Monday, April 26, 2010

Heads up for antique collectors!!!!!

Do you collect antiques? Do you like to support animal rescue? Today I had an email about this amazing benefit auction for SHAID. On May 8th the private collection of a Queens county antique collector will be auctioned off at the Days Inn, Bridgewater. Over 90 items. All proceeds will go to SHAID and anyone interested may view a complete list at

Painting by Numbers part 3

I love baking. Gosh what's not to love? The house smells great and at the risk of tooting my own horn it just adds a delicious element to domestic bliss. With all the home made breads and muffins and cinnamon buns, no one is ever going to accuse me of being anorexic .... but then I haven't been beating down the door at weight watchers or sparkspeople either!
Mind you, baking does take more precision than most other cookery. Anyone who claims they can't bake generally is either unwilling or unable to measure properly or follow all the steps in the directions. For those in a hurry or intimidated by new tasks, baking definitely puts the F in the precise formula of a baking recipe.
Measuring is also a time tested way to gauge the success of any project. From political polls to horrific civilian death tolls in war torn regions, numbers are the single most effective way to wake people up.
The society understood that and made full public disclosure of its statistics an important first step on their New Path. They are under no legal obligation to do so, but they understood even the Unhappy Tails were needed to paint an accurate picture of the work needed to be done. After all, if everything was all sunshine and roses there would have been no need for a New Path because we would already be at No Kill Nova Scotia.
I have a lot of respect for this board because they were motivated by the numbers from their Unhappy Tails to build an actual Strategic Plan to effect real change. IMHO, it took a lot of balls just to stop sweeping things under the rug and admit there was a truckload of work to be done.
Unfortunately, while they are the official voice for the animals, the society is still unable to speak for them all. If you go to any of the municipal websites in this province, there are no publicly available statistics for animal control.
The only thing that comes a little bit close is in Annapolis County, where an official relationship has been forged with CAPS. While one cannot see stats on the AC page, all animals who come into CAPS care have begun their journey with Annapolis county AC and CAPS statistic are readily available upon request.
Not every part of this province has coverage by a rescue or a shelter, but every municipality in the province has animal control bylaws and some sort of arrangement to enforce them.... whether it be a contractor, actual AC staff, sheltering contracts or their own pound.
If there is any constant it is that there really is only one constant ... none of their statistics are publicly available. To make matters worse, it isn't simply a matter of utilizing the freedom of information option. In NS, that only applies to the actual government and not to their contractors.
For instance, we have no way of knowing if the two cute little dogs on the new Homeward Bound City Pound Adoptions facebook group are the only ones that have NOT been adopted this month, or what might have happened to the other ( bigger and not so cute ) faces from the found pet photos page of the HRM website. Were they claimed by their owners? Adopted? Deemed unadoptable? We'll never know unless someone takes the unprecedented step of presenting publicly available stats.
If I had no measuring cups, I would be hard pressed to make a decent cake or a good batch of cookies. If we do not have publicly available animal control statistics, there is absolutely no way to measure the scope of the homeless pet problem in this province.
How on earth can the majority of animal lovers be expected to be concerned if the numbers are veiled in mystery? Efforts to engage the public will continue to fall flat until there is a real sense of the scope of the situation.
What time is it? Its time to recognize that honest statistics are not about pointing fingers and assigning blame ... but rather that they are the only effective way to paint the real picture.
Bureaucracy defends the status quo long past the time when the quo has lost its status. Laurence J. Peter

Sunday, April 25, 2010

A is for Adopt

I love this time of year. Everytime I turn around, something new is greening or budding or beginning to grow. Mind you, its the busiest time of year around here ... between readying the garden and annual outdoor chores it is never a matter of 'what will I do' but more a question of what will I do first.
No question about it ... anyone who works frontline animal rescue is that busy every day of the year. Rescuing / working with volunteers / scheduling vet visits / screening and of course continually fundraising to fund all of the above.
No doubt about it ... when miracles are often worked on a shoestring ... the free Petfinder listing service for adoptables is one of the most effective tools available to animal rescuers. It has been well publicized and has become the go to online source for potential first time adopters. Is it the only free service? Nope .. but it is the most popular one and offers rescuers the best options for promoting their pets. Unlike other services, each pet can have a comprehensive and detailed biography and multiple pictures are allowed for each listing. Rescues can also list a free video. Even better, each rescue has the option of offering sponsorships for each and every listing.
Its not a free service provided by an insurance or a pet food company, so there are fewer tracking bots to cause computer problems for potential adopters.
Yes it takes a bit of time to craft an effective listing ... but that should be considered as essential as the time spent for vet visits, home visits and screening. In fact, a well written listing can both engage and inform adopters and can save everyone time in the long run. For instance, if an adopter is looking for a playful companion for their dog ... who will get along well with cats and children .... they will be far more inclined to respond to the listings that provide that information.
I get a bit of a birds eye view from maintaining the site and have noticed a few things that seem to shorten the time that the pet is listed:
  • Because bios are sorted alphabetically when people visit individual rescue sites, the Andy's and the Buddy's and the Cocoas have an edge on the Wally's and Zeus'
  • dogs photographed on green grass
  • dogs sitting in a relaxed way, especially if the leash is not prominent in the picture
  • any dog with a stuffie
  • scarves and hats
  • cats with a toy
  • and of course any bio that gives a sense of the pet

In light of that .. for anyone too busy to make time for a proper bio, please consider this to be my present to the animals.

Sample Bio

________ is an ___ year old ( insert adjective such as lovable, friendly , shy, etc) _______. (He or she) walks well on a leash / is still learning the ropes /pulls like a sled dog.

______ is (great / shy / too boisterous for ) small children and is wonderful with ( other dogs/ cats/ gerbils/ etc )

_____ is a ( fun / playful / affectionate ____ who loves to ( play frisbee / go to the dog park / jog / swim and of course cuddle and snuggle)

_____ needs a new home because ( insert sad story here ... his or her owner passed away/ went into a home / lost a job / got a new boyfriend / etc....)

The best bios are written by the people who care for the pets everyday .... the fosters and the shelter volunteers. Whoever writes the bios should talk to people who know the animals, eh?

