Tuesday, May 31, 2011

What a Purrfect Idea!

When you are off the beaten path ... its always helpful to give potential adopters a great reason for going the extra mile!   

To meet the adorable adoptables, please click here

Monday, May 30, 2011

Trying to light a fire in the rain ...

I am a middle aged grandmother ... not a TV show host with staff.  What does that mean?  In realspeak it means that at this time of year, I spend more time running my tiller than my vacuum.  That meal prep plays such a second fiddle to pruning and planting that supper can be as simple as opening a bag of chips.
Life is full of choices, and if I am unwilling to scale back on our hikes, making the dogs' food and doing web bits for the animals, then something has to give.   If I'm not willing to put my life on hold, the domestic bits will simply have to wait.
Kind of like everything else in life, eh?  No one person .. or group ... can do it all.  We're actually really lucky here in Nova Scotia to have so many kind hearts working for the animals, in so many different ways.
Does that mean that every is all rosy and peachy keen?  Of course not!  There are many areas of the province that don't have any rescue resources at all.   The society's coverage is uneven at best around the province.   At worst, branch effectiveness is limited by the challenge of overcoming negative 'urban legends' based on past performance.
A dear friend of mine running a rescue told me that she has to turn away ten dogs for every one that she can accept ... and there is no reason to believe this is the exception rather than the rule.  Every group and shelter in the province has a waiting list and can seldom accept strays or owner surrenders.
And before the keyboards catch on fire, please do not think for one second that I am advocating a return to the old status quo where the Cape Breton SPCA accepted everything that came in the door .... and then killed at least three out of four.  ( the subject of whether all the spiffy new stats for shelters with AC contracts include the AC intake when it comes in the door or only when animals are transferred on the books is an interesting topic that would be sheer speculation to dwell on )
If it sucks to be a homeless animal, the ante is really stepped up for the cats.  There are no breed rescues and every group and shelter in the province is full to overflowing.
Politicians at all levels turn a blind eye to the need to support Low Cost Spay Neuter and TNR.  Why?  Because cats don't vote of course!   The society has made presentations to every politician at every level who will listen ... yet to date there have been no 'takers'  Nor will there be, until there is sufficient voter feedback to inspire our politicians to act.
To the best of my knowledge, most municipalities do not provide any tangible support for the volunteer TNR groups trying to address the problem.  ( If anyone outside of Annapolis County is doing this, please contact me, eh? )  Bear in mind that these are volunteers who would give much better bang for the tax payer buck than most other ventures. 
In most cases, municipalities spend more on office supplies than the humble $5,000 stipend that would change the world for most TNR groups. 
Perhaps it is hard for our provincial politicians ... who will all be able to retire with a jammy pension after six years of service ... to imagine that such small sums would make a difference.  To even be able to visualize the impact of investing in Low Cost Spay Neuter?
Even worse, in many communities, existing bylaws make it virtually impossible for caretakers to shelter a feral cat colony.  TNR has been around long enough to have a proven track record as a humane solution for the feral cat problem.  
If there is one thing that I have learned in the course of maintaining the homeless pet sites it is that the primarily volunteer animal rescue community is brimming with good ideas and sensible solutions.  When miracles have to be made on a shoestring, thinking outside the box becomes the rule rather than the exception, eh?
How are laws changed in Nova Scotia?   Provincial laws are changed by our MLA's.  Municipal bylaws can be changed by the individual municipalities, but they are obligated to stay within the framework of their provincially legislated mandate.  Regulations to support these laws come after the fact, and are written by legal teams at the departmental level with input from stakeholders.
Like I said ... we are lucky in Nova Scotia to have so many powered by love for the animals .. but the only effective way to wake up those who love being in power is by strong voter feedback.
Pets do not vote, so it is up to us as tax paying voters to let the politicians who represent us at all levels know that better laws for the animals always do double duty by creating safer communities.  
Anti tethering legislation will go much further than any BS bits in dog law.  Better cat bylaws would encourage properly maintained feral cat colonies instead of nuisance behaviors in the community.    More specific regulations would enable the society to be more proactive instead of having to settle for 'education not enforcement'
What time is it?  It is always time to remember that love is not enough ... that it will take better laws to really protect the animals.
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

