger omnibus bill of Criminal Code reforms. Over the years, the bill was broken up and many changes were made to address concerns of hunters, anglers, and others who use animals in their livelihoods. The revised bill was actually passed by the House of Commons several times in the springs of 2002 and 2003, but the House of Commons and Senate could not agree on amendments, and the bill has died a number of times on the order paper. Bill C-50, introduced in May 2005, was similar to previous bills, but addressed a concern raised in the Senate about aboriginal hunting rights. C-373 makes no changes from the former C-50.
The bill has always enjoyed support from major animal welfare groups, but in the fall of 2004, it obtained the support of most organizations representing animal use industries. This support, however, was shattered when an ineffective bill was introduced as a diversionary tactic in the Senate by Senator John G. Bryden. That bill, originally known as S-213, is strongly opposed by Mark and by animal welfare organizations such as the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies. Unfortunately, due to a difference in the rules for private members' business introduced in the House and the Senate, the ineffective S-203 has raced through the Senate and has been fast-tracked in the House while the more comprehensive C-373 is stuck in a long queue of private members' bills introduced by MPs.
With the prorogation of Parliament in the fall of 2007, bill S-213 needed to be passed again in the Senate and was given a new bill number, S-203. (Bill C-373 is not affected by prorogation, and continues to be stuck in a long queue of MPs' private members' bills.) Debate and final vote in the Senate was swift. As no changes were made from the original bill, S-203 resumed where S-213 left off in the House of Commons.
Following second reading in the House of Commons on November 29, 2007, S-203 was sent to the Commons Justice Committee. After clause by clause study, the Justice Committee returned it to the House of Commons without amendments, where on April 9, 2008, it was voted on for the final time. The Conservative government mustered enough support from opposition MPs to pass the bill. Mark was able to bring on side dozens of other Liberal colleagues to vote against S-203. In the end, 189 (mainly Conservative) MPs voted for S-203, and 70 MPs (a mix of Liberal, NDP and a few Bloc members) voted against it. The issue of advancing progressive legislation to reform animal cruelty laws was rekindled with the re-introduction of Mark Holland's bill, now called C-229, in the 40th Parliament.
Please watch this page for further information about this initiative.
The Mark Holland Update

Canadian Pets & Animals Magazine is publishing an article by MP Mark Holland in their September 2007 issue, which provides an update on the two animal cruelty bills. A copy of this article is being mailed with other information about animal cruelty as a Mark Holland Update to Canadians who have indicated an interest in this issue and have provided Mark with their mailing address.
An
electronic version of this Mark Holland Update can also be downloaded as a pdf file. The article alone can be viewed here.
What can you do to help?
Many Canadians have asked how they can help to pass effective animal cruelty legislation. There are a number of things you can do, but the most helpful is to write to your Member of Parliament, Senators, and Justice Minister Rob Nicholson. We would like MPs and Senators to do the following:
Indicate that they wish to join an all-party team of MPs and Senators in support of the general principles of C-229.
Urge the government to introduce a government bill based on C-229.
For more information, including how to contact your MP, Senators and Minister Nicholson
,
please click here.
For some reason, this newest piece of legislation isn't getting the attention that its previous versions received on the CFHS site, http://www.cfhs.ca/ . In all fairness, the results from the survey that they sent out to all the political parties prior to the last election are still available on the left hand sidebar of the Federal Legislation page http://cfhs.ca/law/federal_legislation/.
This is a reintroduced bill, which means that it was considered to be approved at all stages before Parliament was prorogued.
Last year. Bill S 203 was fast tracked by the Conservatives and galloped through all stages with indecent haste in spite of strong opposition from the CFHS and every humane group in the country.
From Beechwood to budgetary issues, this session of Parliament promises to have a pretty full slate to address before things wrap up. Once that happens, nothing will be passed until the fall session sits.
The groundwork has already been laid. The CFHS has already declared strong support for the previous version.
So can we expect to see this galloped through with the same haste that S 203 was? Not unless the animal loving public in this country let their Members of Parliament know how important Bill C 229 to them as a voter.
In the last election, I did not vote Liberal. Why was that? Because my Liberal MP voted FOR Bill S-203. In addition to support from the animal loving public, Mr Holland will need to get his own party on board. It will be interesting to see if this newest morph of the Liberal Party will have the gumption to back up this latest attempt by one of their own to update the law.
I know I sound like a stuck record, but just in case your MP isn't already in your address book:
Brison, Scott (Hon. ) Kings—Hants Liberal
Casey, Bill Cumberland ColchesterMusquodoboit Valley Independent
Cuzner, Rodger Cape Breton—Canso Liberal
Eyking, Mark (Hon.) Sydney—Victoria Liberal
Keddy, Gerald South Shore—St. Margaret's Conservative
Kerr, Greg West Nova Conservative
Leslie, Megan Halifax NDP
MacKay, Peter Gordon (Hon.) Central Nova Conservative
Regan, Geoff (Hon.) Halifax West Liberal
Savage, Michael Dartmouth—Cole Harbour Liberal
Stoffer, Peter Sackville—Eastern Shore NDP

