Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A new group for the animals

Like a lot of people my age, I really didn't think that facebook would have any relevance to me personally. It just seemed like something more suited to my daughter's generation ... like IPods and Wi and RPG's.
Since then of course I have come to understand the potential touches all aspects of my life. As a middle aged granny, its lovely to be able to see so many pictures and videos of my lovely granddaughter who lives in the land of BSL. Its a great way to stay in touch with the pagan community as they move through their lives changing physical and email addresses.
And of course then there are the multitude of ways that social networking helps the animals:
  • most rescue groups now have their own facebook groups and fan pages
  • the fundraising potential of causes is almost matched by the immediate ability to send out appeals for donations to save/spay/treat/transport animals at risk
  • group pages for lost pets really help get the word out, and are often instrumental in recovery
  • groups can quickly galvanize grassroots support for time sensitve issues, such as when Bill 138 very nearly brought BSL to our province.
  • it makes it more difficult for animal abusing wolves to hide behind sheeps clothing
  • people are sharing petfinder listings with their friends,
  • and last but not least, it has been saving lives as social networking opens up avenues of support from individuals for everything from fostering to transporting and between

Every day in my inbox, there are emails about animals in need. Often the situations are urgent as there is seldom any room at the rescue inn, so to speak. So, in the hopes of helping more of them, I have started up a new facebook group .... NS Pets in Need

Its not meant to be a place for drama or dog politics ... there are plenty of other places for that. The rules are posted on the group and it is to be hoped it will help save lives.

What time is it? Its time to stop saying there aren't enough homes and start using every tool that is available.

Friday, March 26, 2010

It would improve man, but ......

So tonight's question, boys and girls ... is how does a loving and affectionate three legged cat wind up on a deserted beach down in Shelbourne County? He was wandering around for about a week, looking for a safe warm spot. Now he is in temporary foster with P.E.T. PROJECTS . If they cannot find his owner....if this turns out to be yet another sad story, then they will try to find this sweet and affectionate fellow a more committed home.
"If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve man, but it would deteriorate the cat." Mark Twain

Basing on new assumptions

From the CBC news website
N.S veterinarians ban tail docking
Last Updated: Thursday, March 25, 2010 1:11 PM AT
Veterinarians in Nova Scotia will no longer cut the tails and ears of dogs for cosmetic reasons, prompting an outcry from some breeders.The Nova Scotia Veterinary Medical Association is forbidding its members from doing surgeries that alter an animal's appearance solely for cosmetic purposes.
Veterinarians say docking a Doberman pinscher's tail, for example, is unnecessary and cruel.
"In my opinion, Dobermans and Great Danes look great with their ears down and their long tails, so there's no reason to mutilate them by causing them to meet an arbitrary breed characteristic that has been around for so long that we can't remember why it's been around in the first place," said Dr. Frank Woodbury, a veterinarian in Halifax.
Mary Spinelli, a Doberman breeder in Dartmouth, disputes any suggestion that ear cropping and tail docking is cruel, and therefore can't see any need for the new rules.
"There was no impetus from anybody in the dog community to say, 'Please, consider this procedure,'" she said.
"These procedures have been performed for the better part of 100 years. They're not new, they're not revolutionary and, by and large, they're not cruel. They're done in proper conditions."
Spinelli said a Doberman's tail is removed when the animal is about two days old, while the ears are cropped at eight weeks.
She finds it hypocritical that the veterinary association is still allowing the declawing of cats.
"They have no qualms whatsoever about declawing cats, which is a far more invasive procedure done when the cat is significantly older," she said.
The new rules go into effect on April 1, though they won't be enforced until October. Similar bans on cosmetic surgeries are already in place in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador.
Spinelli, a registered breeder with the Canadian Kennel Club, won't crop the tails of her dogs herself. She said the procedure should only be done under safe and clean conditions, like with veterinarians.
Another Doberman owner, Lendra Barker, fears that some owners will do whatever it takes to get their dogs to conform to a certain look.
"The people who own these dogs want them performed and without a vet to be permitted to perform these procedures, where is it going to go? Some people that aren't reputable may end up doing it themselves without the benefit of anesthesia or sanitary conditions," said Barker, a past-president of the Doberman Pinscher Club of Canada.
Non-veterinarians who attempt the surgeries on their own could be charged under Nova Scotia's Animal Protection Act.
Its not all that often I miss a story like that ( and before the keyboards catch on fire if I don't devote a lot of time or space to anything, sometimes its simply because I choose NOT to empower certain people whose heads are already two sizes too large,eh? )
Why did I miss it? Yesterday I was working on the slide show that you see at the top of the blog sidebar. It has all of the dogs listed on Petfinder for NS and if I didn't have time to edit every cats picture, there is still at least one cat for every dog.
So it simply fell through the cracks, between the time spent with that and going out and getting wet with the dogs: ))))
A few days ago, I was doing some research for a story I'm working on about an emaciated senior boxer who had a large litter of pups. Now, I've never shared space with a boxer, so of course the first place that I went for info was The Boxer Club of Canada site .... ( http://boxerclubofcanada.com/ ) ... where I learned that their Code of Ethics recommends that, wrt breeding, "Only bitches between the ages of eighteen months and six years and not more than once a year"
Along with all the wonderful information about boxers, there is a prominent link at the top of the front door for the K-9 Alliance http://www.k9alliance.com/, which proudly proclaims that it is 'fighting misconceptions among the public and veterinarians about docking, ear cropping and dew claw removal" The site contains the information that there is an Alert for NS and urges its members to write their MLA's. Sample letters are provided for user convenience.
Why did their campaign not work? Was it because the society has advocating for this? Was the decision based on the frontline experience of vets? Or all of the above?
It is always a mystery to me that reputable breed organizations are not at the front of the pack in advocating for mandatory breeder registration, breeding limit laws and decent minimum housing standards. Sadly, all these issues get sidestepped because of misinformation campaigns and scare tactics inspired by their strange bedfellow, PIJAC http://www.pijaccanada.com/en/ ... "the voice of the Canadian Pet Industry"
Which .. in true Monty Python style, is no odder than the partnership between the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies and Kijiji : ((((
Twenty years ago, none of the marketing experts could have predicted there would be such changes in consumer buying patterns. Nobody worried where their children's toys came from or whether their name brand clothes were being made in factories powered by child labour. Right up until the time the public stopped buying gas guzzling trucks, the former big three couldn't imagine the consequences of opting for profit at the expense of environmental sustainability.
The internet has changed how we see .. and move .. in the world. Issues are more immediate and advocacy has taken a new personal note with far reaching impact.
The muscle cars of the sixties are still beautiful to anyone my age ... but do we see them out and about now? Of course not. Their gas guzzling glory days are long gone and they are seldom seen outside of summer car shows.
Like the old sign in my laundry room, the breed associations and reputable breeders are at a crossroads where they can either lead, follow or get out of the way. If they want to play any meaningful part in the way foward, its time for them to revisit their ethical roots.
It would be a shame for the breed clubs to become the same kind of anarchism as a cherry red 64 GTO.
Most of our assumptions have outlived their uselessness." Marshall McLuhan

