Friday, July 31, 2009

Wrestling with change

Thirteen years ago, when my daughter graduated from high school, she used the money she received from family to buy her first computer. It was a sensible choice because even then, one couldn't complete any course at NSCC without being computer literate.
At the time she very generously offered to teach me how to use it. Why did I say no? Was I too busy? Was I unwilling to learn from someone less experienced than myself? Did I not recognize the potential of the darned thing?
If you checked all of the above, you would be closest to the mark.
Like many other compulsive a types .... I've always been a better driver than a passenger. But time went on and three years later I had to learn how to use the darned thing if I was going to get ahead in my career.
There are times when hard work and perseverance are simply not enough. At the end of the day, we learn and grow .... or we stagnate and are left behind.
When the concept of No Kill was introduced a few years ago, there was considerable resistance to the idea from the very folks who should have embraced it from the get go. But they were "up to their ass in alligators" and so had lost sight of the original objective ... which was of course to drain the swamp.
For No Kill ... real honest to gawd open admission no kill .... to succeed it takes a variety of "new' strategies. The wonderful thing is that many of these have already been proven successful elsewhere ... and that they are only really "new" here.
There have been so many pawsitive changes in animal rescue around NS this past year.... and none so evident that the willingness of different groups to change for the cats. This time of year, everyone is "bursting at the seams" with cats , so it is very good to see:
  • the TLC Animal Shelter in Digby has reduced its cat adoption fees for July and August
  • the LA Animal Shelter must have found its reduced cat adoption to be working, because they have been running a very reduced fee for months now
  • here in the valley, CAPS is trying to boost its adult adoptions by taking the innovative step of charging a lower adoption fee for the adults and a higher fee for the kittens.
  • instead of charging an adoption fee, P.E.T. PROJECTS asks adopters to make donations
  • the Metro Shelter has reduced its cat adoption fee for adults that have been at the shelter for more than three weeks

What a wonderful time of year to have all these options open for adopters .... they could get to see a bit of our beautiful province on their way to find their new best friend.

If we are nowhere near No Kill Nova Scotia yet, we are certainly much further down the road than this time last year.

What time is it? Its time to embrace these new (but only to NS) suggestions and keep the original objective in sight.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Wake up Call

There is no second guessing sometimes. My heart tugs for all the great pets I list on the site, but invariably some strike a more personal chord. I look at them and think .... gee, this one won't be long getting adopted.
I was positive that little Sophie wouldn't still be at the LA Animal Shelter a month and a half after her listing was posted. Granted, she does have a No Kids tag but there are a whole world of adopters who can safely disregard that. Normally little dogs like her get adopted pretty quickly
Remember sweet little Beau .... who I blogged about a little while ago? Boy I thought for sure that between that cute little write up and him being such a dapper fellow that the Yarmouth SPCA would have been flooded with apps for him. In all honesty, I simply cannot imagine why he's still there.
But who is to say, hmm? Chase has been waiting at the TLC Animal Shelter for a year or more. Beagles make very loving and affectionate family pets and Chase is a really cute name for a beagle: ) Happily for him, he is not at a shelter where there is a timeline, but still... he is in a shelter, not a home.
Really, who is to tell what tugs another persons heartstrings? When I first posted Isabelle , the first thing that I noticed about her is how very much she looks like my own beautiful Ruby. If she had floppy ears, they could almost be twins with that face. The bio that the Metro Shelter wrote for her is full of praise about how calm and obedient she is. But what do I know.... because here she is still waiting for someone to see her as their own heart ... in the same way that Miss Ruby is mine.

If everyone is bursting at the seams and talking about how slow adoptions are this month, maybe its time to take a new tack:

  • there is a free Make-A-Flyer template available on the Best Friends website that produces a catchy 8 by 11 poster. I suspect there are very few animal clinics or businesses that cater to animal lovers who would not be willing to post these flyers for groups and shelters.
  • Get posters plugging pet adoption out to libraries, feed stores, community notice boards ... in short ... anywhere that someone will agree to post them
  • find an animal friendly venue and host cat only adoptions. People who have done this have found it very successful, largely because its a quieter environment so potential adopters take their time to really look.
  • Petfinder has declared August 12th to be Adopt a Less Adoptable Pet Day. Groups with older or special needs pets could benefit from the publicity and plan something of their own to tie in with it.
  • this would be an excellent time for the society to use its official position to influence newspapers and municipalities to employ petfinder widgets to promote adoptable pets in Nova Scotia on their websites
  • groups that are already using petfinder could put the video option to double use and start a You Tube site to post shelter adoptables as well
  • start a regular sunday stroll for the adoptable dogs .... where and when doesn't matter as much as making it a regular thing people can look for ... ie the first sunday of the month
  • Its summer and that means that every weekend there are festivals around Nova Scotia. Wouldn't this be a great time to bring a few pets to the people?

Remember ... Stats Can lists over 350,000 households in this province. If only ONE PERCENT OF NOVA SCOTIA HOUSEHOLDS .... ONE LITTLE PERCENT.... started adopting pets there really would be No More Homeless Pets In Nova Scotia. No Kill Nova Scotia is an achievable objective and not a pipe dream

What time is it? Its time stop expecting potential adopters to just show up at the shelters. Its time to get out there and wake them up.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Taking it to the Streets

from the Cape Breton Post

Mom and daughter find their own solution to homeless dog problem
Kerri Manuel of Sydney holds a beagle/German shepherd mix that was up for adoption through the Cape Breton SPCA, out on the property of River Pet Supplies on Kings Road, Sydney River. Manuel and her daughter Krissy, 10, decided to take several dogs out to this location every Saturday because some people find it difficult to go out to the SPCA office. T.J. Colello - Cape Breton Post.

