Friday, October 30, 2009
One of the great blessings of my life is that my very best friend has acres of wonderful wood trails. I've been walking my dogs there for seventeen years and this is the first time I have ever encountered a hunter in there.
We were just cresting a hill and there he was with his gun, not even properly geared out in orange. Not even smart enough to understand that he should be carrying his weapon properly. Not even bright enough not to lie to me and try to suggest he had permission.
I may have been retired for five years, but the ability to strip the hide off boys of any size when the need arises is a skill that never leaves you. I was never one of those sgts who used to scream and swear .... but I've been told by the troops that they would rather have been yelled at than scolded by myself.
I might go another seventeen years before we meet another neanderthal without respect for private property ... but I'll still keep wearing orange, just in case.
Sound really carries out here. On a quiet night, I can hear the falls a couple of km up the mountain behind my place. When my brother comes to visit, if I'm outside I can hear my brother's bike well down the road. So it should be no surprise that with all the big wooded areas around here and the crown land back up behind us on the mountain that it sounds a bit like a battlezone here on this first day of hunting season.
For whatever reason in her past, Miss Ruby is very very gunshy. She is as fearful of the sound of a gun as she is of fireworks and thunder, so my sweet girl was having a tough time today until I turned on the TV to provide a bit of white noise. Its not a normal daytime noise in this house, but at least she is relaxed and sleeping now.
Its on the news channel ... so its hard not to be aware of a few things to do with the already well publicized H1N1 virus. Today's particular flavour seems to be the fact that there isn't going to be enough vaccine for everyone who wants it until the end of the year. (the subject of whether those in a planning position were banking on earlier surveys suggesting that only a third of Canadians planned on getting vaccinated is an interesting topic to remember for another day.)
So today's question ...boys and girls .... is what will happen to your pets if you get H1N1? Do you have a back up plan? If you live by yourself, is there someone who can walk your dogs for you? Feed them? Go out to buy food for you? If you have to go into the hospital, who will look after your pets?
Its time for people to stop waiting for the government to pony up... its a really good time to have a plan in place.
And its also a really good time to pay attention to what's going on in your own neighbourhood. If you know that there are folks around who live by themselves, make the time to check that they are ok.
And last but not least, if you have to hand over your pets temporarily to anyone for whatever reason, have a Foster Care Agreement signed by all parties and witnessed so that everything is crystal clear. In that spirit, I found one on petfinder that can be accessed through a link on the front door of the homeless pet site.
Wearing orange in the woods isn't just common sense throughout hunting season .... its actually the law, and my friend thought the fine was $75 - $80, but that it might have gone up.
I don't hunt, but a couple of years ago I took the Canadian Tire gift cards from my birthday and bought one of their very cool (to this middle aged geeky granny : ))) hunting jackets.
The big dog's hunting vests I got at MacBeths and this year Andy will be sporting the little one that McG had for years and years.
We go hiking on private land .... and nobody SHOULD be hunting there. But it is woods, and in NS a hunter is legally allowed to cross property lines to follow a deer that has been wounded.
Better safe than sorry, eh?
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
As a sidebar note to that, I discovered that in 1990, the State legislature in Georgia banned the use of gas chambers for killing ... yet their own department of Agriculture has given certain rural Animal Control shelters permission to carry on their merry way with their gas chambers. We could use a law like that here in Nova Scotia, but only if the government would actually enforce it. As we all know, the society banned the use of the gas chamber in its branches in 2001 ( for more info, http://spcans.ca/about/documents/AnimalCarePolicy_2009Aug31.pdf, ) and it was not until this spring that the provincial board of the society laid down the law and took a hard line on this .... for more info see the old post Its Already an incredible day
Because I was specifically researching things from the perspective of the (ongoing) saga of Rescue Without Borders , in the course of my research I tripped over a group called Southern Cross German Shepherd Rescue ( visit their site at http://www.southerncrossgsd.com/index.shtml )
I was so moved by the piece on their front door .... so here, with permission to post from Molly at Southern Cross German Shepherd Rescue is:
KNOWING ALL OF THIS
I have rescued dogs for most of my life, from dragging stray country dogs home on the end of my jump rope to co-ordinating a German Shepherd Rescue that is operated with input and much help from family and friends.
I have learned many things over the years, life lessons like humility come quickly when cleaning up after 7 - 9 dogs every day or cleaning bloody wounds, I have learned how to cook chicken and rice perfectly for the dog that is so starved it cannot digest much of anything else, and I have learned how to tell a dog, NO! NOT on the bed and mean it for at least 5 minutes.
There are other things that I have learned that keep me awake many nights thinking about life and my place in this world. My phone rings constantly with people wanting to just give away their life long companion and I often do not have the words for the sorrow in my heart - so if you are contemplating giving away your truest frined here are some things that I know~
The dog that you have outgrown HAS NOT outgrown you. I have been in shelters and actually seen dogs cry at the touch of a kind hand, and I wonder how the person that shared this marvelous life could have just thrown it away. Please do not fool yourself, because it is selfish to believe that your dog will find a good home at the local pound. Most dogs are euthanized because there are not enough homes already and almost all owner surrender animals are the first to be killed because the strays are protected by law for 5 days. Space is space.
