Wednesday, September 30, 2009

On the way to a better path

From this morning's Herald
Happy ending was in store for mother cat, her kittens
Mamma discovered by grocery workers reunited with babies after shelter sojourn
By TASLEEM MAWJI Wed. Sep 30 - 4:46 AM
Superstore employee Lori Aikens plays with the five rescued kitchens at her Halifax apartment on Tuesday. (Tim Krochak / Staff)

The sight of a tiny black and white kitten and the sound of crying led a manager of the Superstore on Joseph Howe Drive to four more hungry newborns hidden in a storage room.
"She had them hidden really good. . . . It was actually in the wall where she had the kittens, so they had to pull out the wall to get them out," Lori Aikens, an employee at the Superstore, said Tuesday.
Their mother had been found some days before. She was taken home by two employees on the night crew who named her Kipper.
When the Superstore employees found the kittens they immediately thought they belonged to Kipper, but they were unable to contact her rescuers, so they called a veterinary clinic.
The clinic put them in touch with Inge Sadler of Pick of the Litter Society, a seven-year-old rescue organization that specializes in bottle-feeding orphaned kittens and operates from Mrs. Sadler’s home.
She bottle-fed the kittens until Kipper’s rescuers could be contacted.
"They brought the mother cat here and we had a reunion with mama cat and kittens," Mrs. Sadler said from her nursery.
The squeaking of 20 kittens was heard in the background
Mrs. Sadler makes up the entire staff of the rescue society that has seen 264 kittens pass through her home already this year.
While this case had a happy ending, Mrs. Sadler said most lost kittens are never reunited with their mothers because the mother is run over by a car, carried off by coyotes or is too young or too malnourished to care for the litter.
The Superstore kittens were 10-days-old when they were found about a week ago, and about the size of Ms. Aikens’ hand. Kipper is only 10 months old herself.
After the reunion, Kipper and the kittens were taken in by Ms. Aikens on a temporary basis because Kipper’s rescuers didn’t have room for the mother and her kittens in their home.
"I’ve had them for a week now and they’ve grown quite a bit, and the mom’s finally putting a little bit of weight on her," said Ms. Aikens. "She was pretty starving and scrawny."
"There’s a little one that’s all black and that seems to be the one that is a little more timid than the rest. "(It) wanders off a little bit, but the mother’s really good at scooping her back in if she loses her way."
Kipper will be returned to her rescuers after the kittens are weaned. The kittens have already been adopted, even the runt of the litter.
Twenty kittens is the average number that Mrs. Sadler cares for at a time. She said she has been lucky and has always been able to find homes for all her orphans.
But she said Halifax has the same problem other cities do, there are just too many kittens being born to stray and feral cats.
"The number of ones I’ve had to say no to is probably as many as I’ve said yes to," said Mrs. Sadler.
"All of us rescue people are trying desperately together to get HRM on board with a TNR (trap-neuter-return) program so that we can solve this problem."
In a world so full of unhappy tails, its always nice to see stories like this. Not only does Pick of the Litter fill a very important specialized animal rescue niche, but Inge Sadler has been a strong advocate for the kitties long before most people heard of TNR. In fact, their expertise has also saved a few orphaned puppies and last year even five baby squirrels: )))
If you live in Nova Scotia, go to the Community Cat Corner to find out how you can help the folks working for the kitties in your own area.
What time is it? Its always time to remember that everyone has to play their own part to solve this huge homeless cat problem in a humane way:
  • the solution starts at home .... spay and neuter your own pets
  • let your municipal councillors know that you strongly support municipal funding for TNR ... that you want your tax dollars spent saving lives instead of killing, and as always
  • talk, talk, talk. Never underestimate the power of word of mouth.

One of the deep secrets of life is that all that is really worth doing is what we do for others. Lewis Carroll

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

On the hunt for a better solution

Hunting season is almost here and it won't be long before we'll all have to wear our bright orange vests when we go for our morning hike. If I wanted to do more than hike in the woods with my dogs, there would be a lot more work involved getting ready for the season.
Even though I've had military survival training, I'd still have to take a Firearms Safety course and the hunter safety course (the subject of how anyone who spends time in the woods should do that anyway is a separate topic for another day).
Without the Firearm Safety Course, I wouldn't be able to get an FAC ( Firearms Acquisition Certificate. Without the FAC, I wouldn't be able to buy a rifle to hunt with, nor in the foreseeable future would I be able to buy ammunition.
I would also need both courses to get a Nova Scotia Wildlife Resources Client Card. Without that, I wouldn't be able to get a hunting licence.
Hunting can be an expensive sport ( the subject of how sporting it is when the deer can't shoot back is my private personal opinion and the big reason I don't hunt ) If I wanted to cut corners, I might be able to find hunting apparel on Kijiji, but by their own rules I would not be able to buy the rifle or the ammunition there.
If you want to stir up some heated debate at your next social gathering ... suggest that there should be legislation to ban the traffic of living breathing sentient being on the free online ad sites. The politest responses invariably include at least one of:
  1. that would infringe on personal freedom
  2. how else could most people afford a purebred
  3. adoption screenings are an invasion of personal privacy
  4. it saves lives by finding new homes for pets, and my personal favourite
  5. "free to a good home" is a great way for people who can't afford a pet to get one