Friday, May 27, 2011

Morton's Fork

I love wading in the river with my dogs!   Its early days yet to be able to safely go everywhere, but we can still have the delightful fun of exploring the changes that this years spring run off and rains have wrought in our little 'hood'.
Water changes everything.   The lovely cool swimming hole we delighted in twenty years ago is now full of river rock.   The river bank has been gradually inching south, exposing boulders that were well buried when we first hiked these trails.  The lovely lush romantic looking poison ivy has been gradually creeping west at a steady rate of fifty odd feet or so a year.
The other day, I saw an article in our local paper titled Too Many Cats, Kittens to Count.  While it was nice to see the Kings SPCA putting on a special adoption fee for all their cats over six months of age, one has to wonder why there is any confusion about why ... once again... this is the worst year ever for homeless cats.
It is not a mystery.  There is no puzzle.  The annual river of cats will continue to increase as long as the cats keep reproducing.
So it should be no surprise that the Kings Shelter is caught between a rock and a hard place.   The shelter is full and they cannot accept more strays.  Yet every cat that 'sits on the shelf' represents at least one Very Unhappy Tail for another cat.
In all fairness, there is not one single shelter or rescue group with the resources to have both an Open Door and a No Kill policy.
But wait just a minute there ... aren't Comprehensive Adoption Programs part of the No Kill Equation?   Hasn't it been proven that it is possible to Adopt the Way to No Kill?
As a sidebar note to that, when I had first heard of the NS Animal Wellness Conference next week, my tiny little mind became almost dizzy with the possibilities.  Gosh ... there could be fun demos of animal events ...  free workshops to draw in the public and of course provide a banner opportunity for the public to meet the adorable adoptables.    Kind of a mini NS Week for the Animals, eh?
Gosh ... I really had the wrong end of the stick on that one!  I'm sure its a lovely idea to have a conference geared for the professionals and volunteers in the Animal Welfare Field.  But the hundred dollar admission price tag is going to keep away the general public.
Why is this a problem?  Not to be mean ... but most animal care professionals will be working on friday and at least on Saturday morning.  Volunteers will still have kids in school and paying jobs of their own as well.
This is much the same thing as trying to promote pet adoption by logically explaining how much of a savings the adoption fee is. 
Logic rarely has anything to do with bringing home a pet.  The heart wants what the heart wants, eh?  It is wishful thinking to believe that prospective pet owners will pay money to be lectured to instead of having fun somewhere else on a spring weekend.
Remember, that if only one percent of the 350,000 odd households in Nova Scotia were to wake up to the joys of pet adoption, then rescues and shelters in the province wouldn't be always be caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. 
What time is it?  It is time to recognise that the "choir" already gets it and now it is time to 'take it to the street'. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Fundraisers for the Animals this weekend :)

If you are looking for ways to have fun AND help the animals, there is no shortage of events to pick from this weekend!  
  • CAPS is coming back to the Middleton Market ... and will be there every Friday from 2 - 6 pm until the Market winds down in the fall.   Its a purrfect opportunity to meet some of their kitties and support the local farmers, crafts folk, wineries and florists :)
  • SHAID is holding its Annual Yard Sale this weekend ... see poster below ... with so many delights they have had to rent two buildings!  As a sidebar note to that, today is the last day to drop of donations for this ... and I do believe that this year their Garden Booth will be open on Friday afternoon as well.
  • On Sunday, The Lillian Albon Shelter in Amherst is holding the 2011 Jesse Payne Memorial Dog Walk from 2 - 4 pm at the Rotary Park in Amherst ... see poster below for more details.   Please note that people without dogs are very welcome to attend this event :)   Pledge sheets and registration forms are available on the shelter website
  • The Friends of the Valley Animal Shelter will hold their Annual Plant Sale on Saturday, May 28 from 8:00 am-12:00pm at 36 Elm St Jefferson Pines Subdivision in Meadowvale, Annapolis County. For more information contact Jennifer @902 765 6629.  Note .. if you are not familiar with the area, Jefferson Pines is located just off the #1, just west of Greenwood and is very well signed :)
  • the Annual Spring Giant Yardsale and Barbeque put on by 2nd Chance Charity is being held this Sat from 10 am - 2 pm in the parking lot of the Metro Shelter at 5 Scarfe Ct in Burnside.   They are in urgent need of volunteers to help set up on Friday after 3 pm and also still need folks for Saturday to man tables.  If you can volunteer, please click here.  If you're not familiar with 2nd Chance Charity .. they fundraise all year long at the Harbourview Market for the SPCA, SCARS, TAPA and Pick of the Litter.
  • Pierre's Alley Cat Society is holding an auction being held at Big Leagues in Cole Harbour this Sunday, May 29 from 1-5pm. Tickets can be purchased at the door for $5 and it comes with the bidding paddle and a free pop or draft. There will be almost $10,000 in services and merchandise to bid on. There will also be a 50/50 draw, a basket draw and a loto ticket draw. Big Leagues is now at 920 Cole Harbour Rd.
  • Don't want to drive anywhere?  Just want to putter in the garden or hang by the pool?   Then there are always the ever popular Facebook Auctions to amuse and delight :)
If for some reason I have missed anything .... please just leave a comment and I'll include it in this post :)
As you can see, there really is something out there for everyone this weekend!
If you haven't any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble. Bob Hope