I have seen dogs mourn for months for the Master that has dumped them by the side of the road.
I have seen dogs starved to nothing more than skin and bone want to lick my hand because I gave them a bowl of water.
I know that dogs understand much more than humans want to admit because, if we did, we could not treat them the way we do.
I have seen dogs crawl back to the owner that has just abused them to lick their hand in forgiveness.
I have seen more true love reflected in the eyes of a dog than I have most people.
If you are looking to relinquish a Senior Dog please know that these dogs are Special in the hearts of all of who know and love dogs but there is little space for them in the rescue world. Everyone that is looking for a dog wants a young, perfect puppy. Look deep into your own heart and ask yourself how you would feel if your spouse asked for a divorce because you are getting old and aren't perfect. Your Senior dog has little chance of adoption - he has already given you the very best years of his life - he has loved, cared for and protected you - now it is REALLY your turn to care for him. Is a perfectly clean home and perfect slippers or door frame really equal to the love and care you have been given over the years? Is it really that hard to look at the situation and try to figure out a way to keep your loving friend in the only home he has ever known? Can you live with the fact that after you give your friend away you will never know how he ended his days - if it was with love or alone and scared.
If you consider yourself religious do you think your maker will care more about a clean heart or a clean floor?
If after knowing all of this you still want to give up your dog we will do everything we can to help your dog find another home because he deserves to end his days in a home where he is loved but know this - as hard as we try and as careful as we may be there is ABSOLUTELY NO GUARANTEE that the home you give your dog to will be a good home, NO GUARANTEE that your dog will not be given away again and again, and ABSOLUTELY NO GUARANTEE that your dog will not die scared and alone in a Gassing Chamber or at the stick of a needle in his beating heart in a cold dark shelter.
If after knowing all of this you still want to give up your dog you may call us.
Molly.....and the Dogs Southern Cross GSD Rescue
Do you know that one of the biggest miracle is? That in spite of those who are too callous to properly care for their best friends, that every time I am researching anything to do with the animals anywhere on the continent, I keep finding wonderful people like this who are doing what they can .... a few good pets at a time. ( the fact that any of them can even still be polite to people 'knowing all this' is a separate subject deserving of its own post on another day )
Where would we be here in NS without the tireless energy of those who have been quietly saving the animals? We might not be anywhere near No Kill Nova Scotia yet, but its clear that we have enough heart to get there.
Until that day when it is no longer socially acceptable to treat cats like second kittizens, it is literally a matter of life and death to be more aggressive with cat adoptions. Happily, cats by their size and nature are particularly suited to mobile and off site adoptions.
Granted they can't go out for a walk, but a nicely decorated dog crate can really help to showcase any kitty of any age.
It would be lovely if there was a mobile adoption van that could be shared. There is an enterprising group in Seattle, Washington, www.whiskercity.com, that initially converted an old school bus into a mobile adoption van that held 22 crates. They post a schedule online of the times and locations where the bus will be.
Cat only adoption events have proven to be very successful. Even a dog lover like me can understand that cat only events would be much more peaceful and quiet ... ergo potential adopters would be much more likely to take the time to really meet the kitties. One enterprising group even did up pictures of their shyer cats as t-shirt transfers for the volunteers to wear to help promote them.
Kitty Meet and Greets are the kind of event that would be well received on a Sunday afternoon. After all, the ideal adopter has some sort of income which means of course for most of them that they are working throughout the week.
Community Halls, fire halls and school gyms would all make great venues. With the downturn in the economy, most shopping malls also have empty space that could be donated for an afternoon for the kitties, particularly if they are reminded that the kitties would attract visitors to the mall.
And of course, there are all kinds of pet friendly businesses, such as feed stores, where it might be possible to bring in a few kitties in crates on a Saturday morning to help greet the visitors.
These events could do double duty as a fundraiser by raffling off cat friendly items or baskets, which in turn could attract more visitors.
Sure, it would be nice to have the big fancy mobile adoption van. But while we are waiting to get to that day, there are ever so many other, more affordable ways to get the kitties out where people can meet them right now.
What time is it? Its time to stop using the excuse that nobody can afford mobile and offsite adoptions and understand that the kitties can't afford to wait.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Now as you can plainly see, one of them ... Lily ... is clearly an honorary shepherd, but they are all lucky that East Coast German Shepherd Rescue took notice of their plight.
These four went into their foster homes today and everyone involved in the journey is just catching their breath ... except Jennifer, pictured below, who drove all the way up from Tennessee by herself with the dogs and now must make the return trip home.
Stay tuned for more pictures and stories as these weary travellers get their paws on the ground .... thanks to the love of the dog of a few good men and women.
Monday, October 26, 2009
Honestly, I can't really complain at the checkout because I really get off easy. Even allowing for the fact that I'm an empty nester, there are a dozen different things that make me a poor consumer from the big grocery store's perspective. It isn't just the garden I grow... but its all the other bits such as the fact that most of my foodstuffs either come from our local health food store or the local farmers market.
Still, every time I do go to the big grocery store with my very small list, my heart just goes out to anyone with a family. When I was a young mother, I would have had cardiac arrest if the total at the till topped three hundred dollars ... and now its quite common to see while one's waiting in line.