The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing... - Albert Einstein

Thursday, March 12, 2009

More Adoption Incentives











The Yarmouth SPCA has a very special offer for three of its longest residents at the shelter. The Yarmouth SPCA will underwrite the entire adoption fee for Jazz , Miley and Synder.
Adopters will of course still need to apply and meet all the screening criteria. Everyone at the shelter is very fond of these three and are just pulling out all the stops to get them settled into a good home.

A different kind of barn dance

I live on the edge of Harmony. That sounds cheesey but its true .... if I lived two doors down I'd be in Harmony instead of East Tremont. I think its one of the prettiest areas and was lucky to find a spot out here. Its close enough to the village that if gas gets to be a gagillion dollars a liter I can run down on my bike, or even head out on foot. Yet there is still a country feel here instead of that stretched out subdivision look that so many roads around here have descended to.
There are very few downsides to living out here. To be perfectly honest, I can really only think of one thing worth mentioning - we are just close enough, and far enough, to the village that this has been a popular dumping area for pets over the years.
Two of my kitties started as strays. My eldercat, Bear, was either three or four when she wandered in fourteen years ago ... and three years ago when we found George he was small enough enough to sit in my hand.
Earlier this winter, one day I saw a little long haired tabby kitten hunting under the bird feeder. She looked so thin and desperate I couldn't bring myself to begrudge her the bird that she caught. I wanted to help her, so I borrowed a live trap from Melissa, who runs SHAR.
Like many feral kittens, somehow the little ninja knew better than to go in the trap, no matter what I tried to entice her with. I didn't see the kitten for a few days, so after a bit I admitted defeat and returned the trap.
When she reappeared a few days later, I thought I'd take a new tack and started putting out food for her every morning. For the longest time, I only ever caught glimpses of her until one day I realized I was also feeding an adult cat.
Both the kitten and the cat have tuxedo bibs and almost identical white shoes in front and boots in back, so it was pretty reasonable to assume that this was the momcat. She was a lot tamer than the kitten, and it was clear that she was a stray, not a feral cat. It didn't take a big leap of imagination to picture the scenario .... someone was too stupid to spay the cat and dumped her when she became pregnant: (((
With the adult's encouragement, eventually the kitten grew brave enough to come out and meet me. By last week, when I was actually able to pet the kitten, I knew that it was time to try to get them in to get spayed.
As a prelude to that, this morning I was able to corral the two of them into carriers and get them in to be tested and vaccinated.
There was no doubt in anyone's mind at the clinic that the kitten ... who I have named Dora( the explorer) is a true feral. She levitated up on top of the wall cabinet in the examining room and had to be gently corralled with a net for her test and exam and vaccines.
My vision isn't what it used to be and these days I wear trifocals. For the uninitiated, anyone wearing these finds that when they look directly down, sometimes things get a little fuzzy. It is the biggest adjustment most people have in getting used to wearing bi or trifocals.
Still, you can imagine our surprise when we discovered that the adult, whom I have been calling Bridget, is indeed UNCLE Bridget, and is actually a neutered tom!
Its either just one of those funny little coincidences that they both have the same bibs and boots, or else he is an older brother of the kitten who was adopted and loved until someone moved away : (((
Either way, they are quite devoted to each other and I often see them now playing or just sunning together. It would be mean to keep calling him Bridget, so I have renamed him Oscar, after the androgynous poet.
Dora will go back in to get spayed on the 25th and I will keep looking around trying to find the momcat. I caught a glimpse of an older cat the other day that may actually be the mom but I don't think he or she is quite ready to be touched by human hands.
I can be patient .... after all, it took from January till now to get my paws on Dora. In the meantime I'll just keep working on fixing up the barn for my new little barn kitties.