SYDNEY RIVER — Kerri Manuel and her daughter Krissy, 10, have stopped thinking about how lonely a dog’s life can be at the Cape Breton SPCA and are doing something about it.The mother and daughter team from Sydney spend Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. outside the River Pet Supplies store in Sydney River, matching homeless animals with people who promise to love them.
“So many are being adopted, we will keep doing this as long as we can,” says Kerri.Over the past two months they have found homes for 21 dogs.Manuel said they began as volunteers at the SPCA.
“We started this year. We would go in and walk dogs or bath them.
”She said after spending time with the animals, leaving them at the shelter was the hardest thing she has ever done.
"I would be crying on my way home, saying ‘I can't do this anymore.’ My daughter said, ‘Mom if we don't do it, who will?’”
One day, while at River Pet Supplies, she talked with owner Larry Burrell about the problem of homeless dogs.
“There are so many people who want to adopt a dog but can't bring themselves to go into the SPCA. My idea was to bring the dogs to them.”Burrell jumped aboard.
“I only knew him from going there to buy dog food. He not only gave us an area on his property for this, he got us a tent, barbecue, propane and picnic table and even brings out food for the dogs. Words can’t describe what he has done — he is absolutely phenomenal.
”They also hold a barbecue and sell SPCA 50/50 tickets, with all proceeds going to the shelter.One day Kerri was in the pet supply store talking to Burrell about the need for volunteers to help barbecue and help arrived from an unexpected quarter.
“There was a young couple there who overheard us talking. They showed up the next day, barbecued all day, then adopted a dog before they left.
“They were unbelievable and I don’t even know them.”
“We have a great group of volunteers, including Kathleen Jewels and Sandra Velar, as well as a group of youth who come faithfully every week.”
Patsy Rose, manager of the SPCA, said it is wonderful what the Manuels are doing.“They have gotten a lot of dogs adopted for us. A lot of people can’t come here to the shelter, (so) this gives them a chance to go somewhere else to see them.“There have been times they have taken three dogs out, gotten all of them adopted — and then called us to bring out more to them.”
“They haven’t gone a week where they didn’t get at least one dog adopted.
”If anyone wishes to assist with this project or is looking to adopt a dog, they are asked to call Kerri Manuel at 539-1220 or the SPCA at 539-7722.
For those who haven't already seen it, there is a facebook group that has been created to help with this wonderful effort spca...adopt a dog !
This endeavor is living proof of what the No Kill advocates have been preaching all along ..... there are enough homes if the adoptables can get out where the people can meet them.
As a friend recently reminded me, not everyone is on the web. Even those who are generally go to their favourite familiar sites and are completely unaware of the animal welfare sites.
What time is it? If its raining cats and dogs at Metro maybe its time for them to be taking it to the streets.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

One Percent

What a slow month for pet adoptions .... everyone is bursting at the seams and hopefully all the great potential pet adopters are just on vacation. I had an email from CAPS and they are up to an unprecedented 180 pets. They even discovered that one of their new mother cats was already pregnant again when she came into their care with her litter of kittens! ( the normally sensible suggestion of a pregnant spay is dodgier when the kittens aren't weaned)
To make matters worse, everyday on the dreaded free online ad site, there are countless great pets being passed around like old socks for free. If someone has never had a pet before, that might look like quite a bargain, when the reality is that they often wind up with more than they bargained for.
Really ... why would anyone pay an adoption fee when there are so many 'free to a good home' lovelies out there? Very few of them are vaccinated or altered, mind you, but that's not something that an inexperienced pet owner would consider. Nor would they think about how often the site is used as a dumping ground for eight year old dogs after backyard breeders have burned them out.
Nope .... the word free just dangles out there full of promise. Its almost as tempting as the ease of the No Questions Asked approach to picking a pet.
On the other hand, the good folks who work frontline rescue can wax quite eloquent about the dreaded free online ad site. When undisclosed medical and /or behavior issues arise, they are the ones that wind up picking up the pieces.
Anyone who has ever adopted a pet from a reputable rescue or shelter understands the value of both the application process and the adoption fee. I could have adopted at least four cats with what it cost me to do everything properly for Dora and Oscar.
I know I go on and on like a stuck record ... but there ARE enough good homes out there. Good responsible caring homes that have a proven track record of lifetime commitment.
Pet adoption passes under the radar for most people until somebody they know adopts a pet. The last Stats Can figures place the number of households in Nova Scotia at 350,000. If only one percent of these were to adopt a pet, there would be No More Homeless Pets In Nova Scotia. ( on petfinder tonight there are 478 pets ... and for anyone who is lost without a calculator, one percent is 3,500 )
One Percent! Its enough to make a preacher swear!
So there is a new little thing on the site .... a free downloadable iron on transfer to promote pet adoption. ( Click here for a free iron on transfer to promote pet adoption in NS ) To keep it simple, its black and white, but if you needed white to put on a dark t shirt or bag, just email me and I'll post it.
If anyone else has a design they would like to donate, btw, I would be delighted to post it.
As time permits, between the garden, wood stacking and fence building, I'll try to add a few more.
But for now it is a little something ... there are actually two logos on the page so you could do a t and a canvas bag or a dog scarf.
What time is it? Its time to start waking up that one percent.