Wages around here certainly haven't gone up proportionately ... so it just stands to reason that for some families .... including middle class families ... there are choices being made in the budgets.
No matter how expensive things get, most families are still going to want a 'normal' life.... the house and kids and car and yes... the pets.
In light of this, there has NEVER been a better time for shelters and rescue groups to promote their adoptables. Aren't they doing that already?
Lets look at the status quo .... if one is looking to adopt a nice family dog.
First a person fills in an application. Where do they get the application? If they are part of the very small percentile that go to the animal welfare sites, they know they can download the application. In most cases, they need to have windows. If not, they need enough web savvy to work through the knots of converting the document.
If there is a shelter in their area, it is possible for them to visit there ... but in some cases they won't be able to meet the animals unless they fill in an application.
Assuming they get that far .... their application will need to be screened and references checked. At that point, if they have a good history with their vet and all the criteria have been met, then the ball can start rolling.
OR ... they did a google search and found this incredible search tool called Petfinder and punch in their postal code for a search. Bear in mind that this will only let them know about the pets that have actually been listed on Petfinder. If the shelter or group already had a preapproved adopter waiting in the wings, the pet simply doesn't get listed. But this is not (yet) another petfinder rant.... that's a separate topic that will be revisited in other posts.
Now maybe the family didn't meet the criteria. The criteria are as widely varied as the groups and shelters are.... in some cases it can be as simple as a yard without a fence, buying grocery store food or not believing in vaccines. Maybe both parents have to go out to work and no one is home all day.
Will that mean they won't get a pet? Of course not. It just means they won't adopt a pet. If they are first time pet owners and go to a pet store or backyard breeder, they could be working without a net and in time could add to the homeless pet problem.
Its important to remember that every pet that is adopted from rescue is part of the solution to the homeless pet problem. Eating food from the vets isn't as important as being loved and safe. Nor should the fact that pets from reputable rescues are altered be overlooked.
Anyone who works food services will tell you that we Canadians don't normally complain at the source. If someone didn't like their dinner in a restaurant .... they normally pay their bill and simply do not go back again. Nor does it stop there because in time most of their friends, family and neighbours will also get an earful about their experience.
When my old computer calved and I went shopping for my laptop, I naturally went to all the stores in town. In one store, there was one clerk on duty and he ignored me to wait on the fellows with the military haircut. Did I buy my laptop there? Of course not... I wound up getting it at the store where someone cheerfully made as much time as needed to discuss the possibilities.
At the end of the day, its important to remember that the aim is to find loving homes for all the adoptables. Its almost a fringe benefit that the process could serve as another form of humane education.
Years ago, when my daughter was little, I bought a Labrador Retriever from a reputable breeder in Ontario. It was a fairly simple process. I looked her up with the local kennel club and phoned for an appointment. We had an interview, then I met Max's parents and finally I met Max.
She wouldn't let him go home with me unless I purchased a crate, which she had available onsite. When she explained why, and how to use it, even though I had never heard of crate training before it made perfect sense to me. We filled out his CKC paperwork for her to mail in, she gave me a good book on puppies, some food and Max and I and my daughter went home.
Max moved with me on postings and was loved everyday of his eighteen years.
I've acquired a lot of dog experience over the years, but when McG came here I was still grateful for the Scottie specific info that Jeanette shared with me.
If potential adopters don't know it all, part of the pet adoption process should be to educate them instead of out and out refusing them, eh? And before the keyboards catch on fire, I am not saying that everyone should be automatically approved. What I am saying is that it is in the best interests of the animals to make the process as easy and friendly and helpful as possible.
At the end of the day .... most pet owners are just like their pets .... they aren't born knowing it all and sometimes need a little help working through the knots.
What time is it? Its time to remember that the only way to 'undercut' the free online ads and the pet stores is to keep the adoption process as simple as possible.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
If you have your own agenda, get your own blog, eh?
Saturday, October 24, 2009
My little mini Morgan seems even tinier compared to the 'big boys', Clive and George. She came to me from SHAID and I think she's one of the bravest souls I've ever met. When she was rescued and brought to SHAID with her litter of kittens, she had been so badly injured that she couldn't walk. Everyone there was so afraid there would be an unhappy tail once her kittens were weaned ... but bit by bit ... first a paw, then a leg .... she started moving. She's always going to have a funny hitch to her gait, but she runs around the house now with the other cats. Morgan may be tiny, but she is definitely the boss of the younger cats.
Clive came to me as a kitten when his owner passed away unexpectedly four years ago last summer. He is both the biggest in size and the most affectionate of the kitties .... last November he weighed 18 lbs and this year I think my vet is going to smack me when I bring him in for his annual check.
Dora has settled in well ..... by my vets best estimate she turned one this month. She still disappears when I have company, but spends the rest of her time exploring this interesting thing that her human lives in. Like Bear ... she starts purring when I walk in the room and keeps on until after I leave.
Friday, October 23, 2009
Lexus is a five year old black domestic medium hair, spayed female. She is not currently up to date on her shots, but that will change. She is also at risk for euthanasia if an alternative home can't be found.
Her current owner recently purchased a new sofa, and Lexus has taken to clawing at it. Her owner is now threatening to have her euthanized, either at the vet's office, or by way of an inhumane homemade gas chamber, courtesy of a family member.
