Cape Breton SPCA locks out provincial board, public
Published on November 17,Erin Pottie Thursday. 2011 SYDNEY — There were two unused dog bowls in the trunk of Jackie Smith’s car
The Sydney woman bought them before she headed to the Cape Breton SPCA to pick up Thumper, a floppy-eared mixed breed dog.
However, when Smith arrived at the Whitney Pier shelter she was told by a security guard she couldn’t take the dog, who is isolated in the basement of the shelter due to a contagious virus believed to be parvovirus
“They wouldn’t let me get that one dog,” said Smith. “They wouldn’t even speak to me.”
Volunteers of the Friends of Sydney SPCA had been looking for a foster home for Thumper, so he wouldn’t pose a threat to other dogs. Smith, who is interested in adoption, tried calling the SPCA on Thursday but there was no one answering the phone.
“It’s just breaks my heart because they’re obviously not taking the best interest of the animals at heart,” said Smith. “Is he getting his medication? Why can’t we call?”
Earlier this week, the provincial SPCA board of directors voted to dissolve the local board. A decision was also made to fire shelter manager Patsy Rose.
Kristin Williams, executive director of Nova Scotia SPCA, said when provincial officials arrived to take control of the shelter, Rose ended up locking herself in her office. Police were called but there were no arrests.
On Thursday, both sides were still in disagreement over the legality of the provincial body’s actions. Williams and her crew were not allowed inside the shelter and later left Cape Breton to gather more information.
“We’re still very much at an impasse,” said Williams. “We’re exploring our legal options currently. We do not have care and control of the facility at the moment. We’ve been locked out.”
Rose and other staff members were at the shelter Thursday. However, volunteers who regularly help out were barred from entry.
“Until such time as we address this legal barrier, I continue to be unaware of what’s happening inside the building,” said Williams.
While the shelter is financially independent, Williams said it relies on public donations, adoption revenues and a $250,000 annual contract with the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.
Following an unannounced visit in October, provincial officials became concerned about standards of care, which all 10 provincial SPCA shelters must adhere.
Williams said there were serious concerns with disease transmission, animals not seeing a veterinarian when they should, lack of communication by the local staff with the provincial body, failure to pay their vet bills promptly and false reporting of animal statistics.
Williams said some of the statistics — dealing with the number of animals taken in and those adopted — were inflated by as much as 50 per cent over the past 18 months. She also said there were a number of public complaints filed in relation to the shelter’s operation.
The Nova Scotia SPCA intends to hire a new shelter manager, elect a new local board and provide staff training. This is the first time the provincial SPCA has tried to dissolve a branch board.
On Thursday, shelter staff refused to transfer eight dogs and 12 cats to provincial officials to help address overpopulation at the shelter. Williams said the shelter’s capacity is about 50 dogs and 100 cats.
Brett Loney, acting communications director for the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture, said the SPCA, a registered charity, is in charge of its own operations. However, the province is responsible for enforcing the Act to Protect Animals and Aid Animals in Distress, which is meant to protect against cruelty or neglect.
“The dismantling of the board of the Cape Breton branch of the SPCA is an internal matter,” said Loney. “But we are monitoring the situation closely.”
Rick Fraser, the Cape Breton Regional Municipality’s bylaw and inspections manager, said he talked to SPCA management Thursday. The municipality currently employs the local SPCA to deal with roaming or vicious dogs.
“We’re OK. Our contract is with a distinct society group. Our contract is not with the provincial body, so our contract is still good,” he said. “People are up there working today. I was up there, there are staff up there looking after the animals.”
Tammy Campbell, who has volunteered at the shelter, said volunteers had to sign a confidentiality agreement regarding their time at the shelter. She also said shelter rules would change on a whim.
Campbell has brought animals to the mall to promote adoption and has spent time at the shelter walking dogs and cleaning cages.
“They would be there cleaning the cages but a lot of the times some of the urine and feces were left in the cages and they would spray around the feces and leave it sitting there,” said Campbell. “I mean, that’s going to cause a problem when you have dogs coming in possibly with parvo and there was days that it just went without even being cleaned, like Sundays, sometimes there was nobody even there.”
She said dogs also weren’t allowed to play with toys because of the spread of parvovirus. However, Campbell said toys can be cleaned and sterilized. She approached the provincial SPCA and was told there was no policy against dog toys.
Meanwhile, Smith is still hopeful she’ll get to care for and possibly adopt Thumper.
“This was a chance for that dog to come out of a cage, into a home, get some attention and get the medicine he needs,” said Smith, who plans to call the shelter today. “If he doesn’t get the medicine he needs, it could kill him. It doesn’t take long for that to spread.”
Please note, the following 11 dogs are listed as being available on the Cape Breton SPCA Petfinder page. This author has no idea whatsoever if any or all of them are still at the shelter ... outside of the above article which states that Thumper is (was? ) isolated in the basement of the shelter and believed to have parvo :(
Also from tonight's Cape Breton Post
Cape Breton SPCA manager says she feels betrayed
Published on November 18, 2011 Sharon Montgomery-Dupe
SYDNEY — The manager of the Cape Breton SPCA said she might be tired and distraught but she hasn’t been fired.“What I am feeling right now is betrayed,” Patsy Rose told the Cape Breton Post on Thursday.