Sadly, the ones who really pay the price for this "liberty" are both the animals and the kind hearted animal lovers :

  1. When the personal freedom that is infringed upon is that of puppy brokers like the Benoits. The reality is that it provides a layer of anonymity that allows puppy mills and backyard breeders to overbreed inadequately housed animals as they capitalize on the natural desire for pet ownership.
  2. There is a reason that purebreds are expensive. Reputable breeders carefully screen for genetic traits and disorders. Puppies come to their new homes with their vaccines, a health guarantee and a lifetime of breeder support. Kijiji's curbside guarantee will not help inexperienced petowners prepare for their new best friend or cope with the journey from cute puppy to well socialized dog. When 'purebreds' are advertised as not having two CKC registered parents, that means that someone has been breeding a dog without breeding rights... that the original breeder felt was unsuitable in some way for breeding. It isn't just a matter of 'getting what you pay for' its the heartbreak and expense involved when medical and behavior issues arise. Many of the 'free to a good home' listings originally started with the purchase of a purebred puppy from this source.
  3. in this electronic age, personal privacy is a tough thing to hang on to. The average person puts more information on their Facebook Account than is asked for in applications for reputable rescues and breeders. The process is meant to prevent heartache by matching pets to the applicants with an appropriate lifestyle and commitment level.
  4. Sadly the 'free to a good home' section is brimming with potential problems. When someone has no time for the puppy they failed to train, the offspring of the pet they didn't spay, the 8 year old that they have overbred for years and the faithful old friends that are developing health issues, where do you think they get listed. Nobody has to work through the knots and find a better solution as long as this is available. Nor do people want to know how many times the seemingly 'humane' solution winds up becoming a feeder, a breeder or being taken out to a back road and dumped.
  5. before the keyboards catch on fire, it costs money to do anything in this life. Even without being extravagant, pets need to eat and will need regular vet care. It will cost at least twice the adoption fee to vaccinate and alter the youngsters.

The reality is that this is consumer protection legislation. First time pet owners often bring more love than experience to the table. Shouldn't they be protected from the unscruplulous looking to prey on their very natural desire for a pet?

Efforts made by animal advocates to address this issue with Kijiji have been repeatedly rebuffed. Why won't Kijiji let its customers list baby walkers? Because its illegal to sell them anymore. Why aren't weapons allowed? Because its against the law. As would it be to list drugs, alcohol or porn. Straight sweet and simple.

What time is it? Its always time to remember that the single thing that all politicians of all stripes respond to is strong voter feedback. Now that the fall session has started, its time to remind our MLA's that this this is important issue to the animal loving .... and voting community (click on Members - Constituencies if you do not know the appropriate email and phone numbers.)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Urgent .... the shelter system is letting this great dog down

Meet Baily. She hasn't been at the Yarmouth SPCA all that long, but already it is clear that she is becoming very depressed in the shelter environment. Bailey is utterly unhappy to be in a kennel and is visibly losing weight to the point where she is starting to look like a poster girl for a malnutrition seizure.
The Yarmouth SPCA and P.E.T. PROJECTS have been both working together to try to get this very sweet dog out of the shelter environment and into either a dog experienced foster or Forever Home. They are hoping for a cat free home as they haven't had much success introducing Baily to cats ... nor do they feel that Baily... with her current stress level is an appropriate companion for a small child at this time.
Bailey is intelligent, well behaved and as affectionate and loving as you would expect an Amstaf to be. She is just one of those great dogs who is simply too sensitive for the shelter environment.
I can tell you that my own sweet O'Henry .... who came from CAPS .... could not be caged and would have wilted in a shelter. Living in a cage is not a natural way for any living breathing intelligent sensitive being.
If you are a good gentle alpha and can offer the lifesaving sanctuary this wonderful dog needs, please contact or call and leave a message at 637-1560.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Interesting changes

