Thursday, November 17, 2011

A brand new day .....

I have always thought that one of the best bits about being in the military was that one didn't get hooked into doing the same job in the same place for one's entire career.   If the job wasn't interesting or challenging ... one always knew that better days could be waiting just around the corner.
I was lucky to have so wonderful opportunities and would honestly be hard pressed to pick a favourite from my thirty years .... but if I had a top ten list, my time managing the function department in the new mess here at Greenwood would definitely make the cut.
It was a crazy busy job ... often going eight days a week!  So why did I like it?   Was it my wonderful team?   The lovely new facility?   The simple joy of making so many people happy?   Or was it just that it was one of those fun jobs where no two days were ever alike?
During that time, weddings were always one of our favourite bits!   After all ... we had the easy part of setting the often fairy tale stage for the 'happy ending'.   We never had to worry about the happily ever after ... by the next day we had already moved on to our next challenge, eh?
I love a happy ending as much as the next person in the movies ... but here in the real world happy ending is really a misnomer!   
All happy endings simply signify the start of a new path ... brimming with possibilities.  To paraphrase Anne Shirley, they represent brand new days with no mistakes in them yet!
All the around the province this morning, animal advocates are doing their own version of the lotto 649 happy dance!  Why?  
After years of difficulties .... after years of complaints falling on deaf provincial ears ... after years of horror stories and unhappy tails ... the provincial board of the Nova Scotia SPCA has dissolved the Cape Breton SPCA Board of Directors ( scroll down for news stories and the society press release on the subject)  
Although none of the articles specifically state so, at the same time Facebook is abuzz with the news that the shelter manager has also lost her job
In other words ... for all intents and appearances ... this really does look like a happy ending, eh?  Edit update, a more recent update on the CBC news article below does specifically state that Ms Patsy Rose has been 'let go from her job as shelter manager'
Except of course that it is really only the beginning ... the brand new day with no mistakes in it yet eh?
The good news is that it is now possible for things to move forward in a productive way.   For kind hearts to feel comfortable about volunteering to help.   For the local animal loving community to be part of a wonderful fresh start ... and help steer the shelter down a better and brighter path!
There is no magic wand ... this is going to take a lot of work!   The shelter will have to be cleaned up.   Volunteers and staff alike will have to be trained!  Donations of time, skills, supplies and yes even of funds will be needed to make all of this happen!
There might not be a magic wand .... but there is a lot of heart locally for the animals.   Even better ... there is an opportunity to really engage the community in the changes to come!
Best of all of course is that now there is opportunity where there was only opposition ... a chance for recovery where there was only resistance ... and the promise of hope where there was only horror!
What time is it?    To put it very simply ... it is time to remember that Thomas Edison was right ... that opportunities are missed by most people because they are dressed in overalls and look like work!    
At the end of the day, it will be important to remember that .... after breaking out the champagne of course!

from today's Herald
N.S. SPCA dissolves board of Cape Breton branchfrom the Cape Breton Post
November 17, 2011 - 9:12am By SELENA ROSS and MARY ELLEN MacINTYRE Cape Breton Bureau
Police called to Sydney shelter after notice of decision
Puppies look up from their enclosure at the SPCA facility in Dartmouth in June 2009.
The provincial branch of the SPCA has dissolved the board of directors of its Cape Breton branch, saying its operations are substandard. (TIM KROCHAK / Staff) UPDATED AT 10:25 A.M.
Police officers were called to the Cape Breton SPCA Wednesday after board members were told they were fired.
“It came in as a person barricaded and that triggers certain protocols,” said Staff Sergeant Stephen MacKinnon in an interview this morning.
Six officers were sent to the East Broadway building, he said.
“But when we got there we found out an employee simply went into the office and shut the door,” MacKinnon said.
“I went in and did some mediation and made sure everyone was communicating properly and since emotions were involved, that everything was alright,” said MacKinnon.
"Then the lawyers came and everything settled down and the officers went off to their regular duties,” he added.
The provincial SPCA stepped in Wednesday to dismantle the board of directors overseeing the branch, saying it had concerns about cleanliness at the shelter, the spread of disease between animals and a lack of medical attention for sick animals.
"When we were visiting the branch a few weeks ago, we did note some concerns at that time," Kristin Williams, executive director of the Nova Scotia SPCA, said in an interview Wednesday night.
During that visit, the provincial representatives saw that cleaning protocols weren’t being followed at the Sydney shelter, Williams said.
The problem allowed sick animals to infect healthy ones. At the same time, the visitors became worried that animals, including ones with acute health problems, were not getting proper health care, and the well-being of the shelter population in general wasn’t being monitored, according to a news release the SPCA issued late Wednesday.
On top of that, the Cape Breton branch was suffering from poor customer service and engagement with volunteers, the release said. And while those problems were coming to light, Williams said, the SPCA learned of complaints from the public about how the Sydney animals were being treated.
The Cape Breton branch was given time to address the problems on its own, according to the release, but failed to do so.
The Sydney shelter will remain open, even though the Cape Breton board has been dissolved, and will temporarily be overseen by the provincial body. A call for election of new board members in Cape Breton will go out in the next few weeks, Williams said.
"The provincial society has direct control and oversight responsibility for all of its branches, and there will continue to be an SPCA presence in Cape Breton," she said.
Among all animal welfare groups, the SPCA is the only one the provincial government empowers to enforce animal cruelty laws.

