Monday, November 30, 2009

Rescue without Borders makes the news

From today's Herald
Dartmouth woman rescues U.S. German shepherds
In Atlanta area alone, more than 90,000 healthy dogs euthanized annually
By VINCENZO RAVINA Mon. Nov 30 - 4:47 AM
Doug and Joyce Lamb of Lower Sackville enjoy their German shepherd Max, who was rescued by Leah Parsons of Dartmouth from death at a shelter in Georgia. (Peter Parsons / Staff)

DARTMOUTH — She calls them "the Georgia 12."
Leah Parsons brought 12 dogs across the border to save them from being euthanized by overloaded and overwhelmed animal shelters in the United States.
Parsons runs the East Coast German Shepherd Rescue from her home in Dartmouth. She says German shepherds are a misunderstood breed, and for 3 1/2 years, she’s dealt with local
German shepherds that have been mistreated or end up homeless.
She says she’s found homes for over 100 of them. But this is the first time she’s brought dogs into the country.
Parsons says the situation for dogs is dire in Georgia, and the only way to keep many of them from death is to move them.
"For some reason, (the shelters are) just overflowing," said Parsons. "They can’t keep up."
Joan Sammond, the director of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Georgia, says that in just the Atlanta metropolitan area, more than 90,000 healthy animals are euthanized each year. The euthanasia rate is higher in rural areas. And it’s getting worse because of the economic situation.
Donations to the SPCA have dwindled and foundations aren’t granting them as much money. People are losing their homes and giving up their pets.
"The inflow of animals has increased, but the amount of donations has not," said Sammond.
To bring so many dogs into Canada, Parsons had help from volunteers to transport the dogs, in several trips, and to take care of them when they got here. In an effort to save as many dogs as
possible, five of the Georgia dogs weren’t German shepherds.
Parsons says she has room for the dogs because dog problems are modest in Halifax Regional Municipality.
"We don’t have a huge overpopulation of dogs. The metro shelter is really good at moving dogs out of the shelter into homes."
The Georgia dogs are up for adoption on the East Coast German Shepherd Rescue website, Four of the dogs have been adopted so far, but Parsons says there are more dogs on the way.
There are still a few available for adoption : Brody, Jose, Max and Benson .
Why have I been promoting this story? Are there no homeless dogs in NS? Of course there are .... but setting aside that fact that East Coast German Shepherd Rescue also does help NS dogs ( for a complete listing of the dogs they have available for adoption ... go to their website, or to their petfinder page, ) .... the important thing about any interesting story like this is that it garners publicity for animal rescue.
At the end of the day, its important to remember that publicity is the best way to get animal rescue out there in the public eye, eh?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A couple of Very Promising Things

On a nippy windy morning like this, I really appreciate that first cup of coffee when we come back in from our first inspection tour of the yard. Usually that's when I check around on the web for any animal related news or new things.
This morning I found a couple of Very Promising Things well worthy of noting:
  • If you will recall, CAPS was originally formed by outraged Annapolis County residents who wanted better outcomes for homeless pets in their county. While the lion's share of their revenue is sourced from donations, CAPSdoes have an official relationship with the county .... indeed all of their adoptables begin their journey at Annapolis County AC. So I was truly pleased to see that the Annapolis County website now has a page to promote both CAPS and their Petfinder listings
  • It would seem that the folks at the Metro Shelter are taking another pawsitive step in the right direction. Their Adoption Application form has been somewhat simplified. Why is this a good thing? A lot of the information that was being asked for ( and some in truth that still is) would be more effectively addressed in an adoption interview/ discussion. Lengthy and detailed forms can intimidate even the best intentions, eh? A friend of mine who works at an SPCA in Nfld has often told me that she gets a better feel for their honest reactions in a face to face interview than any questionairre ever could do. After all, everybody wants to protect the animals but its important to remember that the best protection is getting them into a loving home, eh?
  • The Metro Shelter is also doing another pretty cool thing. On the front door of their website, they are proudly announcing that **Pet adoption gift certificates now available for the holiday season** Now if they could just get someone on live at five to mention that in a 'if you're looking for a pet for the holiday season" kind of comment .....
  • East Coast German Shepherd Rescue are selling lovely wreaths for a fundraiser, for more details, go to The East Coast German Shepherd Rescue Christmas Wreath Fundraiser.
  • And of course, anyone who is still shopping or looking for stocking stuffers could read the recent post Tis the season

What time is it? Its time to remember that the road to No Kill Nova Scotia will be paved with all the great ideas like these ones.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Five dollars a paw

Years ago, I had the very good fortune to be a passenger in a low flying aircraft circling over Nova Scotia. Until that time, I really didn't appreciate how very much of our beautiful province is still very 'wild and wooded'. So it should be no surprise that most Nova Scotians do not have to visit a park or a zoo to see wildlife in person.
On the front door of the Natural Resources site,, there is a link to a FAQ about coyotes. In the wake of last month's tragedy in Cape Breton, they have likely been swamped by inquiries. And of course, it has also inspired a general hue and cry for the government to put a bounty on coyotes.
Bounties don't work for all the same reasons that the catch and kill approach never addresses the feral cat overpopulation problem. Now before the keyboards catch on fire... I'm not naive enough to be suggesting that a TNR program for coyotes is part of any meaningful solution.
However .... when livestock are left outdoors overnight ... or when pets are left unattended or worse ...helplessly tied... outside, it provides a food source that makes the area attractive to coyotes. When domestic pets are consistantly abandoned in certain areas ... it also provides an easily obtainable meal for the pack.
In nature .... everything is connected. Decimating the coyote population doesn't protect livestock and pets .... it only triggers a natural increase in breeding for the coyotes to compensate.
But ... prejudice is a hard thing to overcome, especially because it is usually based on fear. Not to be mean, but it really won't matter to the politicians that coyotes are so closely related to dogs that it sometimes takes a dna test to tell the difference.
Why is this important? Saskatchewan has just implemented a pilot program that will run until March 2010 ..... the provincial government will pay hunters a bounty of $20.00 for a coyote ...all they need to do is produce four coyote feet. If we do not want to see a coyote slaughter here in our province, the Hon John MacDonell (NDP), may be contacted at In addition, should you wish to express your concerns to your own MLA , contact information may be found at Members - Alphabetical for NS.
What time is it? It is always time to remember that strong voter feedback is still one of the most effective way to protect the animals.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Tis the season .... to take a new tack

