Sunday, August 29, 2010

How a mouse can help a cat

Boy is it ever hot out this afternoon!  We don't have air conditioning, but we do have a lovely greenbelt of mostly deciduous trees right behind the house.    Positioning the house at the back of the lot to have shade in the summer and warmth in the winter was well worth the tradeoff for the smaller back yard, IMHO.  Passive solar heat is all about placement .. of getting the right exposure, so to speak.
Like many other people in the animal loving community, my inbox is ever full of emails from the lists trying to find homes for pets.   There isn't a day goes by that there aren't at least a dozen new kitties in need.  
Whether they are left at an animal hospital, found by a kind heart who wouldn't look the other way or facing an imminent Unhappy Tail when their human passes away / goes in a home/ has a baby / moves/ etc.... , their pictures and descriptions are passed around the lists in the hopes that it will help.
For the longest time, I've been wondering how to get these great cats out there in the public eye.  How could so many listings possibly be kept up to date?  Where would one even begin?
I'm a middle aged granny not a professional, so sometimes it takes a while for me to see the thing that is right in front of my face.   Why not set up a blog and post straight from the email .. edited of course to pull out the personal bits and names in the forwards?  With Facebook tags so people can share the listings?
So that's how I've been spending the heat of this day ... tucked in my shady cool house setting that up.   It gave the dogs a good chance to rest up from our morning hike and swim.
The NS Community Cat Blog  is up and running.  And maybe .. just maybe ... a bit more exposure will help.  So if you already have a houseful, why not pop in now and then and share some of the listings on facebook?
What time is it?  Its time to take full advantage of social networking and see how a mouse can really help a cat!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Painting with the other end of the brush

I love making cinnamon buns.  Honestly ... what's not to love?  They taste great ... they're no trouble to make and best of all the house just smells so darned good when they're baking.
Truth be told, I love baking anything and back in the day when I worked on the floor I had a pretty good rep as a baker.  Why?  Because I followed the darn recipe is why. No matter how many times I had made a recipe, I always weighed and measured and followed all the steps. 
I'm a middle aged grandmother, not a mathematician, but even I know how important numbers are in life.   We measure everything, eh?   Time, money, speed, calories .... if its part of our lives we have found a way to take its measure.
Numbers are a definitive way to make a statement as well.   When people used to say that "many" dogs died a horrible death in high kill gassing shelters in Georgia, people were able to ignore that as not being "their" problem.  But when the director of the Atlanta SPCA went on record in the news with the fact that over 50,000 dogs were killed in shelters in Georgia every year ... THAT woke people up. 
From east to west in the northern states and all the way up into our own country, an Underdog Railroad developed in an effort to help.  Closer to home, their own citizens have effectively changed the practices in some shelters and are still campaigning with others.  Real numbers made it harder for people to overlook that killing healthy adoptable animals is terrible enough without gassing and heartsticking.
Straight, sweet and simple ... numbers can be a wake up call because they spotlight the true scope of any situation.
The thing that wakes me up at three in the morning is wondering how to get real numbers here in Nova Scotia.  And before the keyboards catch on fire ... of course I am delighted that the society now provide publicly available stats.  As the official voice for the animals, they'll never have the credibility to advocate for disclosure of AC numbers if they don't lead by example.
But not all the Unhappy Tails happen at AC hands.  In some places, the AC don't actually do any killing, but take the unfortunates to one of the vet clinics contracted by the municipality to provide this service.  In other areas,  outcomes are so veiled in secrecy that one can only speculate.  And of course any contractor providing AC sheltering service is under no legal obligation under provincial laws to disclose anything at all.
Animal clinics hold some of the answers in their hands ... but for privacy reasons of course would never ever disclose how many owner requested and AC contracted Unhappy Tails they have every year.
And of course there are all the Unsung Unhappy Tails that we normally never find out about.   Animals are abandoned and / or shot / poisoned / drowned or simply left to starve and freeze to death on the end of a chain.
So how CAN the picture be painted in bold enough terms to motivate?  The short answer is obvious .. it can't.
In light of that ... without real numbers .. how can we expect to change anything for the animals?  Well there is another set of numbers that politicians ALWAYS listen to ... strong voter feedback.
Why has HRM ignored the wonderful proposal for a Low Cost High Volume Spay neuter clinic?  They haven't had sufficient voter feedback is why.  Why can the provincial government dodge any responsibility for better consumer protection legislation for pet owners?  Not enough response from pet owning voters is why.
After all .... when position statements shift with every new poll, its plain to see that politicians Never Forget that their tenure is granted by the grace of the voters.
What time is it?  It is always time  to remember that strong voter feedback is the best way to paint a vivid picture for politicians.
One of the deep secrets of life is that all that is really worth doing is what we do for others.  Lewis Carroll