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Pushing a sled through the snow

Why did I go all the way to Bridgewater to adopt my mighty little mini Morgan? Did I not have any cats here? Nope .. in fact I was already at my firm ( hahaha ) four cat limit! Were there no homeless cats here in the valley? Of course not! Had people stopped dumping strays in our neighbourhood? Sadly not : (((
So why, when I hate driving, did I go all the way to S.H.A.I.D ?
The writeup was why. There was an incredible story both in the newsletter and on her Petfinder bio ..... in a nutshell, Morgan was a teenage momcat who had been so badly injured when she was brought to the shelter that she couldn't walk. The story pulled out all the stops, talking about how she still took good care of her kittens, describing the gradual return of her mobility and last but not least talking about how this little youngster was still waiting ... long after her babies were weaned and adopted.
It would have taken a heart of stone to resist all that. In truth ... she has a special place in my heart simply for having survived all that. The fact that she is such a lovable and loyal little friend is almost frosting on the cake.
At any given time there are six to eight homeless cats for every homeless dog in this province. While I realize that the society statistics only paint part of the picture ( ie .. they do not reflect the numbers they cannot accept ... although in all fairness neither do anyone else's either, eh? )
Yet they do highlight one of the Unhappiest aspects of animal rescue ... if it sucks to be a homeless pet ... it REALLY sucks to be a homeless cat. At the provincial level, the live release rate for the dogs is 81.9% while it is only 55.2% for the cats.
And that's just the tip of the iceberg ... because for every cat that rescues and shelters can accept there are easily a dozen that they have to turn away ... and there is no feasible way of garnering statistics on the outcomes for THEM.
If you go to most of the rescue and shelter petfinder listings around this province, you will find informative and often witty bios for the dogs.
Sadly it is usually not the case with the cats. (And before the keyboards catch on fire, please note that I said "usually") Why are they Second Class Kittizens when it comes to Petfinder bios? Is it because cats don't have to be walked? Is it that there are ever so many more of the cats? Is it that there are so many more Unhappy Tails that staff and volunteers try not to get as emotionally engaged?
If anyone needs the extra help ... it is the cats. In a world where the simplest path is the free to a good home or the kittens that a friend or neighbour has, cat adoption should be promoted much more aggressively than the dogs.
If anyone needs the offsite adoptions, the simpler application forms, the extra promotion ... it is the kitties. And yes, we all know that in most places, once a cat hits the safe sanctuary of a rescue or shelter that they are not at such risk.
But safe or not, there are no Happy Tails for the many many others who find no room at the inn.
As a sidebar to that, cat only adoption events have proven very successful because they are so peaceful and quiet that potential adopters are more inclined to take the time to meet the kitties. Better still, they can often be held in venues that would be unsuitable for dogs. Best of all, groups that have run them in the past have found it takes less vehicles and volunteers for each event.
At the end of the day, without offsite adoption events, no rescue group or shelter is going to get to the No Kill goal of a ninety percent live release rate for cats.
What time is it? Its always time to remember that cats are first rate pets too!
Cats are smarter than dogs. You can't get eight cats to pull a sled through snow. Jeff Valdez

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Finding the Best Way

Sam is like a poster boy for all the best bits that senior pets bring to the table. All the different legs of his journey to Nova Scotia added up to well over a couple of thousand kilometers .... and what did he do when he arrived? Wagged his tail, had a sniff around the yard and settled in on the deck with a chewie. Every single person who sheltered him on the way was smitten with his sweet personality, including his new foster Mom at East Coast German Shepherd Rescue.
But what REALLY impressed his foster Mom is how Sam stayed so calm and relaxed when her own boisterous puppy bounced over and barked in his face!
I know I go on and on like a stuck record about senior pets. I know that some people wouldn't want to miss any part of the whole lifetime experience. I know that adopting a senior pet isn't for everyone ( only for those partial to sleeping through the night, who might not have time to train, who are looking for a buddy who is ready to go now, who don't want to wonder how big their new friend will be, etc..... :)))))
But I also see how many great dogs get left in the lurch when they turn eight. Even worse are the ones who become homeless later ... there are very few rescues and shelters that will accept an elderpet over the age of eight:(((
But I'm wandering afield here because (surprisingly .... lol ) I don't just want to talk about senior pets.
Years ago, when I brought my baby daughter home from the hospital, my best friend's cat fell in love with her. Everyday he would follow us home .... and when I would bring him back to her, he'd be back on my step before I'd get back to the house. He used to sit near her and purr and purr. It was horrible for her .. because she loved him and took very good care of him... but we both finally understood that he had chosen to be my cat.
Once she was out of the crib, Mr Fritz slept with her for the rest of his life. He moved with us from Alberta to New Brunswick to Ontario and finally here to Greenwood.
This was back in the stone ages ... when it was thought to be quite normal to let a cat out when he wanted to. In spite of being neutered, Mr Fritz always liked to have a little hunt everyday and wasn't above having the odd scrap with any interlopers on his turf.
When we were in Gagetown, he was hit by a car and in spite of the vets best efforts the leg couldn't be saved and so it eventually had to be amputated. We were so worried whether we were making the right choice for him, but we simply couldn't bear the thought of sentencing him to death.
For the rest of his life, once he was recovered from the surgery, Mr Fritz still wanted to have a little hunt everyday and have the odd scrap. In fact, the only time we noticed he was a tripod was when I would be cooking a turkey. Then we would be treated to the dramatic performance we used to refer to as the turkey trot. He would limp slowly out to the kitchen, fling himself down on the floor in front of the stove ... stump side up .... so that we would know how much he deserved some of that bird: ))))
He was with us for almost ten years after that and would have been twenty two the year he passed away.
Pets just don't bring our human hangups to the table about disabilities. You would never know, to look at the picture below, that Tango had just made the long journey from New Hampshire, which was part of the longer journey from the south. ( After narrowly escaping a horrible Unhappy Tail in a high kill southern shelter, adjusting to travelling and a new life in Nova Scotia seems small potatoes indeed, eh? )
I'm probably never going to tweet or any number of new things that come out because I am a dinosaur who only uses my mobile for emergencies. But I do love the way that facebook saves so many lives and connects rescues around the continent.
It transcends provincial, state and national borders and it doesn't just save individual lives like Sam's and Tango's. Its also awakening the consciousness of animal lovers everywhere about dog politics and the need for pawsitive change.
One kind heart at a time, people are learning to be better pet owners, awakening to the injustices committed against the animals and learning a new No Kill vocabulary. They are learning these lessons from their friends and their friends friends.
At the end of the day, facebook is teaching our children well ... or at least reaching more of them than any of our animal welfare websites do.
So before the keyboards catch on fire about bringing dogs in from away ... take a page from the facebook process that saves southern lives. It would work just as well here, eh?
"Even those who fancy themselves the most progressive will fight against other kinds of progress, for each of us is convinced that our way is the best way." Louis L'Amour