What time is it? At the risk of sounding like a stuck record ... its time to regard Petfinder as a standard weapon in the rescue arsenal and not as an unnecessary frill.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day from the Nova Scotia NDP

from this morning's Herald
Coyote bounty on way
NDP likely to pay $20 a killing, despite experts panning cull
By JEFFREY SIMPSON Provincial Reporter Thu. Apr 22 - 4:54 AM
A coyote howls in an enclosure at the Millville Predator Research Facility in Millville, Utah, last year. The head of the Nova Scotia Federation of Anglers and Hunters has said a bounty on Nova Scotia coyotes would be a politically motivated waste of taxpayers’ money.(Colin Braley / AP)
Natural Resources Minister John MacDonell has suggested that he will announce a bounty on coyotes in the province today.
"Trappers seem to indicate that more tracking pressure certainly makes the coyotes more wary, and this is something that I’m concerned about," MacDonell said Wednesday at Province House.
"They’ve been particularly bold and aggressive, and I’m thinking the ones that are least cautious might be the easiest ones to get first."
The cull would come almost six months after Taylor Mitchell, a singer-songwriter from Toronto, died in hospital after two coyotes attacked her in Cape Breton Highlands National Park.
It was the first time a coyote attack resulted in a death in Nova Scotia. Since then, other people have reported encounters with the animals behaving aggressively.
MacDonell has confirmed previously that he was planning to offer a bounty worth about $20 to members of the Trappers’ Association of Nova Scotia. Members of that group caught 1,900 coyotes last year without a bounty.
He acknowledged that he and some wildlife experts have been skeptical that a cull would control numbers for a significant length of time because you would have to kill 75 per cent of the animals for 50 years.
"This is more of a people-safety thing, so I’m not expecting to eliminate coyotes."
MacDonell also wants to help educate people about coyotes, but he declined to offer further details.
Leo Glavine, the Liberal natural resources critic, said his party is against a cull.
"Live-trapping works for nuisance animals. That seems to solve the problem."
The head of the Nova Scotia Federation of Anglers and Hunters has said a bounty would be a politically motivated waste of taxpayers’ money and has urged MacDonell to reconsider such a move.
"It cannot be based on emotion," Tony Rodgers, the federation’s executive director, told The Canadian Press last week. "This is part of the problem we’ve experienced in past years when politicians started making biological decisions. They haven’t got it right yet."
‘This is more of a people-safety thing, so I’m not expecting to eliminate coyotes.’ JOHN MacdonellNatural resources minister

Public safety my big fat brownie boosted a**. By his own admission, the NDP Natural Resources Minister has no faith that the cull is either necessary or an effective way to address anything more than the strong voter feedback/hysteria that has been building for the last few months.
From their own website, here is the Dept of Natural Resources FAQ about Eastern Coyotes which up until a couple of days ago contained the firm denial that a coyote cull would have any effect on the situation... clearly stating that it had been tried before and had not proved at all successful.
How big are they? During the 1992/93 harvesting season, over 300 coyotes were weighed by DNR wildlife staff. The average weight of adult male coyotes was 33.9 lbs (15.4 kg). The average weight of adult females was 27.7 lbs(12.6 kg). The largest male collected weighed 47.8 lbs (21.7 kg). DNR occasionally receives reports of individual coyotes weighing in excess of 50 lbs (22.7 kg) but animals of that size are not common.
What should I do when I encounter a coyote?
  • do not feed, touch, or photograph the animal from close distances;
  • remove self from the area by slowly backing away while remaining calm
  • do not turn and run;
  • use personal alarm devices to frighten or threaten the animal;
  • encourage the animal to leave (provide space, an escape route);
  • if animal exhibits aggressive behaviour -- then be larger and noisier by throwing sticks and rocks; and
  • fight back aggressively if the animal attacks.