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

One talented lady making a life

For those of you who haven't seen this sweet face before, this is Nate.  Nope ...nobody's trying to groom him like a poodle.   Nate's fur is just starting to grow back from the ACL and hip surgery that he had on July 23rd.
This lovable young fellow is only a year and a half old and is ever so lucky to have come under the loving umbrella of Lab Rescue.... where rescue legend Trish Pittman pulls out all the stops for those in her care.
I first met Trish when I was looking to adopt a girl dog and over the course of our friendship she has generously shared her knowledge of working with speciality flours ( acquired firsthand in her store The Doggy Bag Treatery ) for baking wheat free dog cookies. 
Trish is the author of some of the wittiest petfinder bios I have ever read and so it was no surprise to see that she has now come up with the most innovative fundraising idea yet to pay for Nate's vet bills ... the Speed Dating Fundraiser
Gosh ... what could be better than that?  Having a barrel of fun for the very best of reasons?  If you're free a week from today, on Wednesday the 25th, click here to register
We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. Winston Churchill

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The real cost of that doggie in the window

I love going to the feed store in Middleton.  Not just for the old fashioned 'warehouse' atmosphere or the know everyone by name friendly service either.  Nope ... in a world where imported wolves disguised as local sheep seem to find their way onto grocery store shelves, its a refreshing change of pace to get honest answers when I shop.
Its the same reason that I love going to our health food store in Greenwood.  Not the bulk barn in the mall, but the real deal across the street where the staff actually know what they're talking about. One can either buy small packages of things that haven't been pawed over by who knows how many or big bags straight from the supplier.  Once again .. there are no mysteries or fuzzy areas to be found.
When Ralph Nader first brought auto safety issues into the limelight, he was vilified by the entire industry. Why?  Did they not want to provide safe vehicles?  Did they want to be responsible for loss of life?  Or were they simply unwilling to cut into the profit margin? 
For whatever reason, the auto industry in general, and GM in particular, hired private detectives to tap Mr Nader's phones, investigate his past and even went to the extreme of hiring prostitutes to try to trap him in compromising situations.   Mr Nader's well publicized lawsuit against GM for invasion of privacy was ultimately settled for over a quarter of a million dollars.  In the same year, 1966, his book "Unsafe at Any Speed" was responsible for the unanimous passage of the National Motor Vehicle and Safety Act.
Why is that important?  Because the act shifted the onus of responsibility for automobile safety from the consumer to the manufacturer.   It set a precedent in consumer protection legislation that has rippled into all aspects of manufacturing. 
Its hard to imagine that was only forty four years ago.  These days safety standards are such a selling point that auto manufacturers are tripping over each other to compete.
This week, a promising proposal to ban the sale of pets in Toronto pet stores was postponed like the political hot potato it has become .... likely in the high hopes that it will be forgotten water under the bridge by the subject pops up on the agenda in the New Year.
Not surprisingly, local pet stores are opposed to the plan and a "Church St. pet store manager says his store buys from home breeders and tries to ensure older pets are sold before bringing in a fresh crop of kittens and puppies. He says he would be saddened to see the ban implemented — not only would he lose revenue, he would also lose the opportunity to sell pets to first-time owners."
Of course he doesn't mention that reputable breeders Never Sell to Pet Stores.  Naturally he doesn't explain that as imperfect as the CKC system is, that his puppies will likely not qualify for CKC registration.  Nor does he go into any detail about the environment the animals come from.
Why can he do this?  Because there are no consumer protection laws for pet owners.   Legislation would limit the ability of commercial breeders to market their wares.  Anything that will cut into THAT profit margin will be strongly opposed by PIJAC.  ( the sticky subject of how reputable breeders are allowing themselves to be tarred with the same brush is a separate topic that has been, and will again, find its way into its own posts on this blog)
The pet industry represents big money and it would take a bigger romantic than myself to expect it to be self regulating.   
What would good consumer protection legislation for pet owners look like?  It would:
  • ban sale of any animal in the free online ad sites
  • prohibit the sale of pets in pet stores
  • include mandatory breeder registration, and
  • a "lemon law" that would obligate all pets purchased to come with a health guarantee
The commercial pet industry would like the public to believe that banning the sale of pets in pet stores would mean that rescues and shelters would be their only options.  The pet store manager in the article was not alone in stating that "  At the same time, I don’t think people who are inexperienced pet owners should be getting pets from shelters"
Not to be mean ... but more problems have been posed for inexperienced pet owners with the show me the money no questions asked approach of pet stores than have have been generated by rescues and shelters.  But I don't want to wander afield.
If the NDP bobsled team would like to polish up its increasingly tarnished image, implementing provincial consumer protection legislation for pet owners would be a dandy place to start.  
What time is it?  Its time to remind our MLA's that when over half the voters in this province have a pet, making sure that 'doggie in the window' doesn't break their hearts and their bankbooks is long overdue.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Everything is connected part two