Now this is something any cat lover would really like to win.... Raffle tickets on Cat Basket . This is a joint fundraiser for SCAR and ca-r-ma. Tickets are just a toonie each or three for five dollars. The draw date is the 30th of Sept and just look at all the goodies a toonie could win you and your cat(s):
  • Disney’s Aristocats 5 piece Gift Set – cat bed, blanket, collar, 2 stuffed cat toys
  • Double-wide Cardboard Scratch Post with catnip
  • Large deluxe Cats bath towel
  • Cat & Kitten Birthday Book
  • Green Polar fleece Friskies blanket
  • Herring Steak cat treats
  • White golf shirt with Friskies logo
  • Blue plastic large food dish
  • Cat Tunnel Exercise Toy
  • Cat litter box plastic tray liners
  • Catnip “grow it yourself” Garden
  • Large tub of Cosmic Catnip
  • Magnetic Cat notepad
  • Ceramic ornament - Cat with hat & ribbon
  • Brooch: silver 3 cats in a basket pin
  • Cat Charm Key Chain
  • Anna’s Bears & Wares ceramic Cat Pin
  • Ceramic Cat magnet
  • Bottle of “Keep Away” cat repellent
  • Set of 4 pewter cat magnets – Seagull Pewter
  • Small pewter clock with 2 cats - Seagull Pewter
  • Cat wallet
  • Garfield pencil and bookmark
  • 14 Cat Toys
  • Black and white cat Pen
  • Cat stickers EZ Fill Automatic Waterer and Feed dish

Wow! What a bag of booty .... and for such a good cause. While we are all looking for the big solution, Sonya's rescue has been quietly saving cats with bragging rights for hundreds of lives saved. For more info about her work, go to her blog at or her facebook group

What time is it? Its time to remember that the way ahead will be be possible because hardworking little groups like Sonya's provide the living proof that TNR can work here in Nova Scotia.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Coming in threes

Please note: there is a very tight timeline for these three cats. Meet Morgan, Cliff and Phil. Their young guardian has suddenly and unexpectedly passed away and now these three lovelies are in real need of safe harbour before Monday. They have been well cared for their whole lives and they are all spayed and neutered. Because they are still grieving, ideally there is someone out there whose heart is big enough to adopt all three of them.
Wouldn't they be perfect companions for someone who had to go out to work? They've lived together all their lives and so we already know they get along well together and would be good company for each other when they were home during the day.
Bear with me if you've already heard this story ... my own Clive came to me after his owner passed away very unexpectedly. Four years later he is still the most affectionate cat in my crew. Cats are brilliant sensitive beings who are unimaginably loyal to someone kind enough to nurture them through the loss of their guardians.
The person who helps these three through their grief would be the recipient of more love than they could possibly ever imagine. I know I say it all the time, but its just as true now as the first time it was said.
For more information, please Click Here

Meet Honeybun .... he's hoping that third time will be the charm. He was someone's best boy for the first eight years of his life until his guardian passed away. Then he was lucky enough to find a new home .... but sadly four years later this guardian has passed away.
Now he is twelve, which is a hard age for a cat to be in need of a new home. A lot of folks simply do not understand that a twelve year old cat is not a geriatric senior citizen but is actually a settled middle aged companion who won't wake them up at night.
If you are looking for an easy life, Honeybun would be a lovely companion and for more information, contact

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A great way to make life better for Nova Scotia families

From Alley Cat Allies (

New Scientific Study Finds Vast Majority of Pet Cats Are Neutered
Eighty percent of cats in U.S. households are neutered, according to a new, nationally representative study conducted by Alley Cat Allies and published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Association, a leading peer-reviewed scientific journal.
The study, “Population characteristics and neuter status of cats living in households in the United States,” found that family income was the single strongest predictor of whether pet cats living in households are neutered. Over 90% of cats in households earning $35,000 or more per year were neutered, compared to 51% of cats in households earning less than $35,000.
These neuter rates are a cause for optimism: they indicate that neutering is an accepted, established practice among the large majority of Americans with pet cats. As a result, our nation’s pet cats are living healthier lives. Despite the disparity based on household income, it bears reemphasizing that the majority of pet cats living in households across all income levels are neutered.
The study was based on data collected by Harris Interactive for Alley Cat Allies and then analyzed by Alley Cat Allies using a rigorous statistical approach, and is the first nationally representative study to document that household income is positively associated with a cat’s neuter status.

Increasing Neuter Rates for Cats: Next Stop Stray and Feral Cats

When looking at the neuter rates of cats in U.S. households, it is important to remember that pet cats represent only a part of the entire U.S. cat population. Scientists estimate that there may be as many stray and feral cats in the United States as there are cats living in people’s homes. In contrast to the high neuter rate of pet cats, the most comprehensive research to date indicates that less than 3% of stray and feral cats are neutered.
The lives of all cats—pet, stray, and feral—are improved through neutering. This important new study underscores the need to recognize that most intact cats are stray and feral cats. And among lower income cat owners who responded to the study, cost was the most common reason cited for not neutering their pets. Expanding the accessibility and affordability of low-cost, high-volume spay and neuter programs is a critical step to increasing the neuter rate among both pet cats in lower income households as well as stray
and feral cats.
“[A]ny attempts to increase the proportion of neutered cats in the United States must include stray and feral cats.”
Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 2009; 234: 1023-1030, Chu K, Anderson WM, Rieser MY. Population Characteristics and Neuter Status of Cats Living in Households in the United States.
Read More »

Granted, Canada is a separate entity from the states, but we have enough cultural similarities to pay attention to this study. Especially when here in Nova Scotia, the 2006 Stats Can listed the average annual income in this province as being $659.02 a week which adds up to $34,269.04.

