Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Its been a busy month here between the garden and getting the new version of the homeless pet site ready to go.  After all this good rain, the weeds aren't completely under control, but I'm happy to say that the new site is pretty much good to go.  
What does that mean in practical terms?  For regular site visitors there will be a brief time today when they only get to see a "well phooey this isn't what you were expecting page" ...but when you do that will only mean that the new site is within an hour of being launched.
Why the new site?   As a self taught amateur, I've learned a lot of new skills since the site started.  But for free or for hire, if a thing is worth doing its worth doing well, eh?  
Like an old European town, the site has grown so gradually that its easy for visitors who don't already know their way around to miss much of what's there. 
I have always felt that the thing that visitors love the best is being able to see the faces.  That hasn't changed except that the pics are a little bit bigger.
In some ways the song remains the same.  Its a commercial free, bot free site so that visitors can safely explore to their hearts content.  There is no reason to start offering animal lovers listings of commercial services here in NS when there are already good sites around that do that so very well.  And yes ... site visitors still won't see enough dog politics to deter the kind hearts who simply want a nice pet.
Does that mean that the site won't grow anymore?  Of course not.  Anytime I see a different opportunity to promote the pets, I will still seize the day:)  After all... the site is as much a part of my personal small struggle as the blogs, hmm?

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Summertime Blues

The other day I saw a stretch limo gliding past .... and out in this neck of the woods that usually means that its Prom night.  My human child is 32, so I'm rather out of touch with the school calendar ... but that would mean that either today or tomorrow will be the last official day of school.
No matter what the calendar says, for most Canadians the end of the school year represents the real start of summer.  Schools out means that families are at liberty to take a trip, go to the cottage or head home to reconnect with their roots. 
Gosh, if it wasn't for the bugs, it would be the very best time of the year.  Unless of course, one is trying to juggle twelve dogs into every one rescue slot.   Not everyone 'going down the road' is planning on bringing their pets .. and rescues are often overwhelmed with intake just as they are headed into the summer adoption slowdown.
And so ... with apologies to James Halliwell, I offer you this tongue and cheek salute to all my friends who work front line animal rescue
On the twelfth day of summer, my voice mail had for me:
Twelve "but we're moving"s,
Eleven "Easter bunnies"
Ten "large dogs leaping"
Nine  "going camping"s
Eight  "toms a spraying"
Seven  "loose and running"s
Six  "litters coming"
Five  "intact males"
Four  "barking dogs"
Three "new jobs"
Two  "ruined rugs"
and one that "was really the kid's" 
Think I'm exaggerating?   On any given Monday, my good friend Annette who with ARC is used to being busy with calls and emails about animals ... but now that schools out the flood gates have opened.  Before nine o'clock this morning, she had taken in a seven month old pup, a 2 year old Boston, a 1 year old terrier, a 7 year old Cocker, a 4 year old mutt and a 3 year old Boxer. 
Factor in that ARC is only one of the rescues and shelters in this province on top of that and suddenly the idea of 78 pets being surrendered around the province today doesn't look quite so ridiculous, eh?
Odds are actually pretty good that number is actually only the tip of the iceberg.
What time is it?  Until that day when it is socially unacceptable to abandon a pet because one is moving / going on vacation / the new boyfriend wants a bigger dog / etc ... until that day ... summer is a very good time for anyone to step up to plate by fostering, adopting or just plain spreading the good word about the joys of adopting a rescued pet.

Friday, June 25, 2010

A cull by any other name is still a cull

from this morning's Herald:
Province revamps hunting regulations
Biggest change involves deer hunting zones
By IAN FAIRCLOUGH Staff Reporter
Fri. Jun 25 - 4:54 AM More deer-hunting zones, a doubling of the limit on the number of bears that can be snared and the ability to hunt with a crossbow are among several changes to hunting regulations that the province has announced.