Are coyotes found in Nova Scotia larger than western coyotes Yes. Coyotes found in NS are known as Eastern Coyotes and, while closely related to coyotes found in western North America, they are genetically distinct. The significantly larger body size of Eastern Coyotes has been attributed to past interbreeding with wolves, as coyotes spread northward and eastward across North America. Some individuals encountered here may be as much as twice the average size of coyotes found in southwestern North America.
Why are they so big?
The eastern coyote is basically a western coyote which has picked up significant wolf characteristics through interbreeding. This genetic make up gives the eastern coyote the potential for a much larger body size - twice the size of their close relative, the south-western coyote
How many pups do they have? Collections of harvested coyotes in Nova Scotia indicate that average litter sizes are in the range of 5.5 to 6.3 pups. Records show a low of 2 pups and a high of 10
Where did they come from? These animals dispersed from west to east through Ontario, Quebec, New York and New Brunswick. Crossing the isthmus, they eventually moved from mainland Nova Scotia to Cape Breton crossing the ice-covered Canso Strait.
When did they show up in NS? The first coyote was trapped in 1977.
Were they introduced?No, they were not introduced. With habitat changes in North America, such as land clearing, railroad right-of-ways, etc., the prairie coyote in the late 1800's began a range expansion that reached Nova Scotia in 1976. There were probably a few coyotes in N.S. prior to 1976, but people may have assumed sightings to be of dogs running at large.
Is the population of coyotes in Nova Scotia increasing? The population of coyotes in the province is stable. See graph for harvest and complaint data.
Why don't we put a bounty on them, or cull them to reduce the population? The department is considering a pelt-incentive program, a targeted method to increase trapper participation and harvest levels. Increased trapping can also affect coyote behaviour, such that animals fear and avoid humans. This is different than a general, wildlife bounty, which is a broad-scale price put on the target animal to promote killing by anyone at anytime. (webmaster note .... this is a changed answer from even a couple of days ago when it was stated that it had been tried and proved unsuccessful)
Do coyotes in Nova Scotia carry rabies or other diseases? There have been no reported cases of rabies in coyotes in Nova Scotia. Coyotes can carry canine (dog family) heartworm, tapeworm, distemper and mange.
Are coyotes aggressive? Coyotes are wild and generally avoid people. However, they should be treated as potentially dangerous. Do not approach a coyote.
What should people do to be prepared? People out in the wilderness should be aware of their surroundings at all times. Other options include making noise, travelling in pairs or groups, and carrying hiking sticks.
How can people reduce coyote interactions? Make sure garbage is not left laying around, remove pet food, compost, or garbage from outside your doorstep at night. Do not feed wild animals. Do not leave pets unattended or unprotected outdoors
Do they hunt in packs? Coyotes do travel and hunt in family units or packs, generally there is a dominate pair with young of the year.
What do coyotes eat? Coyotes generally eat deer, mice, squirrels, snowshoe hare, and fruit such as apples, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries, and are excellent scavengers.
In the history of interactions between humans and coyotes, has there ever been a fatal attack? The attack in Cape Breton is the first case of this nature in Nova Scotia. There was a fatal case reported in the United States (California) in 1981 (Timm, Baker, Bennett and Coolahan 2004).
How many people have been attacked by coyotes?There are 3 records since 1995 of people bitten or attacked in Nova Scotia. Newspaper article records show that in Canada between 1998-2008, there were 24 coyote-human interactions resulting in injury (14.2% of all reported human-coyote incidents). There were no deaths or serious injuries. Incidents usually involved scratches or puncture wounds (Alexander & Quinn, University of Calgary).
Is jogging or running an issue?If you encounter a coyote while jogging/running, stop and slowly leave the area in the direction from which you came. Never run from a coyote as it may trigger a predatory response and chase.
Are there wolf/coyote hybrids ? Eastern Coyotes appear to be genetically distinct; they are not western coyotes nor eastern wolves. The eastern coyote's larger body size has been attributed to past interbreeding with wolves.
What should you do when you encounter a coyote in the wild? Do not approach the animal(s). Leave the area immediately.
Why are coyotes also found in urban areas? Have we invaded their home?Coyotes are a relatively new species to Nova Scotia. These animals are very adaptable, and will live in and near human settlements, including urban areas.
Does the provincial government trap nuisance coyotes when people lose pets? Nuisance wildlife operators are available to capture animals that come into conflict with humans. However, people should keep their pets under control and supervision, preferably indoors or protected in kennels where they cannot be harmed and cannot chase or harm wildlife.
Is there a season for hunting coyote?
Coyotes are classed as other harvestable wildlife and can be shot year round with no bag limit. However coyotes may only be trapped by licensed furharvesters during the trapping season which starts October 15th and ends March 31st.
Should we expect to see more coyotes during the winter? Yes, winter is the breeding season when movements/activities increase. If natural food sources are locally restricted for some reason, then we have seen that coyotes will become more active/visible in search of food. Snow and the lack of leaf cover also makes coyotes more visible. Heavy snow may encourage travel on/near roads. Recently publicity about coyotes has also heightened public awareness and the likelihood to report sightings.

This morning, when we came home from our daily hike in the woods ( see the previous post to find out how easy it is to do so safely ), I noticed that a new facebook group has been started Stop the Nova Scotia Coyote Cull.
The NDP Natural Resource Minister admits that it is motivated by politics, not public safety. The Liberal Natural Resources Critic, who is my own MLA, and represents a rural riding strongly opposes the cull. The Head of The NS Assc of Anglers and Hunters calls the cull a "politically motivated waste of taxpayers money"
If you do not already have it, the link for current contact information for all NS MLA's is on the sidebar of this blog
What time is it? Its always time to speak out about such blatant political opportunism .... before the NDP try to bury their inability to deliver on election promises under the corpses of dead coyotes.
Cowardice asks the question: is it safe? Expediency asks the question: is it politic? Vanity asks the question: is it popular? But conscience asks the question: is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular- but one must take it simply because it is right. - Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Educating the elected

I love going to the woods every morning with my dogs. There are always so many interesting and different things to see and sniff that, like the proverbial river, we never step on the same trail twice.
With all the attention that coyotes are receiving in the media, is it foolish for me to still go everyday? Not a bit. That's not false bravado .... although I'm not a hunter, I am lucky enough to have had military survival training and a fair bit of experience in the woods.
Coyotes are nothing new here, so I've always brought Mom's old guiding whistle .... along with pliers jic we encounter an old barb wire fence and a small belt axe jic we need to clear a bit of tangle off the trail. Although I always bring my blackberry, I honestly think that my best protection is paying attention to the dogs. If Henry is too eager, or Andy too reluctant, there is always another path we can take.
I love the new emphasis that is being placed on pet retention. Best Friends has a wonderful First Home Forever Home campaign, Petfinder has FurKeeps and nearly every animal welfare and pet adoption site has a ton of Free information on how to navigate through life's waters with your pet.
It saddens me to visit the ads on Kijiji and see the excuses being offered to explain why these pets are no longer wanted. In fact, one of my deep dark secrets is that I was moved by this to write a couple of brochures for the society, Moving with Pets and Prenatal Preparation for Pet Owners .
In the space of my lifetime, I have moved and had children. Ever the optimist, I've been married and divorced twice. In other words ... like everyone else on the planet, I have seldom seen life's curve balls coming. So, like many others in the animal loving community, I know from personal experience that it is entirely possible to keep your pets for life no matter what.
No doubt about it, Kijiji does make it easy for people to get off the pet owning hook. In a very anonymous fashion, without really looking like an a**hole in front of their friends, family, neighbours and coworkers, people are easily able to discard the pet instead of taking any steps down a better (and more rewarding ) path.
Not every vet will kill a healthy adoptable pet at the owners request anymore. I know that my vet won't ... she didn't study for years to save life for that. ( The fact that owners often still choose the Cheaper Unhappy Tail over an investment in life for the pet that they love is a separate subject, and the reason why I Always bring brownies to the vets when I go )
Nor is there room in rescue for all of the good pets who had the bad luck to be picked by the wrong person. Not right now anyway, not without more adoption incentives and off site adoptions, eh?
So what is the solution:
  • legislation to ban the traffic of living breathing sentient beings in the free online ad sites?
  • humane education in the school system?
  • low cost / high volume spay neuter clinics?
  • free workshops on pet retention and support lines from municipalities?
  • more aggressive adoption strategies
  • a fun Nova Scotia Week for the animals to reach the majority who Never Go To the Animal Welfare and Adoption Websites?
  • better use of social networking?
  • educating the public health nurses to help new parents understand the need to prepare their pets Before Baby Arrives?
  • educating landlords? And tenants? One bad apple in a landlords lifetime can spoil the bunch for every responsible pet owning tenant.
  • all of the above?