More than that of course is the fact that the survey highlights what cat advocates have known all along ... that there is an appalling difference between the spay neuter rates for owned and for stray and feral cats. Neither do cat advocates need to see the survey to make the connection between family income and spay/neuter rates.
The plain unvarnished truth is that money won't buy ya love, but its absolutely essential if one is to get the cat fixed.
Our new NDP government very likely already has the framework of its budget built and have made no secret of the fact that they intend to be more frugal than their predecessors. This would be a splendid time to remind them that it would be penny wise and pound foolish not to ante up a fair share of the funding for a provincial low cost high volume spay neuter program.
In a province where far too many folks have discovered that some essentials have been relegated to the 'nice to have' category of their personal budgets, the province can't afford not to get the ball rolling for a good SNAP. Its important to remind anyone who will listen that concern for animal welfare creates healthier and safer communities.
Nor does it all have to be about the money. There are some pieces of legislation that would actually save money:
  • Banning the traffic of living breathing sentient beings in free online ad sites would very quickly reduce the number of pets that overburden AC's and rescues around the province. THIS IS ALSO GOOD CONSUMER PROTECTION LEGISLATION
  • Implement mandatory breeder registration - gosh they might even scoop up an annual fee or two with that, eh? Once again, this is consumer protection legislation that would help the reputable breeders to ensure that breed standards are maintained properly
  • Introduce anti tethering legislation. Once again, this is not simply an animal welfare law but also a strong and effective way to improve public safety, especially for our children
  • Leave a lasting legacy by getting humane education into the public school system. Existing lesson plans and programs already exist, many of which have already been vetted by the SPCANS Education committee.

Do you notice a common theme throughout all that? It is of course that animal welfare legislation is never just for the animals. Anything that improves animal welfare will also create safer and healthier communities. If you don't already have the addresses in your email,you can find your MLA at Members - Constituencies . Our new Premier and his Minister of Agriculture can be found in the Cabinet listing.

What time is it? Its time to for the animal loving community to let our new NDP government know that improving animal welfare is one of the most effective ways they can "make life better for Nova Scotia families".

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Update on a mother's tale

It would be so easy to become crazy twenty six cat lady. The same things that made this neighbourhood attractive to me also appeal to those looking to dump a cat. Its far enough from the village to be country yet close enough for convenience. Normally, I would never need to go looking for a cat because they seem to find their way to me... likely through a sad process of trial and error. Stray cats are like mice around here .... for every happy tail where one wanders in the right yard and finds safe harbour there are ever so many more harsh and unhappy tails.
Then there is also the birds eye view that is afforded in the process of maintaining the homeless pet site. As a matter of fact, it was while I was researching the material needed to build the site that I read about Morgan in the S.H.A.I.D newsletter. Now at the time, I already had four cats, but I was so moved by her brave tale that I drove over to Bridgewater to adopt her. (Anyone who knows well me well knows what a big deal that was as I normally don't drive further than Middleton or Berwick :)))
Like Pandora, who is pictured here, Morgan is always going to be a dainty little miss. Like little Pandora, Morgan was still a youngster herself when she and her kittens were abandoned to heaven knows what fate. Like Pandora, Morgan was a wonderful little mother who was left waiting at the shelter after her kittens were weaned and adopted.
I'll never forget the day my friend Liz and I went to get Morgan. The directions on the website for SHAID are excellent, so we had no trouble at all finding the shelter. I parked the car and we went in the front door. Between the staff and volunteers there were a few people there and everybody stopped talking and looked at the carrier in my hand. As soon as I said, "hi, I'm Janet and I'm here to adopt Morgan", everybody let out their breath and they were all smiles again. Even though they had been expecting me that day, I expect that very few days go by that they do not have somebody show up hoping to leave a cat instead of adopting one.
There have been very few times in my life when I haven't shared space with a cat, so I thought I knew what I was in for when I adopted Morgan. Cats are wonderful and brilliant companions and tabby cats have a well deserved reputation for friendliness.
Even so, I had no idea that so much love could come in such a small package. I think by the time we were back in the Valley, Morgan had already made up her mind about me and we have never looked back. Dora is already bigger than Morgan, but I honestly don't think that anyone will ever have a bigger heart than my mighty little mini Morgan.
I might not know it all, but I do know that Pandora, is very aptly named in one way. She may have arrived at SHAID in a box, ( remember A Mother's Tale? ) but she has too big a heart to fit back in that box now. I could almost envy the person who is wise enough to recognize her as a kindred spirit .... because it won't just be Pandora's world that will be changed.