The most extensive change is a redrawing of the existing deer hunting zones, turning eight areas into 12.
That change, made after public consultation, is designed to increase the possibility of hunters bagging two deer a year in zones where the deer population is high. The goal is to cut down on the number of collisions between deer and cars and to reduce other problems associated with deer increasing in number and coming into contact with humans.
Another change creates a non-motorized moose hunt in Cape Breton.
Separate from the regular moose hunt, it will take place Sept. 20-25 and Oct. 11-16 in the Pollets Cove-Aspy Fault Wilderness Area.
The Natural Resources Department wants to gauge from the trial hunt how much interest there is in a non-motorized hunt and to evaluate hunting and hauling techniques before a ban on motorized vehicles in the wilderness area comes into effect in 2012.
Only 20 special licences, to be drawn in the coming months, will be available for the trial hunt.
Mike O’Brien, acting manager for the large mammals program with Natural Resources, said the trial hunt will determine if it’s feasible for hunters to bag a moose and then get it out of the wilderness to a place where they can use a vehicle.
"This is much different than the other hunt, where you’re allowed to use motorized vehicles," O’Brien said.
"You have to think about where you’re going to hunt, how far you are capable of going in (the woods) with the gear you are going to need, and more importantly, how far you are capable of carrying out a 75- or 80- or 100-pound backload of moose meat when you successfully get an animal," he said.
"You’re going to need help, you’re going to need three or four or more other people who understand what they’re getting into and are willing to help you get that animal out through difficult terrain."
People who snare bears will be allowed to bag two instead of one because of an increase in the bear population, O’Brien said. He said there has been a gradual increase in problems and complaints involving bears.
Among other changes to the regulations:
•Teenagers aged 16 to 19 can be licensed to guide when supervised by a licensed guide older than 19. Hunters aged 12 to 15 can take guide courses.
•Hunters with a disability can hunt on their own, as long as someone is available to help retrieve game.
•Camouflage orange clothing is permitted while hunting.
•Crossbows can be used for any hunt in which conventional bows may be used, except the special open season for hunting deer with a bow.
•Hunters can use .410 slugs for deer hunting and larger buckshot sizes for big game, coyotes, fur-bearing animals and certain small game.
Well then.  Sandwiched right in the middle ... where perhaps they are hoping nobody will notice, is the tidbit about the increased bear limit. 
I'm a middle aged grandmother not a simpleton and so coming out of the gate, I tend to get a little irritated at this kind of thing.
Small children bringing home notes from school often slip them in for signature when busy parents aren't paying attention.   Adult politicians and bureaucrats should be better than that.
( The subject of how The NDP Bobsled Team may be hoping to minimize negative publicity in the wake of the latest news of the Scanwood layoffs scant months after receiving a government loan is a topic for a blog with a different focus than mine, eh? )
To be perfectly honest, this really isn't any different from the time a couple of years ago when the (then) PC government tried to sneak BSL into Nova Scotia undercover of a municipal housekeeping bill.
What time is it?  Like the commercial says ... its time for a little clarity.  Trying to hide the unpopular bits is just greasing the bobsled.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Hitchhikers Guide to the Kitty Universe

Hey there ..... my name is Peanut and I would like to take you on a Hitchhikers Guide to to the Kitty Universe.   I was trying my luck by the edge of the road one night when the Annapolis County Animal Control Officer stopped to give me a lift.  Heh heh heh .... I sure gave him a run for his money and we had such a lovely game of hide and seek that he needed his flashlight to find me in the bushes.
I was just a five week old pipsqueak and I really don't think I was old enough to hear the kind of things everyone had to say about me being out and about on my own.
What do I know, eh?  I was having lots of fun playing on the highway ... but every time my foster Mom starts talking about it, she winds up picking me up and giving me a little hug.  She says that I'm just like a little cotton ball to hold.
I'm still learning the ropes ... but apparently humans already know that the only way NOT to have kittens is by doing something simple called a spay or a neuter.    We cats are pretty darned clever and its just wishful thinking for anyone to think that trying to keep us in the house is any substitute for that!
From where I stand ... it looks like you  humans think you are the boss of the universe.   You're a lot bigger than me.   You know how to open a door and let me in the house ... or drop me out of the car as it happens :(   You're the ones that can go hunt for food at something called the store. 
You're the ones with the money ... so I guess that does make you the boss.  We cats can't even open the door to the vet clinics , let alone pay for anything... so if you want to be in charge .. that has to be your job.   
So if you humans KNOW all this, why did Mama "Ida Red" have her babies in an Apple Basket   You humans need to do a better job of things if you want to be in charge, eh?  
So its a very good thing that CAPS has decided to extend its BOGO for all of us ... kittens and adults.   What does that mean?  That means that if you fall in love with one of us, the adoption fee for one of our pals will still be cut in half.
You humans sure have a lot to learn .. but you Might Just be getting somewhere after all.

The Apple Gang

Maybe today will be our lucky day

Update on Cody

I just received an email this morning that the flight has been booked and that Cody will be flying to the Westminster Pet Sanctuary on Saturday.  Have a wonderful life little man!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Seeing things as they are

A friend of mine lives less than two miles from my place, just over the county line, so she lives in Annapolis County while I live in Kings County.    The other day, the handsome fellow pictured above, showed up at her door.  In spite of her best efforts ... after calling every animal clinic, posting him on facebook and putting him on the radio .... by suppertime there still was no sign of his human.
Did I mention that my friend lives in Annapolis County, and volunteers with CAPS?  Why is that important?  That means that my friend knows the ropes.  She Knows that when dogs at Annapolis County AC aren't reclaimed that, space permitting, they will come into CAPS care.  
She also Knows that if she had kept the dog for a few days while waiting for his owner to show, under the standard 'feed me, I'm yours" policy that Animal Control would have refused to pick up the dog.
So she called Annapolis County AC and they came to pick up this sweet ( intact) youngster after supper.
Now I live in Kings County and things are more of a mystery here.   Whether or not its true, there is generally a lot of pessimism about the prospects for a pet that gets picked up by Animal Control.  Why is that?  Because there is next to no information on the AC page of the county website.  There are no directions to the pound.  There are no pictures of found animals.  There Is a phone number, but there isn't a whole there to inspire enough confidence for most animal lovers to call AC when a stray show up at their door.
Nor is Kings County alone in that respect.  To the best of my knowledge, the only two municipalities that post pictures of the found pets are Annapolis and HRMColchester County Does have a page listing the pets who are available AFTER not being reclaimed, but not a found pet page.
I have a really interesting series of articles on the homeless pet site, with permission, from the Missing Pet Partnership about finding lost pets, and in there, when discussing "rescuer behaviors that create problems" she says that "People who find stray dogs often misinterpret the dog's behavior; they assume that the cowering, fearful dog was "abused" when in fact the dog has a xenophobic temperament and has been shy and fearful since it was a puppy, due to genetics and puppyhood experiences.
Dogs found in rural areas are often assumed to be "dumped" and homeless; many rescuers never think this could be a dog that was lost. Some people who find a stray dog that does not have a collar automatically assume it is "homeless" and therefore they immediately work to place the dog rather than attempt to find the dog's owner.
In addition, the first place the owner of a lost dog will search for his or her dog - the local shelter - is typically the last place that someone who finds a loose dog will take it (due to the fear of euthanasia)!"
In a province where there are always at least twelve dogs in need for every rescue slot, how can we improve the odds that stray pets will go back to their original owners?