She refuses to explore other possibilities such as soft paws, nail trimming, or training.
This is a cat who has upwards of another fifteen years of life left in her. She's happy, healthy, and active, and sweet natured. There is NO NEED for her to be euthanized. Please pass this along. If anyone can help this poor girl find a home where she will be loved for the rest of her days, please contact ..... in the interests of protecting her privacy, please feel free to email me at email@example.com
Emails like this are getting to be the rule rather than the exception. Responsibility for owner surrenders is tossed like a hot potato .... the society is crystal clear about the fact that accepting owner surrenders is not their job.... most municipalities do not accept owner surrenders ... and most rescue groups are already too full to help.
It has been a tradition for some in the rescue community to view accepting owner surrenders as enabling irresponsible pet ownership. The reality is that accepting owner surrenders saves lives.
Right here, right now, its time to stop making excuses. Don't say that there is no room at the inn if the adoption fee is still being used to recover some of the rescue costs. Don't brag about all the dogs that are being saved when two thirds of the cats are still being killed. ( and before the keyboards catch on fire, the society's claim in its publicly available online stats of one -third is utterly irrelevant if Metro ... just one of their shelters... is turning away 20 to 30 cats a day )
Don't whine that there are no adopters out there when they still have to come to the shelter to meet the adoptables. Don't dare to suggest there are not enough homes when the hard truth is that if one percent of the households in this province woke up and adopted a pet, there would not be enough available for them today.
It isn't the society's job. It isn't the municipalities job. It isn't the job of all the small private groups and shelters.
What time is it? Its time to acknowledge that it is everybody's job. It is a community responsibility and not a hot potato to be tossed around while innocent bystanders like Lexus lose their lives
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Backyard puppy breeder faces animal cruelty charges Thu. Oct 22 - 4:46 AM
Animal protection officials expect to lay cruelty charges against a backyard dog breeder in Westville.
Provincial SPCA investigators seized 21 dogs from a Lyons Lane home on Monday, society president Sean E. Kelly confirmed Wednesday.
They included four adult Great Danes and 11 puppies, a chihuahua mix with three puppies and two other small mixed-breed dogs.
Mr. Kelly wouldn’t release many details while the matter is under investigation, but reported that seizing the animals was a last-ditch measure after other avenues to protect the dogs had failed.
The Society had been working with the breeder for an undisclosed period of time to improve the lot of the dogs, but moved to seize them when the health of one was threatened.
One of the mother dogs was dangerously emaciated, he said.
A warrant was obtained last Friday and executed on Monday by SPCA special constables, in conjunction with Westville police.
Mr. Kelly expects charges will be laid by mid-December under the Animal Cruelty Prevention Act and the Criminal Code of Canada.
The unidentified suspect will likely appear in New Glasgow provincial court if charges are laid.
Neither backyard breeders nor large-scale puppy mills are crimes, but cruelty to animals is illegal, he said.
I know I go on like a stuck record, but until appropriate penalties are awarded in cases like this, puppy mills will continue to spring up all around the province.
Why now? With the advent of tougher laws in Ontario and Quebec, these operations just naturally migrate to a central area with a climate that is friendlier to them.
Legislation is always the key to change... especially for a big money business such as this, because:
- the majority of people neither know enough nor care enough about animal welfare issues to understand the problem with buying a pet that is sourced from a puppy mill. These folks view efforts by animal advocates to have the online traffic of pets banned as infringing on their personal freedom ( which is a separate topic that has been, and will be again, needful of its own post)
- As long as input from commercial breeders is allowed, there will be no meaningful laws to regulate breeders. Not to be mean, but if drug dealers aren't given a seat at the table when new drug laws are being worked, neither should the PIJAC "special interests"
- Its a romantic fallacy to believe that the unscrupulous will stop preying on innocent animals for profit. It takes properly enforced legislation to stop any criminal activity
Until that day, we are just going to see more and more of this type of thing.
It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds. - Samuel Adams
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
There is a lot going on for the animals during the next week or two in Nova Scotia:
- on Saturday, HART is having another of their famous Chili lunches / fundraisers at the Windemere Hall in Berwick from 9am to 4pm ... for more details go to http://www.valleyhart.com/events.htm
- on Saturday, the Dog Shop in Mahone Bay is holding a U bathe for S.H.A.I.D with a chance to win great prizes ( see poster )
- I don't know how I missed this, but all fall the LA Animal Shelter has lowered its adoption fee for kittens to $25.00. They come with tested, with their first vet visit and first set of needles. A week from this Saturday, on the 31st, at Sobey, they are also having a Halloween food drive and are looking for Canned dog and cat food, dry cat food, non-clumping cat litter, toys, Comet cleaner, small white garbage bags. See the event page on their site for more info.