Monday, July 20, 2009

A Rose by any other name isn't always a rose

Its summertime .... and according to a popular punk inspired fast food ad that means 'tis the season to be jolly'. Its also moving season..... which along with newly discovered allergy season, having a baby season and the perennial too stoopid to spay the cat season .... means that tis the season for homeless kitties.
So Ms Kindhearted animal lover wakes up one morning and finds a hungry cat on the doorstep or skulking around the edge of the yard. She puts out a bowl of food ... and with a little encouragement and patience coaxes kitty to the dish. After a few days, she notices that her new friend is in heat. Does she:
  • Call animal control? No .... because she's fed the cat for more than 48 hours, so according to animal control, it is now her cat.
  • Call the hard working TNR group working in her area to get the cat tested/vaccinated and spayed? No .... because they only work with feral cats.
  • Call her local SPCA to take the cat? No .... because they do not take stray cat surrenders ... and once again... she has been feeding the cat.
  • Make an appointment with a vet to have kitty tested/vaccinated and spayed? Great option, if she happens to have the resources to do this. But in a world where far too many folks have to choose between paying the rent and the utilities, that's not always in the cards
  • Call the radio stations/animal clinics/etc to list a found kitty. Good idea and good luck with that.
  • Call her local rescue or shelter and ask for help with the spay? Another great option... as long as there is one in her particular area.
  • Take the cat for a drive and dump it somewhere else?
  • Tape the cat up in a box and leave it at the local shelter late at night?
  • Take the cat to the vet to have it killed?
  • Take the chance on the Five Dollar fine and drown the cat?
  • Keep feeding the cat.... and eventually the kittens ... and their kittens.... and their kittens. The obvious flaw with that plan is that if she didn't have the resources to alter one cat that the situation will soon get out of hand and she'll find her face on the news with the SPCA van in her dooryard.

TNR groups do amazing life saving work for feral cats. Most of these hardworking groups are operating on a shoestring, so its not realistic to expect them to be responsible for all the homeless cats. They play an important role, but TNR is not the only solution needed for homeless cats. TNR is the best and most humane solution for managing existing colonies of feral cats when the cats can safely be returned to their original site.

What can be done when cats cannot be safely returned? Or when the colony caregiver passes away and the property is sold? The problem with the idea of 'backup' colonies is that of course the original locations will still continue to attract ferals unless drastic site changes are implemented.

All too often, stray cats are left out in the cold. First generation strays may be the mother of all ferals, but they are too friendly and well socialized to qualify for assistance from TNR groups. There is a new term that is being used in a Best Friends Feline Campaign that I really like - Community Cats, because the word stray implies that they are nobody's responsibility.

Basically how the campaign works is that instead of taking strays to a shelter, local resources are combined to test/vaccinate and alter the Community Cats. Just imagine if all the kindhearted folks who start feeding a stray could have access to such a resource.

What a better option than the status quo..... with rapidly escalating populations of unvaccinated and vulnerable stray cats. This is a program that would complement TNR and help create healthier communities. It would provide the same health and population control benefits for the strays that TNR offers for the ferals. Its almost frosting on the cake that communities would reap the almost immediate benefit of a reduced number of first generation strays producing the first generation feral kittens.

Does that mean there is no need for humane education? Of course not. There will be no meaningful long term solution for homeless pets until humane education is part of the public school curriculum in this province. Nor does it dismiss the importance of a Low Cost High Volume Spay Neuter program.

Its important to recognize that TNR is a cornerstone and not the entire solution. Unless the issue of stray cats is addressed in a meaningful way, their offspring will continue to overburden the hardworking TNR groups. The beauty of the Community Cat idea is that it is a proactive solution that has the potential to reduce community friction.... instead of the unhappy tails that can result from letting things go until the society has to react and step in. The genius of the idea is that by engaging the community, there are no sheltering costs needed ... no building, no staff, no operating costs ....just the initial test/vaccine and spay or neuter.

What time is it? Its time to remind your municipal councillors that you want your tax dollars spent saving lives instead of ending them. ( for contact information for your area - )

Meet Samuel .... like so many lovely adult cats, he wasn't rescued yesterday, or last week ... or sadly even last month. Sam has been at S.H.A.I.D long enough to have become a real favourite with the shelter staff He is sweet natured and friendly .... health checked and house trained .... and handsome to boot.
Clearly he's also very patient, because he and another long term SHAID resident Andy, were good sports about being poster boys for Christmas In July (Happily, after living most of his life in the shelter, Andy has finally been adopted : ))))
So why am I reminding you about this? If you're reading this blog odds are to even you are already awakened to the unimaginable love to be found when one adopts a homeless pet.
With 350,000 households around the province, I honestly believe there are enough good homes for all the homeless pets in Nova Scotia. There should be no excuse for pets to die for lack of room or space or time or resources.
But right here, right now, if you go to any social gathering not attended by animal rescue volunteers, odds are that there are some real misconceptions in any crowd about animal rescue. Urban legends are almost as plentiful as the myths about animal rescue.
Yes there is a desperate need for better publicity, for more ways to focus positive attention on the animals. Yes, there is a real need for humane education to awaken the next generation. And .... yes there is no question that the very promising new path is still in its very early day.
What time is it? Its time to remember that one person might not be able to change the whole world, but each person can:

  • Talk, talk, talk .... never ever underestimate the power of word of mouth. The animals need people who can drop the proverbial stone in the pond by sharing 'happy tails as much as they need effective public speakers

  • Walk the walk ..... be a responsible pet owner yourself
  • Nag, nag, nag every politician who represents you at every level about the appropriate issue, and of course, last but not least
  • if you really want to save lives right now... visit Santa's Summer Elves to learn about fostering.