  • How about instituting a province wide 'free ride home' for very occasional offenders who are simply 'running at large'

  • in Annapolis County there is now no licensing requirement, but owners are still encouraged to list their pets with AC, for easier identification , jic

  • Some county AC's are actually quite proud of the fines and the fees required to reclaim an unlicensed dog.  In this world where so many people are getting by pay to pay, how many times does the several hundred dollar fee keep people from reclaiming their pets?  All it does is discriminate against those who haven't got deep enough pockets.

  • When County AC departments have relationships with a rescue group, this should be publicized on their website.  Most kind hearts are NOT going to call AC if they are concerned about the outcome for the pet .... while at the same time AC is the first place the distraught pet owners are calling.

  • There should be a provincial listing for lost and found pet photos in this province.  Why?   The intact stray that showed up at my friends door could easily have followed his nose Over the county line, eh?   I'm telling you right now that I would Happily make a page, or pages, on the homeless pet site for any AC that needed the web space

  • Any animal control department is automatically entitled to a petfinder listing.  These are free, publicly available and should be utilized across the board in this province.

  • Instead of treating pet owners like criminals for simple 'running at large', they should be offered something small as a bonus ...such as a little tag with the dogs name and phone number on it.
What time is it?  Its always time to find a way to reunite pets with the owners who DO want them back.
Common sense is the knack of seeing things as they are, and doing things as they ought to be done.   Harriet Beecher Stowe

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Sailing a sea of nostalgia

To this day, every year I get a Father's Day card from my daughter.   I was never married to her biological Dad and she was sixteen before they became acquainted.   I'm glad they have a good relationship now ... but there is a teeny little part of me that is as grateful that she often refers to him as 'Uncle Dad' as I am for the drawer full of cards.
My Mom had much better taste in men than I ever did.  There was never a time when my Dad 'wasn't ready' to step up to the plate as a father. He didn't need to go find himself ... he knew exactly where he was ... and that was usually showing or sharing some interesting thing with his children.
I remember the last day I spent with my Dad. He was still bursting with pride after my brothers' graduation as a Master Engineer at UNB. We had gone back to the farm, and Dad spent a good part of the day explaining to me how he had built the lunenburg dory.
You have to understand that this wasn't just a well crafted replica.   My father never left the boy from North Sydney behind..... the one who used to work on boats with his Dad.  It was Dad's big dream to build a boat and during all the years of moving around while he was serving our country, the boat building magazines and books became quite a collection.
When Dad retired .. it was finally time. There was a treasure trove of lovely boards that had been sawed from trees he took down from his own land.  He had his hand on it all every step of the way.
Its a beautiful boat that has never been in the water.  Within the week it was finished, we lost Dad to a massive heart attack.   
Dad always loved to teach and even after he was gone still had something to share .... the importance of creating and crafting our dreams , whether or not we are the ones who will take them out on the water.


Some Very Good News

Do you remember Cody ... from the recent post The Basis of All Morality ?   I am delighted to report that he will be going to the Westminster Pet Sanctuary , where he will be well cared for and will live in a home environment for whatever time he will have.
The Westminster Pet Sanctuary is located in the Ottawa area and have never killed any animals in their care due to space limitations, money or age.  While they do adopt out animals, those who cannot find homes either live in the home environment of the sanctuary or in foster homes.
So now the Clarenville Area SPCA is fundraising to neuter Cody and pay for his flight to Ottawa. 
What time is it?  Its always time for optimism when people understand the value of each and every life.