Wait a minute ... didn't the society recently present a modestly priced proposal for a low cost spay neuter clinic to HRM? Haven't there been enough incidents lately on the news about the perils of purchasing a purebred through Kijiji?

What time is it? Its always time to remember that the way ahead for the animals will need to be paved with strong voter feedback. Its the only thing that has ever worked and it doesn't cost a darn thing to do. Think of it as humane education for our politicians, eh? After all, politicians are always acutely aware of something that we, as voters tend to forget ... we 'hired' them and we can 'fire' them : )))

The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing... - Albert Einstein

Monday, April 19, 2010

What comes of looking on and doing nothing

From Halifax News Net
Kijiji should not be used as a pet store
Cautionary tale for people looking to purchase new pets
RICK HOWE (HOWE NOW) Halifax News Net
Once again, one Nova Scotia family's very negative experience highlights the risks involved with purchasing a pet on the open market, and reinforces the advice given time and time again - buyer beware.
CTV Atlantic told us the story of Ross Calvin who went to the Internet to buy his family a pet. He found a German Shepherd to his liking on the popular website Kijiji.
Within a day the animal, suffering from Parvo, a deadly virus for most dogs, had to be euthanized.
Calvin said it was a harsh lesson to learn. The next time, he told the television reporter, he will get a dog from a shelter like the SPCA.
Annette Armitage of the Animal Rescue League says Calvin's experience is one many Nova Scotians have gone through, and unfortunately, it will happen to many more. She's been lobbying Kijiji for several years now to follow the lead of its parent company, E-Bay, and ban the sale of live animals on its website. She told me the company promised to look into the matter and get back to her. That was in 2006. She's heard nothing since.
Armitage urges anyone looking for a pet to avoid Internet sites like Kijiji because there are too many unknowns. "You don't know where the dog came from and most never come with any health certificate."
A quick check on Kijiji's Halifax link shows 1,302 dogs and puppies for sale, from Rottweilers to Saint Bernards. Armitage would not buy any of them. "Personally, I would say avoid it. There are so many legitimate others."
She says legitimate breeders - Canadian Kennel Club approved breeders - have their own websites.
"If people are looking for a certain breed, they can find a CKC breeder to get it. If you want a mutt, go to Rescue, or the SPCA.
"After this most recent incident went public on the supper hour news, Armitage posted her own notice on Kijiji looking for people who've had similar bad experiences. She's received several replies back including one dog with neurological problems and another with Parvo.
Gail Benoit's name is one that regularly pops up over the years on the Rescue League's radar screen. The Digby area woman has since promised to reimburse Ross Calvin for his loss. Earlier this summer, several dogs she sold from the back of a van in various parking lots died within days of their purchase. Benoit will be in court later this month facing animal cruelty charges after 125 dogs were seized in Cape Breton from a supposed rescue centre. "She's well known to the rescue community," Armitage told me.
There are no government regulations preventing Benoit, or anyone, from selling dogs from their homes, via the Internet or from the back of a van. "Anybody can hang out a shingle and be a rescuer or a breeder. These are operations that should be checked on regularly, but are not," Armitage said.
Thus far however, the Department of Agriculture, "Brooke Taylor and his crew," Annette said, has left it up to the SPCA, an organization that has had its own share of troubles recently.
She says until the government tightens up the rules, puppy mill breeders will continue to operate at will. She urges people to look instead to reputable dealers or shelters. But if you decide otherwise, it is buyer beware.
Rick Howe is a self-described army brat who has lived across Canada and Germany. He has worked 38 years in radio, 30 of those in Halifax as a radio reporter, newscaster, news director and talk show host. He's married with three grown sons, and is forever sad the Montreal Expos are no more.
If only a purebred will do, Buyer Beware has information on how to find a reputable breeder.
At the risk of sounding like a stuck record ... in a compassionate and civilized society, laws are the only effective way to protect the innocent. I'm not going to reiterate all the things that I've discussed in previous posts:

What time is it? Its always time to remember that the only thing that will inspire our politicians to pass better laws for the animals is strong voter feedback.

The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing. Albert Einstein

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Something old and something new

Thirty six years ago tonight, my Dad was polishing his dress shoes. Why do I remember that after all these years? Didn't he need to shine his shoes in the military all the time?
No... and it wasn't because he was in the Air Force:))) It was simply that in the specialized investigative niche he often filled as an MP, when he wore a uniform at all it was likely to be combats.
Thirty six years ago tonight, Dad was readying his best bib and tucker for the next day ... to drive me down to the Legion in Chatham to be sworn into the military.
He might not have worn his dress uniform on a daily basis, but he had the gruff Senior NCO down to a tee. When the recruiting officer stepped out of his car, Dad snapped to attention and waited until the young officer had walked all the way across the parking lot with his armload of papers. To this day I can hear Dad still, "I would salute you Sir, If You Had Your Hat On!"
Eventually, after the hat was retrieved, amidst much dropping of papers, and when things were arranged to my father's satisfaction, I was sworn in to the military. After dedicating over twenty years of his own life to his country, Dad certainly wasn't going to take my own swearing in ceremony lightly.
It was thirty six years ago and it was yesterday. I've come a long way from the shy quiet girl who stood there that day. But I learned a couple of valuable lessons that day that have stood me in good stead over the years:
  • Everyone who outranks you isn't necessarily always right.
  • If you are polite, you can say almost anything to anybody, and last but not least,
  • its Always Worth It to stand up for those that you love.

I knew today was going to be an important day too... having had a wee memo from the society to let me know that they were honoring my work with homeless pet and the senior pet sites by awarding me with a Golden Paw today. Nobody on the board was surprised when me and my trifocals weren't up to driving into to the city: ))) However I do believe that somebody is crafting me a jpg that can be proudly displayed on the front door of the sites.