It takes having a dog or two to walk to really keep in touch with the seasons. On a balmy afternoon like this it would be easy to forget fall was here .... but by the time we head out for our post supper hike the light is already starting to fade. And it is definitely dark when we go out for our last 'inspection tour' of the evening now.
In this busy world, its easy for any changes to pass under everyone's radar. Still, after a wealth of press releases, I was surprised to see a significant change with the society slip in virtually unnoticed.
In the publicly available online minutes of the August 31, 2009 BOD meeting,
9. Motion to constitute the Metro Shelter as a provincial shelter
Sean Kelly handed over the position of Chair of the meeting to Kat Horne to make the following motion:
Given that the Metro Shelter has historically, is currently and is expected to continue taking in the vast majority of animals seized and surrendered through cruelty investigations across the province, and given the Metro Shelter is well-positioned to do so given its location within the most populated area of the province, access to 24/7 emergency veterinary care, and a comprehensive veterinary services contract, I move that the current Metro Shelter be officially constituted as a provincial SPCA shelter under the continued jurisdiction of the provincial Nova Scotia SPCA Board of Directors. Further, I move that the shelter remain financially separate from the provincial office with its own budget, cash flow and assets, managed as a subsidiary of the provincial Society, and that the provincial Society provide the Metro Shelter with funding as needed to subsidize the cost of animal care for animals seized or surrendered from outside the Halifax Regional Municipality. To ensure adequate financial resources are available to the provincial Society for this purpose, the Society shall pursue reimbursement from branches on a case-by-case basis as determined by the Board of Directors and in accordance with the policy on "Animal care costs for seizure resulting from cruelty investigations," and the Society shall pursue province-wide fund development initiatives to increase revenue for investigations and animal care costs.
Motion put forward by Sean Kelly.
Motion seconded by Cait Maloney. Motion approved by majority vote.

No objections, no abstentions.
Sean reassumed the Chair position

Its not as if anyone is trying to sweep this under the rug .... after all its hiding in plain sight online where anyone can read it. No mention is made of the future of the AC sheltering contractual relationship with HRM. ( Although the ability for the society to seek reimbursement from the branches raises the interesting question of whether that will be reciprocal ... such as when the Port Felix cats migrated to the Kings County Shelter. )
Tonight on petfinder, only eighteen of the 57 dogs listed in Nova Scotia are in the care of all the society branches in NS which use the service. I know that I go on about this like a stuck record ... but the best ambassadors for animal welfare fundraising initiatives are the animals themselves.
Every successful adoption, every good fit, awakens friends, family and neighbours to the world of animal rescue. Why is that important for fundraising? It puts a personal face on the world of animal welfare.
In a world with so very many worthy causes for people to donate to, it is just a fact of life that most people will donate to the cause they feel most connected to. To be perfectly crass, boosting adoptions is the best tool in the society's fundraising arsenal.
Petfinder is a lot like EHarmony ... visitors to the site are already looking to fall in love. But, if the pet of their dreams isn't there, they will simply move on to another source. First time adopters don't know about preapproved adoptions and will assume that the pets that are posted are the only ones the group or shelter has available. It is never wasted energy to post any pet, even briefly, as it can still be used to promote by being included in the Happy Tails.
Little tiny CAPS, without any paid staff, has 129 pets listed tonight .... all of the weaned pets in its care. They keep their fees low and even have a Buddy Adoption Incentive going on right now to get more of their cats adopted. They have learned that their strongest supporters started as adopters.
What time is it? Its time to remember that public support for any animal welfare organization will be directly tied into their perception of how the organization actually helps the animals.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Two talented people making a life

Every love story has a beginning. For Miss Ruby and I, it began on a Valentines Day with a picture that ARC had sent. They had been looking for an adult girl dog for me ( which of course means that all of the rescues in NS were on the watch as well... but the topic of preapproved adoptions is a tale for another time)
Elsie had called the night before to see if I might be interested in a starving two year old dog they had rescued. It was too dark for a good picture but she promised to try to send me one in the morning.
As promised, the first pictures were there in the morning and the rest is history. As clear as the first pictures were, they didn't hold a candle to the lovely pictures that her foster parents sent while we were waiting for her to gain enough weight to be safely spayed. And do you know who her fosters were?
Ruby was the first of many many foster dogs that have been lucky enough to come into the care of the two wonderful folks who are holding The Shelter Dog Art Show. In fact, they also provided long term foster for Po, who is now HANDSOME HENRY .
Nor have they limited their help to fostering. Anyone who has visited either my site or Petfinder is often treated to much more beautiful pictures of the animals because Meagan and Aidas have been so very generous with their time and skills for the animals.
If I am not mistaken, the three dogs pictured on the invitation are at Metro ..... Peanut, Rocko and perhaps Hunter . To see more of their wonderful work, go to their site
We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. Winston Churchill

Monday, September 21, 2009

One Percent

When I came back from the feed store, this comment was waiting for approval Could you elaborate on your 1% statement. It seems to me that there are more than 3500 homeless animals in all of NS.
By all means:
  • There are 393 cats and dogs listed on Petfinder this morning. Sadly, not all the groups and shelters list all their adoptables, so it would sensible to guestimate that there are actually five hundred actually in rescue and shelters .... because of course the society keeps assuring us that they are listing all their available adoptables.
  • The one percent refers to adoptable pets .... and all of the experts agree that TNR, not adoption, is the only effective and humane solution to the feral cat overpopulation problem in NS
  • Admitedly there are a couple of wildcards .... there are no accurate figures on the number of animals in the custody of AC's around the province and it would be sheer speculation to guess.
  • Nor are there any numbers on the number of homeless pets who are either not old enough or well enough to be adopted.