Helter-skelter at animal shelter
Published on November 16, 2011
Nova Scotia SPCA dissolves board of Cape Breton branch; police called after staff member reportedly refuses to leave

Erin Pottie SYDNEY — Police were called to the Cape Breton SPCA on Wednesday after a staff member reportedly refused to leave the building.
Kristin Williams, executive director of the Nova Scotia SPCA, said the provincial board of directors voted Monday to dissolve the local board of directors and place it directly under her “supervision and control.”
But Wednesday at about 2:30 p.m., shortly after Williams and three members of the Nova Scotia SPCA arrived at the Whitney Pier shelter to meet with local staff, four Cape Breton Regional Police officers and a police negotiator arrived on the scene.
The negotiator was sent inside the shelter and emerged at about 3:30 p.m.
“In terms of the police service we’re just here on a call to make sure the person is OK, they were OK, and we’re no longer required,” said Staff Sgt. Stephen MacKinnon as police left the shelter. “We’re just making sure everything’s nice and calm and people are communicating the proper way.”
Not long after police exited the building, SPCA manager Patsy Rose appeared at the front of the building. Soon after, members of the Cape Breton SPCA’s board of directors began arriving.
SPCA constable Steve Hector stood outside the gate of the Cape Breton shelter turning away people looking to adopt pets. He would not comment on the situation as it unfolded.
“Right now the shelter is closed for the moment,” Hector told a driver who pulled up to gate. He then asked the man to come back another day.
Provincial SPCA officials exited the building about two-and-a-half hours later, noting they were heading out for supper and that they would be consulting a local lawyer.
“Unfortunately, we were trying to deal with some matters from a performance-management standpoint at the local level but we weren’t getting the traction we needed,” said Williams. “So we needed to escalate that to our provincial board of directors, which we did. So we’re here today to address those concerns and mediate through that and see where it goes, but we’re still very much at the beginning stages.”
Among the concerns noted by Williams were deficiencies in animal care, communication and adherence to policy and governance.
Williams would not comment on what she described as a civil disagreement between their lawyer and the lawyer for the Cape Breton board of directors.
“Their attorney disagrees, our attorney disagrees, so we’ll sort that out,” Williams said. “Quite frankly, I’m taking this moment by moment.”
Board members who exited the shelter later Wednesday evening wouldn’t comment on the matter. One member said he had “no idea” why the provincial SPCA would want to dissolve the Cape Breton board. The Cape Breton Post was unable to contact Rose or shelter president Melvin Neville on Wednesday evening.
In October, the Nova Scotia SPCA made a routine visit to Cape Breton branch. Facility operators were asked to improve cleaning procedures and enhance monitoring of the health of animals at the shelter.
At the time, Williams said provincial SPCA officials had identified some challenges at the facility in the area of disease control.
The Cape Breton branch historically has the highest prevalence of parvovirus in Nova Scotia. It’s also considered the busiest branch, with 2,700 animals brought to the shelter last year.
The shelter employs three full-time and one part-time employee to oversee animal care and receives the assistance of up to 80 volunteers.