When I retired from the military, I had initially dreamed of starting up my own senior pet sanctuary. That was of course until I started doing my homework and realizing that even the most fantabulous mega lottery win wouldn't garner me even a tenth of the annual operating budget for a place like Best Friends ( the subject of how military pensions in no way, shape or form have anything near the substance of those earned by politicians over much shorter time periods is a separate topic for a blog with a different focus than mine )

The short version of this story is that in the process of researching the possibility of my own sanctuary, I had an ah hah moment and realized that my amateur web skills could still be put to good use for the animals here in Nova Scotia.

Like Dr Jeckyll and Granny Hyde, I have deliberately divorced the pet sites from the long list of things I nag about on this blog. Why is that? Don't we need dog politics to get to No Kill Nova Scotia?

Of course we do ... but we all need to remember that some of the best pet owners do not give a rats a** about dog politics. They just want a nice pet that they can love for life. They don't want to have to spend an entire afternoon filling out an adoption application. They don't want to sit on tenterhooks waiting for a committee to rummage around their references.

And before the keyboards catch on fire, yes I know that the animals need to be protected. But is there not going to be an adoption interview? Reference checks? A home visit? Follow up phone calls?

I know that there is a school of thought that the applications themselves will weed out the unsuitable adopters and avoid the time consuming interviews and homecheck for the rescue group. I only have one thing to say about that ... how is that working out so far?

It needs to be remembered that there is a popular misconception among those outside the rescue community that there must be something wrong with a rescued pet. That they are somehow not safe or suitable for families with children. How can this be overcome? Why not let the animals 'speak' for themselves? Get them out in the public eye with offsite adoptions and just see what wonderful things will come of that.

What time is it? If we want to adopt our way to No Kill Nova Scotia, then its time to make the process as user friendly as possible ... because each and every successfully adopted pet is the best possible ambassador of all.

Please note ... Meadow has no collar on so anyone who goes to the area to help search should bring a collar and a leash

Thursday, April 15, 2010


ATTENTION!!!!!!!!! MISSING DOG!!!!!!!!!
6yr old female Golden retreiver. Recently spayed.
New owner, she slipped her collar.
Lost since sunday in Stonemount area Sackville. Last seen Duke Street between Bedford and Lr. Sackville.
Very scared and timid. Not chipped.
Name is MEADOW. About 65lbs.
If seen call Berle @ 865-...5647. Only had this girl for about 2 hours. Photo to come later.

Some things just never fail to move me

this was posted today by a friend of mine on Facebook who rescues animals. I've seen this piece around many times before but it never fails to move me.
I Rescued a Human Today
Her eyes met mine as she walked down the corridor peering apprehensively into the kennels. I felt her need instantly and knew I had to help her. I wagged my tail, not too exuberantly, so she wouldn't be afraid.
As she stopped at my kennel I blocked her view from a little accident I had in the back of my cage. I didn't want her to know that I hadn't been walked today. Sometimes the shelter keepers get too busy and I didn't want her to think poorly of them.
As she read my kennel card I hoped that she wouldn't feel sad about my past. I only have the future to look forward to and want to make a difference in someone's life.
She got down on her knees and made little kissy sounds at me. I shoved my shoulder and side of my head up against the bars to comfort her. Gentle fingertips caressed my neck; she was desperate for companionship. A tear fell down her cheek and I raised my paw to assure her that all would be well.
Soon my kennel door opened and her smile was so bright that I instantly jumped into her arms. I would promise to keep her safe. I would promise to always be by her side. I would promise to do everything I could to see that radiant smile and sparkle in her eyes.
I was so fortunate that she came down my corridor. So many more are out there who haven't walked the corridors. So many more to be saved. At least I could save one. I rescued a human today.
Author unknown
The lovely shep mix pictured above is named Tuffy F and he is available for adoption from the Cape Breton SPCA
PS ... to meet the lovely dogs my friend Leah has rescued and are available for adoption, please visit her own site at East Coast German Shepherd Rescue

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The antidote

I love gardening ... but I really don't think its fair that I have to keep finding the same muscles over and over again every spring. After all, the tools I've collected over the years only have to be dusted off, while the gardens and my skills just keep expanding every year.
The yard has come a long way since I moved out here sixteen years ago. Bit by bit, year by year, I've been leaving a very organic footprint on my space. A tree here .. a shrub there ... a pond over there ... year by year its all added up. Its been a learning curve and I'm definitely a better and smarter gardener than I was when I first moved out here.
The No Kill movement has been growing right along with my garden. Year by year it has started to take hold and is beginning to leave a very compassionate and kind and better pawprint wherever it has taken hold.
Here in Nova Scotia, the small rescues and shelters have been embracing the idea of No Kill. This year the society has officially thrown its hat in the ring with their Strategic Plan 2010-2012 . How did that happen? It happened because the provincial board recognized that their membership were ready, willing and able to support No Kill. In other words ... the animal loving public in Nova Scotia believe that it is possible to stop killing healthy, treatable adoptable pets.
Somehow this has slid under the radar for our politicians. Our provincial government was willing to put up $600,000 to market the McCartney concert .. a sum that pales besides the loan guarantee that was put in place to ensure that Sir Paul would realize his 3.5 million dollar fee. According to the CBC news article tonight, "Dexter has not ruled out further investments in concerts but said caution is necessary"
HRM contributed an additional $200,000 for the concert. Why does that number sound familiar? Because that's very close to the amount that was requested for first year start up expenses in the proposal that the society presented to the HRM Council for a Low Cost / High Volume Spay Neuter Clinic.
So what happened to that proposal? Tonight on my friend Joan's blog, I read a Very Interesting set of quotes by an HRM councillor ( that do not suggest that there is either any understanding of, or support for the society's mandate, by the HRM Council. Is that why the well thought out presentation is gathering dust instead of getting support?
( the subject of how many of the same individuals who have been campaigning to undermine the society were the same lovely people who have contributed to its loss of credibility in the past is a separate topic that is going to come back to haunt the HRM council )
The Annual General Meeting for the society is this Saturday, April 17th. If you live in the HRM area, why don't you email your Councillor and ask him or her to attend the meeting and find out just what the society does and does not do.
What time is it? Its always time to remember that the only thing that will move politicians from their own agendas is strong voter feedback.
Action is the antidote to despair. - Joan Baez