“I have been here more than 30 years. I live, breathe and sleep SPCA.”
Rose said it will be business as usual today at the shelter, which has been closed since Wednesday when Nova Scotia SPCA officials arrived to fire her and dissolve the local board of directors.
“They came in and gave me a letter saying I was fired and had two minutes to get my stuff and get out of the building,” said Rose, who then asked for time to get her things together.
"When they went out of my office, I locked my door. They said I locked myself in; I locked them out.”
Police were called to the scene but Rose said they left after realizing the Cape Breton branch owns the building and determining it was a civil matter.
According to Rose, the Cape Breton SPCA’s lawyer asked the provincial SPCA officials to leave.
“He told them the deed is in the name of the Cape Breton SPCA. We raised the money ourselves, we have never received provincial funding.”
Rose said there will be security at the gates to the local shelter until the legal issues are resolved “but people are welcome to come in.”
While meeting exclusively with the Post on Thursday, Rose and members of the Cape Breton SPCA board refuted allegations that the local shelter deliberately inflated its statistics, failed to pay bills, and has high rates of disease.
Rose said their branch even received an email on Sept. 6 from the provincial office, praising the Cape Breton shelter.
Then, she said, on Oct. 12, Kristin Williams, executive director of the Nova Scotia SPCA, and Sandra Flemming, director of the Darmouth shelter, visited for the annual shelter inspection but met with a new group of volunteers the night before.
“All the volunteers did was make complaints, saying the place was dirty, we weren’t doing our work or looking after the animals,” said Rose.
Rose said the shelter doesn’t inflate statistics. She said they did get a new computer and information was transferred incorrectly. However, since becoming a no-kill shelter two years ago, new programs to help with overcrowding, such as giving pets to nursing homes for free and half-price sales, have changed the way statistics are tallied.
“We are the largest shelter in Nova Scotia and we handle 42-plus per cent of all animals in the province,” she said.
Cape Breton SPCA board chair Mel Neville said the local SPCA has “never fallen in arrears in our obligations to any company.”
“One invoice did get lost. We didn’t get notification we were passed due, we got a letter from the firm saying they were giving us the money as a gift.”
Board member Danny Ellis said the Cape Breton shelter operates on a $500,00 annual budget funded by a dog contract with the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, a dedicated auxiliary and generous public donations.
“We do not have one penny coming from government or the provincial SPCA.”
Neville said the claim of disease at the shelter is also untrue. He said an animal can look healthy and not show immediate signs of parvovirus, a contagious virus that mainly affects dogs.
“We had four cases of parvo in 2011 but we have handled upwards of 2,700 animals in that time,” he said.
“It is not the shelter, it is animals you are taking in.”
Ellis said Nova Scotia SPCA accusations about unsanitary conditions at the shelter are also false.
He said they have been diligently using Perioxigard, a cleaning chemical for dog kennels that helps protect against the parvovirus, since 2010 “as instructed by Halifax.”
He said when they were issued directives for changes, the board acted immediately.
"We addressed those concerns. We hired a vet, did extra diligence in our cleaning.”
Board member Leo MacIsaac said allegations the animals are not being cared for during this situation are untrue.
“We have staff here as we speak. They have been here all day looking after the animals,” he said.
The board members also said provincial officials wrongly stated there are 80 volunteers at the Cape Breton shelter. They said there are about six volunteers.
Well then! So does Thumper count as one of the four cases of parvo for 2011? So out of the 306 dogs that were killed because they were 'unhealthy or untreatable' at the Cape Breton SPCA during the first three quarters of 2011, only three had parvo?
Methinks Mel should have paid more attention to the provincial BOD meetings he only began to attend in Aug of 2010 when it became a matter of either attend or lose the branch representation voting rights on the provincial board.
I may not always agree with the provincial board's priorities, but nobody can fault the due care and diligence that has gone into any and all administrative changes that have been made in the last three years.
The bottom line is that any branch bearing the SPCA name is subject to the SPCA rules.
We shouldn't be surprised by this latest bit of fine whine in the press! What did Ms Rose do when the provincial board ordered her to stop stuffing cats in the horrible home made gas chamber? Why she complained to the press of course that it was very stressful for her staff to have to stay with the animals as they killed them!
( The subject of how disgruntled former board members in Yarmouth have .... after discovering their grandstanding ploy backfired .... have been spoon feeding the media outlet owned by one of said members is a separate subject not even worthy of a post of its own anymore. )
In leadership training, we learned about a little thing called Reality Shock Syndrome ... which is really rather self explanatory. Normally, it is to be found in young apprentices and graduates who discover that their training did not prepare them for the reality of the workplace ... not in those claiming thirty years expertise.
What time is it? It is time to recognize that even if the current crew could find the paddle they are desperately looking for ... it won't carry them back down the creek without credibility!