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

In praise of full service

I hope that I never lose my enthusiasm for this time of year.  Buds bursting into full leaf.   Blossoms buzzing with drunken bees.   It is almost frosting on the cake that this bevy of beauty is a full sensory package complete with lovely scents to savour through the season.
From fresh cut grass and the first heady hit of lilacs through to the lingering earthy fragrance of fresh pulled winter carrots ... even if I should my sight should falter, I hope that I would keep my enthusiasm for gardening.
Hopefully it will always override the grubbier bits!  From bugs through to the hot sticky work of processing the harvest, gardening is dirty business!
In the three years that I have been doing the homeless pet site, Petfinder has really gained traction in the mainstream animal loving community.   Is that a good thing?  Of course it is!  
What a wonderful and beautiful and simple concept ... to provide a free online listing service to promote individual adoptable pets of all sizes and species and stripes!  ( The subject of how inappropriate their partnership with Kijiji is a testy topic deserving a post of its own on another day ... as is the inability of the society to advocate against purchasing pets online when they advertise on Kijiji themselves.)
Like it or not ... people are choosing their pets in the same way as they are buying their "things" ... online.  Why not?  Its simple.  Its easy.   Best of all, it gives them time to research what is available before engaging in the process.  
I'm getting a fresh perspective on this right now because somebody very near and dear to me is hoping to adopt a dog.  So how are the ads stacking up for him?
Coming out of the gate, he is amazed at the difference in the ads.  
He is only planning on getting one dog so he needs to know about things like separation anxiety.  He works ... so he is looking at adults who are already housetrained.
He will very likely want to bring his new pal along when he comes to visit me, so the dog will need to be ok with cats and other dogs.   This is going to be his first dog, so he needs to know if the training required is a match for his own skills.
His three year old grandson will visit occasionally, as will his four year old grand niece.  
The short version is that he isn't interested in any listing that doesn't offer this kind of information ... no matter how cute the pet is. 
Nor is he psychic.   If the pet isn't listed on petfinder ... he will not know that it is available.  Bear in mind that this is a guy with his own home and a good income who believes that pets are a lifetime commitment.  And he IS a guy ... so save your breath to cool your porridge about putting in a preapproved application :)
Truth be told ... he is the rule rather than the exception.  
As a sidebar note to that, although I try not to play favourites ... I am always impressed when rescues use creative ways to describe their adoptables.   One of the neatest new ideas I have seen in a while comes from (no surprise) Atlantic Small Dog Rescue.  They have added "wags" and "growls" at the end of their already detailed petfinder bios to sum up the best and the worst bits about each pet.
What time is it?  It is always time to understand the value of clarity ... and that time spent on a petfinder/ adopt a pet/ pet tango / rescue website pet listing is never, ever wasted.
We need to decide whether to give full service or lip service.   Peter Block   

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Here comes the sun ....