  From the CBC news website:
Police called after SPCA board fired in Sydney
CBC News Posted: Nov 17, 2011 7:55 AM
Police were called to a Cape Breton animal shelter Wednesday after the board of directors was disbanded.The Sydney branch of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals had faced criticisms over deficiencies in animal care and a lack of adherence to policy and governance. The Nova Scotia SPCA dismissed the board this week.

Cape Breton Regional Police were called to the shelter Wednesday when a dispute broke out.
Kristin Williams, executive director of the Nova Scotia SPCA, said the concerns were outlined after a routine visit to the shelter last month. They addressed what she called substandard cleaning protocols that lead to the transmission of disease to healthy animals.
Williams also said the local SPCA failed to monitor the health of the shelter population, to address medical needs in a timely fashion and offered poor customer service and engagement with volunteers.
Williams raised particular concerns about the contagious and often fatal gastro-intestinal disease called parvovirus. It mainly affects older dogs and puppies and can live on cages and floors for months. It is transmitted through feces and saliva.
At the time of the visit the Cape Breton SPCA had about 40 dogs in wire cages.
Board failed to fix problems

She said the Cape Breton board failed to fix the problems. The provincial board of directors met Monday to discuss the Cape Breton board's fate.
"A motion was passed to dissolve the current Cape Breton board of directors for failing to engage and address outlined concerns and to take performance action necessary to bring the operations of the branch up to required standards," Williams said in a media release Wednesday.
“The society takes animal care very seriously. Concerns and expectations were outlined in a routine visit to the branch last month that resulted in some performance management and direction to address operational deficiencies."
Williams said the SPCA has a "zero tolerance" policy for lack of compliance and so it removed the local board.
"It is regrettable that such significant measures were required," she said.
Police did not say why they were called, but did say there were no arrests and no charges were laid.
The provincial SPCA said it is seeking legal counsel to deal with a "civil disagreement" arising from the board's dismissal, but declined to expand on the dispute.
The SPCA is a registered charity comprised of branches that rely on volunteers and donations.The Cape Breton branch took in over 2,700 animals in 2010 — more than any other shelter in Nova Scotia

Cape Breton Branch Board of Directors Dissolved
by Nova Scotia SPCA on Thursday, November 17, 2011 at 10:31am.
Cape Breton Branch Board of Directors Dissolved
Nova Scotia (November 16, 2011) –– The Nova Scotia SPCA’s Provincial Board of Directors met on November 14, 2011 to review concerns and deficiencies in animal care, communication and engagement and adherence to policy and governance regarding the Cape Breton Branch. A motion was passed to dissolve the current Cape Breton Board of Directors for failing to engage and address outlined concerns and to take performance action necessary to bring the operations of the Branch up to required standards. All Branches are under the direct control of the Provincial Society.
Executive Director Kristin Williams of the Nova Scotia SPCA says “the Society takes animal care very seriously. Concerns and expectations were outlined in a routine visit to the Branch last month that resulted in some performance management and direction to address operational deficiencies. Public complaints have also been subsequently investigated. Specifically, the concerns were in respect to substandard cleaning protocols resulting in disease transmission to healthy animals, failing to monitor the health of the shelter population and address acute medical needs in a timely fashion, and poor customer service and engagement with volunteers. There is a zero tolerance for lack of compliance on our standards of care and our policies. The Society gave the Branch the opportunity to address these deficiencies at the local level. It is regrettable that such significant measures were required.”
The Society has sought legal counsel to address a civil disagreement that has emerged though additional specifics cannot be provided at this time. The Society remains committed to keeping the public informed.
The Society evaluates Branch animal care based on the standards of care published by the Association of Shelter Veterinarians (Guidelines for Standards of Care in Animal Shelters, published in 2010).

1 comment:

tammy said...

Thanks for posting these. And i believe your right the military does not let people sit in the same job for too long its a plus. Im glad things seem to be headed in the right direction for cb spca, new people need to be involved fast