Friday, June 18, 2010

This Weekend

What a beautiful day !  Better still, its promising to be a lovely weekend ... at least early on in the game.  If you are at sixes and sevens and wondering what to do tomorrow, June 19th, you could always :
  • there is fundraiser for the Kings Co SPCA. It will be at the Windermere hall just outside of Berwick. Starts at 9:00 and ends between 1 & 2 depending on how busy it is :) There will be a small flea market and a pretty good straw draw game. There are about 40 prizes to be won. For anyone who hasn't been there before, if you get off the 101 at Berwick, follow commercial street to the end, straight through the intersection.  Keep following the road as it curves along and the Windemere Hall will be on the left, at the T junction where the Hall Road starts.
  • Clare Feral Friends are having a BBQ & Bake Sale June 17th, 18th & 19th in Meteghan at UJ Robichaud's Timbr Mart.
  • and of course the Nova Scotia SPCA still  has a Booth at the Harbourview Weekend Market, 42 Canal Street Dartmouth, every Saturday & Sunday from 9 am - 4 pm. Quality used clothing, new/used books and household items. 100% of proceeds for animal welfare.
  • If you are in the Amherst area, Sunday is both the deadline for the LA Shelter's MacBook Draw and is the day of their Shelter walkathon
  • the savvy folks at GPAC are making sure they get out in the public eye for summer events.  On Sat, they will be at the Mt Uniake Parade and on Sunday they will be having a meet and greet and BBQ at Global Pet Foods in New Minas
  • That BBQ is Global Pet Foods Pet Day and CAPS has also been invited to participate: )
If there is anything I've missed, please shoot me an email or leave a comment.    What time is it?  Its always time to have some fun ... especially when you can help the animals at the same time :)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Common sense is a rare thing at DNR these days

from this morning's Herald
Warnings of bear sightings issued
People urged to give bruins lots of room
By DAN ARSENAULT Staff Reporter
Wed. Jun 16 - 4:53 AM
The number of recent bear sightings in the Halifax area doesn’t come as a surprise to wildlife technician Jenny Costelo.
"June is the time of year when pickings are slim in the woods," the Department of Natural Resources employee said Tuesday.
"When that happens — bears are eating machines — and they’ll get food any way they can, so they come around subdivisions.
"It’s also the time of year that the yearlings are on their own for the first time."
Halifax RCMP and the department issued a warning Tuesday after citizens reported three bear sightings in an area near Hammonds Plains on Monday. The reports came from Blue Forest Lane, Thyme Lane and Royal Oaks Crescent just south of Hammonds Plains Road near the Kingswood subdivision.
There were earlier sightings in Hubley, Porters Lake and near Bedford’s Hemlock Ravine Park.
Costelo said the bruins can be ruined by exposure to humans and their garbage or other food sources.
"The less bears have to do with people, the better it is for bears."
She said the bears only want to eat, not to mess with people.
"There’s never been a bear attack in Nova Scotia."
Still, she said anyone who spots a bear should quietly back away from the animal.
"Make sure the bear is given lots of room."
Natural Resources staff have been leaving pamphlets at homes near some recent bear sightings.
The pamphlet advises people to remove objects that could attract bears, who can smell food from a kilometre away. Problem spots include green carts, garbage containers, garden compost, bird feeders, barbecues, pet-food bowls and fruit trees.

A bear will only be trapped and removed to a remote spot once, Costelo said. They are drugged and tagged before being released and any that are caught again are killed, she said.
More information is available at
At first glance, the link is chock full of sensible information ... in true DNR style the Bear info has been very recently updated and hopefully won't be revised again soon to justify some sort of cull as it was with the coyotes.
At first glance there is nothing hinky ... until one clicks on the  Bear nuisance fact sheet link on the bottom of the "how to avoid problems with Bears" sheet
At first glance there is nothing odd there either .... right up until one gets to the bottom of page 7 where the "if you see bear" suggestions are. 
Mind you, after DNR pushed through the coyote cull in the face of opposition from every group, including the NS Hunters and Trappers association, I shouldn't be surprised at anything
Still .. I nearly fell out of my chair when I read the tidbit" A dog tied in the yard is a good early warning detection system ...."  
They can say something like that and fail to mention some of the critical bits ... like Never Get between a mother bear and her cubs?
What time is it?  Its way past time for some common sense at DNR, eh?

If you want diffferent results ....