Even so ... right here right now, if 3500 people were looking to adopt today, there wouldn't be enough animals available for them,hmmm?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Circle of Life

The garden is almost finished for the season and like any other gardener visions of next years sugarplums are already dancing in my head. Most of the seeds have been gathered and the freezers and cupboards are nearly full.
It is such a natural way of living to grow a garden and having more time for it is definitely one of the best bits about being retired. I hope that I never grow so old that I don't delight in the dance .... from first seed to next years dreams.
Its been a bittersweet time . Bitter .. because fresh vegies of all stripes were always a favourite for the little man. The big dogs ( sigh .... when am i going to stop doing that, eh? ) will nibble on the occasional crunchy bean, but generally they are more inclined to sniff yearningly at the fragrant aromas wafting over from the neighbours' BBQs.
But it is sweet that he did live his whole life here ... which is how it should be for pets of all sizes and stripes. And thinking about that has inspired this chain of thought about homeless pets and pets in general
  • at the risk of sounding like a stuck record ... according to Stats Can there are at least 350,000 households in NS. If only ONE PERCENT of them each adopted one pet, there would be No More Homeless Pets in Nova Scotia
  • at the risk of stating the obvious... every pet that lives a natural lifespan with the original guardian is one less pet that will come into rescue. If AC is a municipal responsibility, then enabling lifetime pet ownership should be the first priority of all NS municipalities. Successfully proven tools such as free public workshops and free lifetime pet licenses for altered and microchipped pets should be part of the arsenal in all NS Municipalities
  • the odds on a homeless pet living to tell the tail is very much dependant upon geography. AC bylaws and procedures vary widely, as do the relationships that municipalities have with shelters and rescue groups.
  • In no instance are there any publicly available statistics on either intake or outcome to document the real scope of the problem
  • In a province where public health inspection results for restaurants are freely available online, all municipal AC departments should be subject to society scrutiny with results published online as well
  • Municipal AC's are automatically entitled to a petfinder listing... all they have to do is apply. Petfinder, after all is like E Harmony ... the folks who use the service are ready to 'fall in love'
  • Even though rescue is not part of the society mandate, per se, in order for them to 'find happy outcomes' for those in their care... all the stops should be pulled out for all their adoptables. That includes lower adoption fees and a willingness to transfer dogs between branches for approved adopters.

There is a real need for consistent legislated provincial protection for the AC animals that should include:

  • mandatory spay neuter for all 'pound puppies'
  • in this computer day and age there is no reason why there cannot be a master provincial list of registered pets, for the benefit of pet owners who either reside within 'sniffing' distance of the next county or visit outside of their own.
  • a requirement to publicly list all adoptables ... with clear pictures, either on petfinder or the municipal website, and last but not least
  • a lifesaving red flag network to appraise rescue groups and shelters of urgent situations

What time is it? Its time to recognize that any meaningful solution to the homeless pet problem requires the active support of the municipalities. In these budget conscious times, that means that it has to be legislated.

Otherwise our grandchildren will just think we were hypocrites who could place a price tag on respect for life.

Kings county Cat Action Team

from today's Herald
Action group takes on feral cat issue
Animal welfare activists will lobby for trap, neuter and return program
By GORDON DELANEY Valley BureauSun. Sep 20 - 4:45 AM
Several animal welfare groups have joined forces to lobby Kings County council to adopt a more humane method of dealing with feral cats.
"These groups have all been at cross-purposes in the past, but they’ve decided to come together to lobby council to change the bylaws, which at the moment make a trap, neuter and return program illegal," said Rick Ackland, chairman of the newly formed Cat Action Team.
The team is comprised of volunteers from the Kings branch of the SPCA, the Wolfville and Area Animal Group, the Homeless Animal Rescue Team in Aylesford and Safe Haven in Berwick.
It also includes many individuals who have been working to help stray cats.
The Cat Action Team wants county council to adopt a trap, neuter and return program or a spay and neuter assistance program, said Mr. Ackland.
"The bylaws, as they stand, are kind of ill-thought-out because they don’t allow people to try to assist by trapping and neutering and returning cats," said Mr. Ackland, who practised law for 30 years in Scotland before returning to Nova Scotia.
"The only solution the county has ever had was to euthanize them."
Animal welfare advocates estimate there are at least 55,000 feral cats in the county. Council has been dealing with the problem for years, but with little success.
The advocates say spaying and neutering the cats and returning them controls and sometimes reduces the population.
"There’s all kinds of empirical evidence all over the world that shows these programs work," Mr. Ackland said in an interview Friday. "The only way to reduce the population is by returning animals that are infertile."
He said each of the animal welfare groups, along with individual volunteers, have spent tens of thousands of dollars a year running their own spay and neuter programs.
"There are a lot of people voluntarily paying to have cats spayed and neutered and returned, all from their own pockets," said Mr. Ackland.
But that means hard work and constant fundraising.
"We have to do something different," he said. "These people are kind of tired and worn out, and some have become very disheartened because of the enormity of work to be done and they can’t do it."
Some groups are spending $40,000 a year to deal with the feral cat population.
"The one group that’s not playing a role is the county," Mr. Ackland said. "In fact, their bylaws are an actual impediment, because theoretically they could prosecute people for taking feral cats, neutering and returning them."
Annapolis County already has a successful trap, neuter and return program.
Mr. Ackland said the animal control people for the county are on side and will make a presentation to council in support of the Cat Action Team’s proposal at its committee of the whole meeting on Sept. 22.
The Cat Action Team estimates a successful program would cost the county about $50,000 a year.