- This Saturday, Bide Awhile is holding their Bowling for Critters, at the Fairlanes Bowling Center, which is at the Halifax Shopping Center. For info on how to help with a pledge or go root for your favourite team, go to http://www.bideawhile.org/events/bowling2009.php
- this Saturday, TAPA is having a Fundraiser Dance for the kitties from 8pm to 1am at the Sackville Heights Community Center, for more info go to http://www.petfinder.com/shelters/NS32.html
- This Saturday, The Disaster Animal Response Team of Nova Scotia's Kitchen Party is being held at Keggers Alehouse at 8pm
- this weekend, the Kings SPCA will be having their Annual Book Sale at the County Fair Mall in New Minas ... for more details go to http://www.kingsspca.com/#
- Next Friday, Oct 30th, the Valley Animal Shelter is holding their annual Bake sale at the Middleton Valley Drug Mart from 9 am until 330 pm
- Next weekend, on Oct 31 and Nov 1, the Yarmouth SPCA will be taking part in the Tooies Craft Show at the Rodd Grand Hotel in Yarmouth ... for more details go to http://www.yarmouthspca.com/index.php?page=News
- This Sunday, CAPS is holding a Paws and Pumpkins Open House up at the Cat Cottages just outside Margaretsville.
Webmaster note .... if there is something going on thats been missed, please email me at the webmaster link on the homeless pet site. Please note that there will be a separate post ...as there was last year .... listing all the fundraisers for the animals that make such great stocking stuffers and gifts
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
* * * Missing Saint Bernard Dog! * * * If found please call 840- 3424 or 825-6140!
Contact Info firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Her generation would be the first to legally hold property, but before that happened, inventors of both genders would have already introduced the first X Rays, Movies and even the electric vacuum cleaner. Since rights varied between provinces, my great granny in PEI became legally eligible to hold property in 1903 .... the same year that the Wright Brothers built their first plane.
She would be forty before women were recognized by the Canadian Supreme court as persons in their own right. Before that happened, the Model T would have burst on the world. Although they wouldn't be yet be found in everyday homes, electric washing machines, air conditioners and Television were off of the drawing board and on their way. She was still considered property when the first rocket took flight.
She was on her way to being a great grandmother before Canadian white women had the right to vote .... and she was part of the family history before all women in this country had the right to vote. Working helicopters were being built before that happened.
She never did have the right to equal pay for equal work .... that wouldn't happen until her grandaughter's (my mother's) day. They were building nuclear power reactors and (possibly) walking on the Moon before that happened.
I belong to the first generation of women whose jobs were protected while they went on maternity leave ...in fact the ink was still wet on the legislation when my daughter was born. The first Apple and the original Dyson were launched before that.
From laser surgery to computers that fit in a cell phone ... gosh to cell phones themselves the world has changes tremendously since the late seventies. When I was a young mother, I could never have imagined that I would have a computer, let alone the multitude of conveniences it would offer.
My daughter was past being a toddler when I bought my first color tv. At the time, banks were still refusing loans for cars to divorced women with permanent jobs. Supervisors were still advising women not to pursue harassment charges because it "would be bad for the man's career" and priests were still counselling forgive and forget for assault and battery.
I'm not one of these women who yearns for yesteryear with nostalgia. I love having the ability to choose which electrical appliances I wish to have in my home for my own convenience. (Although I do have sympathy for the elderly women who never expected to have to pump their own gas and carry their own groceries )
With all of the changes that have happened in the last century and a quarter ... how is it that the federal animal cruelty legislation has stayed the same for companion animals?
Its not for a lack of trying ... but every time something meaningful is put on the table, it is either watered down by the voice for the puppy millers/ aka PIJAC or lacks the (voter driven) priority to get through parliament before an election is called.
Added to that is the popular misconception that moving animal cruelty offenses out of the property section means that pets will no longer be able to be owned. In reality, the latest attempt, Bill C -229 still refers to companion animals as "owned" ... the shift from their current status as property does not change that.
What it does change is the ability for justice to minimize animal cruelty offenses as property offenses by legally recognizing that companion animals are living breathing sentient beings who are capable of feeling pain and suffering.
The other important change that Bill C-229 is hoping to make is the removal of the phrase "willful neglect' from the language of animal cruelty legislation. Neglect is a very hard thing to prove legally and the stupid card is often used by defense lawyers to keep animal abusers from being convicted or having harsh penalties applied .... your honor my client didn't know that would hurt/harm/wasn't appropriate/etc.....
What time is it? If the whole world can change so radically in such a short time, its time for our federal Members of Parliament to stand up for the animals with Bill C-229.
If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality. - Bishop Desmond Tutu (1931- ), Nobel Prize for Peace 1984
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Public picks up Willie’s scent
Support mushrooms for senior and little dog in canine custody dispute
By MARY ELLEN MacINTYRE Staff ReporterSat. Oct 17 - 4:46 AM
Free Willie seems to be the rallying cry ever since the story of Earl Shadbolt’s dog became public Friday.
The little dog lived a relatively quiet life in Eastern Passage up until a small notice of sale appeared in this newspaper on Thursday.
» See comments from Friday's story
Now the pup has his own Facebook site and legions of fans. Supporters have vowed to help the 75-year-old Mr. Shadbolt get his dog back.
"I can’t believe all the people who are calling me to say they want to help me get Willie back," Mr. Shadbolt said during a telephone interview Friday.
"He’s just a fine little dog — anyone would love him," he said, his voice breaking.
A compact terrier mix with a pure white body and floppy ears that are as black as coal, Willie turned a year old in August. Those who know him well say the six-kilogram dog has a winning personality.