To be perfectly honest, I have never been a big fan of driving.  Even back in the day when I had better vision, a car was always a utilitarian object with one specific purpose - to get from point A to point B.
These days I seldom drive further than Berwick or Middleton, so new acquaintances are understandably amazed to find out that I have actually driven cross country on postings.  
This morning, Miss Ruby and I went to the Berwick Animal Hospital for her annual checkup.  Even though it was a short simple good news checkup, the car was noticeably warmer we came back out, even with windows cracked open a couple of inches.  
According to the nifty weather station my brother gave me, its up to thirty now and I expect the mercury isn't done rising for the day. 
I know I've talked about it before, and actually have a page for Warm Weather Pet Safety Tips on the homeless pet site ... but it just seems to be one of those seasonal change things that seem to catch everyone by surprise. 
What time is it?  It is always, always time to remember that our pets are depending on us to keep them safe.
PS .. for downloadable, printable flyers and posters, go to My Dog is Cool

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

In praise of asking why not...

Looking for a fun destination for drive this Saturday?   Looking for a way to help the animals?   Then look no further.  This Saturday, PET Projects are holding their Spring into Pets family event and fundraiser.
Its no secret that I have a soft spot for PET Projects.  Although I try not to play favourites, its hard not to have a special affection for these very special folks.
They are as close to full service as it gets in this province.  What is their secret?  Do they have some magic millionaire footing the bills?  Not even close!
PET Projects takes a different tack ... and offers to partner with area residents who find strays / need to rehome their own pets / TNR feral cats / find their lost pet / rehome their chained dog or even just need a little help with food or vet costs to be able to keep the pets they love.   
There is no secret ... nobody has waved a magic wand ... it is simply a shining example of what beautiful things can happen when a rescue group really engages the community.  
What time is it?  It is always time to support the folks who are thinking outside the box for the animals.
'Some people see things as they are and ask 'why'? I see things as they have never been and ask 'why not'?' George Bernard Shaw

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Update on The Mighty Quinn

I am happy to report that it was a big .... but very successful ... day for Quinn.  His foster Mom reports " Here is Quinn home from surgery with his lovely hat on (so he doesn't chew his stitches). He had 4 teeth pulled, 2 large molars and 2 in front that were full of hair from years of flea biting!

His neuter went well (he might not agree) and the tumour has been removed. We decided not to test it since Dr. Hall believes that all of it has been removed. It may have been cancerous but now he is free from it and is ready to heal.
Free to heal ... free to have fun .... free to finally learn the new skills needed for domestic bliss ... and free to find a kindred spirit who can appreciate the lifetime of love that Quinn has saved up.  

Monday, May 16, 2011

Comfy as an old slipper ....

I love rhubarb cobbler!   There is an upside to everything and this cold wet weather is at least good for growing rhubarb.   It will be a day or two before there is enough ready to stew, but it will be a treat to have nice hot cobbler to warm up with for lunch.
At least it is cool enough to put a good fire.  What is good for the garden is not always the best for arthritis ... as both Andy and I can attest.   Does that mean we are over the hill?  Not in the slightest!  If anything, exercise is more important for us to help manage our arthritis. 
But it does mean that we truly appreciate such creature comforts as a cozy fire.   When I first adopted Andy, it was clear that many of the nice little things were novelties to him.   
Contrary to the old adage, you CAN teach an old dog new tricks.  Or house rules.   Or obedience.  Or even housetraining for the ones who have had the short end of the stick being sentenced to life on the end of a chain.
Contrary to the old myth ... senior pets are actually wise enough to seize a second chance at love.  Andy and I are as devoted to each other as any pet who has been here since his or her youth, eh?
And contrary to the popular misconception ... senior pets do NOT become homeless because they are flawed in some way.  In some instances, they have simply outlived their caregivers.  Others are 'collatoral damage' for all the unhappier life events that can befall any family.  Nor did any pet who led a less desirable life ever choose to be ill treated.
I know I say it all the time on the senior pet site .. but the truth is that senior pets are never, ever too old to be loved.
For more information about any of the lovelies below, please visit The Nova Scotia Senior Pet Project or the NS Senior Pet Blog
What time is it?  It is always time to understand that there is nothing wrong with wanting an easy life ... and that adopting a senior pet can be one of the easiest bits of all.
Old dogs, like old shoes, are comfortable. They might be a bit out of shape and a little worn around the edges, but they fit well.   Bonnie Wilcox 'Old Dogs, Old Friends'  