Most importantly, its always time to remember that there is no such thing as an insignificant contribution.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sad update on Jazzy

Goodbye, Jazzy
Remarkable Rottweiler dies suddenly
by Nadine Armstrong/Hants Journal
Article online since July 17th 2009, 14:30
It is a sad twist to a story that has touched so many. The remarkable young Rottweiler Jazzy, who was featured recently in The Hants Journal, has died, one week after gaining significant media attention as the dog that nursed a trio of abandoned kittens back to health.
Jazzy was diagnosed with acute kidney failure yesterday afternoon, July 16, after a precautionary visit to the veterinarian. “It has been an absolutely horrible two days,” said owner Ashley Hood. “We thought it was just the flu and they would tell me to take her home and give her lots a water.”
Earlier that day Jazzy was experiencing painful stomach spasms and was very lethargic, Hood said. “She was just lying around and yelping.”
The family took her to the Avon Animal Hospital in Windsor, where she was immediately put on IV fluids.
So tired she could hardly move
“They knew right away she was anemic and would require almost a full blood transfusion. She was so tired she could hardly move. She would lift her head to look at me and that was all she could do.”
However, immediate medical attention was not enough to save her.
The vet called the Hood family later that evening to tell them it was unlikely Jazzy would make it through the night. It was then they made the difficult decision to put her at peace.
“In the end they had to put her down. We didn’t want her to suffer anymore,” Hood said tearfully.
Despite the hefty vet bill, Hood said it was worth any attempt to save Jazzy’s life. “It’s just so hard to believe she is gone; she was family. We didn’t care how much it cost for the treatment. We had discussed it as a family and decided we would pay any price. We just wanted her home again.”
The family had acquired Jazzy more than seven months ago when she was only three months old. Hood says in hindsight the pup did display signs of kidney disease, but had no idea at the time that Jazzy had health issues. “When she was a puppy she drank like a fish. We couldn’t keep enough water out for her. But I didn’t consider that at the time.”
Hood said the veterinarian has reassured her the symptoms would have been difficult to diagnose at that stage, even for a professional.
Hailed as a hero
The kittens have since been weaned and it’s unclear if Jazzy’s role would have augmented any pre-existing condition she may have had, although Hood said she showed symptoms of dehydration the day she fell ill.
In many ways Jazzy had been hailed as a hero to the three little kittens in need of the warmth only a mother can give.
“She was an amazingly sweet and gentle dog. We will miss her so much.” The message Jazzy’s life has served, she said, is this: “Jazzy was here for a very short time, too short, but it was long enough to prove that Rottweilers are kind and loving dogs.”
The Hood family asks that any donations in Jazzy’s name be made either to the SPCA or Avon Animal Hospital in Windsor.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Staycations for the Animals

There's a lot of talk in the news about how many folks are vacationing at home this year. Anyone living here in beautiful Nova Scotia could easily spend two weeks "day tripping" and not run out of new and interesting things to see and do. Animal lovers who are out and about this weekend also have lots to see:

  • P.E.T. PROJECTS , in Shelbourne, invites you to the 4th Annual DOG JOG Benefit for homeless animals starting beside Cox’s Warehouse, Dock Street on July 18th, (SATURDAY) at 11:30am as part of the Founder’s Day Celebrations
  • CAPS will be having an information booth at Heart of the Valley Days in Middleton , and
  • CAPS is also having an awesome fundraising concert Sunday night,
  • The Kings SPCA is having an adoption fair at the soon to be opened shelter today (sat) from one to four and are now available for adoption.
  • There is a new enthusiastic facebook group, spca...adopt a dog !, which has been started by a few kind hearted young people in Cape Breton who are trying to promote pet adoption at the Cape Breton SPCA. Check the group to find out where some of the adoptable pets from the shelter will be making special guest appearances

What time is it? Its always a good time to help those who are helping the animals .... who after all would be very happy to have a good home even if they never went anywhere on vacation

Thursday, July 16, 2009

From SPCANS, July 16, 2009

Halifax, NSNova Scotia SPCA asks: "Did you leave your oven on?""

Every year as the temperature rises, so do the number of reports we receive of animals in parked cars in distress," says Nova Scotia SPCA Vice-President Kat Horne. "Pet owners, we know you love your dog and want him to be with you, and that you only stopped 'for a minute' to run your errand but the sad reality is that a car can become an oven in just a couple of minutes."

The Nova Scotia SPCA asks you to please protect your companion by learning the facts about pets and heat and spreading the word. It could mean the difference between life and death for an animal this summer.

Know the Facts

The temperature inside a parked vehicle can double in a matter of minutes. A dog left in a vehicle can die in minutes because they are unable to sweat to cool themselves. A dog panting inside a car will raise the temperature even more quickly.

Leaving the windows down, and water nearby does little to nothing to slow this process.

Learn the signs of heat exhaustion - restlessness, excessive thirst, heavy panting, lack of appetite, dark tongue, rapid pulse, fever, vomiting, glazed eyes, dizziness or lack of coordination.

Act Fast

If your pet shows any of these symptoms, get him or her to shade or air conditioning right away and to a veterinarian IMMEDIATELY.

If you see a pet in danger, try to have the animal's guardian paged inside the store, or call the police or the SPCA. Unfortunately, however, SPCA Investigators and Police Officers can only break into a vehicle if the animal inside is in critical distress or might become critically distressed before an owner can be found and urgent action is required. So try to find the owner as quickly as you can.

"If you are used to letting your pet accompany you on errands, you might feel guilty leaving them behind on hot summer days", says Ms. Horne. "But your pet will be much happier - and safer - at home, with shade and plenty of fresh cool water."