Twenty three years ago, I was getting ready to leave Ontario for my new posting in Nova Scotia.   Our furniture was already loaded on the truck, we had said our good byes and we were bunking down at the pet friendly Holiday Inn for what we fervently hoped would be our last night ever in Ontario.
Don't get me wrong ... some of the nicest people I know live in Ontario .. my job at the cooking school had been incredibly interesting ... and this was long before BSL reared its ugly head in that province.
Nope ... I was just glad to be moving back to the Maritimes ... to a little village that DIDN'T have five lines of fast traffic going each way ... to a place that didn't have children disappearing (at that time) almost every month ... and was really looking forward to the novelty of living in a Zone 6b gardening zone.
At the time, I was driving a hatchback ... a little Lynx that was bursting at the seams for the trip with my nine year old daughter, myself, our own luggage ... along with our supersized Labrador Retriever, our elderly three legged cat and all THEIR paraphernalia as well.  
It DID take a little longer to bring the whole crew.  There were water breaks and pee breaks and picnics to prepare for our lunch.  The Labrador sat behind me and drooled down my neck and Mr Fritz sang pretty much the whole way.
It was only a two day trip to my parents' farm in New Brunswick, so I hadn't thought to book a pet friendly hotel .  Even so, it didn't take that long to find one in Levi when we were ready to stop for the night.  Honestly, if my english only self could find "room at the inn" in Quebec with a ginormous dog and an unhappy cat who was being very vocal about expressing his displeasure, I would say that would put paid to any argument anyone could present about not being able to bring their pets when they move.
Was it extra work?  You bet it was.  But when we got to Greenwood .... when our furniture was unloaded ... when we started settling in to our first very own house instead of a PMQ... it really felt like home because ALL the familiar faces were there. 
We didn't have to worry about what happened to our faithful friends ... we knew what happened to them.  They lived the rest of their natural lives with us.   The Labrador lived to be eighteen and our eldercat was one month shy of his 21st birthday when he passed.
Best of all, when my daughter and her family moved to the land of BSL a couple of years ago, there was no question in anyone's mind about whether they would bring Eddy the Wondercat
My granddaughter was still a toddler, so they broke the trip up a bit more and made reservations so they would have pet friendly hotels with a pool at every stop.    And yes ... Eddy sang all the way and EVERYONE was relieved when the trip was over and they were settled into the new house.
It was a lot of work ... but it was worth it.   Everything was all strange and new ... but all the familiar cast was still there.   Best of all .... it gives me every hope that in turn my granddaughter will do the same should she move.
I've been thinking a lot about animal statistics lately and at the risk of stating the obvious, have come to the conclusion that we don't need to boost adoptions so much as we need to find a way to effectively communicate pet retention information to the vast majority of people who DON'T visit the animal welfare sites or adopt.
Why did I bring my pets with me for every posting of my career?  I'm sure it was largely due to the fact that when I was growing up as an Air Force brat, my parents brought our family pets along every time we moved.
Each and every time that a pet is 'free to a good home' on Kijiji .... each and every pet surrendered to a rescue or shelter ... and each and every one that mysteriously 'disappears' before moving day   ... represents a domino effect that will continue unless it is checked.
How to do that?  There already is a wealth of practical information about moving on the animal rescue sites that is largely ignored.  Wait a minute ... don't all the municipalities in Nova Scotia have websites?
If the municipal budgets are too tight to pop for free workshops .... why not put some information about pet retention on the municipal websites?   Would it be possible to get a little grant for the society to put brochures and posters in animal clinics and pet food stores around the province?  
The majority of new pet owners won't be adopting from a rescue or shelter this year.  And THAT means that all that wonderful information on the animal rescue sites will go largely unnoticed.
At the risk of sounding simplistic .... every pet that is loved for life is one less pet that will need to be rescued.  
What time is it?  Its time to realize that in a world where there is never enough 'room at the inn' , pet retention information has to be actually read before it can do any good, eh?  It is not necessary for the majority to adopt if the majority can be given the tools they need to keep their pets for life
If you want different results ... do not do the same things.  Albert Einstein

Monday, June 14, 2010

Needing a broader canvas

There is a new tidbit on the Adoption Page of the society's website titled "Dollars and Sense"?  that compares veterinary costs with the price of the adoption fee.    No question about it ... it outlines a very logical argument for pet adoption.
As a sidebar note to that, its a shame that couldn't be stapled to every mailbox in the province. Why do I say that?  At the risk of sounding like a stuck record, based on my own site stats and current adoption stats from the society and the private groups, the majority of Nova Scotia residents still don't go anywhere near the animal welfare group websites.
But I don't want to wander afield here tonight.   Nor, in all fairness, do I want to focus on the society with this either.  In truth .. this is not a new argument for pet adoption and at some point in time virtually every animal rescue group and shelter has pointed out the obvious financial benefits to pet adoption.
Its a logical argument as long as the underscoring premise is valid ...that all pet owners are going to provide responsible pet care for their pets.  Sadly, we know that's not so when every month of the year still seems to be kitten and puppy season on the free online ad sites
As a natural corollary to that, the free sites are brimming with ads for unaltered pets whose owners mysteriously no longer "have the time for".   (the sad subject of how many pets are passed around like old socks because their humans did NOT train them and then were unwilling to live with the untrained pet is another topic needing its own post on another day.)
For something as emotional as bringing home a pet, logic might not be the thing to carry the day.    If logic had anything to do with it,  families with busy schedules would understand they might not have time to meet the exercise needs of that appealing puppy with those adorable big feet.   The nesting newlyweds would discuss their feelings about pets and children BEFORE filling the house up with wonderful furkids.  Students intelligent enough to get into university would remember their parents are only expecting them to bring home dirty laundry.
But whether it is infatuation or true love, logic hasn't got a whole lot to do with it, eh?
Have you ever noticed how many commercials focus on the Baby Boomers?   What is the common thread running through?   Do they appeal to logic?  Or do they promote the idea that this was a generation that marched to its own beat? 
Why do they do that?  Because it works, is why.  From financial planning to hair dye it works.  Baby Boomers may have outgrown their bell bottoms have never outgrown the need to be different than their parents.    One of the hallmarks of this group is their sense of social responsibility.
Spay/neuter and pet adoption should be presented in the same light as buying a fuel efficient car.  No one buys the car because its sensible.   They buy it because they are proud of being environmentally responsible.   The commercials didn't scold them ... or imply they were horrible car owners because their last car had a cloud of smoke that would do any politician proud. 
Nor did any commercial go on about the cost of car ownership.  Nope .. they simply assume that that people are going to get a car and don't try to talk them out of THAT.  Instead they focus on getting folks to buy THEIR car.
People are going to get the pet ... and since logic just hasn't been enough motivation for first time potential pet adopters to dip their toes in the water, perhaps its time to appeal to one of the unsung rewards of pet adoption ... the sure knowledge that the adopter is saving a pets life.    
As repugnant as it might sound to some, animal rescue has to be as good at promoting themselves to the public as they are at saving the animals.
Or to paraphrase Nathan Winograd " Do a good job and tell everyone about it"  What is the best way to do that?   And no ...before the keyboards catch on fire, I am not suggesting sacrificing big chunks of the budgets for publicity. 
What is the single thing that sells the animals the best?  Why the animals themselves of course.  At the risk of sounding like a stuck record ... off site adoptions are so effective because they get the animals ( and the message )out to the people. 
Its important to remember how many misconceptions still exist about No Kill.  When rescue organizations refer to themselves as No Kill, some folks don't think that ANY animals are in danger.  Gee whiz ... nobody's killing them, eh?
There is no sense of urgency because the group and the shelter stats only paint part of the picture .... and never include all those who do NOT find room at the inn.
A friend of mine once told me that for every dog she can accept .. there are another dozen waiting in the wings (hopefully, but sadly not always ) until she has room.  That would indicate that shelter stats are really only the tip of the iceberg .... great to measure individual performance but not very good at painting the big picture.
How to get THAT message across?  if scolding and logic and nicely designed websites haven't been working, why not try "fun" instead.   Why not a "Christmas in July" fun weekend for the animals?  Its a traditionally slow time for pet adoption and might just be the ticket to turn that around.
Its important to remember that the 'real statistics' are the ones we'll never see in print ... Animal Control, the owners bringing in their own pets into the vets for Unhappy Tails and sadder still the countless ones who do not live to tell the tail when they are abandoned / drowned and/ or shot
What time is it?  Its time to switch gears and paint the big picture on a broader canvas.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Reading the writing on the wall