Judging by the comments posted about this article, funding isn't the only problem with TNR. At the risk of sounding like a stuck record, there is a real need for a province wide information program.
If you live in Kings County and would like the Municipal Councillors to know that this is an issue of real importance to you as a voter, Click Here to send a message to all Councillors

Fifty thousand might sound like a lot of money, but it represents roughly one percent of the county operating budget for the year. It really needs to be thought of as an investment. The old catch and kill approach simply flushes good money after bad as successive populations of ferals are attracted to the same environments.

Another Update

This morning I had an email that Finn, from If a picture is worth a thousand words , has found a safe new home.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Another interesting weekend for animal lovers

We may have woken up to a cold hard frost, but there are still lots of very cool things happening for the animals this weekend in Nova Scotia:)))

Here in the valley,on Saturday the 19th , HART and SHAR are cohosting an entertaining fundraiser from 1000am until 6pm at the Windermere Hall, just outside Berwick ( from the 101 follow signs for the #1 Highway, go straight through the intersection of Commercial St and the #1 .. and follow the road around the curve. The Windemere Hall will be on your left directly opposite the start of the Hall Road) There will be Turkey Soup, everybody's favourite Straw Game, loads of draws on great prizes and a freewill flea market.

The HALIFAX REPTILE EXPO 2009 is finally here this Sunday!!!! I was in the woods this morning, but a little birdie told me that the great folks from Ssafe Haven were on Breakfast Television.

If you live in the Valley, Saturday is the annual CAPS Paws for Life Dogwalk ( who are also having the very cool Buddy Adoption Incentive for all of their kitties of all ages for the entire month of Sept)

These are busy days for Bide a Wile. Their annual Golfing for Critters is this Sat, the 19th, for more details .... Next weekend will be their much anticipated Ceilidh for Critters

The Nova Scotia SPCA is going to have a booth on Sunday at the first annual Wiggle Wag and Woof event being hosted by the Halifax Kennel Club. For more information, go to

Sunday, September 13, 2009

More than Cats and Dogs

What is more restful and soothing than a well managed fish tank in a dimly lit room? Like any other pets, there are a lot of lessons for novice fish owners to learn. This group,, have been started up in an effort to help share information and educate the newbies.

From this week's S.H.A.I.D. Tree Animal Shelter Newsletter
WHY WE RESCUE RATS by Velma Ricketts
No animal is as misunderstood as the rat. Pet rats are gentle, friendly and very social creatures who are people loving and bond with their owners. Rats can learn tricks; they can learn their names and come when called and can even be litter box trained. Rats live an average of 2-3 years.
A rat’s physiology is very close to humans, which is why they use rats in lab testing. Because of this, rats can eat almost all the same foods as us, making feeding time a treat for both human and rat. Of course a well balanced diet is always recommended, but the occasional snack will make any rat a happy camper!
Rats are very social creatures.Domestic rats need companionship in order to live full happy lives. Most rats will get along with others and to solve the problem of over population spaying or neutering is recommended, or keeping only one sex of rat in your home. Sterilizing can also solve behavior or aggression problems and will leave male rats smelling fresher with softer coats and less buck grease on their skin.
Rats are often described by their owners as being like “tiny dogs”‘ in their behavior. A well socialized rat will want to be with his person as much as he can. Rats will reach for you through their cage bars and groom you once you are there. Unlike other small mammals, you can play games with your rats. Fetch, chase and hand wrestling are just a few of the more common games rats play naturally, no training involved!
Rats come in many different varieties, including hairless, rex (wavy fur), or even dumbo rats who’s ears are set on the side of their head. Not to mention the myriad of colors and coat patterns to choose from!
Rats are fun to house! Gone are the days when all they got was a cardboard box and some wood shavings. Rats love hammocks to lounge in, tubes to run through, houses to hide in, wheels to run on and different cage levels to play chase on and a litter box to do business in. The bigger the cage the happier they are and you should see how excited they get when you clean their cage and change things around! They have so much fun exploring their new digs.
Most rats are afraid of heights and won’t jump off of furniture or shoulders making “‘out of cage” time a treat. You can set up an obstacle course on your bed and not worry that your rat will run away. If he should end up on the floor, not to worry! A well socialized rat will go right back to their cage or their human when they get bored or hungry. Supervision is always recommended.
There is so much more to learn about these magnificent animals. Given what you’ve just read, don’t you think they are worth rescuing? We sure do.