Thursday, May 12, 2011

How to make the ride worthwhile

I have always loved going to the woods with my dogs ... but it is a particular joy to be able to share that with these good dogs of mine who had such a hard start to life.
In their horrible old lives, they were struggling to survive.  Ruby was so starved she barely had the energy to stay alive.  Henry's history is a mystery, but the fact that it took a couple of years to build his confidence is very telling indeed.  Nor could it have been easy for a (then) 13 ish small dog with only two teeth to survive on his own :(
I know I say it all the time on the homeless pet site, but there really is more love than anyone can possibly imagine for those who adopt a homeless pet.  The reason I go on and on like a stuck record on the subject is that I am continually ... each and every day ... exposed to this joy first hand.
For those who might be thinking of starting this journey, East Coast German Shepherd Rescue is holding their monthly dog walk this Sunday, from 11 am til 1pm at Hemlock Ravine in Halifax.   Its a great opportunity to meet the dogs in person.  Even better, its a great way to see how they behave around other people and other dogs.  Best of all ... any time spent walking with a dog outdoors on any kind of spring day is always time well spent :)
When you open your home and your heart to a good dog from a foster based rescue ... you are actually saving two lives, because then there is room to help save another life.  Even better, their foster parents can actually tell you how the dogs behave in real life situations.  Best of all .. you are often able to bring home a pal who has already started learning good skills.
Love doesn't make the world go round.  Love is what makes the ride worthwhile.  Franklin P Jones

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Purrfect Opportunity .....

In praise of imagination ...

I love making bread on a damp day like this.    The dough always rises more quickly.  Kneading the bread is always a great way to work out the knots.  Even better, the lovely smell of bread baking is always a pick me up.
Best of all,  my recipe is big enough to offer all sorts of options.  Loaves, rolls, cinnamon buns, coulbasa or even pizza.  To use the old adage, I'm only limited by my imagination.
That's one of the bits I like best about Ssafe Haven Society for Reptiles and Amphibians as well.   They are quick to make media opportunities to promote good husbandry. Their Petfinder site page is a stellar example of creativity.
In 2008, their Reptile Expo became the first of what is now an eagerly anticipated annual event.   (closer to time, when this years website is up and running, there will once again be a link to it on the front door of the homeless pet site)
My personal favourites are the lovely adoption notices that Denise makes up and circulates for her adoptables.   They are attractive, informative and can be printed and posted or shared on facebook.
What time is it?   It is always time to applaud the folks who let their imagination lead them. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Mighty Quinn

I love being able to put on a cozy fire when we come home from the woods all wet and cold.   After such a wet week, I am almost out of clean beach towels to dry off damp dogs and I have surrendered to practicality and left the mop by the front door.
The glass half full gardener in me is trying to remember that this is Nova Scotia, not England ... which in realspeak means that it is May showers that make everything green and lovely in the garden.
I rather suspect that there hasn't been enough time yet for Quinn to really believe that he is finally able to come in out of the rain.  As you can see from these pictures, this beautiful boy really has had a hard knock life.
This is the reality of life on the end of chain for a dog.  That is not a collar in his pictures ... it is where the rope around his neck has worn away his fur.   That patchy coat is a direct result of being so flea infested this poor dog dug at his own fur in frantic search of relief. 
These pictures were taken after someone was kind enough to give this good boy some relief by cutting the nails that were overgrown and curled back into his poor paws. 
How could someone treat him like that and think that it was appropriate to name him Lucky???  
Life has just taken an abrupt one eighty for this sweet boy.   For the kind hearts at Atlantic Small Dog Rescue, size has never mattered.  They have tucked him under their wing and given him a new name to go with this fresh start .... Quinn.
The only thing that his former owners  couldn't ruin was his spirit.   His new foster Mom told me that Quinn is so sweet and gentle that even when the vet was squeezing his obviously sore testicle to try to determine what the lump was, that Quinn was as good as gold.
It is going to take a couple of months of good vet care to bring this good dog back to good health.  How can you help?   How can one count the ways:) 
  • One could make a direct donation to the Bridgetown Animal Hospital ( 1-902-665-4333) where Quinn's foster Mom is taking him, or
  • use the i search i Give option on the ASDR site, or
  • support the next facebook auction that ASDR holds
  • or for a very yummy treat ... why not attend La Vie en Rose?  (see poster below for the menu :)
  • send a donation snail mail to Heather d'Etremont, 767 Scotch Village Station Road, Scotch Village, NS, B0N2G0, or
  • ask ASDR which would be the best address to send an email money order
Any animal lover who even spends brief bits of time on facebook is familiar with the tale of Patrick.   Personally, I think that Quinn is Nova Scotia's Patrick.  
Five days ago, Quinn was knocking on heavens door ... utterly unaware that his life was just about to take an abrupt turn for the better.   He is not the first dog saved from such a hard knock life ... nor will he be the last.  ( the topic of how desperately anti tethering legislation is needed in Nova Scotia is a testy topic that has ... and will again ... get posts of its own on this blog)
What time is it?   It is always time to do more than applaud those who go the extra mile for the animals.   When miracles are made on a shoe string, it is important to remember that every little bit helps.
You'll not see nothing like the Mighty Quinn ... Bob Dylan