Maybe a little too winning.
When Mr. Shadbolt’s house was gutted by fire in April, his insurance company paid for an apartment while his house was being fixed. The apartment didn’t allow dogs, so a neighbourhood woman, a member of the same church as Mr. Shadbolt, agreed to look after his dog.
He moved back into his home in August but the woman wouldn’t return his dog.
In an interview this week, Laura Naugler said she wouldn’t give the dog back until Mr. Shadbolt paid her more than $1,700 she claimed was for expenses and kennel fees.
That’s why the advertisement appeared in The Chronicle Herald, indicating a dog owned by Earl Shadbolt would be put up for sale on Oct. 26 at 11 a.m. in accordance with the Warehousemen’s Lien Act.
"I’m not a mean person. I’m a Christian and I believe in Christian love," Ms. Naugler said. "I was quite willing to take the dog back but I just wanted to get paid."
In any event, Ms. Naugler said, the dog has fallen in love with her neighbour Nora Landry’s dog.
"This really is a love story between two dogs," Ms. Naugler said.
She said the dogs played together all the time and they should stay together.
But during an interview Thursday, Ms. Landry said she had only looked after Willie on a few occasions. She said she’s only involved because Ms. Naugler is her friend.
"He owes her a lot of money and he got insurance money but he has not paid her," Ms. Landry said.
She denied that she and Ms. Naugler have been trying to persuade Mr. Shadbolt to give up his dog.
The sale is to take place in Dartmouth at 192 Wyse Rd., a complex that houses a real estate company that Ms. Landry co-owns.
For his part, Mr. Shadbolt is heartened by all the calls of support.
"It’s just so nice to know there are people out there like that who would care about this kind of thing," he said.
He even received a telephone call from a Montana woman offering assistance.
Annette Armitage of the Animal Rescue Coalition in Halifax has vowed not only to be at the sale but to accompany Mr. Shadbolt to small claims court on Nov. 10, when he hopes to persuade a judge to give him back his dog.
"This is just awful what is happening to this man — just awful and we will support him in any way we can," Ms. Armitage said.
Meanwhile, Cpl. John Stoddart of Cole Harbour RCMP said Friday he is continuing to investigate the evolving case.
"We talked to the Crown about the allegations and whether or not there could be enough evidence to justify a charge of theft but it was determined to not be in the public interest to bring this matter to court" at this time, he said.
The officer said he has notified Halifax Regional Police about the upcoming sale of the dog.
So let me get this straight, a woman wants money for an act of love? Hmmmm. Enough vestiges of my Catholic upbringing linger that it always saddens me to see people try to pull the Christian card to justify their actions, right before they do something particularly unchristian.
Yesterday's article mentioned that Mr Shadbolt felt that the stress of this situation had been the reason for the series of small strokes he has had since he has been unable to get his dog back.
If the small ad in the paper had not been brought to the attention of the animal loving community, the 26th would have come and gone with Mr Shadbolt being none the wiser that he was no longer the legal owner of Willie. Christian no ... sneaky yes.
The only upside to this story is the speed at which the animal loving community has reacted. Big kudos to Annette Armitage from the Animal Rescue Coalitions for lending the strength of her support and her voice to a senior who simply wants to get his dog back.
(The Facebook group can be found at Give Earl Shadbolt His Dog Back!, btw )
Friday, October 16, 2009
A furry fight for custody
No money, no dog, says neighbour who offered to care for pet after house fire
By MARY ELLEN MacINTYRE Staff Reporter
Earl Shadbolt of Eastern Passage displays a new leash and dog cushion he bought for his pet. A neighbour has been caring for Mr. Shadbolt’s dog ever since his Eastern Passage home was destroyed in a fire last year, but now she is refusing to give the dog back. (TIM KROCHAK / Staff)
EARL SHADBOLT was shocked to hear that a notice of sale in Thursday’s paper featured his little mixed breed dog.
After learning about the ad from a reporter, the 75-year-old Eastern Passage man rested his chin in his hand and shook his head.
"I can’t understand what’s going on," he said.
Last April, fire gutted his house.
"I lost a lot of my possessions and the fire was just devastating," he said. "But I made it out with my cat and my little dog, Willie."
Unfortunately, his house was uninhabitable.
"The insurance company put me in an apartment, but the apartment wouldn’t let me keep the dog," he explained.
He said a neighbour who attends the same church as he does agreed to keep Willie, a six-kilogram, black and white terrier mix.
"Everyone thought Laura Naugler was doing it out of the kindness of her heart and I used to go and visit Willie and I’d take her flowers and bring treats for Willie — I thought she was so kind to help me out in this way," he said.
Ms. Naugler said she did agree to take the dog out of the kindness of her heart.
However, she said there is much more to the story.
"This really is a love story," Ms. Naugler said during a telephone interview Thursday night.
Willie and "a neighbour’s dog literally fell in love," she said. "They started connecting and they shared bones — one would get on top of the couch and roll the bone down to the other and it was so cute to watch them play."
Although Ms. Naugler said she intended to ask Mr. Shadbolt if he would allow the dogs to socialize occasionally, she said she didn’t get a chance to.
"After I gave him the bill there was no discussion of anything," she said.