I love the way everything smells after hanging out on the clothesline. Gosh .. what's Not to love, eh?   The summer sun and winter chill are great ways to sanitize fabric.  Its better for this Good Earth.  To be perfectly honest, there are so many upsides to not using a dryer that its almost frosting on the cake that it also saves me money.
Some of my friends think that hanging clothes out is too much work.  They love the convenience of a side by side setup where clothes are shifted into the dryer without taking a single step.   Of course they also spend extra on the fancy fabric softeners so that their clothes will smell somewhat like they were dried on the line.
Mind you ...  its easier to forget a load in the dryer.  Out of sight, out of mind until after the wrinkles are all set  ... when the entire load will either need ironing or another wash.
Some people think that adopting a pet from rescue is going to be a lot of work.  They overlook the fact that any pet, of any age, will need time and work to settle in properly.
Adopted or purchased, they all need to learn the skills if they are to become valued family members and good neighbours.    Rescues and shelters are brimming with pets that were left to 'wrinkle' until their humans move on for another cycle. 
Like innocent bystanders, none of them asked to be 'rejected'. 
The cats that were left to fend for themselves when people moved ... the one's whose humans never came back to the boarding kennels ... the infants taped into boxes and tossed out in the trash....
The dogs of all ages that were not trained to behave properly .. and then were surrendered / dumped/ passed off on Kijiji because they did not behave properly.
Adopting from a reputable rescue or shelter has at least as many upsides as the fresh line dried bits.   There is a screening process that protects potential adopters who fall in love with the cute ... but inappropriate face.    After all, rescuers understand that people's yard aren't going to get any bigger, their work schedules are likely to stay busy and that their human children should not be viewed as responsible and reliable caretakers for the new pet.
There are just ever so many up sides to adopting from a reputable rescue.   They make every effort to make the best matches.  Pets are already health checked and vaccinated and altered.  Known health or behavior issues are never swept under the rug.  Anyone adopting and adult pet has the extra advantage of being able to really tell if they will kindred spirits ... not to mention that they are already as big and as beautiful as they are going to get.   And of course, because they all want every adoption to succeed, follow up advice and support is available if needed.
All that ... PLUS the satisfaction of knowing that adopting THIS pet has give the rescue or shelter room to save another life!
And if THAT'S not enough ... adopting a homeless pet sets a socially responsible example for the next generation  ... one that is repaid many times over with love and loyalty and devotion.
Gosh its almost frosting on the cake that adopting a pet from rescue really saves money.  Fees might vary, but none of them come close to the amount a responsible pet owner has to spend to get their new friend off on the right paw. In most instances, the fees are well under half what would otherwise be called for.
What time is it?  Its time for the media to assume some social responsibility of their own and 'use their power' for good.   Articles and features about pet adoption ALWAYS boost adoptions ... and every pet that I have seen featured in any medium has been adopted almost immediately.
Most of us can read the writing on the wall; we just assume it's addressed to someone else.   Ivern Ball

Monday, June 7, 2010

Wow!!! What a great idea!