I'm not much of an expert, but during the time that my daughter was in high school and college, we had rats living here in our cat and dog household for years. A friend of mine built a beautiful big aquarium for them and welded hinged fridge racks on top for a safe ... kitty proof... lid. Later on, when my daughter was out on her own, I was drafted for 'rat sitting' duty whenever she needed to be away for anything
Still later, when she and her husband met, her rats and his cat coexisted safely together. Rats make friendly and intelligent pets and are perfect for young folks out on their own for the first time. They're fairly low cost to maintain and generally acceptable to most landlords. Best of all, they provide a wonderful opportunity for new petowners to learn the rewards of responsible pet husbandry on a shoestring.
The HALIFAX REPTILE EXPO 2009 , which is being held next Sunday on Sept 20th, is THE place to find out about all things related to Reptiles. For those who already petowners, its a great place to meet those hard to find vendors and to tap into the expertise in the area.
Even for those who are not considering adding a reptile to their family circle, its a great place to broaden the horizons. If I lived in the HRM area and my daughter was still in school, I would definitely take her as kids are just interested in reptiles of all stripes.
This opportunity is being hosted by Ssafe Haven Society for Reptiles and Amphibians which is run by the tireless Denise McKay. Their eyecatching petfinder page is a shining example of how this group 'goes the extra mile'
They also have an awesome Facebook Group Ssafe Haven Society for Reptiles and Amphibians that is a great source of information in the local area.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Opening the doors

According to ASPCA statistics ( ) , it is estimated that 10 to 20% of the owned pets south of the border were adopted from shelters and rescues. They also believe that 15 to 20 percent of the owned dogs were obtained from breeders.
So where do the rest of the pets come from? They guestimate that the majority of pets come from friends and neighbours. Although there are no reliable numbers, it is thought that 20% of owned cats were originally strays. (The subject of how living breathing sentient beings are recycled time and again through the free online ad sites is sufficiently important for its own blog posts, both in the past and in days to come )
But I am wandering afield. One of the most important roles that responsible rescues and responsible breeders both play is the educating of pet owners. The good ones provide lifetime support and advice every step of the way. This is such an invaluable resource that is, IMHO, one of the best arguments for 'doing it right'
If the majority of pet owners are left without this kind of educational backup and support, how is responsible pet ownership to be fostered? Generally they are working without a net, so to speak.
The next generation will benefit from the work being invested in Humane Education right now. But what about the generations already out of school .... the ones who are struggling with pet ownership right now?
Yes ... there are great educational resources available online, but .... the only ones who will read them are the folks who go to the variety of animal welfare websites. At the risk of sounding like a stuck record, animal rescue passes under the radar for a lot of good kind animal lovers.
How do I know this? I normally get an average of 5000 visitors ( not hits ... separate 'sessions' to my site and that only represents a fraction of the population in our province. How can the majority of pet owners be reached .. that majority that don't adopt or go to a good breeder?
  • Information about responsible pet ownership belongs on the municipal websites and in the two annual mailings of tax bills
  • there is a desperate need for a series of articles in the mainstream media featuring all facets of responsible pet ownership while resisting the urge to scold anyone who doesn't' adopt or get a pet from a breeder, and yes I know I go on and on about this but ....
  • We need at least a weekend if not a week for the animals to showcase how much fun pet ownership can be.

What time is it? Its time to stop preaching to the choir and encourage all pet owners to become part of the animal loving community.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Teatime notes

What a beautiful day for working outside. There are only three fence posts left to dig for Ruby and Henry's new play yard ... but before two of them can go in the ground there is a raised bed that needs relocating. If I've learned anything in fifty four years its that any project involving a shovel is going to be hard work.... so I am glad of a break now and then for a tea.
The folks at CAPS have been busy while I've been working on the fence .... so it is only just now with this cup of tea that I've noticed they have their own little special bit during September to help some of their 200 kitties find Forever Homes .... basically its a buddy program so that anyone adopting two cats together gets a fifty percent discount on the second kitty's adoption fee, so:
  • two adult cats, who would normally have an $80.00 fee each can be adopted together for $120.00
  • two kittens, who would normally have a $100.00 fee each can be adopted to the same home for $150.00

They have also started another very cool thing .... every Friday there is a Farmer's Market in Middleton and now CAPS has a booth there each week from 2 until 6 pm.

There are also a couple of other things happening for the animals this weekend:

But for now, everyone's been petted and hugged ... the teacup is empty and its time to finish the day's project.

There but for the grace of God

From this morning's Herald
Pit bull look-alike spared the noose
N.S. rescue group saves dog from being put down under Ontario’s breed banBy PAT LEE Staff ReporterWed. Sep 9 - 4:45 AM
Fenway, a small mixed-breed dog, was to have been euthanized in Ontario after being deemed a pit bull. Instead, the dog has been brought to Nova Scotia for adoption by Ador-A-Bull, a rescue group that has found homes for about 30 dogs from Ontario since that province passed its controversial breed ban in 2005.