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Stepping on caterpillars

You know those hunches we all get? That nagging feeling that tells us something is definitely wrong?
Waste management plants all have a piece of gear called a crusher. Its exactly what the name implies ... an oversized very heavy duty machine to grind and crush non recyclable waste into a more compact package. There is a conveyor belt to deliver the garbage to the crusher.
Somehow, in the midst of all that monotony and noise, the operator of the conveyor belt at the Lawrencetown center had a hunch something was wrong. When he stopped the conveyor belt and listened, he heard two tiny little terrified voices! Sitting in a cardboard box on the conveyor belt, a few feet from the crusher!
He called the Annapolis County AC ... but of course the odds are pretty slim that anyone will be able to discover who was heartless enough to throw these two little ones out in the trash.
As Anna from CAPS puts it ... what a miracle! After all this adventure, the kind folks at CAPS have named these two Huck and Becky.
As a sidebar to this, if anyone is interested in adopting the two of them together, CAPS is still running its BOGO .... which is adopt one, get half off the second adoption fee.
Somewhere, in Annapolis County, is a child who is learning that life only counts when its convenient.
Teaching a child not to step on a caterpillar is as valuable to the child, as it is to the caterpillar. Bradley Miller

Saturday, April 10, 2010

What matters most

from this morning's Herald
Home destroyed by fire, but firefighters save dog
By BRIAN MEDEL Yarmouth BureauSat. Apr 10 - 4:53 AM
Leslie Townsend gets a kiss from Belle, a two-year-old boxer. The dog was overcome by smoke when the family home burned but was revived by firefighters. (Brian Medel / Yarmouth Bureau)
ALLENDALE — Leslie and Ellen Townsend left their home in Allendale, near Lockeport, Wednesday morning for a quick trip into Shelburne.
It was a home with a history. It was the house he grew up in. The couple was married in its living room 26 years ago. It belonged to Townsend’s mother back then.
The couple later made arrangements to purchase it and made their final payment on April 2.
But as they drove into Shelburne just after 10 a.m., fire snapped and crackled its way up a rear wall. The fire was probably caused by an exposed or frayed wire, Townsend said Friday.
By the time neighbours noticed, the 40-year-old house, which was uninsured, was engulfed in flames.
The Townsend sons, Leslie, 15, and Kevin, 17, were a few kilometres away at Lockeport Regional High School but inside the home was the family pet, a two-year-old female boxer named Belle.
When firefighters smashed their way into the house, they couldn’t see because of the dense smoke. Dropping to floor level, they saw, all too clearly, the lifeless form of a dog lying in the living room. She looked dead.
A firefighter scooped her up, rushed her outside and placed her on the lawn.
"They gave her oxygen," said Ellen Townsend. "A few minutes more and she wouldn’t have made it . . . she didn’t have much of a pulse."
The dog appeared to rally after a few minutes. Firefighters gave her tiny sips of water from a bottle.
"They trickled it down her throat," she said.
Rescuers would not give up. About an hour after the dog was carried from the burning house, she stood up on wobbly legs and looked around at the people frantically trying to save the home.
Fire departments from Lockeport, Sable River and Little Harbour all responded.
Even though they lost everything, the family is happy their dog was rescued and with the efforts the firefighters made to save their house.
Shelburne RCMP said the fire was not suspicious.
Although the shell of the house is still standing, it will have to be demolished, said Leslie Townsend.
"We lost everything." he said. "We just got it paid for three or four days ago."
"And he planned on putting insurance on the first of the month," said his wife.
Now the family is spending time with friends or relatives. They have no place to move into.
The Canadian Red Cross arranged for the emergency purchase of food and some clothing and personal care items.
Andy Stuart, principal of Lockeport Regional High School, said the school has launched a clothing drive and will soon help with the collection of larger household items.
The school will open its gymnasium today and people may drop off larger items of furniture or appliances.
Anyone who wants to help may contact the high school, said Stuart.


Wow!!! I've never met these people but don't they sound amazing? They just lost everything and the first thing that they can talk about is how very glad they are that Belle, their two year old family boxer, will live to tell the tail.
Like many schools, the Lockeport High School has its own web site.... , complete with phone numbers, email addresses and even a mailing address.
When my daughter was an infant, the trailer we were living in caught fire in the middle of the night. I was able to escape with my daughter and my pets , but there was no time to save anything ... so I'm telling you right now these folks will need EVERYTHING.
If they want to cook a meal .. they will need a pot to cook it in and dishes to eat off. If the kids want to go swimming .. first they'll need a bathing suit and a towel. If they want to wash their hair or brush their teeth ... first they'll need stuff for that too.
Something to wash their clothes, a place to sit , a lamp for light ... the list of what it takes to start over from scratch is unimaginable.
Like I said, I've never met the Townsends. In the course of my work with the homeless pet pages I have seen far too many folks who put their pets at the bottom of their priority list. So I can't help being impressed with people who have better priorities, eh?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Its Your Dime

Today was Andy's six month anniversary ... gosh where has the time gone? It seems like just the other day that I drove up through the pouring rain to meet his foster mom at the Kentville Agricultural Center. ( as a sidebar to that, I have often wondered what anyone watching the whole thing must have thought of us exchanging a fee and a dog in parking lot : ))))
In January, the society presented the HRM council with their groundbreaking proposal for a low cost high volume spay/neuter clinic. Everyone was so excited at the time and the presentation was very well attended. So does that mean that HRM residents can look forward to having a low cost spay neuter clinic?
Not if the Council meetings ( 2010 Council Agendas ) are any indication.
How much were they asking for? $208,000 for a one time injection of start up money.... with an annual subsidy of $95,000 in following years. That might sound like a lot of money, but its actually on the low end of the scale for a council that has spent:
  • $134,969.48 for two new sweeper/scrubbers ( 10-162R )
  • $118,813.85 for electrical equipment for the Halifax Commons ( 10-034 )
  • $91,949.00 for Two ,2010 4-Door 4X4 Utility Vehicle (10-020)
  • $112,966.10 for Heavy Duty Storage Shelving At the Ragged Lake Transit Centre ( 10-005R )
  • 154,651.80 for Library Shelving- New Woodlawn Library ( 10-003),
  • and of course the whopping $1,127,489.14 that has been approved for Phase 1 of the Stone Masonry Restoration for Halifax City Hall

( The subject of how those numbers pale beside the seven million spent by the bid team from HRM before the city withdrew from the Commonwealth Games Race is a topic that has been well discussed in news stories and blogs with a different focus than this one )

At the end of the day, responsible fiscal planning is about more than providing receipts. Real value for taxpayer dollars is measured in the impact of each investment in the community.