A new numbers game while we're waiting for the ship to come in

Do you remember when you were little and most of the games with your friends started with "Lets say" ?
Lets say someone has fifty female dogs. If they breed them twice a year, that's 100 litters. If even only three pups per litter survive the crowding and inadequate facilities, that's three hundred puppies.
If they can peddle each puppy for three hundred ( and many sell for much more than that ) that's ninety thousand dollars.
One can't help but wondering - is any or all of that income reported to revenue Canada?
Even when the animal loving public is galvanized into action, it still takes time for the wheels of government to turn. Yes, we did see speedy results last year when the politicians were flooded with voter feedback about Bill 138. But that was because we were asking them to remove clauses 6 - 8, not to draft completely new legislation.
Until the day when we have Puppy Mill legislation, existing legislation does not give the society sufficient authority, or funding, to pursue investigations in a timely fashion. Nor does it allow for penalties to act as a sufficient detterent. Just look at the numbers. Like drug dealers, backyard breeders and puppy mills regard any existing penalties as part of the cost of doing business.
This is a tough economic climate and now more than ever, CRA is pulling out all the stops to close the loopholes on the underground economy. Did you know that our tax department is actually famous for getting results and that countries around the world study them ?
While we're waiting for our ship to come, why not rat out the local puppy mills and backyard breeders to Revenue Canada?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Rose By Any Other Name

Spring is on its way ... I can smell it in the air. Literally - the compost is thawing out and humming with a distinctly organic fragrance when the lid is lifted. In much the same way, my nose tells me there is a provincial election on the way as well. The mudslinging is already underway and every second time I answer the phone there is some hopeful harry from a marketing company hoping to take up my time. I always decline these offers, being of the firm opinion that every politician at every level who represents me already knows how this middle aged granny feels about things. ( One can almost hear the heavy sighs when yet another email or phone call comes their way )
Elections can be very useful things. During the last Quebec election, a petition for better laws to prevent puppy mills garnered over fifty thousand signatures .... which of course inspired a new found interest on the part of their provincial government on behalf of the animals.
In the wake of the tighter laws in Ontario and the possibility of more in Quebec, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see where the new puppy mill capitol will migrate too. The groundwork has already been laid in the indifference of voters to the multitude of times that Digby's puppy broker/killer has been investigated and charged. And as we all know, voter apathy never gives our politicians any reason to stick their necks out.
Stick your neck out, ya say? How would that be? Wouldn't any politician WANT to be on the side of truth and justice? Not if it makes lobby groups and corporate sponsors uncomfortable in any way. Rocking the boat is normally reserved for issues that the voters care about.
We already have puppy mills here in Nova Scotia. There is only one way to shut these ones down and prevent others from setting up shop. And that of course is by bringing a "Puppy Mill" law through the legislature.
Sound simple? Not a chance. In a province where politicians are afraid to ban the freedom to drive down the road with your dawg in the back of your pickup, how do you think they will do standing up to a lobby group? Do you remember the submission that the provincial society made to the Law Committee when Bill 186 was being reviewed? Did they get through? Not even close.
So if we get past voter apathy and the self preservation instinct of our elected representatives, will that do the trick? Not even close. If we didn't know it before, thanks to Marketplace Canadian couch potatoes everywhere now know that one of PIJAC's main functions is to lobby on behalf of the Hunt Corporation, where puppies are treated like commodities instead of living breathing sentient beings.
When our legislators are working on tougher drug laws, they don't invite the dealers for input. Its time to recognize that as long as the CKC is partnered with PIJAC, neither of them are entitled to a place at the negotiating table for any dog law.
All the experts agree that effective puppy mill legislation begins with regulating the breeders. Big or small, two litters or two hundred, they all need to be licensed. The licensing process is a launchpad to establish a routine inspection process, without which any law is meaningless.
There also needs to be a ceiling on the number of animals permitted in any one operation. General consensus on pending and passed laws south of the border sets that number no higher than fifty.
Limits are also needed on the number of litters that can be produced by individual animals and the permissible ages for breeding animals. Britain's Breeding and Sale of Dogs Act sets an annual limit of one litter per bitch, with a minimum age for breeding set at one year. Virginia's new Puppy Mill law sets the minimum age at 18 months. Britain's law also sets a lifetime limit of six litters per bitch.
Every bit of this would be meaningless without the legislated need for all breeders to maintain auditable records. Nor would it be worth a tinker's dam unless pet stores and pet brokers were required by law to only deal with licensed breeders. Unless all the loose ends are tied up, the unscrupulous will find the loopholes in no time.
And of course, really effective legislation will not have any 'grandfathering' clauses. The legal limits that determine the benchmark blood alcohol levels for drinking and driving laws would be meaningless if people who were drinking and before the law was passed were exempted.
I know I sound like a stuck record, but the way ahead is always paved by voter feedback. For your own MLA's contact information, http://www.gov.ns.ca/LEGISLATURE/MEMBERS/directory/constituencies.html
This is one time when you need to do more than pester you own MLA. Do your homework and contact all the political parties in the province to let them know that this is an issue of concern to you.

The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis. - Dante Alighieri