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Cruel and criminal
RCMP reminds dog owners of heat hazards

by Jennifer Hoegg/Kentville Advertiser Article online since July 10th 2009, 9:12


“Running into a store for ‘just a minute’ can be fatal for a dog in a car.” That’s a blunt warning from Constable Blair MacMurtery to pet owners tempted to leave their dogs in the car this summer.

Kings County RCMP’s community policing officer said this week the force has received a number of calls from concerned citizens about animals in distress.

Concern is well placed, he noted. “The single most frequent cause of heatstroke in dogs is being left in parked cars. We want to make sure animal owners are diligent.”

Cars heat up quickly. On a 27C day, the temperature in a parked car can rise to 49C in as little as 10 minutes. Cloudy days pose a danger, too, MacMurtery points out. Recent humid days have made cars hothouses, despite overcast conditions.

“If you factor in humidity as well as temperature, we’re looking at heatstroke in a short period of time,” he said. An open window is not enough, he added. “Sun and humidity equals heatstroke.”

Heat puts dogs at high risk of injury and death, he said. “Dogs are more susceptible to heatstroke than humans are. Dogs overheat more quickly than humans, too.”

Because dogs sweat only through their paws, they pant to relieve excess heat. Neither process is enough to keep a dog safe in a hot environment.

A dog’s normal temperature is approximately 38C and they are in danger of brain damage, organ failure and death if it rises to 41C.

Criminal offence

Aside from suffering and heartbreak should an animal be injured or expire, leaving a dog in a hot car can lead to jail time. Under the Criminal Code, owners can be charged with willfully causing or permitting unnecessary pain, suffering or injury to an animal or “willful neglect causing damage or injury to animals … while they are being driven or conveyed.” Punishment is up to five years in prison or a fine of up to $10,000.

The message is simple, MacMurtery said: “If you’re going to take your dog in the car and have to leave him in the car, leave your dog at home.

“Why take the risk?” he added. “Their lives are in our hands. They can’t even tell us they’re too hot.”

-- Signs of heatstroke in dogs

  • panting

  • staring

  • anxiety

  • warm, dry skin

  • fever

  • refusal to obey commands

  • vomiting

  • rapid heartbeat

  • collapse

  • diarrhea

  • staggering

  • coma

In keeping with the season, earlier this month I put a couple of links on the front door of the homeless pet site. The picture of the dog in the car links back to the source article from the BCSPCA, and the caption beneath links to the best article this middle aged granny has ever found on summer pet safety. There is also a link to, which is a great site with fliers and posters that can be downloaded and printed, including the controversial dog in an oven poster.

What time is it? Its a good time for articles like this to be in the media, because sadly common sense is sometimes a rare thing.

Monday, July 13, 2009

A Rottweiler makes the news in Nova Scotia

from this morning's Herald
Rottweiler makes purrfect mother Family dog nurses litter of abandoned kittens
By GLEN PARKERMon. Jul 13 - 4:46 AM
Jasmine, a 10-month-old Rottweiler, snuggles up with one of her adopted kittens. (GLEN PARKER)
BRAMBER — Am I a cog or am I a dat?
If five-week-old kittens are capable of putting thoughts together in their little minds, that may be what three of them are thinking today in Bramber, Hants County.
They have been blissfully nursing from Jasmine, a 10-month-old Rottweiler.
Ashley Hood, a real estate agent, found the three abandoned kittens in a barn while she was showing an empty house in the area. When she brought them home, her Rottweiler took over the role of mother.
"The day after Ashley brought them home, Jasmine was on the kitchen floor with all the kittens snuggled around her," said her husband Shawn. "The kittens tried to nurse, but it was a couple of days before she started nursing them."
"The vet told us it is very, very unusual that Jasmine is making milk for the kittens," Mrs. Hood said.
The two females have found a new home nearby and the male will stay with the couple and their two sons, Brayden, 4, and Austin, 2.
The new owner of the two female kittens has called to report the kittens have quickly taken to their own family dog.
"Jasmine doesn’t seem to miss the other two kittens at all," said Mrs. Hood.
"We decided to keep the male. He kind of grew on us."
Not surprisingly, many have become smitten about this story of lost kittens.
Besides the interest from the local media, the story of Jasmine and the nursing kittens found its way into newscasts in the United States.
"There are a couple of Internet blogs about her — one as far away as St. Louis," Mrs. Hood said.
Is she likely to bring home any more abandoned kittens?
"No. In this case, I kind of had to. I couldn’t leave them there. But I’m actually allergic to cats."
So who will blame these three little kittens if they have an identity crisis?
Someday, they might even have their own little kuppies. Or would they be dittens?

So the next time someone tries to tell you what big bad dogs Rottweilers are, pull this story out of your hat. In truth, Rottis are loyal and affectionate companions who , when properly nurtured, are guardians ... not guard dogs. Years ago, when McG first came here, he instantly became best friend with my buddy's Rotti. Being McG, he never understood that they weren't the same size and the two of them had a lot of fun together over the years.
What time is it? It is always time to remember that it is never, ever the breed. Not ever.
There's facts about dogs, and there's opinions about them. The dogs have the facts, and the humans have the opinions. - J. Allen Boone