Given the limited space for sheltering cats in the new Homeward Bound City Pound, if ever there was a need for a low cost/ high volume spay neuter clinic capable of altering 8000 animals a year it is now. ( The credibility of the new facility's claim to be promoting pet adoption as a lifesaving alternative is already diminished by the fact that their proposed new website, has a phone number with a note that the website is coming soon : (((( Its hard to imagine adopters flocking to the door when there is no information about adoption fees and the application process ... nor are any pictures available of any adoptables.

But I'm wandering afield here. If you are a resident of HRM, please let your Councillor ( know that you strongly support this lifesaving initiative that will be of such benefit to HRM residents.

What time is it? At the risk of sounding like a stuck record, its always time to remember that the way ahead for the animals has to be paved with strong voter feedback. In these tricky economic times ... its just frosting on the cake that it doesn't cost a darned thing to talk to our politicians.

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

Monday, April 5, 2010

A Very Promising Initiative for the animals

from today's Telegraph Journal
Rules take aim at puppy mills Benjamin Shingler
The New Brunswick government is planning to introduce a set of stricter rules designed to protect the province's pets.
The government announced Saturday it plans to adopt a new regulation under the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act that will set standards for pet establishments, such as pet stores, animal shelters and kennels, and enable their licensing and inspection.
"We're going to be asking them to have a licence and regular inspection to be done by the SPCA, to ensure that they have proper shelter, food and enough water," Minister of Local Governance Chris Collins said in an interview Saturday.
Under the new rules, owners of more than five dogs that are over six months of age will be required to adhere to nationally established standards of care.
"It's obviously aimed at eliminating puppy mills, which are a problem throughout Canada and we're taking a pro-active move on," said Collins, the Liberal MLA for Moncton East.
"It's terrific news. My dog is smiling up at me today."
The changes will apply to both commercial and non-commercial establishments in municipalities and rural areas.
The New Brunswick SPCA and animal-rights advocates have long been pushing for the province to introduce stricter regulations to help protect animals and monitor puppy mills.
"We welcome this new regulation that the Government of New Brunswick is putting in place," Joy Bacon, president of the New Brunswick SPCA, said in a statement. "It will give the society a broader mandate, permit us to have better oversight of pet stores and kennels, and enable us to prosecute those who willfully neglect their animals."
Jody Carr, an advocate for stricter animal protection laws, said the new regulation is a very positive step. "It is welcome news and we need it," Carr, the Progressive Conservative MLA for Oromocto, said in an interview.
"Hopefully, it will protect animals from some of the abuses we've seen in the past."
The need for change came to the forefront last year after a Minto man was found not guilty under the Criminal Code of killing five small dogs with a hammer.
The U.S.-based Animal Legal Defense Fund rated New Brunswick in May 2009 as one of the worst jurisdictions for animal protection laws.
Along with New Brunswick, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Quebec round out the organization's list of the "best places to be an animal abuser."
Since then, the province has introduced new measures to protect pets.
In June, Carr was behind an Opposition motion supported by government last year that dramatically increased fines for animal abusers.
The maximum provincial fine was increased to $100,000 and/or 18 months in prison, up from the previous maximum of $575.
According to Collins, the new regulations announced Saturday will rank among the strongest in Canada.
The regulations include a series of exemptions. Establishments selling animals that are considered livestock will be exempt from pet licensing requirements, as will grooming facilities, training operations, research and educational facilities, veterinary clinics and boarding and riding stables for horses.
In addition, licences will not be required for circuses and zoos.

What a promising initiative for the animals ... especially if it survives the lobbying process fairly intact.
Wouldn't taking a similar step be a wonderful way for our Nova Scotia MLA's to provide some badly needed polish to their own reputations? Rather than continually post the contact information for our MLA's, I've finally smartened up and added it to the sidebar. ( The federal MP contact information has been at the bottom of the blog page for quite some time : ))))
The trick of course will be to keep the exemptions from cutting any regulations off at the knees. Coming out of the gate, its already exempting grooming facilities, training operations and vet clinics ( its hard to tell from the wording if it is just exempting boarding facilities for horses or for all animals)
What's missing? Mandatory breeder registration that includes mandatory records for the sources for all animals sold in pet stores. ( until that wonderful day when pet stores aren't allowed to sell them at all, but are only allowed to have satellite pet adoption centers )
The current proposal affects the owners of "more than five dogs that are over six months of age" In other words ... anyone can still continually breed five bitches if they can peddle all the puppies before they are six months of age.
Even so, it is a promising start and well worth getting excited over. Always remember that if you are contacting your own MLA that it is usually more effective to use the contact for their home constituency as their assistants are usually keeping a better finger on the pulse of voter feedback for them there.
What time is it? Its always time to remember that the way ahead for the animals will only be paved by strong voter feedback.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Its never the turbulence