I love going to the woods with the dogs. On a lovely mild morning like this, its hard to imagine that December is waiting in the wings, just a few days away. For some folks, that means they are starting to seriously 'shop' for the new puppy or kitten for the family for the holidays.
At one time, rescues and shelters were adamant about not adopting during the holiday season ...indeed there are still pockets of that philosophy to be found in rescues everywhere. Who could blame the rescues ... after years of picking up the pieces after the holiday shine had worn off the impulse purchases at the pet stores?
But the heart wants what the heart wants .... and when families are determined to get a pet ... they will get a pet. Although the holidays might not seem like the most opportune time, for many families the extra time off work and school make it a great time to introduce a new family member.
Is it really in the best interests of the animals not to adopt out during the holidays? Why send potential adopters off to the pet stores when there are so many wonderful pets waiting in the wings? Does not even the most streamlined adoption application process protect the animals from the impulse buy?
It would be more to the point to pull out all the stops to promote the animals ... starting with off site adoptions. The reason that businesses all advertise heavily for the holidays is because they understand the value of having their name out in the public eye. Why are offsite adoptions a critical part of the No Kill Matrix? The answer is very simple ... they are the best way for animal welfare groups and shelters to 'advertise".
Taking the animals out where potential adopters can meet them is one of the best ways to reach the vast majority of the animal loving public... the ones who never go to the animal welfare websites or shelters. It really is like a little miracle that the animals can promote themselves best of all!
Its also a dandy time to think about adoption incentives ... and before the keyboards catch on fire ... adoption incentives are never just about the money. Last year, SHAID's Home for the Holidays helped all of the pets in the care. Why? Because any adoption incentive is an attention getter. Its why CAPS is still running its BOGO that they originally were only going to run for a month. Its why LA Animal Shelter keeps its special adoption rates on for its kitties and why P.E.T. PROJECTS dropped their fees in lieu of donations.
This is the time for shelters to advertise holiday open houses, such as CAPS are having on December 13th.
Successful businesses never underestimate the value of customer appreciation and usually send cards to their customers during the holidays. In these budget conscious days, even an e card or special holiday message could be a great investment in 'customer' relations for animal rescue groups.
Many kind, caring families prefer to start from scratch with a youngster. All too often they are unaware of how many lovely ones are available for adoption. Yet, nearly half the pets listed this morning on the homeless pet site are puppies and Young Dogs ... or Kittens and young cats. What better time than the holiday season to send posters promoting adoptable puppies and kittens to all the vet clinics and animal related businesses in the province?
What time is it? Its time to do the math .. every pet that is adopted over the holiday season does triple duty .... because each one represents:
  • one less pet that will be bought from a pet store ...
  • which means that there is one less potential problem waiting in the wings for later and of course last but not least
  • that there will then be room to save one more good pet.

More than that ... its time to remember the truth of the old saw .... doing the same thing is the best way to guarantee getting the same results.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

There is never a time when its NOT gardening season

Henry loves rummaging around in the herb garden above the little ornamental pond. Herbs are a lot sturdier than people realize and it will take more than an inquisitive nose to harm most of the bits in there.
Even so, come spring I"ll move most of the herbs out back to the less travelled and more ornamental space. As much as I love Henry, I won't want him watering the Lavender or the Lady's Mantle. Nor would it be a good idea to leave the Comfrey there to be trampled.
I'll leave the ever so sturdy Wormwood and Oregano, along with the Russian Olive and French Lilac trees anchoring the center.
I've been sharing space with pets for as long as I've been a gardener, and have long ago learned the importance of boundaries. I'm lucky enough here to have room for a generous play yard without cutting into the 4000 + square feet of gardens around here. Nor did I have to scale back on the parts of the yard that the wildlife enjoy so much.
Nor have I ever found need to get upset about any of the neighbours cats when they come calling. Any minimal damage they may do to the garden is more than offset by the natural pests they come stalking. In all honesty, I've lost more of my garden over the years to deer and raccoons than I have ever lost to the cats.
Tame or feral it makes no difference. Not to be mean .... but if a cat can get its paws on a bird, then that particular bird wasn't making a positive contribution to the gene pool.
There are a lot of little tricks that I've learned over the years to protect the more ornamental gardens:
  • The crushed oyster shell ( available at most feed stores ) that the farmers use for their chickens makes a splendid deterrent as few felines care for the feel on their paws. Not only that but it makes a lovely looking mulch and does double duty for keeping away the slugs
  • water the gardens in the evening ... given the choice between a dry area to play and a wet one, most cats will choose not to get their paws wet
  • I walk my dogs around the perimeter of the gardens fairly regularly .... when they water the edge, that is also acting as a deterrent
  • freshly tilled and planted gardens are protected by laying down chicken wire
  • if a person had a smaller garden, there are excellent sensor operated water sprayers that really work well, and of course
  • it never hurts to offer them a more attractive alternative .... till up a tiny spot in some out of the way part of the yard . For added enticement, start a patch of anything in the mint family nearby ( of which catnip is only one of their favourite treats .... lemon balm, mint, oregano all entice equally well )

If it seems like I'm wandering afield here, it is only that there really is no time in the year when it is NOT gardening season. It is never just tilling and planting and harvesting .... all the rest of the year is just dreamtime for a gardener.

Nor does one have to make a choice between having a great garden and pets/ wildlife/ feral cats or visiting neighbour's kitties.