Trying to take off the gloves

I love going to the woods with the dogs every morning.  In the summer its always a little cooler in the shade.  Its much safer than walking down the same road that the big gravel trucks use.  And of course its just pretty darned interesting to always have something new to see.
Do I worry about coyotes?  Of course I do .. in the same way that I worry about startling a skunk or bumping into a bear during blackberry season.   Should it stop us from going to the woods?  Not in my opinion.
Mind you.. I wouldn't dream of going to the woods by myself without the big dogs.  Nor do I insist on heading down any trail where Andy is reluctant to tread.... because I do not believe that a small senior dog with only two teeth could survive being a hobo last year without an extra measure of common sense. 
I do stay on my friends land right now and don't go wandering afield. Why?  To be perfectly honest, I'm more concerned that parents in their panic will send someone out hunting coyotes before the bounty even comes into effect.
I'm a mother and a grandmother .. so I understand that there is very little that a parent will not do to protect a child.   Unfortunately ... a coyote cull is not the path to safety for children.
It would be more to the point if DNR would send someone into the schools to teach the children about being safe around wildlife.  Country kids learn these things before they can walk ... but there has traditionally not been such a need for 'townies' to be taught.  In truth, many of their parents might not even know where to begin.
The thing that really troubles me about the coyote cull ... besides of course the obvious bit of thousands of dead animals ... besides the concern that stray and lost dogs could be at real risk .... besides the risk to human and dog safety with snares in the woods ... besides the lesson we are teaching the next generation - if it gets in your way , kill it .... besides the existing evidentiary proof that a coyote cull is ineffective .... is the thing that nobody seems to want to talk about.
Why are coyotes losing their fear of man?  Cross breeding with wolves wouldn't do that, because wolves have a very natural caution towards humans.  My flannel coated, bearded buddies think that coyotes have been cross breeding with feral dogs and THAT is very likely the reason they are losing their natural caution.
When I was a girl in Whitehorse, we were surrounded by potentially dangerous wildlife.  In the two years that we lived there, not once was there an instance in the news about a wolverine/ bear/ etc attacking a human.  Why?  I think that when we recognize hazards, people are more inclined to prepare for them.
When there were specific animals of any species that insisted on hanging around where people lived, the wildlife folks came in and relocated the animal.  Then they explained to the people how to properly store their food waste  or whatever it was that had attracted the animal in the first place.
I'm a mother and a grandmother ... so I know first hand that there isn't anything that I wouldn't do to protect the ones I love.   The most frustrating thing about the impending coyote cull is that it won't be protecting anyone's children or grandchildren. 
It will simply create an illusion of public safety that is paid for by mountains of dead coyotes. 
All it is going to do is teach yet another generation that it is acceptable to solve a problem by killing.
If you are not already accustomed to communicating with your MLA, click here for contact information.  As with any other issue ... the way ahead is always paved by strong voter feedback.  It is the only thing that will motivate politicians ... because they never ever forget that the voters "hired" them and the voters can "fire" them.
Apathy is the glove into which evil slips its hand.  Bodie Thoene

Friday, June 4, 2010

More painting by numbers

I love learning new webcrafting skills.  Right now, I'm like a child with a new toy as I've been mastering some interesting java and css scripts for displaying images more effectively.   
Will they all show up on my websites?  Probably not. Why?  I'm only an amateur and so am likely not explaining it properly ... but not all versions of all browsers support every neat new thing I'm learning.  
Site visitors who are not building websites / playing online games / etc might not have newer puters with bigger hard drives ( I can't explain why size matters with this except it somehow relates to speed :)  
Nor would every site visitor have access to / feel the need to have high speed Internet access. 
The short version of all this is that elaborate scripts can slow down the speed that a site loads on different computers, and I really don't want to start discouraging site visitors.
I know a lot of kind hearts who get discouraged by the lengthy adoption applications that can be found on most of the animal rescue websites.  Now before the keyboards catch on fire ... yes I agree that care and caution need to be exercised to protect the adoptables.
Would it be possible to have two forms?  The first would be a simple screening ... one page asking for contact information, personal and vet references, along with permission to check the other animal clinics in the area.   When one is applying for a job, the references are usually checked before applicants even get to the interview stage.
After the references are checked ... then the phone interview could cover all of the same ground that the applications cover now.   As part of the home visit, if things are going well, the applicants could sign the second form, which would include all the what if scenarios that make some initial applications so off putting for first time adopters.  That would provide something in black and white to protect both parties, eh?
After all, as a friend of mine who works rescue in Nfld once said, "when you are face to face with someone, its easier to tell if they are being straight with you"  
When people are infatuated, they are apt to say whatever it takes to win the day.   While I understand the spirit behind the lengthy initial adoption application, its important to recognize how many great potential homes are also lost because people are intimidated by the process. 
Maybe breaking it down into baby steps would be a better way forward.  After all ... according to that survey that the CVA commissioned, this year in Nova Scotia 140,930 people could be bringing a new pet into their home.  Just imagine how fast we could adopt our way to No Kill Nova Scotia if a bigger percentage could be enticed to adopt?
As a sidebar to that .... the survey also suggests the possibility that 29,595 people will bring home a new kitty and 64,827 folks will get a dog.    Within those numbers,  there is a strong possibility that only 5,031 cats and 8427 dogs will be adopted from shelters. Only? Well think about this .. that also means that there is no guarantee that the remaining new pets .. the majority of the new pets ... will be spayed or neutered.   
Wow ... that means that this year alone, there could be  56,400 unaltered new dogs and 24,564 unaltered new cats entering the population.
Tell me again why there is no money in the kitty ( pardon the bad pun) for a provincial spay neuter program?   If the NDP government are serious about stopping their numbers in the polls from circling the drain, this would a very meaningful place to start.  
What time is it?   It is always time to remember that strong voter feedback is the only thing that will inspire any politician at any level of government to react.   Click here if you don't already have contact information for your MLA
It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds.  Samuel Adams