Friday, March 19, 2010

An ounce of prevention would save a pound of legal costs

from this morning's Herald
Puppy abusers lose appeal
By BRIAN MEDEL Yarmouth Bureau
Fri. Mar 19 - 4:53 AM
Gail Benoit (BRIAN MEDEL / Yarmouth Bureau)
Convicted puppy abusers Gail Benoit and Dana Bailey are still convicted puppy abusers.
They lost an appeal to have animal cruelty and criminal convictions overturned.
In a decision released Tuesday, Justice Peter Bryson of Nova Scotia Supreme Court dismissed the appeals of the Digby County couple.
Benoit, 40, and Bailey, 47, were sentenced in April 2009 after a 2008 trial focused on some sick puppies.
They referred to themselves as puppy brokers during the Digby provincial court trial. The provincial SPCA had received complaints about ailing puppies purchased from Benoit, some of which were said to have died.
In January 2009, Benoit was convicted of animal cruelty and assaulting and obstructing a peace officer, while Bailey was convicted of animal cruelty.
They were fined $1,500 each for cruelty and Benoit was jailed 21 days for her Criminal Code convictions.
Last month, they appeared in Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Digby to appeal their convictions, submitting that their rights had been abused and they had not been given an opportunity to relieve any distress suffered by animals in their care before being charged.
SPCA officers executed search warrants at the couple’s home in Roxville on Oct. 24 and 26, 2007.
Puppies were found with distended bellies, indicative of a bad case of worms, noted the appeal decision.
The original judge rejected the evidence of the accused that the bloated bellies resulted from overfeeding.
Bryson agreed that the original trial evidence supported the claim that the puppies were in distress.
"Moreover, the distressed state of the puppies was not a sudden occurrence. It developed over time," wrote Bryson.
There was time to help the puppies but because neither Benoit nor Bailey did anything at all, "their inaction defeats a defence of due diligence," Bryson wrote.
The original judge made no factual or legal errors, Bryson ruled.
"The verdicts here were ones that a properly instructed jury, acting judicially, could reasonably have rendered," he wrote.

Is this a promising sign? Of course it is. During the often heated television interviews, this couple were convinced that any and all convictions would continue to collapse at the appeal stage. ( The subject of how a fifteen hundred dollar fine is a slap on the wrist instead of the type of punitive deterrent that will give animal abusers pause is a separate topic deserving of its own post on another day )
It takes a lot of work, man hours and yes, resources, for the society to get any cruelty conviction. Sadly, animal abusers are like mice and for every one that is investigated and convicted, there are dozens more that fly under the radar.
Why would I say that? At the risk of sounding like a stuck record .... as long as animal abusers can hide behind a veneer of respectability on the dreaded free online sites, they will continue to exploit the lucrative pet market.
Legislation to ban the online trade of living breathing sentient beings would be more than a proactive step that would protect animal lovers from the unscrupulous:
  • it would send a clear message to the public that pets are fur life and that passing them around like old socks is a terrible way to teach our children about committment and responsiblity.
  • it would make it more difficult for backyard breeders to promote themselves as nice guys who are providing purebreds for those who can't afford them
  • it would put the onus on the breeders to meet CKC standards, especially with medical screening, so that they could be listed on the regional and national breed sites
  • and by doing that ... it would separate those who driven by the power of love for their breed from those ruining the breed for a buck.

What time is it? Its always time to remember that legislation is the only way to effect change. BTW ... because I am always suggesting that animal lovers let their MLA's know how they feel on these issues, I finally put the link to the MLA contact information on the sidebar.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Thursday, March 18, 2010