What time is it? Its way past time to remember that there is no point in pursuing perfection at the expense of our own humanity.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Comfy as an old slipper

One of the loveliest bits about being fifty five is the ability to thumb one's nose at fashion. Its hard for me to imagine that there was a time when I was quite comfortable wearing four inch heels ... these days I'd be in traction if I tried that.
Its getting cooler now ... so my winter rubber boots have replaced my Wellies at the front of the hall closet. What they lack in "fashionomics" is more than made up for in comfort. Honestly, they are getting past their best day and are no longer the kind of thing to wear down to the village, or even out on the road walking the dogs.
But they are as comfy as a pair of old slippers .... so I will probably mend the little tear on one, and put a little patch on the other and keep right on wearing them in the yard and the workshop. A new pair would likely take all of the winter to be half as comfortable and could even take years to be properly broken in.
Andy hasn't been here all that long, yet he is already as comfortable with us and our routine as we all are with him. He is as glad as any of the others to greet me whenever I come in the door and already has his favourite spots in each room. He was quick to decipher the visual clues that would help him master our routine ... such as which jacket meant hikes and which meant that I'd be off shopping.
Now don't get me wrong ... because I dearly love Miss Ruby and Henry. They are sweet and loving and generally well behaved ... but they didn't come in the door that way. Miss Ruby had to learn that the cats were not here for her personal amusement. Henry was so unfamiliar with domestic bliss that we had to start from scratch with housetraining and home rules.
Andy came here already housetrained. To date, he has never woken me up galloping down the hall with the cats in full flight. Nor has he thought we should go out at two in the morning to investigate every interesting noise. He hasn't horrified the cats by watering their litter box while I was out shopping. Nor has he chewed a couch cushion corner or sang in the car the 2km we travel every morning to go to the woods.
Nope ...Andy has fit in so easily and comfortably that a newcomer to my kitchen would have no idea he hasn't been here for his entire life.
We are in the middle of Adopt a Senior Pet month, and Andy has EVEN more new friends !!! Happily quite a few of the first pals have already been adopted, but as always, there are more waiting in the wings. I've left the adopted ones in ... just so that AC and rescue folks can see how very many senior pets do get adopted... especially if they are properly promoted.
Just think .. anyone who adopts one of the lovely senior kittizens ... like Clank or Casper or Penney. or NuNu or Josephina will very likely be able to put up their tree for the holidays without any misadventures. Even better, senior kitties are ever so much better with their claws around children than the juveniles are. Best of all, senior kitties are so happy for a second chance that they are not going to treat your house like one big giant cat toy when you have to go out.
Its Adopt a Senior Pet Month .... Embrace the love without the sleepless nights!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

More Rescues without borders

Most of them may be 'honorary shepherds, but all of their lives have turned on a dime.... going from knocking on heavens door in Georgia to the safety of a second chance in Nova Scotia. Brody, the white shepherd mix shown in the first picture with Jennifer and Leah is safely off to foster, as is a little chi mix that found his way into the trip.

Leah is still looking for fosters for two of the dogs .... Max... the little Lab mix and Buster the setter cross. Max is about 35 lbs and as a black dog is VERY lucky to have been included in the trip... not only because his time was up but because its just so difficult to get folks there to adopt a black dog. Both Max and Buster are very bright ... although Leah does stress that Buster will need a cat free foster.
The two white vans in the picture met in Calais ... Jennifer had driven one up from Georgia with the dogs and Leah and Keith brought the second van to meet them there.
If you can offer Max or Buster a safe berth until they are adopted, contact Leah at the East Coast German Shepherd Rescue site or through facebook, on her home page .... Leah Parsons
Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at it destination full of hope. Maya Angelou

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tis the Season .... Its time for SHAID's Home for the Holidays

Tis the season ... and that means that its time for SHAID's Home for the Holidays adoption incentive program for the kitties who have been at their shelter for more than six months. Once again, they will underwrite half the adoption fee for the lovely cats .... each of them purrfect in their own way and everyone of them has somehow been overlooked by adopters.
This year, I still like the idea for all the same reasons that I did last year. It isn't just that its kind... although of course it is. It isn't just their ability to understand that adoption incentives do work.
It is simply that they understand that adoption incentives are great attention getting devices for all the animals in their care. What is that word I hear? Ah ... it is good publicity for the animals, hmmm?
These kitties can't sing you a carol or bake your plum pudding. But each and everyone of them can offer you years of love and purrs, long after the holiday trimmings have all been put away.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Along the road in the Search for Clarity