Given up by her owners because they were going on vacation, little Fenway was tagged to be put down at an Ontario shelter because someone deemed her to be a pit bull, a banned dog in that province.
But thanks to some volunteers working quietly behind the scenes, the young 4.5-kilogram dog was spirited away last week and is now in a foster home in Cape Breton.
Barring anything unforeseen in temperament and health checks, the pooch will be put up for adoption and go to a home in Nova Scotia.
Lee Anne Tibbo of Marion Bridge, who volunteers with the Ador-A-Bull Dog Rescue organization to find homes here and in New Brunswick for breeds targeted in Ontario, is looking after Fenway until then.
Ms. Tibbo, who also runs Boxer Rescue, said she doubts the brindle-coloured dog has any pit bull in her given her small size and pointy snout. Instead, she thinks the young dog may be a whippet mix.
But she said the breed ban in Ontario is so vague that almost any dog can meet the criteria.
"They’re basically classified as a short-haired dog with a square head. But really, that’s it," she said Tuesday.
"It’s very interpretative."
Ms. Tibbo said she and others can’t stand by and watch dogs be put to death because of how they look.
"I can’t close my eyes and pretend it’s not happening," she said.
"They’re going to euthanize perfectly good dogs, and the dogs don’t deserve it."
Ador-A-Bull ( was started in Ontario in 2005 after the province passed its controversial breed ban legislation that covers American pit bulls, American Staffordshire terriers and Staffordshire bull terriers.
The rescue group has since expanded into Nova Scotia to help dogs closer to home.
Ms. Tibbo said they have saved about 30 dogs from being put to death in Ontario, including a lot of puppies, but adult dogs have found new homes as well.
"I would love to not have to bring any dogs from Ontario," she said.
"Seriously, there are enough here. But I do it to protect the dogs."
Last year, Ador-A-Bull famously helped a dog named Rambo find a new home in Nova Scotia after its Ontario owner sued the province to have him freed from a kennel before he was put down.
"He’s doing wonderfully," Ms. Tibbo said of Rambo, who was marked for death because he looked like a pit bull.
"He’s one of my favourites."
She said in Fenway’s case, her owners dumped her at a shelter as they were getting set to go away on holiday.
"They decided they would get a new dog when they got back from vacation," she said.
Fenway was thought to be a six-week-old pit bull puppy, but Ms. Tibbo believes she is older than that.
"I don’t know how old she is at this point, but she’s not growing very much. She could just be a small dog." she said.
"But she’s healthy and happy."
Ms. Tibbo, who has five dogs of her own, plans to get Fenway DNA-tested to nail down the breed "to prove a point."
Over time, Ador-A-Bull volunteers have built up relationships with some shelters in Ontario, which will tip them off when there’s a dog destined to be put down because of the breed ban.
"Rather than euthanize them, they’ll give us the option to test them," she said.
"We can’t save all of them, but we’ll take the best of the best."
The shelter will then release the dog to the rescue group on the condition that it is adopted outside of Ontario.
"We have a few foster homes who will hide them and then we get them out (of Ontario) as soon as possible," Ms. Tibbo said.
She said potential adopters are well screened before they can receive a dog from the group.
Many times when the debate about breed bans surfaces, most people think that it doesn't affect them ..... ergo that it is not something that they need concern themselves with.
Unlike the NS government, who tried to sneak BSL in undercover in a piece of municipal house keeping legislation, Bill 138, there was a show of public hearings in Ontario before the government railroaded it in. But anyone who wasn't there at the time can read on the Banned Aid
At Ontario's public hearings every credible dog expert, including veterinarians, trainers, groomers and technicians opposed the proposed breed specific legislation while applauding aspects of the legislation that would apply equally to all dog owners. Yet the government chose to ignore the advice of the experts and passed breed specific legislation.
(The subject of how BSL was used as a smokescreen to divert voters from the Ont Liberal governments inability to successfully address the gang problem in their province is a separate rant deserving of a post of its own)
At the end of the day, the one thing that BSL in Ontario does is continually highlight to the rest of the country that it BSL is only a political panacea that:
  • fails to address any issues about dangerous dogs in any meaningful way
  • creates a false sense of public security, and last but not least
  • kills dogs of all stripes without improving public safety in any way

Many people choose to live in Nova Scotia because of its well promoted lifestyle and values. Personally, I retired here because I believe it generally is a good place to live.

In this day and age of political PR and spin .... where Ontario voters can shift overnight from horror to acceptance of dead cyclists, they clearly aren't going to concern themselves with BSL in sufficient numbers to make a change.

As our new NDP government gets ready to start the fall session in the House of Assembly, this would be a great time for anyone who owns a pet to lend the strength of their voice to ARPO - Advocates for Responsible Pet Ownership.

The single thing that politicians of all stripes understand is numbers. Last year, strong voter feedback was the single reason that we are not wrestling with the problems created by BSL in our own province. Strength in numbers is the only reason that the hardworking volunteers with groups like Ador-A-Bull Rescue are able to save innocent dogs from Ontario instead of sending NS dogs elsewhere.