No light is ever little

I have never eaten seal meat ... nor will it ever be offered at my table. In fact, outside of the traditional aboriginal hunt, I personally believe that its time to move forward and find a better way for our commercial seal hunters to make their living.
That being said ... I am a Canadian ... and that means that I don't appreciate having other countries trying to tell us / aka Canada what we can and cannot do with our own resources. Like many Canadians, my viewpoint is best summed up in a decades old cartoon that portrayed well dressed, jewel encrusted celebrities coming out of a Nfld courthouse and getting into a swanky limousine, all the while completely ignoring a thin impoverished fellow and his family dressed in rags with a tin cup labelled "help feed the sealers". The caption was something to the effect of 'I guess noone cares about starving sealers'
Anyone who follows this blog, or the old one, knows that I've had quite a bit to say about the Cape Breton branch of the society. In spite of the Cape Breton roots that I am so very proud of, I can appreciate that for all intents and purposes, I AM from away. So why ... when I am enjoying the pleasures of retirement do I even make the time? Why I do care what happens to the animals on the other side of this province.
The short answer is of course because I do live in this province, I love animals and I believe with all my heart that it is possible to get to No Kill Nova Scotia within my lifetime.
Lately, when I've been doing updates for the homeless pet site, I have noticed something very interesting. In the past, whenever Petfinder listings were posted for the Cape Breton SPCA, they usually all came on board at once, and a few weeks later they would all disappear at the same time.
Since Feb 11th, when the last crew was listed, things have been gradually changing. Most of the original 'crew' have come off the site ... but not all at once this time. Nope ... one or two at a time the listings have been replaced with new faces, until only CLOE is left of the original crew.
Yesterday, just before supper, when I was doing site updates I REALLY noticed something different. Each and every one of the new listings actually had a bit of information, so now Cassity is the only one whose picture will have to be worth a thousand words, so to speak.
We now know that Chacha is spayed, utd with vaccines, "good with people and likes to play". tee is 5 months old, utd with vaccines and good with other dogs. Decker is 2 years old and utd with vaccines. Jippy is 1-2 years old, Obyes most commands, likes to walk and loves people, and is up-to-date with routine shots. Handsome Tuffy F is utd with his vaccines. tany is 5 months old - good with other dogs and is utd with routine shots. Best of all ... someone has taken the time to update CLOE 's bio to include the info that she is already spayed and utd with vaccines.
The bios don't need to be chatty or clever or cute .... its such a huge step forward just to have this vital information included.
"In so much dark, no light is little" Mark van Doren

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Did anyone lose their Duck toller today?

FOUND NSDT female that was running the trail in Mahone Bay, if anyone is missing their NSDT female let me know I have a contact. She is safe, but we are trying to find owner! Spread the word! I don't have the dog but can relay any messages ... ps Nova Scotia Duck Toller Update .... they have found her owner!!!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Knocking on Heavens Door

Last night I was checking my seed file, to see what herb seeds I'll need to order from Richters. When their catalogue arrives every year, my original seed order is always two pages long ... until I remember that there is only one of me, that I don't have a bottomless bank account, that this is a Zone 6 not 11 and of course that I still want to have time to spend with my cats and dogs
So every year I have to narrow the list down to what we used to refer to in the military as 'an achievable objective'. Its always a bit of a gamble, as not everything is offered every year. But I cannot order everything and so I have to choose.
There has been a certain amount of debate in the rescue community that has trickled into my inbox about the merits of bringing dogs in from away for adoption in Nova Scotia. On one side is the multitude of Unhappy Tails happening elsewhere. On the other is the harsh reality of the need at home. As one friend of mine put it ... there are at least ten dogs in need for every available space in rescue. Even worse, those numbers are multiplied many times over when it comes to the cats.
Not to be mean .. but that is the single best argument I can think of for rethinking traditional approaches to pet adoption. One of the cornerstones of the No Kill Philosophy is the recognition that there ARE enough spaces if the tested and proven No Kill Equation is followed.
Don't get me wrong ... I admire the groups and shelters that have taken the very important first step of deciding not to kill any of the healthy adoptable animals in their care. In many instances, this has been done in the face of strong opposition that comes from conventional resistance to change.
But that is a first step and only the beginning. Without more aggressive adoption programs, these groups are safe sanctuaries that have to refuse more than they can help. What happens to those for whom there is 'no room at the inn'? We'll never know, because those Unhappy Tails are shrouded in silence. Why? Until Animal Clinics and Animal Control are obliged to provide real numbers, large pieces of the puzzle are veiled in mystery. Nor will we ever have any real sense of the actual numbers of animals dumped on little country roads like mine who become eagle / coyote / hawk / fox chow.
What happened here in Nova Scotia last year before the holiday season? Did our rescues and shelters sign up for the benefits and free publicity of the Home for the Holidays program? Nope ... not a one. Some, like Bide A Wile went on record with the media about how they disapprove of holiday adoptions. Others didn't accept applications for the period prior to the season. A few tactfully dodged the issue by going away on vacation,. Some shelters, such as the Kings SPCA actually closed their doors for the holidays.
So where did the folks go this year who wanted a nice familly pet? It doesn't take a leap of imagination to see that many of them went to all the sources for pets that create problems for animal rescue. With the very best of intentions, by sticking with the old conventional wisdom, the rescues and shelters are cutting off their collective noses to spite their face , so to speak.
Next month will be the time that long time animal rescuers refer to as Christmas for the shelters. Will this be the year ... when the annual floodgates open ... that everyone has an Ah Ha moment? Will this be the year that Nova Scotia rescues and shelters start signing up for the Home for the Holiday's program?
While I can understand the temptation, it is truly counterproductive to scold the public about buying pets online and in pet stores. Why do people choose to do that? Do they not care about animals? Nope. It is simply that in this busy world, people will usually take the simplest and most convenient path.
How can rescues and shelters compete with that? Because make no mistake ... it is a competition on every level. How can rescues and shelters undercut the competition? By making it easier .. not harder ... to adopt a pet.
How can they do that? At the risk of sounding like a stuck record:
  • user friendly hours, as of this writing, the only two shelters that I know of in the entire province that are open on Sunday are Metro and Yarmouth
  • bringing the animals to the people with offsite adoptions ... because at the end of the day, the best way to promote the animals is to get them out where people can meet them
  • simpler adoption forms
  • offering a stay at home petfinder listing services
  • taking advantage of the free promotion of existing campaigns
  • take a page from the lifesaving use that social networking tools are being put to for dogs from the southern states
  • and last but not least, by listing all their adoptables on petfinder. Why is that important? Why bother listing the cute and the young little ones that will 'fly off the shelf" To let potential first time adopters know that there really is someone available for everyone in rescue.

What time is it? Its always time to remember the truth of the old saw ... that if you keep doing the same thing, you'll keep getting the same results.