Researching the backstory for the Rescues Without Borders thread has definitely had me digging into some dark and dirty corners ... and sadly not all of those grubby little places were south of the border.
We've been pretty pleased with ourselves because the society finally pulled out all the stops to ensure that the CB branch stopped using the gas chamber this year.... the actual announcement this year triggered the blog post ... Its Already an incredible day
One of the other research projects that I've been working on it to try to compile accurate statistics with respect to the homeless pets in this province. There is no difficulty obtaining the society stats ... in their newfound spirit of transparency the provincial branch has been publishing them online ( the subject of how much Cape Breton Fudge might still be included is a very interesting topic to pursue on another day )
Nor is it any trouble to get stats from any of the groups who do rescue. Generally they are pretty proud of the lives that they've saved and don't hesitate to "dish up the goods"
Yet there will be no meaningful numbers without accurate data from Animal Control .. and that's where it gets a little sticky. Although AC in our province is a municipal responsibility, if there is one constant in the equation it is that there is no constant.
The operations are as varied as one can possibly imagine. In some places there is an animal control officer.. in others that job is contracted out. Some have their own pounds .... others contract out for sheltering services.
Outside of Antigonish and Guysborough Counties, who both still have restricted dog breeds on the books, generally the dog by laws are pretty consistent throughout the province. There is a 72 hour holding time for impounded animals... after which the designated animal control person can destroy or sell the unclaimed animals.
Destroy how? It was only five years ago in Annapolis county that the dogs were still being shot by Animal control. Sheltered how? When the SPCA shut down Celtic Pets, the Town of Port Hawkesbury had to scramble to make other arrangements to shelter and dispose of their impounded animals.
If there is one standard, it is that there is no standard, only secrecy. Animal control information should be freely available on all municipal websites. In some instances, its only possible to find anything when one of the participants runs afoul of the law... such as the recent difficulties that one contractor has landed in with Revenue Canada.
Irregardless of the contractual arrangements, monthly and annual animal control statistics should be publicly available on each municipal or county web site, just as the society is doing. Unfortunately, secrecy always inspires suspicion.
Now this is where it really starts to get dirty. To the best of my knowledge, it isn't happening in Nova Scotia, but the fact that its happening anywhere in Canada is nothing to be proud of for sure. Its called Pound Seizure and in a nutshell it is the practice of selling homeless pets from pounds and shelters to laboratories for experimentation.
In fact the land of BSL likes the idea so much that they actually wrote it in legislative stone ....hard enough to be a pit bull up there but clearly there are fates worse than death in Ontario for the pitties. Nor is the practice limited to Ontario... Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec are also engaged. Indeed animal welfare advocates estimate that Quebec has become the largest unregulated supplier of pound source animals for research in Canada.
And before the keyboards catch on fire, yes.. I am very opposed to the use of animals in research. There is a common conception that this is acceptable because it allows researchers to move forward with the cure for diseases like Cancer. The reality is that according to statistics released by the Canadian Council on Animal Care, nearly two-thirds of all animal research carried out in Canada has little or nothing to do with curing disease or advancing human medicine.
In addition to which, as a DES daughter, I have had personal experience with the fact that the drugs that were tested on animals didn't always turn out to be safe for people after all. Given existing data on species specific reactions, most animal deaths at the hands of animal research are inspired by curiosity or that old 'publish or perish' bit.
The last little dirty bit flew through my radar by accident, in the form of a story about a farmer up near Truro whose neighbours have taken legal action to stop his practice of fertilizing his fields with liquid sludge from rendering plants. My curiosity got the better of me and when I started digging I was almost sick. Dead animals, even diseased animals, from all manner of sources are disposed of in rendering plants which produce a product that eventually becomes the 'animal fat' ingredient in some commercial pet foods. The list of potential problems with that one runs right around the block... starting with the concern for spreading BSL and winding though the issues of using animals which have died from cancer or communicable diseases.
How many times has assumption left the animals out in the cold... or worse it would seem? In light of that, there are three pieces of protective and/ or preventative legislation that should be tabled in this province, to ban :
  • the disposal of companion animals from any source at rendering plants.
  • pound seizure, and
  • the use of the gas chamber or any other inhumane method for killing
As always ... in so much dark no light is little. I tripped over an amazing group of volunteers who run Project Jessie ( ) Among other things, these folks are working hard to save every animal they can from pounds where they are vulnerable to seizure, while at the same time advocating to have the law changed.
If you have men that will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men. St Francis of Assisi

Tis the season

For some reason that she can't explain and I can't begin to understand ... Miss Ruby has disliked the white wooden reindeer that one of my neighbours puts out on their lawn every holiday season. There are all kinds of the overly cute wooden cutouts adorning lawns up and down the road all year long ... yet it would seem that these reindeer are the only ones she objects too.
On a lovely day like this, if the darned reindeer weren't out on display, it would be easy to imagine that the holiday season was still months away instead of waiting just around the corner to pounce.
I'm a middle aged granny so I'm already gathering bits and pieces for the holiday parcel to mail off to my daughter and her family. Extravagance has never been part of the family holiday traditions, but there are some little bits of home that help make the holidays away easier.
As far as my daughter is concerned, as long as she gets fudge, flannel pyjamas and stocking stuffers anything else is just frosting on the cake.
If, like me, you are shopping for stocking stuffers, there are no shortage of great things around that will do double duty by helping the animals as well. In fact many of the things are lovely enough to make great gifts on their own
  • ARC offers a wide variety of things ... they have a "store" which features T-shirts, a wide variety of magnets and a selection of very snazzy thermal mugs. They also have a lovely selecition of jewelry to fundraise for the animals ... and of course there is also the fun of their online auction
  • The folks at S.H.A.I.D are running their ever popular Pet Pics with Santa, for times and locations
  • At CAPS, you can choose to shop for T-shirts, ball caps and those great CAPS mugs that coffee just tastes so good in, or you can keep your eye peeled for both their annual calendar and the dates for their pet pics with Santa
  • If you are too busy to bake, the LA Animal Shelter is having a huge bake sale at the Zellers end of the Amherst Center Mall on Saturday, Nov 28th starting at ten until two pm or when they run out of goodies .... whichever comes first. AND this year , on Sunday, Dec 6th, they are holding a Telethon at the Amherst Lions Den, from 2 - 6 pm which will be televised on Eastlink Television. There will be music, a silent auction, along with a Dog Trainer / Dog Behaviourist; Veterinarian Advice; Highland Dancers; recently adopted dogs and cats with their owners.
  • The 2010 Bide Awhile calendar is available now and although there is no date posted yet, they normally have an open house in December
  • The TLC Animal Shelter 2010 calendars are available at the Port Royal Veterinary Hospital ... you can even choose from all cats or all dogs.
  • Down in Shelbourne County, P.E.T. PROJECTS are raffling off tickets, which can be purchased online, btw.... on a beautiful painting and the draw for that will be on Nov 24th AND they are holding a Adoption Fair and Christmas Sale on Saturday, Nov 21, from 10am until 2pm at the Shelbourne Fire Hall
  • NS Labrador Rescue is holding a flea market at the Enfield Fire Hall from 8 am until noon. There is a $10 fee to rent a table and all interested in doing so should contact Lab Rescue. AND they are also doing Santa pics with pets at the Doggy Bag Treatery in Enfield on Sunday, November 29th from noon until 4 pm. There will be treats for the furkids and apple cider and hot chocolate for their humans
  • supporters for Atlantic Boxer Rescue can shop from their store or through their friends at Best Dressed Dog ( Collars for critters). Better yet, you can go to the facebook group for Collars for Critters to find out about their holiday auction
  • The Clare Feral Friends are having having an amazing raffle ...with 1st Prize: Handmade Quilt donated by Gary Comeau. 2nd Prize: Oil Painting by Thelma Maillet-Comeau, 3rd Prize: Dozen Lobsters donated by local fishermen. Draw Date: Dec.20, 2009
  • If you want a break from all that cooking and shopping, HART is holding its Annual Italian feast at the Annapolis Royal Fire Hall on Saturday, November 28th from 3 to 7 pm.
  • the Hants County SPCA 2010 calendars are ready
  • The Antigonish SPCA have their 2010 calendar ready and throughout the fall are selling tickets on the most beautiful cat quilt that I have ever seen ... pictures of it are on the front door of their site
  • From Nov 28th to Dec 6th, the folks at the Metro Shelter are having their annual Santa Pix with pets AND from Dec 11th to Dec 22nd, they are having their Tree of Lights Festival. If conscientious pet owners are looking for a place to shop, the newly reopened Petcetera is a great place because they feature a Satellite Pet Adoption center for Metro instead of the usual Puppy Mill wares.
  • The Yarmouth SPCA now have their own store, They will also be holding their pet pics with Santa on November 28th from 11 am until 3 pm, along with a craft fair, at their shelter on Hardscratch Road.
  • The Kings SPCA are running their annual Shelter lottery