Sunday, May 8, 2011

An Open Letter to the Yarmouth Town Council

To Mayor Mooney and The Yarmouth Town Council
Please allow me to assure you that this is not an appeal for compassion.  Nor will it contain any of the sentiments so strongly expressed on both sides of the dog bylaw debate.
Instead, the undersigned is curious as to what consideration has been given to the cost of implementing the proposed draft dog bylaw.  Have forecasts of the additional budget requirements for implementation and enforcement been prepared?
It should be noted that these calculations cannot possibly predict the budget implications for legal disputes that will arise from clauses relating to BSL, pet limits and liablity insurance.   A determined dog owner will not hesitate to take legal action if the life of their pet is at stake.
Breed specific legislation has been successfully overturned in Guysborough County by Judge Stroud in December 2006, after a lengthy legal battle between the municipality and  Marilyn and Willard Cameron of Country Harbour.
The legal dispute between Ms. F. Rogier and the Halifax Regional Municipality has been ticking along on the taxpayers' dime since 2008, and will continue at least until the next court date in November of this year.  In the interim, sheltering and medical costs continue to accrue.  It must be noted that more than half the tax paying population in this province resides in HRM.   Such substantial legal bills would have a stronger fiscal impact in a smaller community such as Yarmouth.
The advent of DNA testing for dogs further complicates the burden of proof issue.   The inaccuracies of visual identification result in unnecessary staff, sheltering and legal fees.
In Canada, a dog is legally considered to be owned property.  Breed specific legislation removes the onus of responsibility from all dog owners and places it firmly on the shoulders of the dog.  The City of Calgary has reduced its dog bite incidents by 25 % with a fee structure that both funds its animal control activities and encourages responsible pet ownership.  
All of these costs would be readily welcomed by your taxpayers if the draft dog bylaw could create a safer community.   There is no historical evidence in North America or Europe to support such a theory.  At best, such as in Britain,  the bans have had no effect on stopping dog attacks. (B. Klaassen, JR Buckley& A.Esmail Does the Dangerous Dog Act Protect Against Animal Attacks:  A Prospective Study of Mammalian Bites in the Accident and Emergency Department, 27(2) Injury 89-91 (1996)
At worst, as in Denver, Colorado, after twenty years it has been determined that the most likely dog to bite is now a Labrador Retriever Peter Marcus, Do Dog Breed Bans Work? Denver Daily News, March 3, 2009 )
In the current fiscal climate, taxpayers expect politicians who represent them at all levels to make responsible use of their tax dollars.   To make matters worse, municipal taxpayers will soon face additional burdens as previously provincial responsibilities  are downloaded to our Nova Scotia Municipalities.
Taking a problem oriented approach to Animal Control has yielded good results in Calgary.  Instead of discriminating against breeds of dogs, Calgary protects the public from all aggressive dogs, regardless of breed. Using the problem-oriented model, the city’s animal-control wardens focus on public education and stiff fines.
Economic impact is not limited to administrative, enforcement, sheltering and legal costs.   Devoted pet owners who choose to commute rather than live in a community that restricts their choice of pet can have a negative impact on real estate prices which in turn can diminish the property tax base. 
Nor does breed specific legislation encourage devoted pet owners to contribute to the local economy or tax base by moving to the municipality. 
In addition, there would be very little prospect for economic opportunities offered by events such as flyball tournaments and dog shows.  Nor will Breed Specific legislation encourage tourism.
In 2007, the city of Tacoma, Washington, created an ordinance regulating “problem pet owners.” A person who commits three or more animal-control violations in a 24-month period can be declared a problem pet owner and forced to surrender all of their animals.  Such an approach could more effectively address the current concerns in your community than by penalizing the responsible, taxpaying pet owners who were never part of the problem in the first place.
Closer to home, the new Annapolis County Dog Bylaw offers another example worth considering.   They have taken the innovative step of introducing lifetime licenses to encourage registration and reduce administrative costs.  Nor have they felt the need to legislate limits on the number of pets.  
Mapping out the fiscal bite of BSL will ensure that your council will not have to contend with disillusioned tax paying voters when emotions have cooled and clearer heads prevail.
Thank you in advance for your time and attention,
Janet Young