Mr. Shadbolt moved back into his renovated house in August and asked Ms. Naugler to bring Willie back in time for his first birthday.
"I got him a brand new winter coat, a new bed and some treats for his birthday," he laughed.
He said Ms. Naugler refused to give the dog back.
Ms. Naugler said she called Mr. Shadbolt’s insurance company and was told they would be giving him a cheque for $1,200 and he would pay her.
Mr. Shadbolt said he offered the compensation.
"The insurance company said they’d pay $630 and I said I’d match that amount for a total of $1,260 but that wasn’t enough," he said. "She sent me a bill for $1,797 and it isn’t even itemized — I don’t know what it’s for."
Ms. Naugler said she was quite willing to give him the dog but she wanted to get paid first.
"He could have phoned and said look I’ve only got so much money but he didn’t."
Mr. Shadbolt said he’s had a series of small strokes and blames it on his distress over his dog.
When he sought help from police, he said he was advised it was a civil matter. He went to a bank for a loan so he could retain a lawyer.
The dog is supposed to go up for sale on Oct. 26, pursuant to the Warehousemen’s Lien Act, in the parking lot of 192 Wyse Rd. in Dartmouth.
Mr. Shadbolt said he has a date in small claims court in November. Ms. Naugler has been served with a notice of the court action, but said she still intends to go through with the sale.
"He can come and buy it if he wants — he needs to do the right thing," she said.
Wow! For once, words almost fail me. All may be fair in love and war, but in a province where there is an unending need for people to adopt puppies, what can this woman be thinking? In spite of the cliche, all is NOT really fair in love and war.
In a province where shelters and groups are constantly struggling to find good homes for all the puppies, no wonder the rescue community is abuzz with this story.
What time is it? While this only highlights how rare common sense can be ... it is definitely time for a sense of fair play
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Man sentenced for abuse of puppies left in snow
Last Updated: Tuesday, October 13, 2009 9:18 AM AT
A Cape Breton man charged with abandoning puppies has been handed a conditional sentence.
The RCMP said the man from Wagmatcook was sentenced last week in Baddeck provincial court on five counts of animal cruelty.
The man, who was not named by RCMP, is required to perform community service and is prohibited from possessing firearms for three years.
The man and a male youth were charged after five dogs were found in the snow near Hunter's Mountain last winter.
Two puppies had suffered blows to the head and died. The other three survived and were given new homes.
A veterinarian at the Baddeck Veterinary Clinic said the three puppies he saw were dehydrated, malnourished and had puncture wounds. One had a broken leg.
RCMP said a youth from Wagmatcook who was sentenced in the same case received a probation order, which includes community service.
This is exactly the kind of soft penalty that fails to protect the animals. Back when the story broke, animal lovers around the province were horrified. There were high hopes when the RCMP pursued the investigation and arrested 2 men, one of whom was a youth . At the time, I did a post called, A few home truths that discussed the need for more meaningful penalties for animal abuse.
Abandoning the five puppies to fend for themselves in the sub zero temperatures of the middle of a Cape Breton winter was horrible enough on its own. But these two men did not stop there .... two of the puppies had fatal head injuries and all of them were suffering from hypothermia, malnutrition, dehydration and puncture wounds.
Conditional sentence? Community service? Yup ... that'll stop the next round of animal abusers and killers in their tracks.
What time is it? Its time to remember that judicial penalties exist to provide an effective deterrent for unacceptable behavior. If you would like to express your concern about this latest episode in a long list of failure for the animals:
- contact our Premier, the Honorable Darrell Dexter at email@example.com
- contact our Justice Minister, the Hon Ross Landry at firstname.lastname@example.org
- and find the contact your own MLA at, Members - Constituencies
"Laws control the lesser man. Right conduct controls the greater one" Mark Twain
Saturday, October 10, 2009
We came in all different sizes and sexes and ages... but the one thing we all had in common was that we were all innocent bystanders who had been let down by our humans. Not everyone understands that and there are still far too many nice folks who think we might be broken or flawed.
We are the lucky ones who found safety somewhere when we were no longer wanted. So many good pets don't live to tell the tail when life changes for their people or when their people just plain turn their back on years of love and loyalty.
Every day when our feet hit the floor we are thankful for the new lives we have because someone was kind enough to open their home and their heart to us.
We want to thank each and every human who did make the time to apply to adopt us. We know it would have been quicker to simply go shopping and we are thankful that you didn't do that.
We especially want to thank the humans who could see past special needs ... even those of us who were blind can see how special that makes the people who adopted any of us.
It really doesn't matter where you adopted us from. What matters is that you opened your hearts and your home to give us all a second chance. Sometimes it wasn't the easiest thing to do ... indeed some of us took an awful lot of work.
Without you we'd all be knocking on Heaven's door instead of living the good lives we have right now.
But most of all, on this Thanksgiving... with apologies to Sly and the Family Stone.... WE WANT TO THANK YOU FOR LETTING US BE OURSELVES AGAIN!!!!
Andy is living proof that size doesn't matter and has no trouble at all keeping up with the big dogs. In spite of having been let down before by his last owner he is a sweet and gentle optimist.