If for some reason, anyone or anything has been overlooked, please email me and I'll add it in.

You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give. Winston Churchill

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Undercutting the competition

Its been a beautiful week and that has made it a great time for many things ... from wrapping up the last bits in the garden to sharing the dogs enjoyment in their new play yard. As always, this year my garden to do list ambitions have exceeded my grasp .... not surprising when I am at liberty to spend as much time as I want walking and hiking with the dogs.
I am a middle aged grandmother ... so if I am not always wiser, I am at least old enough to understand it is rarely possible to accomplish everything at once. The hardware kit for the gazebo/outdoor kitty room will still be there in the spring. The nursery will still be selling fruit trees next spring to convert the garden on the hill to the worlds smallest fruit orchard. And it will be just as easy to transplant the perennial herbs that I started from seed to their permanent digs next spring.
I'm not quite so prosaic about the changes that are needed to make a better world for the animals. But at fifty-five years of age, I do understand that the necessary legislation simply isn't going to happen overnight.
Does that mean that nothing can be done in the interim? Of course not ... while we are advocating for better laws .... there is more that can be done at the ground level for the animals right now.
Why do people still shop at pet stores? With all the information about puppy mills and backyard breeders, how can they still go in and shop? The plain unvarnished truth is that the majority of folks neither know .. nor to be perfectly honest ... care about animal welfare issues.
Its not that people aren't compassionate. Its not that they don't care. It is simply that there are just so very many different causes and needs out there that the animals often slide to the bottom of people's priority lists. Child hunger, poverty, spousal abuse ... its a such a hard old world out there that the animals are often overlooked.
Nor is it that people aren't animal lovers. By best guestimates, at least half of the 350,000 households in the province either have, or are thinking of getting, a pet. Why do most of these folks fly under the animal welfare radar? Because they ARE kind ... they spay or neuter their own pets and keep them for life. Safely and warmly and well cared for. There is absolutely no need for folks like that to have anything to do with animal rescue.
With all the stories that have been in the news, why do people still advertise and shop on the free online ad sites? It is just a fact of life that unless there is a personal involvement with family or friends.. most folks don't remember the stories a month after they're published. If you don't believe me, just bring up Celtic Pets in conversation with someone uninvolved in the animal rescue world and see how much they remember.
To make matters worse, most folks never hear about the many, many great pets that were adopted from rescues and shelters. They hear about the ones with unaddressed behaviour issues that make the news and THAT only reinforces the urban legend that pets find their way into rescue because there is something wrong with the pet.
So while we are advocating for better laws for the animals, what can we do? We can recognize that rescue groups and shelters are in competition with pet stores and the free online ad sites for homes for their pets. What do businesses do when they have competition? They pull out all the stops when it comes to customer service. They make it as easy and comfortable as possible to be their 'customer'.
Right here, right now, it only makes life saving sense to simplify adoption procedures. Why do so many more folks opt to take out fast food orders than to eat in the outlet? It isn't because its any cheaper. Its because it is easier and simpler and less hassle for families to bring the food back home.
People may want to be kind, but at the end of the day they do NOT want to be inconvenienced.
Good adoption experiences are the best publicity any group or shelter can get. After all, when I adopted Ruby /Henry/ Morgan / Andy, they each became ambassadors for rescue to my friends and family. Andy in particular is an awesome spokesdog for adopting senior pets because unlike the two young dogs, there were no knots to work through and no training to be done.
What time is it? Its time to bring a little business sense to pet adoption and start undercutting the competition.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Rescue without Borders ... part 3

Do you remember Shep ? He was part of the first vehicle full of good dogs that East Coast German Shepherd Rescue brought up from Georgia. They all stopped to rest and regroup in New England with volunteers.
Shep was part of the first group of four dogs that have made the second leg of the trip to Nova Scotia ... and is the only one of the three that hasn't been adopted yet.
You can see he's having a good time while he's waiting. Shep has been discovering the newfound delights that Nova Scotia has to offer .. including our early snow: )))
Yesterday, the last three of the original seven dogs that made the first trip up from Georgia arrived in Nova Scotia.
Monica, the woman with the van, brought them to the mall parking lot in Truro where she met with Leah and Paula from ECGSR.
The two boys you see together were picked in Mississippi, where they had been picked up and were being kept at a police holding facility. Monica picked them up on her travels down south, saving two more lives.
The older fellow is Benson, and he was one of the three that Leah had arranged to be pulled out of Cobb county animal control. Leah describes him as a "sweet older guy"
It takes a lot of dedicated volunteer energy and love to take on a project like this. Love is not all they need, and if you want to assist in any meaningful way with the next trip that is being organized as we speak, contact Leah at
The other day, a friend of mine was asking why this was being done, when we have so many homeless dogs right here in Nova Scotia. Unfortunately, a lot of the great things that are done by rescues here in this province never come into the public eye.
Very few folks outside of the rescue community are aware of the lifesaving work being done by Ador-A-Bull Rescue, saving lives from a sure death sentence in the land of BSL. Nor do most know how many times rescues in the Maritimes have pulled out all the stops for their adoptables by sending them where the adopters are.
And of course there is that whole other end of the stick that I go on and on about like a stuck record .... any publicity for the animals helps all the animals. The person who notices the story about the good dogs from Georgia on one of their friend's facebook site, might not adopt one of the Georgia dogs. But upon occasion, it opens their eyes ( and their minds ) to the possibility of adopting A dog. ( or a cat/rabbit/gerbil/iguana/etc )
What time is it? Its always time to remember that we can't cherry pick which lives count. Its just frosting on the cake that the work being done with Rescue without Borders is doing more than opening a new door for the Georgia dogs ... its opening a few eyes right here.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Update on more Rescue without Borders