I love being a grandmother.  Even if I'm not a babysitting and knitting kind of granny, summer visits are still a great joy.  Not surprisingly, my granddaughter loves to tell stories as much as she loves animals:)    She can, with very little encouragement, delight us all by rattling off the back story for each and every one of the nine pets here.
Like every grandmother, I am hoping the world will be a better place for my daughter's daughter.  To be perfectly honest, that's the underlying reason I do the sites and the blogs.
Coming out of the gate, I am hoping that Ontario will be famous for having enough sense to rescind BSL.  While I love my family, following them to the land of BSL was out of the question. Both my big dogs would have been killed or sentenced to a horrible life in a research lab because of Pound Seizure if we were in Ontario. 
Don't think BSL in Ontario should matter here in Nova Scotia?  Think again.  Its important to remember that BSL made a dandy diversion to distract Ontario voters from the inability of the Ontario Liberals to successfully address the gang related crime issues.  In a province where the NDP bobsled team seems to have no qualms about taking politically expedient steps to kill animals, animal loving Nova Scotia voters need to pay Very Close Attention to what their municipal councillors are doing.
After all, as my friend Joan has already pointed out, the Municipal Government Act ( in section 175 1(e) - 175 (1) Without limiting the generality of Section 172, a council may make by-laws(e) defining fierce or dangerous dogs, including defining them by breed, cross-breed, partial breed or type;
 In other words, if we snooze we could really lose. Those of us with 'pittie type dogs' could find our insurance rates hiked, our current dogs permanently required to be muzzled off our own property and of course that doesn't begin to cover how quickly the dead dogs would pile up.
Even if we can manage to keep the wolves from our own door, so to speak, we still live in a mobile society.  People who aren't planning on moving can be one plant shutdown or company closure from having to head out of province for work.  So BSL in another province definitely can still impact on us all.
And of course there are all the hard working members of the military who are serving their country.  In these dangerous days they are often putting their own lives on the line ( and before the keyboards catch on fire kindly remember that it is the politicians who make the agendas... not the soldiers )  Yet at any time, any member of the military can be posted to a base in the land of BSL.  How many of them have had to give up their dogs before going ... or lost their dogs after they moved?   If there was one single solitary politically expedient reason for Ontario to rescind BSL, that would be it, eh?
What time is it?  Its always time to remember that Ostriches nearly became extinct because they buried their heads in the sand.  