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The basis of all morality

To be perfectly honest, human compassion ... and a sense of responsibility for those who trust and depend upon us ... should  represent sufficient arguments against sentencing a dog to Life as a Yard Dog.   
If that's not enough, there is sufficient documentary proof to establish that chained and penned dogs neither learn the appropriate behaviours to make them 'good neighbours' nor are they sufficiently socialized to be trustworthy members of the community.
And if THAT's not enough, perhaps eight year old Cody's story might stave off the skeptics.  When he was rescued by the Clarenville SPCA, the kind hearts there thought that his dreadfully dirty and matted fur was enough of a sadness.... but they WERE concerned about his nose and brought him to the vet.
So now, instead of looking for an adopter to share years and years with this sweet boy, they are now looking for someone with enough heart to offer this great guy a safe and loving indoor home for the remaining time he has left.  He is still energetic and happy, and the shelter would like him to have a chance to experience the good life he has missed out on until now.
If you believe you might be Cody's Angel, please call the shelter at 709-466-3489
Compassion is the basis of all morality - Arthur Schopenhauer


The garden won't grow if nobody plants any seeds

I love gardening.  Whats not to love?  Its good exercise.  Its creative.  Its like a little miracle just 'watching my garden grow"  And best of all ... at the end of the season there are lots of Good Things in my pantry and my freezer and my Keeping Cupboard.
Scientists are just starting to discover what our grandparents knew all along ... its good for us to eat food that is grown in our own locale.  Admittedly, its easier to subscribe to this theory in a Zone 6b where we are blessed with such variety and bounty.
Scientists are also just waking up to a few things that pet lovers have always known.  Pets aren't just great company ... they are good for our mental and physical well being. 
Yet we as a society have such a casual regard for the well being of pets in general and tend to categorize them in two groups.  First there are the owned and loved pets who are the responsibility of their humans.   Irrespective of where the pets originally came from, those living the 'good life' are the clientele who represent the backbone of the prosperous and flourishing pet industry.
Sadly the second group seldom get out of the gate.  Their owners were likely originally motivated by the media hype and advertising generated by the pet industry.  Outside of one commercial for Bissel .. have you ever seen any pet related industry ad mentioning housetraining / obedience / chewing / etc ?  Nope.. its all happy dogs playing frisbee and cats who politely wait while their human cleans the pristine litter box.
No mention is ever made of how the happy families keep their pets.  Granted, most of the pet food companies do have a certain amount of good information on their websites ... but none of that ever surfaces in their advertising.
I'm not necessarily saying that the pet related ads should be like the classic ad from the war on drugs ... where there is picture of a comatose drug addict laying in squalor with a small child's voice over saying 'when I grow up, I want to be a heroin addict"  After all, advertising has never been based on worse case scenarios.  
Yet shouldn't the pet food companies have a few ads promoting pet adoption .. just to kind of balance things out a bit?   Hey ... wait a minute ... isn't somebody already doing that?  What about the IAM's Home for the Holidays program that is run every year?
Like Petfinder, there is no cost for the shelters who participate.  What do they get in return?   Besides the free advertising in all the media?  Besides the added visibility by being part of the website?  There are also cute little adoption packages that can in themselves be a little incentive.
So here in Nova Scotia, who signed up last year?  Nobody.  Not a soul.   What about this year?  Well, I am happy to report that so far:
  • The Colchester SPCA  .. who btw have really done lovely things with their new site , and of course
  • SHAID who just seem to lead the way so many times, eh?
But ... like Bugs used to say ... that's all for now folks.    I know that summer hasn't even started ... so to speak .. even if this good rain has all the seeds sprouting up now.   But by the time I'm covering over the pumpkins and fall annuals for frost, the Home for the Holidays campaign ads will be in full swing.
What time is it?  Its always time to pull out all the stops for the animals ... especially when its so easy and free.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Its June ... and that means its Adopt a Cat Month !!!!

Its June and THAT means that its Adopt a Shelter Cat Month!  Here in Nova Scotia, there are at least as many kitties available in foster as there are in shelters.  
And THAT is why that here in my Nova Scotia, its Adopt a Cat Month on the Homeless Pet Site :)
These lovelies pictured here are all available for adoption from HART.   The kittens have all been treated for parasites, tested (FELV) and vaccinated. The adults "Rosie"and "Carly" are spayed too.
After all .... as My Granny used to say ... never trust anyone who doesn't like the cat:)