On this day of remembrances its always great to have a glimmer of good news. Ralph, the senior shepherd in Georgia has been saved by another rescue. In turn that will be good news for another good dog, making room for one more good dog to have a second chance in Nova Scotia.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Making Do When the Men went away

All five of her daughters had already been born when the first shot was fired. Like many other women in small farming communities, she kissed her husband good bye and took up the reins of the family farm.
The task would be made somewhat easier when army engineers ran electricity out to the farms. It would still be a full days trip to go into town by horse and wagon to shop. It would take half a day when anything was needed from the local sawmill.
There was no phone or tv. Only one of the girls was old enough to walk down the road to the schoolhouse. There was no indoor plumbing, washing machine or running water.
Her grandfather helped bring in the sixteen cord of wood it would take to heat her uninsulated house and run the wood stove each year.
Still she counted herself lucky. None of the telegrams delivered in the community came to her door. None of the girls came down with anything she couldn't take care of.
And she had Charlie. He had captured her heart from the first moment they met. She knew deep down that she shouldn't give away her heart .... that noone in the community would understand.
Out of respect for public opinion she wouldn't allow him in the house. Charlie spent his nights in the barn and was waiting eagerly to meet her every morning at dawn.
Somehow she never mentioned Charlie when she wrote to her husband. He was away ... fighting for freedom, and it just didn't seem right to worry him. There were a few snickers when she went to church with the girls, but somehow noone quite knew how to broach the subject of Charlie.
Eventually they all just decided to take the easy path and let her husband handle Charlie when he came home. Speculation sparked and occasionally flared up about how that would go.
The girls had all started school by the time her husband came home. Thanks to her grandfather and his friends, the hay had been baled and was up in the loft. Sugar was short so there were no sweets for the homecoming hero.
Finally, at long last, it was time to come clean about Charlie. On Sunday when their buggy rode into the churchyard, everyone was waiting and wondering and watching.
Going to war changes a man in ways both big and small. If the community was expecting him to get excited about Charlie, they were in for a surprise. After the horrors he had seen overseas, her husband didn't get excited about Charlie. He was actually happy that Charlie had helped his wife through the lonely years he was away.
And because he had already seen enough killing... and because he loved his wife .... Isabelle's pet pig Charlie lived to be a ripe old age.
Webmaster note: For all of you who have already asked ... yes this was a true story. Isabelle's husband was one of over a million Canadians who went to WWII. It was told to me by Isabelle, on the evening before I left for basic training, in 1974.
The years had not dimmed her affection for Charlie ... nor her love for the normally thrifty Scottish farmer who went against everything that he knew to let Charlie live out his days as Isabelle's pet. Charlie was still there after the girls were all grown and gone and lived to the ripe old age of 22.

Monday, November 9, 2009

More Rescue without Borders

Meet Ralph. Right now he's knocking on heavens door down in Georgia, but there's a lot going on that he doesn't know about.
For starters, he's probably got no idea that there even is such thing as a gas chamber. Ralph is eight years old and well behaved, so at this point in time he probably thinks being in a kennel in Animal Control is the worst thing that's ever happened to him.
He's been there almost a week now, and that's probably felt like a long time to him. Ralph likely has no idea that its not long enough ... on the 11th his time will be up.
Ralph would have no idea that the gas chamber has been outlawed in Georgia. Nor would he know that rural Animal Controls received special dispensation from the state to continue using the gas chamber. There are a lot of animal advocates down there trying to change that, but that won't happen in time to help Ralph.
Most of all, Ralph doesn't know that East Coast German Shepherd Rescue is quietly pulling out all the stops trying to arrange transport for him and three other good dogs in the same fix as he is. He has no idea so much is hanging on this and how there will be the same round of nail biting suspense until definite arrangements are made.
Ralph doesn't know its Adopt a Senior Pet Month. Nor does he know that two of the senior shepherds from the original Rescue without Borders story have already been adopted.
Now before the keyboards catch on fire ... and it may just be my imagination .... but it seems to me that there have been more dog adoptions around the province since the first Rescue without Borders trip.
Why would that be? Anytime a group runs adoption incentives ( seniors/ cats/ long term shelter residents ) it has boosted all their adoptions. Why? Because adoption incentives are also attention getting devices that help all the animals.
What more wonderful way to garner attention for animal rescue than to be pulling good dogs, many of them seniors, from the jaws of the gas chamber just in the nick of time.
It is to be hoped that in time, there will be no need for Rescue without Borders. That there will be a time when exemptions are rescinded in Georgia and that the animals will face a better future there.
Until that day, committed volunteers will continue to carry on. Because the alternative is unthinkable.
Man does not weave this web of life. He is merely a strand of it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself. Chief Seattle