You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete - Buckminster Fuller

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Family calls for regulations after pet dies at kennel
by Keith CorcoranCOUNTY
This lab, named Boss, died at a South Shore kennel
An Italy Cross family mourning the loss of a beloved pet is calling for regulations to govern the way kennels in Nova Scotia are operated.
Their dog, named Boss, recently died in the care of a South Shore boarding facility and the family questions the story they were given about the cause of death. Krum Dochev, 20, speaking on behalf of his family, said they've incurred the costs of an autopsy, cremation and the legwork to track down the real story.
"We're not happy with the answers we have received and something that's come as a complete shock to us is that there's absolutely no regulatory body for kennels," Mr. Dochev said in a recent phone interview. "There's the SPCA but they only deal with cruelty and not industry standards, in general."
While they have the time and money to devote to the matter, Mr. Dochev said many others in similar circumstances don't, such as seniors on fixed incomes.
"We've had to mourn for a loved member of the family and play the role of investigators at the same time," he said, adding his point in contacting this newspaper wasn't about a vendetta against the kennel.
The facility operators explained to the family that a boxer's hind leg got caught in Boss' chain leash and the pulling caused Boss to strangle to death.
There were no indications of a struggle between the two 80-pound dogs, Mr. Dochev said and the kennel operators were both less than forthcoming with information and too hasty in its offer to pay for Boss' cremation.
He suggested there were "inconsistencies" with the kennel's story and said he figures Boss' chain got snarled in a fence, causing strangulation thereby making the kennel negligent in the care of the dog.
"I'm not saying that most kennel owners aren't good and honest people but at the same time they're businesses and if there isn't a law telling you, you have to do this, well, it's natural that people are going to cut corners. It's human nature."
Kristin Williams, executive director of Nova Scotia's SPCA, confirms there's no current provincial legislation that specifically addresses kennels through a regulatory system.
"However, the SPCA is mandated through provincial animal welfare legislation to inspect environments where animals are kept, inclusive of kennels," she said. "When we do an inspection, we review the standards of care."
Why is it that, in a society with so many animal lovers, that regulations with respect to animal care and housing still have such trouble getting out of the gate? Is it because noone every tried? Nope, animal advocates all around the continent and beyond have been hard at work with this for quite some time. Is it that noone understands the specific shape that the legislation should take? Not even close.
Every single time that legislation is introduced anywhere in North America, the pet industry participates in the process.
When food service safety regulations were drafted for restaurants, restaurants were not able to 'water' down the laws to a more user friendly format. The listeria crisis was a less than shining example of what can happen when any industry is permitted to be its own watchdog.
Whenever regulations have been drafted with respect to drinking and driving, the brewers are not invited to the table for discussion ... no matter how many sporting events they might sponsor.
Part of the problem that animal advocates face is that most pet owners do not "relate" to the need for laws. They take good care of their own pets and don't understand what more might be needed.
It takes a personal tragedy like this to highlight the fact that every humane law to protect the animals does double duty as consumer protection legislation. Minimum housing standards. Breeding limit laws. Mandatory breeding registration. Anti tethering legislation.
Sadly ... as long as the reputable CKC breeders are willing to be tarred with same brush as the commercial members behind PIJAC, all efforts by animal advocates will continue to be watered down by the very industry they are attempting to regulate.
If our MLA's wish to redeem their reputations after the dubious distinction of winning the Teddy Award for Outrageous Government Waste (from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation), fast tracking decent regulations for the new Animal Cruelty Law would be an excellent place to start.
What time is it? Its always time to remember that the way ahead for the animals will only be paved by strong voter feedback.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Keep your words sweet because someday you might have to eat them

From tonight's Herald
N.S. court to rule on Brindi's fate after assessment
By PAT LEE Staff Reporter UPDATED 7:26 p.m.Tue. Mar 9 - 11:35 AM
After a court-sanctioned behavioural assessment is done on Brindi, some animal advocates hope the dog is spared death but not given back to owner Francesca Rogier.Well-known dog trainer Bob Ottenbrite said Tuesday he and others have made arrangements for a suitable home for Brindi and he will supervise her training, if the court agrees.
“Brindi is a good dog,” he said Tuesday. “So we’re offering the third option of placing her in a home so she doesn’t have to be put down. A group of us have gotten together to put that out there.”
Rogier, of East Chezzetcook, was found guilty in February of being the owner of a dog running at large, owning a dog that attacked another animal and failing to comply with a muzzle order.
Rogier’s sentencing, and Brindi’s fate, were postponed on Tuesday when Rogier asked for time to have an expert assess the six-year-old mixed breed.
Since Halifax Regional Municipality’s Animal Services branch seized Brindi about 20 months ago, the dog has been held at the SPCA shelter in Dartmouth.
Judge Alanna Murphy agreed to delay proceedings until April 16 when she will review the animal expert’s findings.
Brindi, whom Rogier adopted from Celtic Pets in Port Hastings — which the SPCA shut down in 2008 for inhumane treatment of its animals — was under a muzzle order in the summer of 2008 because of complaints about her behaviour. On July 20, she ran off Rogier’s property and attacked a dog being walked along East Chezzetcook Road.
Animal Services had originally ordered the dog euthanized, but a Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge ruled that portions of the bylaw authorizing Brindi’s killing exceeded the municipality’s power.
A few days later, the city laid charges against Rogier.
Rogier continues to insist that Brindi be returned to her. She said Tuesday that she has proposed private training sessions or moving out of the municipality with the dog. But finding a new home for Brindi is not an option, she said.
“We’ve bonded and she recognizes me,” she said. “I think this dog has had a raw deal and I (gave her) the only home she’s ever known.”
During the February court appearance, Ottenbrite made it known that he would adopt Brindi and keep her at his kennel in South Rawdon, but he has since rescinded the offer. He said supporters of Rogier threatened him and his dog training business and he feared for Brindi’s safety.
“I do not feel that Brindi would be safe here,” he said Tuesday. “I think that she would probably be stolen.”
But Ottenbrite is still offering to work with Brindi and he said he has made arrangements with another suitable owner, who does not want to be named at this time.
Ottenbrite said he and other local animal trainers have tried to work with Rogier in the past. Rogier formerly had Brindi in Ottenbrite’s obedience and agility classes.
“There were a lot of us, several trainers that I know who are really good trainers and can make all the difference in the world, but each one of them has become fed up with what’s going on,” he said.
He said many people support an option other than killing the dog or returning her to Rogier.
“There’s hundreds of people out there of the same opinion,” Ottenbrite said. The city has never said whether it would support a deal to spare Brindi’s life and find her a new home.
The SPCA wrote to the city in February asking that the dog’s life be spared.
“It is the society’s belief that Brindi could be safely placed (in another home),” said executive director Kristin Williams. “Brindi has demonstrated over the last 18 months that she can live peacefully and happily with a responsible owner.”
Janet Chernin, who runs a dog daycare in Halifax and is a founding member of Advocates for Responsible Pet Ownership, said the drawn-out Brindi case highlights the need for an impartial panel to mediate animal control issues.
“This clearly shows why we need an ombudsman, why we need a panel of experts to judge cases in an unbiased manner,” said Chernin, who wants Brindi spared but not returned to Rogier.
Rogier said she will appeal any decision that does not return Brindi to her.