I love going to the feed store in Middleton. Its a pretty drive from my dooryard to Charlie's parking lot. Its the best place around here to buy birdseed, rawhides and of course all things for the garden. Its full of unexpected treasures ..... from rubber boots to organic fertilizers to fencing hardware and beyond.
Its long on substance and short on style .... an old fashioned warehouse with wooden floors where customers get the same great service whether they are filling the back of a three ton or buying a little bag of fencing staples.
Yesterday, on my way to the feed store, I saw Groucho and his mom on main street. Groucho who? Go to my friend Janice's blog, the The Splorin Wolfies , to read the Very Happy Tail of his journey from the Yarmouth SPCA to the great life he has now.
He was prancing along as if he owned the world ... and it was just a joy to see him living such a good life. Since Groucho was adopted , his human "aunt" has adopted a lovely dog (from CAPS) .... which just reinforces my belief that in the domino theory of pet adoption. Every adopted pet is an ambassador who has the potential to awaken family, friends, neighbours and coworkers to the special joys and satisfactions of pet adoption.
So what happens when these newly awakened people are moved by compassion to check out the NS Petfinder listings? Tonight there are 65 dogs listed. Does that give anyone outside the animal rescue community a true sense of the scope of the homeless pet problem? Of course not.
Nor does it offer potential first time adopters any real sense of the wide variety of wonderful pets that are actually available ( and before the keyboards catch on fire, yes I do realize that some groups ARE listing all their adoptables.)
Years ago, when I was first posted to the cooking school, it was a big change to have to remember that my students didn't have the experience that I did. If I wanted them to become good cooks .. I had to remember to explain all the things that had become as natural as breathing to me.
At the risk of sounding like a stuck record, Petfinder is a valuable tool because it is becoming a household word. People who never visit the animal rescue sites have seen their favouritie characters on TV shows like NCIS discussing Petfinder. Business people anywhere would give both their arms for a free advertising service regularly visited by their target market, eh?
What time is it? Its time to remember how important these potential first time adopters are .. the ones who have never heard of preapproved adoptions ... the ones who don't want to travel to the shelter or rescue without some assurance that their next best friend will be available there. We need them to get to No Kill Nova Scotia.
The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence; it is to act with yesterday’s logic. Peter Drucker

Friday, April 2, 2010

Playing different positions

In this neck of the woods, a mild holiday morning like this is never a quiet time. Neighbours who have been tidying their yards are already out with their chain saws cutting up fallen trees and dead wood. Odds are that later today, I'll add my own noise to it all by tilling up the new garden bed I"m making out back.
Living in the country is lovely ... but it is different than the idyllic portrayals we see in the gardening magazines. Its been seventeen years since I moved out here, but for long time residents I'm still the new kid on the block ... the girl from Greenwood who bought Ralph Whynotts old cow pasture: )))
It did help that my parents had lived in the country, so I avoided the pitfall that most newbies make ... gossiping and commenting about the neighbours. I already knew that I would be one of the few people on the road who Wasn't related to everyone else, eh?
Anyone looking to make a positive difference in their own communities could always consider fostering a pet. In these cash strapped days, when donations are down .. it is one of the two Very Important Things that people can do without actually donating money ( the other of course being to pick up the phone or email your politicians at all levels to let them know how important better legislation for the animals is to you as a voter : )))
East Coast German Shepherd Rescue is in need of fosters for the next carload of good dogs that they have saved from the Very Unhappy Tails of the Georgia gas chambers. On this weekend that is traditionally associated with rebirth ... this would be a great way to help these lucky survivors start down the path to their new lives.
And before the keyboards catch on fire ... I"m just going to say this... much of which I have already said many times before:
Life is life. And yes I know that there is a school of thought that feels that if there is no room at the inn for homeless NS dogs then its inappropriate to bring them in from away. But ... as soon as we start setting criteria to cherry pick .. we become no better than those in high kill shelters who have have turned their backs on the No Kill philosophy.
We have enough homes here in NS .. and I still maintain that if one percent, one measly little percent, of Nova Scotia households woke up to the joys and satisfactions of pet adoption there would be plenty of room to spare at the inn.
In the military, the reason teamwork is continually promoted is that it is the time tested path to success for any task. That being said ... if my buddy and I are out on the lake with his canoe, we each have to paddle on one side of the boat. If we don't do that, we would just go around in circles until we got tired and gave up.
What time is it? Its always time to remember that every team needs many different players and positions to win the game.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Keeping it in proportion

The snow is finally out of the woods ... at least in the little corner of the valley where we go hiking every morning. It should seem like easier going to lose the soft spring snow ... but in its place are slippery slopes of soggy leaves and of course the mud.
Today is the first day for the new sheltering contractor for HRM. Admitedly, I don't live in the city, but I've been paying attention to this story because what happens in HRM has a way of rippling out around the province. Does that mean that I think that private contractors will all start sheltering for AC's in Nova Scotia? Not any more than they already are ( The subject of how there are no one size fits all AC arrangements anywhere in NS is a very interesting topic that deserves its own post on another day )
Why am I concerned? Whats the big deal? Haven't I always been preaching that municipalities should be responsible for their own sheltering arrangements? Why yes I have .... but switching one contractor for another is not the solution. Particularly when the new kid on the block is a private business... because in NS, private businesses who perform contract services for government are not handcuffed by anything under the Freedom of Information Act.
Just as importantly, I still believe that the only way municipalities will accept responsibility for providing the full meal deal of promoting responsible pet ownership through programs and education is if they actually are physically engaged in the process.
Exchanging one contractor for another is just politics. Its not about lifesaving. If it was ... would a small facility staffed and supported by some controversial "experience" have been selected over the vastly improved Metro Shelter?
Its not about common sense .... when restaurants, bars and schools all understand that the only reason to install carpet is the short term goal of meeting a deadline.
Its not about choosing a better location ... when both bidders are located in the same industrial park.
Its definitely not about No Kill. Its poor logic to assume that local rescues will be able to absorb the animals who's 'time is up" And yes, before the keyboards catch on fire, I do realize that there are plans to alter the animals before transferring them out. Kindly remember that most rescues are limited by their foster space and that Metro will now have new funding constraints that may limit the help it can offer.
Nope. Nowhere in the No Kill terminology does it suggest that communities revert to referring to shelters as "Pounds".
At the end of the day, one can't blame the contractor for going for the brass ring. Nathan Winograd said " One of the fundamental downsides of bureaucracies is their focus on self-preservation at the expense of their mission" Until the animal loving community is prepared to educate their councillors about No Kill, innocent animals will continue to die.
Politicians need to be taught that:
  • saving animals saves money. Programs such as TNR, low cost spay neuter, free training workshops and yes ..., off leash parks ... result in fewer impounded animals
  • No Kill programs protect people. Promoting responsible dog ownership and TNR reduces nuisance complaints and improves public safety. And Saves Money.
  • Pet retention assistance is cheaper in the long run than the cost of impounding a series of animals from the same individual

What time is it? Its time to decide whether this is No Kill Day or April Fools.

The evils of government are directly proportional to the tolerance of the people. - Frank Kent