What time is it? Its time to give ARPO the tools it needs to remind our politicians that BSL would make Nova Scotia a horrible place to live.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

If a picture is worth a thousand words

Fourteen year old Finny's owners aren't taking any chances.... if a picture is worth 1000 words then they have sent out six in the hopes of finding a safe home for their old friend.
Finny has outlived his canine and feline housemates and now his people must move to Victoria, BC .... where they have been unable to find pet friendly housing, even for the short term.
Many people do not realize that well cared for cats like Finny can live for twenty or more years. Finny is neutered and has always been well cared for. If you, or someone you know .... is looking for a very Zen companion to share space with, contact for more information.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Update on an update on A Mother's Tale

Remember Pandora, , the sweet little youngster who was abandoned at SHAID in a box with her kittens ( A Mother's Tale?) I am thrilled to report that at long last someone has seen her as a kindred spirit and she has been adopted...... and it is very likely that that S.H.A.I.D 's temporarily reduced cat adoption fee for its adults has helped out with that.
Have a wonderful life little girl.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Use the tools at hand

If you have the stomach for it, there are four pages of dogs for sale on Kijiji that have been listed during the last 23 hours .... four pages! A few of them are genuine purebreds ... but all too often the word purebred is very misused. Not to be mean, but the pups are not purebred if the parents are two separate breeds. Nor does the CKC registry list Snorkies and Snoodles and Chiweenies.
Honestly .... Miss Ruby is a hound/ shepherd mix ... not a shound. Henry was listed by CAPS as a Valley Bull/Great Dane mix ... not a Valley Dane or a Great Bull( although imho he looks like every other sweet amstaf i have ever met)
Now McG was a purebred Scottish Terrier.... he came from Guesthouse Kennels over on the South shore and while she also breeds Mini Schnauzers, to the best of my knowledge, she has never mixed the two up in any litter.
But I'm wandering afield here. When I bought the little man, the breeder took my particulars and SHE sent in McGuinness' CKC registration. As part of the process, I also signed a non breeding agreement that included the promise to have him neutered. If I was an unethical sort and if he had not been neutered, any puppies he produced would NOT have been eligible for CKC registration.
So when you read the ads that state that one or both parents are not CKC registered, odds are to even that somebody has been breeding a dog that an ethical breeder originally felt did not meet the breed standard.
There is the occcasional breeder who overestimates the market and lists a litter on Kijiji ( the subject of where the line lies between reputable breeder and commercial breeder is a separate subject for another day) But .... if anyone is advertising purebred puppies or dogs, both parents must have CKC registration. And ... the seller is responsible for submitting the paperwork for the dog's CKC registration. That is considered to be part of the fee and not something that there should be any extra charge for. Why? Because they are obligated, under CKC rules ( ).
More importantly, anyone advertising the word purebred for an animal falls under the authority of the Animal Pedigree Act and can be liable to prosecution and a hefty fine. Our government considers this issue to be so important that unlike most other legislation under the Criminal Code, according to Article 67 of the Act there is no time limit for making complaints under the Act. In other words, if the purebred puppy doesn't grow up to meet Breed Standards ......
So if you .... like many interested folks in the animal loving community who keep their finger on this particular online pulse .... see ads for 'unregistered purebreds' or any other malarky involving the use of the word purebred ..... report it.
If nobody had been concerned about drinking and driving, the good old boys would still have a two four for an armrest in the front seat.
After all, if politicians can use the power of the law to protect a murderer, shouldn't the animal loving community take a proactive approach and use it for the animals?

Pet Projects is having a Week Long Adoptathon

Do you remember last winter when Noah was rescued from his horrible old life? ( Unchaining Noah ) The same kind folks who changed his life have been working hard to make Shelbourne County a better place for the animals. They rescue. They rehome. They do TNR. They spay and they neuter.
P.E.T. PROJECTS definitely think outside the box. They do have a small donated shelter, but they quickly realized they could get a lot more bang for their rescue buck by using fosters instead and reserving the shelter for adoption fairs and fundraisers.
They'll tell you that off site adoption fairs work. How do they know that? Because they have tried it of course ... and if they can get pets adopted in a little village well off the beaten track, who know what the possibilities would be elsewhere, eh?
Once again they are trying something new. With a waiting list of good pets in need of their help ... they have rolled up their sleeves and sent this poster out for their week long Adoptathon.
If you are full up and aren't looking for a new best friend, Click Here to download the printable poster for the Pet Project's Adoptathon and help them out by posting it wherever you can.
Who knows but that you just might make the difference for Cali, who was dumped down a dirt road, or kittens like Brother Bob and Sister Sue who needed to be bottle fed to survive, or MR BIG, SNICKERS OR 'OH HENRY' who are cats that were rescued on a COLD WINTER DAY IN JANUARY!!!
What time is it? Its always time to get behind those who are willing to go the extra mile for the animals.