Friday, July 10, 2009

Getting in the spirit is good for the animals

More and more groups are really getting into the spirit of Petfinder around NS. I noticed this cute little bio today when i was doing site updates. Its for a five year old cutie named Beau who is at the Yarmouth SPCA .... who are also going the extra mile with pet pictures lately too.
More About Beau
Little "Beau" Peep is losing sleep and needs a home of his own! Show him the way and he'll come home, wagging his tail behind him! Little Beau is an adorable Poodle, approximately 5 years old who needs a loving home! He is a bit timid at first but he warms up very quickly. He loves car rides and going for walks and just LOVES to play ball. We feel Beau would do best in a home without small children so if you are looking for a perfect lap dog, Beau's your guy! Beau is lucky enough to be in foster care right now so to make arrangments to meet Beau please call the shelter at 742-9767
Beau is up-to-date with routine shots, house trained and spayed/neutered.
Yarmouth is two and a half hours to here and almost four hours to the city, but anyone looking for a nice little dog would be more inspired with a cute write up like this
"God gives every bird a worm, but he does not throw it into the nest." Swedish Proverb

A Much More Suitable Partnership

This morning, I was very pleased to see a new partnership announced on the front door of the CFHS website,
Making Adoption Everyone’s First Option
- CFHS working together with
The CFHS and have partnered together to help animals waiting to be adopted in Canada. is a website dedicated to featuring animals awaiting adoption currently in the care of shelters or rescue societies across Canada, the US and Mexico. Because of their strong commitment to adoption and the work of our member societies, the CFHS happily endorses as a great way to find a new pet. You will also find great information and helpful tips on everything from choosing the right shelter, responsible pet ownership, to pet health & care.
As well, you will notice that we have a featured pet ad on our website. These animals are up for adoption at CFHS member organizations. As well under our Animals at Home section you will see a new pet search tool. If you are looking for a new pet, this search tool is a great way to browse by animal type, breed, age, etc. Should you be interested in any of the animals that are up for adoption please contact the organization directly.

As the national voice for humane organizations in this country, this is a far more appropriate partnership than the last couple that have been announced. Anyone who has read this blog, or the old one, knows what a valuable tool this middle aged granny thinks that is. Its a free tool that is used by people interested in pet adoption. What could be better than that, eh?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The "Shut Up Dogs"

Meet precious, Hadley, Otter , Doodle ,
Dale , Jammer, Moona , Pammy , Mikki and Fudge . I pretty much know their names by heart because I see them at least a couple of times a day when I'm checking around for site updates.
Its not unusual for a few dogs to be listed for a while with any of the No Kill Shelters and groups around the province. In some cases, like Chase at the No Kill TLC Animal Shelter, their sweet selves can wait for a year or more until the right and Forever Home comes along. But while Chase has been waiting, other dogs have come and gone through the TLC Animal Shelter .... which is the normal way of things.
Anyone who has read this blog, or the old one knows that, like a stuck record, I can go on and on about the virtues of Petfinder . It has a proven track record of boosting adoptions. Its a well known service that is popular with potential adopters. And of course, best of all, it is free. All that is needed is for the group or shelter to invest a bit of time to do pictures and writeups.
There are some very creative and funny writeups out there. IMHO, CAPS deserves a very special mention - on any given day they have well in excess of 100 adoptables, yet each and every one of them has a good listing. ( I define good as having at least one picture and containing all the pertinent info that potential adopters need to know - age/a bit of history and more importantly .... whether the pet is already house trained, vaccinated and altered)
For a long time, ARC and NS Labrador Rescue. definitely took the prize for humour .... although lately the Metro Shelter bios have definitely stepped up quite a few notches. Besides being well written, S.H.A.I.D 's bios often include an appealing video of the pet as well.
Now what do these ten dogs pictured here have in common? All ten are listed on the Cape Breton SPCA Petfinder page. Their predecessors all came off the site at the same time, a day or two before these ten were listed. If they follow true to form, some evening when I'm doing a last round of checks, all ten will disappear off the site at once, leaving me to sadly speculate. Then ... unless the pattern changes .... in a day or two ten more dogs will be listed for roughly another month.
So I have started calling the petfinder listings for the Cape Breton SPCA the "Shut Up Dogs" They're only there to satisfy the minimal requirement set out by the new provincial board. And perhaps to shut me up.
They're not there to get adopted. If they were .... even if it wasn't cleverly written, each bio would include the pets age and whether they were housetrained/vaccinated and / or altered.
I'll be the first to admit that it must be a challenge to find adopters when the CBRM is so far off the beaten track. But that's the beauty of Petfinder .... it opens up a whole new set of possibilities because the people who visit Petfinder are normally looking to adopt. In other worlds, its a free service that already has the target audience.
I'll be the first to admit that with the price of gas, adopters are probably thinking twice before travelling there. Would that not be all the more reason to invest a wee bit of time and energy into the Petfinder bios? All we know, this month, is that Precious is "very strong . loves to ride in cars " Moona seems like a lovely quiet dog, but there is absolutely no information whatsoever about her. Are any of them playful? Should they have obedience? Would they be suitable for a family with children? Do they get along well with the other dogs? With cats?
If the shelter was in a more central location, interested adopters could go see for themselves. But its three and half hours to the city, where well over half of Nova Scotia's population resides. In most cases, its going to take more than a picture to inspire a potential adopter to make the seven hour + round trip.
Here in the real world, there is another fringe benefit to boosting adoptions. Animal lovers are generally squeamish about volunteering to help in a high kill shelter. As adoption rates improve, other groups elsewhere have found that both volunteers and donations have increased remarkably. In other words, the better they do the better they do.
What time is it? With rising gas prices and more job losses on the horizon, its time to use Petfinder listings to let the animals speak to potential adopters, and not to shut up the critics.