This is the first decent and unbiased story in the media that I have seen on this subject. Up until now, community animal advocates and dog behavior specialists have been virtually ignored, making it all the more possible for any animal advocate from away to picture this as a David and Goliath sort of saga.
The story takes the high ground and doesn't attempt to shatter the self proclaimed illusion that Brindi is the new spokesdog for truth and justice in HRM by asking where Ms Rogier was when the public meetings were being held on Bylaw A-300. Nor does it speculate about the possibility / probability that a conflict of interest will occur when a public supporter of Ms Rogier assumes the HRM sheltering contract before the day of decision ( perhaps ) arrives.
It does what any good story does. It sticks to the facts. When I was a young NCO, one of the best pieces of advice I received was from a wise old sgt who told me " You never have to get people ... people get themselves."
What time is it? Its time for me to eat my words about the Herald not doing any meaningful stories about the animals.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Proof of the Pudding

From http://www.novanewsnow.com/
Curbing the county’s kitty problem, one cat at a time
Published on March 4th, 2010
Heather Killen/Spectator The note that came with her said: “My name is Peaches. Please give me a good home.”
Dorothy Amirault, of Granville Ferry, said she found the ginger-coloured tabby after it had been dropped in her dooryard a few years ago. This wasn’t the first or last abandoned or stray animal she’s helped after it showed up in her neighbourhood.
“At least they told me her name,” she said. “People always know which houses will take the animal in.”
Amirault, along with Steve Lewis, Jean Spavold, and Paula Dodaro are members of an Annapolis-based nonprofit group called Team TNR (Trap Neuter Return). These volunteers have been spaying and neutering stray and feral cat colonies since 2006.
The group humanely traps the cats, takes them to a local vet for a health check, needles, and spays or neuters. Then the cats are returned to the site and their caregiver. Similar high-volume, low-cost spay and neuter programs are used worldwide and have been found to be the most effective way of controlling over population.
The first colony treated by Team TNR here in February 2006 was located outside Annapolis Royal. About 40 feral cats were living in an outbuilding and were being fed by a local animal lover. Neighbours complained the colony was a nuisance and the local animal control officer was constantly hearing complaints.
“It starts when you feed a stray. Some people have a big heart and when cats are dropped off, they can’t see them starve,” she said. “But then one turns into another, and another, and soon there’s kittens.”
Nobody starts out with 40 cats, but unwanted animals tend to turn up one at a time, according to Amirault. Some have wandered away from their homes. Others are dropped off, or abandoned after people move.
And if these animals aren’t spayed or neutered, nature takes over and soon one pair of cats proliferates into a colony. One unsprayed female and her mate can produce as many as 2000 cats in four years.
“It goes on forever unless the populations are controlled,” Steve Lewis said. “We need to adopt a comprehensive spay and neuter program.”
Cat populations can be controlled through continuing TNR programs on existing colonies, but we need to take the initiative one step further by starting a low-cost spay and neuter program to help low income pet owners, he added.
Unless pets are fixed, unwanted animals will continue to be born and many of these kittens will end up homeless, perpetuating an endless cycle. Lewis said that most stray cats are only a generation away from becoming feral cats.
Trapping and euthanizing cat colonies is an ineffective way of approaching the problem. Cats are territorial and removing one group only means another will move in and the birth rates will subsequently go up again.

To date the group has trapped, neutered, and returned over 900 cats in the county and while there is a currently a waiting list of about 60 cats, Lewis said he knows the program is working because the populations among the treated colonies are shrinking, not growing.
The original colony in Granville Ferry has now dropped by half. This change was a normal process of attrition and possible only because the population had been controlled through Team TNR’s program.
“It goes on forever unless the populations are controlled. We need to adopt a comprehensive spay and neuter program.” - Steve Lewis
Another large colony outside Middleton hasn’t produced any kittens since Team TNR paid them a visit about two years ago. Topping the group’s to-do list this year is a large colony outside Bridgetown.
“This is possible because we have dedicated caregivers, compassionate veterinarians, and through the support of the county,” he said.
The group also relies on funding from the Municipality of the County of Annapolis. Lewis said Annapolis is the only municipality in the province that funds this type of program; and since the group is so small, this funding is especially important as they don’t have time to do their own fundraising.
The program is also possible thanks to the generosity of local veterinarians such as Dr. Jody Rice, of Port Royal Animal Hospital. The group works with four vets in the area and without their support, the group couldn’t continue, he added.
In the end, it’s a cost effective program for everyone according to Lewis. In communities using TNR programs, new cat birth rates have dropped, lessening the need for catching cats. The animal control officer has more time for other issues, and this translates into the taxpayers saving money.
Anyone caring for stray/feral cats and willing to continue feeding them after they’ve been fixed can call Team TNR for help. Also from time to time, the group finds tame cats that are adoptable. For more information on adopting, or neutering a cat, call Dorothy at 532-0000.