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

More ways to have fun and help the animals.

 Just one of the very cool ways to help Boxer Rescue get back on its fundraising feet after Warrior's Tale

Can't take the tv outside in the summer sun?  Why not check out ARC's Summer Book Sale ?

For more summer fun, check out the ASDR online auction

Have some good 'clean' summer fun with the Vetcetera Animal Hospital Charity Dog Wash

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Update on Abigail

There is a real silver lining to this cloudy rainy day .... I am happy to report that Abigail has returned home ... muddy and hungry but safe and sound!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Dancing down the tree

I love birdwatching.   Admittedly its a distraction to have my desk facing the back bird feeders, but I'd like to think I'm learning while the screen saver keeps kicking in.
No question about it ... this time of year there is a pretty impressive parade to admire.   In spite of the hawks and the eagles, the summer songbirds still faithfully find their way here and the last couple of years we have even seen a few sparrows starting to come back.  ( The sad topic of how seldom swallows are seen being an obvious measure of how poorly we humans are doing in our self assumed stewardship of this planet is a separate subject for a blog with a different focus than mine ...sigh )
Even in the midst of the summer splendour, my two favourite birds are the little chickadees and the nuthatches.   Chickadees ... like terriers .. have no sense of their size and will bravely feed out of a human hand or perch on the shoulder of the person filling the feeders.
Nuthatches are the masters of seizing the overlooked opportunity.  For years I used to wonder why they were the only ones working their way down the trees headfirst.  The answer is so elegant and simple ... they are ferreting out the tidbits missed by the other birds going UP the trees. 
Well then .... no wonder they are so adept at dancing down the tree! 
There is not a single day when there are not sad pictures of abandoned and injured cats either on facebook or in emails from folks in the animal loving community.   Not one single day goes by without starving or injured kittens and cats ... some so flea ridden their bathwater runs red with blood.  Not one single day.
One of the beautiful things about pet adoption is the domino effect.   Everytime a pet is adopted all the adopters friends, family, neighbours and coworkers wake up to the many benefits of pet adoption.  People find out firsthand what a good buy the adoption fee is ... how reassuring it is to have a pet that comes with a health check instead of a curbside guarantee and of course the obvious fact that every adorable adoptable is an awesome and appealing ambassador.
Is pet adoption the whole solution?  Nope ... not even close.   Low cost / high volume spay neuter clinics like the proposal that the society presented to the HRM Council in January of this year will play a critical part of the solution. 
Without strong voter feedback, municipal councillors and MLA's will continue to to toss responsibility for this around like a hot potatoe ... trying to use the old dodge that it would be fiscally irresponsible to support either TNR or a good SNAP.
But pet adoption DOES have to be promoted more aggressively for the cats, and not simply because their numbers are just ever so much higher than the dogs.  From my birds eye view in maintaining the homeless pet site, I have seen some cats literally grow up 'in care'.  In some instances, there are cats that have literally been tying up safe rescue slots since before the homeless pet site was created.
And before the keyboards catch on fire, I am NOT suggesting that anyone start killing cats in their care.   But at the risk of sounding like a stuck record ... if rescues cannot afford to drop adoption fees for their cats then it is way past time to consider off site adoption events for their cats.
Cat only adoption events have proven particularly successful because they are quieter so the adopters are more inclined to stay and meet the kitties.  And of course, at the end of the day, the cats can 'sell' themselves if they are only given half a chance.
There is no downside  to boosting cat adoptions.  Every cat adopted from a responsible group is not going be part of the problem.   Every adoption 'undercuts the competition' of the free to a good homes. And of course last but not least it enables groups to save more lives instead of simply providing sanctuary for a few.
What time is it?  As long as there is 'no room at the inn' there is no excuse for not trying offsite cat adoptions.