Friday, November 6, 2009

Sneaking in the back door on friday night

from the CBC News website tonight
Halifax area seeks new animal shelter
Last Updated: Friday, November 6, 2009 6:00 PM AT
CBC News
The Halifax Regional Municipality is looking for a new animal shelter service to house rescued and neglected dogs, cats and exotic animals.
The city is looking for a shelter with a minimum of 15 kennels for dogs, five for cats and at least one for other animals such as ferrets and reptiles.
It must also have a contingency plan to handle any overflow and a way to care for animals for an extended period of time if they are held for evidence or court proceedings.
The shelter would be the keeper for all animals picked up by HRM Animal Services, so the tender also calls for a facility that can provide 24-hour access for animal by-law officers.
Coun. David Hendsbee said the city is not interested in building its own facility because it would cost more than $1 million.
"All we're doing is looking for a venue available to us to use for services … a proponent in the general public to see if they have a facility either available now or want to build a facility they can utilize to service this contract," he said.
Old contract expires
The current shelter, run by the Nova Scotia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, receives about $500,000 a year from the city for its services. But the city's contract with the non-profit organization expires next spring.
A study by the municipality in 2005 found that the SPCA shelter in Burnside was "barely adequate in virtually every aspect of shelter management."
"Because of its poor design, it makes it extremely difficult to provide proper upkeep and maintenance," the report said. "It is surprising what is being accomplished in spite of the condition of the facility."
The report concluded that upgrading the facility was "virtually impossible" without gutting the entire building and renovating the inside.
Hendsbee said Friday the SPCA may still put in a bid on the current tender, but there could also be other interested parties.
"I think there's a number of kennel operations and other pet-care facilities out there that may want to look at this as an opportunity," he said. "We may have vacant warehouses anywhere in the Metro area that could possibly be utilized."
The contract is for a maximum of five years. Proposals must be submitted by Dec. 1 and municipal officials want the service to be in place by next April 1.

For anyone who hasn't read the report, or who wants to revisit it, a copy may be found online at

So this is a very interesting little tidbit to see tucked away in the Friday evening news. Traditionally, that is where politicians try to introduce the action items they are trying to slip in under the public radar.
On the surface it seems innocuous ... so why does it have the hair standing up on the back of my neck?
  • I know I've mentioned it before, but there is an ongoing study that is being done by the No Kill Advocacy Center, that concludes that that when animal control sheltering services are contracted out, the municipality only saves money because they are not actually assuming responsibility for all the costs associated with providing responsible pet adoption ( ie vet checks, vaccinating and of course altering )
  • According to the CBC article, HRM is looking for a minimum housing of 15 dog kennels, 5 cat kennels and 1 "other' kennel. Last year, nearly half (48.5%) of the 764 dogs taken into Metro were claimed by their owners, while only a fraction (1.8%) of the 1041 cats went back home to their owners. That begs the question ...what does HRM plan on doing with the cats.... bearing in mind that animal control is a municipal responsibility.
  • Although I am continually advocating that it would be in the best interests of the animals ( and the taxpayers ) for all municipalities to assume responsibility for their animal control sheltering, the article is still quite skewed, because it fails to mention any of the significant improvements that have been made by the hard working folks at Metro. Instead it implies that nothing has really changed at Metro since the report was written, and makes no mention of the fact that this report, which was paid for by taxpayer dollars, was kept secret by HRM until last year.
  • In spite of the improvements to Metro, apparantly Councillor Hendsbee feels that it might be more appropriate to utilize "vacant warehouses"
  • No mention is made of any safeguards for the animals. Will these "vacant warehouses" be centrally located in an area convenient to the public? Will adoption be encouraged? If so, will there be user friendly adoption hours? Will "pound puppies (and cats) " be altered/vet checked/etc before adoption?
  • More importantly, what will happen to the animals when the 72 hour hold period is up? Will they expect the SPCA to assume the burden of the rescue costs without any compensation at all? Or will there be another contract for Unhappy Tails with HRM veterinarians to kill the cats and dogs when their time is up?
  • If animals are held for an extended period of time ... such as a Brindi... how will that impact on the outcome for the other animals?
  • Contracting out a sheltering facility absolves the city of its obligation to save long term tax dollars by promoting the lifesaving programs recommended in their own report, such as free lifetime licenses for microchipped and altered pets. There will be no need for the city to invest in workshops for obedience training. Mind you, given the constant struggle that responsible dog owners and advocates like my friend Joan blogs about,, it doesn't sound like HRM has a whole lot of interest in changing their status quo.

What time is it? To paraphrase the old newscast from the seventies ... its eleven o'clock ... do you know what your politicians are doing?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Hmmm... billing the animal abusers ... its about time!

From the CBC News website tonight
Online pet store owner to be billed for seized animals
Last Updated: Tuesday, November 3, 2009 6:09 PM AT
CBC News
The owner of a now-defunct pet business in P.E.I. will be held financially responsible for the animals seized from him last month by the Department of Agriculture.
More than 80 animals were taken from kennels belonging to Bud Wheatley, who owned The website has since been suspended.
The pets were taken to the P.E.I. Humane Society, which said it would bill Wheatley for the extra costs.
"It was the first time in the history of the P.E.I. Humane Society that anything that large had been undertaken and that we had helped that many animals so suddenly," said Kelly Mullally, the organization's executive director.
She said under the Companion Animal Protection Act, it is the group's responsibility to take care of the animals seized and to bill the owner of those animals for any expenses incurred.
"We're responsible for that debt and we have to collect that debt," she said. "If we're not able to collect that debt within 24 months from the owner, then we're able to go to the provincial government and get some assistance."
The seizure doubled the population at the animal shelter, which now cares for more than 200 animals.
Mullally said there have been corporate donations and extra volunteers to help, but the task has been expensive and time-consuming.
In an effort to increase adoptions, the shelter is keeping its adoption floor open until 8 p.m. on Thursday and on Nov. 12.

Now if they could make that stick, that might be a more significant deterrent that slap on the wrist fines will ever be. As anyone with a pet knows, its all too easy to wind up with a substantial vet bill for a normally healthy animal that has been well loved and cared for. Even with the available resource of the vet college, it doesn't take any imagination to picture the vet bills for this seizure.
Collecting the debt from the owner is on the books for the existing Animal Cruelty Act here in NS, and has been for some time. If a prosecutor could be found who was not willing to coddle animal abusers, this could be both a useful tool and act as a deterrent against abuse.
As always, the penalty is only part of the picture. Until the language of the Criminal Code sections pertaining to animal cruelty changes, there are far too many loopholes that still permit animal abusers to evade prosecution. How many times have the Benoits slithered out the courtroom door because the crown has been unable to prove they were the "owners" of the unfortunate animals in their care. If you will remember, the paltry thirty day sentence Gail Benoit received this year was NOT for animal abuse ... it was for assaulting a peace officer in the person of an SPCA constable.
Inadequate penalties will continue as long as the the phrase "willful neglect" , which is nearly impossible to prove 'beyond shadow of a doubt" , remain in the language of any animal cruelty laws.
What time is it? Its always time to remember that the single thing ... the only thing ... that will inspire our federal politicians to effect any meaningful change for the animals is strong voter feedback. Its time to remind our politicians that getting Bill C-229 to the first reading is only the very first part of the journey.
This is not new ground ... so for the convenience of readers whom I continue to nag about contacting their MP's, ( and for my own convenience in not reposting this material regularly : ))) Scroll down to the bottom of the page for contact information for your Nova Scotia MP

Grreat news about Riley

Riley, the Missing Injured Golden Retriever in Dartmouth has come back home ... soaking wet with a cut paw but of course her family are taking her to the vet for xrays, JIC. The family would like to thank everyone who helped spread the word and those who were out looking.