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Speak now ... or forever hold your piece of the blame

Eighteen years ago this month I finally quit smoking for good.  The patch was still new enough not to be covered on any medical plan anywhere ... but no question about it, it was definitely money well spent.
Did that mean it was easy?  Of course not!  Coming out of the gate, it was a blessing that I didn't realize that it would be seven years before I stopped having daily cravings.  
To be perfectly honest ... that wasn't even the roughest bit.   Almost overnight, I gained over sixty pounds ... and that instantly changed how the rest of the world perceived me.  
Strangers assumed I was somehow not bright enough to manage my life properly.  In other words, I found out first hand just how horrible it was to be judged by how I looked.
Kind of like BSL, eh?   One of the kindest and gentlest dogs that I have ever known was my best friends rotti.  Cato was such a gentle giant that when McG was a puppy he could even put his head in Cato's mouth when he was crawling all over him.    Yet the power walkers going past my friend's place always hurried up when they saw his handsome self.
Although he didn't show up at CAPS with pedigree registration papers between his teeth, Henry could easily pass for a purebred Amstaf.   Yet, when we met the offleash English Mastiff on walkabout on my friend's property, it was 18 lb Andy who was doing all the growling and snarling!
Handsome is as handsome does ... but the thing I love most about Henry is his kind and gentle heart.   He baths my eldercat, referees with the others and is wonderfully tolerant in those moments when Andy's terrier feist gets the better of him.
Whenever we read of any tragedies that have arisen from drinking and driving, there is never a hue and a cry to ban motor vehicles.  Why?  Because it is understood that it is the driver who is responsible ... ergo it is both inappropriate and ineffective to penalize the general populace by banning ownership of vehicles. 
Next Monday, May 9th, there is going to be a public meeting in the Town of Yarmouth to discuss the draconian draft dog bylaw that the Mayor and Council are proposing.   According to their own Town bylaws, the council meets on the second Thursday of every month.  In other words, one week from today on the 12th of May is going to be a big day of decision for the Yarmouth Town Council. 
Will they try to push through a bylaw that will only penalize the responsible dog owners in their jurisdiction?  Will they push for a solution that not even the most vocal of the affected neighbours are asking for?
One of my favourite all time TV shows is the classic Red Green Show .. which has immortalized the ability of duct tape to fix anything.  Does that mean it actually works?
Of course not!   Even in the show the repairs usually fell apart in spectacular style.  
BSL is just like duct tape.   It is a quick and easy solution that doesn't actually fix anything.  Even worse, it allows the powers that be to pretend everything is peachy keen instead of fixing the real problem.
Worst of all, all this is done at the expense of the pet owners who were never part of the problem in the first place.
What time is it?   If you haven't already done so, it is time to contact the Mayor and the town Councillors about this issue.   Please be polite.   Be brief enough to be clear.   But please, please .... before you pass the peas ... . make the time to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.

Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph.    Haile Selassie

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A little riverdancing

In my perfect fantasy world, this would be the perfect time of year.   Everyday there is some new delight to savour in the garden.   It has warmed up enough to make our morning hikes a real joy ... but not quite so much that I need to break out the pennyroyal and my funny fisherman's bug hat.   Nor can our resident wildlife wreak any havoc until the garden is actual planted!
In short, the season is long on possibilities and short on pitfalls.  Unless of course, one is running a cat rescue.   The annual "river of cats" is in full flood ... and every year that it is allowed to run unchecked becomes the latest version of "the worst year ever"
Honestly ... the whole situation with respect to cat overpopulation has all the makings of a good Monty Python movie.  
To start with, the solution is NOT some sort of deep dark secret.  It is commonly acknowledged that Spay Neuter is the key for both owned and community cats.     
Admittedly, folks sometimes get sidetracked disputing which cats should be altered first .... but that is a chicken and egg argument inspired more by limited funding resources than actual logic.  The short answer to that question is that Low Cost Spay Neuter and TNR are BOTH important.
Noone disputes the need.  It is the question of funding that gets tossed around like a hot potato.   Good Low Cost High Volume Spay Neuter proposals and TNR subsidies are simply not recognized as priorities by politicians at all levels.
Why?   At the risk of sounding like a stuck record, for the same reason that anything else does or does not happen.  Strong voter feedback is the only effective way to motivate the politicians who represent us at all levels.
Not to be mean, but if every person who complained on facebook took two minutes to email their councillors and MLA's, that would be enough of a wake up call to get the ball rolling.
The point I am making in my meandering way, is that we really have to stop preaching to the choir. 
What time is it?   It is time to understand the solution really involves letting the politicians who represent us at all levels know that this is an issue of importance to us as tax paying voters. 
As a sidebar note to that, I am happy to report that the Spay Day folks have been getting more cats fixed this week, thanks in no small part to the help of the Atlantic Cat Hospital and the Carnegy Animal Hospital.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Beat goes on .... The LA Shelter urgently needs foster homes for three dogs!

No ifs ands or buts about it, I love all three of my dogs.  Each in their own way is as dear to me as if they had spent their whole lives here ... and I simply cannot imagine a time when they weren't here.
Admittedly, it took a bit of time and a lot of love to help the big dogs become their best selves.   Why was the transition with Andy easier?  Was it because he was little?  Hah!  Of course not!  He is so full of terrier feist that he really has no sense of his size.
I am a middle aged grandmother not a professional dog trainer, but I honestly think that Andy being senior played a big part in how easily he settled in here.   Years ago, I adopted a senior terrier mix that looked much like Rod Stewart and Scamp made the same sort of simple easy fit, eh?
Next month, it will be a year since my friend Pat adopted her little pal Teddy from The LA Shelter in Amherst.  While he wasn't a senior, Pat has always been full of good things to say about her adoption experience.   
From my birds eye vantage point of view, I have always had a soft spot for the LA Shelter.   Back when I was researching my own site, these folks were already No Kill.   
For them, time is relative ... whether it takes weeks or months or more .. it takes what it takes for each and every one of the adoptables in their care.  Although, to be perfectly honest, its a complete and utter mystery to me why sweet little Tina Marie is still waiting for her Furever Home.
Even better, whenever one of their adoptables needs surgery, like Hooch  .. they simply roll up their fundraising sleeves and make it happen.   They have even taken the sensible step of setting an incredible low adoption fee of fifty dollars for their ( vetted and altered) adult cats!
Best of all, they do all of this in an area that is a bit of the beaten HRM path for adopters.  
Right now they are looking for fosters for three of their dogs:
  •   Toby has been at the shelter for several months  ... he is one of those good boys in training who is going to be an incredible dog once he gets a little help getting on the right path.
  • Tundra, pictured above  ... is in need of a palliative care foster home.  He came to the shelter as a stray and has arthritis, has had one seizure which he is on medication for and has a mast cell tumour in his side.  The shelter would like him to have a permanent loving foster home where he can live the rest of his life in dignity. 
  • Sonny, pictured below, is great with kids, cats, dogs and just an all around lovable guy.   This lovable senior is still spry enough to counter surf and although the shelter would be happy to find a foster they are still hoping his sweet self will be adopted.  Kind of like a slightly larger version of Andy ... fit as a fiddle with lots of love left to offer, eh?
What time is it?  It is time for everyone to put their thinking caps on and help find fosters for these three grrreat dogs!