Gosh ... once again Annapolis county is leading the way for the animals. How do they help them ....let me count the ways:

  • by providing the tangible support that Team TNR has needed to be able to focus on the actual TNR work
  • in addition, because Team TNR has maintained statistics, Annapolis County is able to show other municipalities how a relatively modest investment can yield tangible results in a short ( four year ) time. ( the subject of how the petition in support of TNR in HRM has fallen into some mysterious black hole is a separate topic deserving of its own post)
  • by developing and maintaining a relationship with CAPS to provide a better outcome for AC impounds
  • by promoting this work on their county website, easily accessed from the front door by clicking on the Admin tab. Links to CAPS immediately pop up when the mouse passes over the Animal Control link
  • by changing their dog registration program ( http://www.annapoliscountyspectator.ca/News/2010-03-04/article-877633/County-introduces-voluntary-dog-registration/1) to a voluntary, one time lifetime fee for registering each dog.

Now that wasn't the only article that I found about the animals this morning... nope in this morning's herald there is also this:

Pro-Brindi demonstrators rally to support owner

By MICHAEL LIGHTSTONE Staff Reporter Sun. Mar 7 - 4:53 AM
A small group of animal lovers rallied in Halifax Saturday to support an embattled metro dog owner who’s been on a crusade to save her beloved pet from being put down.
The rally was held on behalf of Francesca Rogier and her impounded dog, Brindi, in advance of the woman’s sentencing hearing Tuesday in Dartmouth provincial court.
Ten sign-carrying protesters gathered in front of the main entrance of the Public Gardens to hand out leaflets and appeal to passersby to support their cause.
One of the protester’s signs said: Dogs Forgive – Why Can’t We?
Nearby, young people were on the sidewalk extolling the virtues of God and the Bible.
It was sunny and a cool breeze was blowing but pro-Brindi demonstrators and their furry friends came prepared for the weather. One pet owner tied a scarf around her dog’s neck, another dressed her pooch in a blanket-like sweater and tuque while a third owner quenched her dog’s thirst with a large bottle of water.
One of the handouts said there were misconceptions about Brindi’s past behaviour.
"Brindi has never attacked or bitten a person," it says. "The SPCA shelter finds her lovable and sweet."
She has had a few scrapes with other dogs, though.
Last month, Rogier was found guilty of violating Halifax Regional Municipality’s animal control bylaw. The presiding judge must decide what to do with the dog, which has been held at an SPCA shelter since it was seized by the municipality in 2008.
Rogier was convicted of three charges: being the owner of a dog that was running at large, owning a dog that attacked another animal and failing to comply with a muzzle order.
Judge Alanna Murphy scheduled the sentencing hearing for March 9. Rogier told The Chronicle Herald Saturday that she plans to request a postponement.
"I’m asking for an adjournment so I can get time to get a behavioural assessment" of Brindi, a six-year-old mixed breed, she said.
Rogier, who is representing herself in court, said she will appeal if the judge orders her dog destroyed.
She said she might consider some sort of temporary foster care for Brindi, if the court should issue such an order, but doesn’t want her dog adopted by someone else.
"I’m perfectly capable of taking care of this dog," said Rogier. "I just need to have her behind a fence . . . and I’ve already lined up trainers to help me work on her behaviour. I don’t see how anyone can do any better than that."
Rogier said she’s visited her dog since it was seized about 20 months ago. Asked if she and Brindi might have to form a new bond should the animal be released to her care, she said probably not.
But Brindi would likely have to be housetrained again — if she gets to go home with Rogier to East Chezzetcook, the woman said.
When I was in the military, I used to tell my people that I would back them up for making any mistake ... as they as they were straight with me. Over the period of time that Brindi has been impounded, the story has changed so often and has sadly born such little resemblance to the facts presented in court that its no surprise that support for Ms Rogier dwindled and has virtually disappeared from the local animal loving community.

If I hadn't learned the hard way from the Celtic Pets story not to swallow whole every tale I was told, that lesson was driven home with this case. ( There is a sad irony at the connection, when a more reputable rescue would have matched Brindi to an adopter with suitable experience and skills )

Like everyone else in the local animal loving community, I am truly hoping that Brindi will live to tell the tale, but I believe it is not in Brindi's best interests to return her to a community where virtually every possible bridge has been burned. Not only do I greatly fear for Brindi's personal safety, but it doesn't take any prescience to predict the outcome when AC has to get involved. Why do I say when? In light of everything that has happened, its clear there will be zero tolerance for error in the neighborhood, eh?

But this is all sheer speculation for, as my friend Joan has repeatedly pointed out the decision is in the hands of three parties ... and three parties alone.

The reason I posted this article ... was not to garner additional attention for this very Unhappy Tail. I posted it as an example of media bias that is starting to be a disturbing trend in the Herald. ( Remember Next time, look under the bed ? ) Does today's article interview anyone outside of the protest, or base its information on anything more than the pamphlets the reporter was given? Outside of admiring the dog togs of course. The freedom to swallow whole every tale they are told should not ever be extended to the press, eh?

There are so many animal related stories and investigative work more relevant to the community that the Herald could and should be doing. What happened to the petition submitted in support of TNR? What happened to the Low Cost Spay Neuter proposal submitted by the society? A juicy expose of the sordid stories enabled by the dreaded free online ad sites ( Oh wait a minute ... that might be a little close to home where a local valley puppy miller has been advertising in the Herald : (((

Webmaster edit .... if the Herald really wants to promote a news story, they really ought to read the post that my friend Joan wrote on this article http://dogkisser.blogspot.com/2010/03/huge-conflict-of-interest.html She has a very valid point that needs to get 'equal time'

What time is it? It is time for all media to use a bit of social responsibility and remember that their stories have the power to shape and influence lives. The Herald could learn a lesson or two from the little local Annapolis County Spectator, who chose to serve their community by educating folks about TNR in general and Team TNR in specific.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The mother of good luck