I'm at an utter loss to understand how this great little guy wound up being tossed away like rubbish. Did his people move and leave him behind? Was he free to a good home when someone had a baby? Did his owner's children cut him loose after settling the estate?
I can already tell that there is enough terrier of some type that he has no sense of his own limitations and is willing to take hold of this better life that has been offered and make it his own. Big dogs, strange people, cats and even wildlife the size of deer are opportunities not obstacles for Andy.
Year ago when I taught at the military cooking school, I had a poster in my office that showed Odie sitting up in the tree with Garfield ... and the caption read " Its amazing what can be done when you don't realize its not possible"
For months now, my friend Joan and I have been mulling over the role that different levels of government and that different organizations should be playing to better the lot of homeless pets in this province. Last night, she summed up her thoughts rather well on her blog Me and My Dogs in Halifax Nova Scotia .
A while ago, while I was out in the woods with the dogs, I had an Ah Ha moment. Money is NOT the root of all evil and it definitely is not the biggest stumbling block on the road to No Kill Nova Scotia.
The biggest obstacle is the same thing its always been .... IGNORANCE. To overcome that, we are in desperate need of:
1. Honest statistics from all Animal Control Shelters, Rescues, TNR groups and SPCA Branches . These numbers need to include:
- total intake
- total refused intake
- total killed for any reason... why is this important? An ongoing study by the No Kill Advocacy center has shown that when any group or shelter are killing more than a total of ten percent, the term unhealthy and untreatable is being misapplied. To read the document http://www.nokilladvocacycenter.org/pdf/leadershipstudy_000.pdf
Without numbers, it is too easy for the public consciousness to allow the problem of homeless animals to be ignored. Making the public aware of the real scope of the problem and the actual numbers of animals being killed annually is the only way to galvanize any action for the animals. Remember how they were shooting animals in Annapolis County? Everyone 'knew' about it for years until it became public knowledge and couldn't be ignored any longer.
2. Existing provincial animal cruelty legislation must be changed to include effective prevention and deterrents of both animal abuse and irresponsible pet ownership, by including:
- mandatory breeder registration, including limitations such as the ones in effect in England - minimum breeding ages for bitches and both annual and lifetime limitations on the number of litters each individual bitch can produce.
- specifically defining minimum humane housing for companion animals
- banning the traffic of living breathing sentient beings on the free online ad sites
3. Municipalities need to be responsible for their own animal care and control centers with:
- legislation to ensure that all centers have convenient hours for adoption and that all adoptables are spayed or neutered before leaving the facility
- according to Petfinder application rules, any AC is automatically eligible for a petfinder listing. This lifesaving tool should be used by all NS municipalities.
- a provincial database for lost and found animals
- a 'red flag' network legislated ... in other words .... before an animal can be killed, rescue groups and shelters must be given the opportunity to save the life
- free workshops on responsible pet ownership topics such as obedience, health care and feeding
- public information on TNR that is broadly available on the county website, tax mailings and through community cat workshops
- no questions asked readily available spay neuter chits
- low cost microchip clinics
- free lifetime licensing for all microchipped and altered pets, and last but not least
- if municipalities can pay for commercials about not flushing tampons and newspaper ads about getting permits, then they can pony up for ads in all media about responsible pet ownership.
It should be noted that it would also be more difficult for the municipalities to ignore the reality of the killing when it must be physically engaged in by their employees and not buried in a dry report filed in their Protective Services office.
4. The society needs to rethink the limits of their mandate:
- first and foremost, their shelters should not engage in AC contractual arrangements. The above mentioned study has also discovered that when communities have to pay to run their own 'pounds' it costs them more. Why? Because the shelters that contract to do so wind up subsidizing animal control and that in turn inhibits their own ability to do lifesaving work. In addition, the study also suggests that it simply saves more lives to have two shelters instead of one because there is more space for the animals.
- adoption methods need to be changed. There are proven methods for boosting adoption - mobile and offsite adoptions and offerring a broad variety of incentives.
- The traditional practice of using the adoption fee to either recover some of the rescue costs or determine whether an adopter can afford a pet is a large part of the reason why there is 'no room at the inn' for strays. It doesn't matter that the adoption fees are much less than the vet check/vaccine and altering costs. What matters is the public perception of that.
- I know I go on like a stuck record, but the society should get behind a Nova Scotia Week for the Animals. It would be an apparelled opportunity for the society to fulfill their education mandate while broadening the public support base for all animal rescue
- Another hobbyhorse of mine is Petfinder. Its important to remember that Petfinder is like E Harmony ... people using the service are already looking to fall in love. Until all the cute / little / well behaved / purebred / and/ or puppies are listed ... no matter how briefly .... first time adopters will assume that none are available and will move on to another source for their pet. There is no sense in getting huffy about people who opt for the pet store, the online ad or the backyard breeder if there is no indication that the society has as much selection to offer as they do.
The old adage ... the better you do the better you do... is so very applicable here. In every single instance where communities have pooled their resources and changed their approach, support has been immediately forthcoming. They didn't have to get to complete no kill ... it was enough for them to be making the effort.
The legislation isn't enough by itself. Nor is the municipal support. Or the society. Or all the great rescue and TNR groups working in NS right now. But if everyone could just grab and oar and pull in the same direction, the boat would get there instead of going around in circles.