Willie is home!

from the Herald just now
N.S. man gets Willie the dog back
By MARY ELLEN MacINTYRE Staff ReporterTue. Nov 3 - 12:37 PM
Willie has been reunited with his owner.Earl Shadbolt, the 75-year-old Eastern Passage man who asked a woman to care for his dog after his house was gutted by fire in April, is sitting at home with his terrier mix by his side.The dog was brought back to Mr. Shadbolt shortly after 11 a.m. by local animal welfare advocates.The woman who had cared for the dog refused to return him unless Mr. Shadbolt gave her money.A combination of insurance money and funds raised by the Animal Rescue Coalition helped convince the woman to give up the dog.

This story has definitely highlighted the importance of two things .... microchipping and licensing one's dog and of getting a written contract for private fostering. I found a fairly decent generic one on and have put a link to it on the front door of the homeless pet site.
Now of course, if Willie had been adopted from a reputable rescue or shelter ... there would have been no quibble because the adoption contract provides pretty solid proof of ownership, eh?
And ... before the keyboards catch on fire, if helping an elderly man get his dog back is somewhat outside the normal parameters of animal rescue, good old fashioned compassion and kindness never goes out of style.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Update on Rescue without Borders,

Two of the Georgia Four have been adopted, and now only Shep and Lily are still waiting for a Forever Home .... East Coast German Shepherd Rescue want him to be the only dog in his new home as he is not fond of other dogs.

Missing Injured Golden Retriever in Dartmouth

Riley .... a young adult spayed female reddish Golden Retriever... is missing ... her people have had a death in the family and the house is upside down right now. They live 35 Montibello Drive in Dartmouth , Riley got the door, ran across the street, was hit by a car and was last seen galloping down Gourok Ave.
Riley is wearing a red collar and HRM tags. If you see Riley, please contact 434-1514.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Its November and that means its Adopt a Senior Pet Month

Happy New Year! Somehow I suspect that wasn't why November was chosen as Adopt a Senior Pet Month .... still I can't think of a more meaningful time for it. Senior pets should be celebrated because they bring some very special gifts to the table.
When Andy came here, just as Scamp did years ago, he settled in right away. He was old enough and wise enough to get the hang of our routine on the first day. At his age, he was quick to appreciate what a blessing it was to have a second chance at domestic bliss. Best of all, in spite of having been let down by his human(s?) in the past, he is still willing to open his heart and take a chance at love again.
After having lost my sweet senior McG, I knew that it would be too much of a jolt to go back to square one with a puppy. I like sleeping through the night and am getting a little long in the tooth to want to get back into to the housetraining routine again.
Not to mention that, for me personally, I felt that the best way to repay the (all too short) years of love that McG gave me would be to give another senior a safe berth.
I've been looking around the rescue sites and there doesn't seem to be anything special going on for the senior animals for this month .... but I AM happy to report that in at least a couple of branches, the society has reduced and in some cases completely dropped the adoption fee for the seniors in its care.
CAPS also has a very special program going on that they call PAWS ... Pairing Animals With Seniors. How that program works is that seniors can apply to be long term fosters for the more mature pets in CAPS' care. They work very closely with the RCMP liaison for Seniors on this one. Because it is foster, not adopting, CAPS retains responsibility for the food and vet costs ... allowing many seniors who might not be able to afford a pet to benefit from the companionship of a pet. There is also a measure of security for the senior, because in the process of checking on the pet, volunteers are aware of whether or not all is well with the senior human.
Then there are the Georgia Four .... three of whom are seniors. I think that this story, the Rescue Without Borders thread, really highlights how much love and compassion there is in the Nova Scotia Rescue community for senior pets. And before the keyboards catch on fire, this is not the first time that homeless pets have been "imported' in from away. The very fact that there is enough love for the animals here in NS that good pets have been able come here from Nfld, NB, PEI and beyond is one of the big reasons that I truly believe it is possible to get to No Kill Nova Scotia.
Closer to home, the story of Adara and her buddy Desi, is just one more example of how rescue is willing to go the distance. Even though they know it might be a challenge to find someone with a big enough heart to adopt this pair, the LA Animal Shelter is determined to find these lifelong companions a home together.
I've lost track of how many seniors have waltzed through NS Breed Rescues ... lovely Labradors ... great German Shepherd Dogs .... not to mention the many lovely little elderdogs.
There was a time when it was usually a death sentence for a senior pet to become homeless ... when no one understand that they could be placed if they were presented and promoted properly.
There is a whole "market" of adopters that is ideally suited to adopt senior pets.... the Baby Boomers. I'm at the young end of the group and believe I am fairly typical. I've retained the social conscience that carried me through the sixties. With my busy life, I really don't have the time to properly train a youngster. While I do not think of myself as an old lady, I must confess that I have reached the age where I'm never my best self if I don't get a good night's sleep.
Baby Boomers like to do things a little different and (hopefully) a little better than their parents. So campaigning to their conscience with campaigns to adopt a Senior pet is about so much more than saving lives .... its a great way to engage Baby Boomer support for animal rescue.
What time is it? Its always time to remember that animal rescue of all kinds should never shine its light under a bushel if they expect to save lives. To that end, there is a special section on the homeless pet site this month for the wonderful elderpets in need of a home - Andy's Friends