The 2009 Annual (January - December) stats were posted on the society website today. I've been on the watch for them, to see how the numbers measure up after a year of being on the New Path.
At first glance the Cape Breton dog Stats look impressive ... their dog euthanasia rate has been radically reduced from 22.4% to 16.6 .... until one looks a little closer at their numbers.
In the society stats, the number of animals that die of natural causes is not included in the euthanasia rate. Last year, the Cape Breton Branch had 53 dogs die of natural causes, while this years figure leapt to 169. The branch took in 267 less dogs this past year, but the total number of animals that died, of natural causes or by human hand, was only 22 less than there were in the 08 stats. In other words, pretty much the same number of dead dogs.
As expected, their cat intake was down as well. ( by 515) Unfortunately, if the 83 cats that 'died of natural causes' were included in their already higher euthanasia rate for this year, there would only be a difference of one in the number of dead cats from 08 to 09 ( the subject of how the closing balance for 08 doesn't match the opening one for 09 is not a promising sign either)
On the other hand, there is plenty of good news elsewhere. Metro's cat adoption rate is up from 59% to 72 % and their dog adoption rate is up from 27.4 to 42.2% That was undoubtedly responsible for the fact that they were able to take in 177 more cats and 149 more dogs this year than last.
Yarmouth also deserves bragging rights. Their dog adoption rate is up from 32.6 % in 09 to 58.1% in 09. While they are sadly still the same for the cats, at least they have the number of dogs dying for any reason down below the ten percent benchmark.
The little branches generally have decent numbers, but its important to remember that nowhere in the stats is any record kept of the number of animals that could not or would not be accepted by any branch.
All in all, there really were no surprises. Better stats aren't a matter of luck or geography .. they are the direct result of hard work, imagination and having the sense to put every tool to its best use.
Diligence is the mother of good luck. Benjamin Franklin.

Silver linings trump smoke and mirrors anyday

One of the lovely things about being retired is the chance to see more of the wildlife out here "on the edge of Harmony". This morning, for instance, we were treated to another leisurely look at the bald eagle circling over the yard.
Not being a townie, I do understand that he wasn't being sociable. To the eagle, a rabbit is a cat is a small dog is dinner, and this is the reason that little Andy is always on a lunge line whenever we are outside anywhere.
Eagles are not the only hazard to kitties, as sensible ferals seldom sun out in full view. ( the subject of how inhumane it is to dump a tame housecat or kitten without a feral's survival skills anywhere is deserving of a separate post all its own. )
But I'm wandering afield here. In my opinion, its just a waste of energy to get upset at the bald eagles / red tailed hawks / golden eagles / chicken hawks / foxes / coyotes / weasels or any other wild things who are just looking to survive. To be perfectly honest, we humans are a lot harder on them and their habitats than any of them are on each other.
If we humans weren't so hard on so many things we would never need laws. But here in the real world, laws are there when we can't be good for goodness sake. It is really still a crapshoot to be a pet .... the lucky ones spend their whole lives being well cared for and loved by the same human. Even luckier are the ones who find a second chance at a first rate life through animal rescue.
In a province where many of my contemporaries grew up with dogs that never saw the inside of a house or a vet's office, laws also do double duty by educating. Changing the law is the only way to move forward from how "we always did it at home"
New legislation in Nova Scotia is exactly like a new house under construction. The statute provides the framework that defines the shape of the new law. But before the new law can be "roof tight", regulations have to be drafted to set out the specifics of the new law. Drafted, reviewed, approved and passed by the approving authority, which for most of the new animal act is the Governor in Council. The same kind of speedy process that saw the new law sitting on the shelf for months before being proclaimed.
This morning, I noticed that there were a new series of Animal Welfare White Papers on the front door of the society website. Some of them are dusted off versions of the old position statements, but the really interesting bit is the Key Messages wherein there is a new bold statement that "The Nova Scotia SPCA is a no-kill animal welfare organization that follows the principles of the No-Kill Equation as published by Nathan J. Winograd"
Does this mean No Kill at Metro or does it mean No Kill at all the branches? Hmmm ... just the possibility of such a silver lining could make for very interesting days indeed.
What time is it? Its time to remember that while well intentioned folks from away are focusing on so much smoke and mirrors, that those here on the ground in Nova Scotia have been quietly moving forward in spite of it all.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Two Bunny Box Babies Looking for a Home

These charming pics popped up in my inbox tonight ... along with this appealing little story :
A motley crew of 4 kittens was dumped on the sidewalk outside a vet clinic to be discovered by the clinic staff. They were found quaking with fear in a stinking, filthy wooden box that was likely to have been used in the past for a bunny rabbit. As bad as it seems that they were dumped at all, I had to think that there were worse places to dump them or worse things to do to them than leave them outside a vet clinic.
We whisked these kitties away to my own vet that same day to be checked out, tested for FeLV/FIV, needled and treated for worms and fleas. After a few weeks in foster care, they were all spayed (all female; yikes!) and given their booster needle. The vet guestimates their age to be 5 months. They're all set, ready and waiting for a home with someone who is interested in adopting some fully vetted kitties as family members.
The first 2 sisters have already found a wonderful home together and it is now our wish that the remaining sisters, Gabby and Holly, go together as well. They seem to have developed a close bond and besides - we want to minimize the stress of this final transition.
Gabby is a sleek black tuxedo, cute as a button, with a sweet, gentle disposition. She likes to watch the action when she's not taking part in it. She's really a sociable gadabout. Holly is the mackeral tabby and she has a calm, gentle disposition, albeit a bit shy. She tends to stay in the background of activity yet looks to be the one likely to become the biggest sook.
If you think you might be interested in these sisters, please open the conversation by telling me a little bit about yourself; such things as your home environment, previous pet history, student/employed status. Indoor environments are preferred and declawing is not an option. We would ask that you offer a donation to offset the vet costs for our ongoing rescue work; something in the order of $100 or more would be appreciated. We can offer a charitable receipt for your contribution. Please don't ask that we consider less money; it takes away the possibility of rescuing another cat and the cost of vet care is prohibitive.
As you can appreciate, we are hoping to find the best home possible for these lovely creatures, especially given their less than auspicious beginning.
Thanks so much for your interest. pmsears@hotmail.com]

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Lost Puppy! $500.00 Reward

I just posted a notice for this little girl on the lost and found pages of the homeless pet site:
Price/Offer $500 reward
Location Eastern Passage
Description Lost puppy on February 26 during the storm.She is a 7 month old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.She is 9 lbs and was wearing a pink collar.We are desperate to have her back home.Thank you.
Contact Detail Andrea Allen 401-0670