Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Ghost of Christmas Past ....

From The Cape Breton Post
Humane society shelter ‘OK,’ vet tells council
Published on December 19, 2011 Chris Shannon
SYDNEY — Cape Breton regional council heard from veterinarian Frank Richardson on the state of the Cape Breton Humane Society shelter but delayed debate until after the case is heard in Supreme Court in early January.Richardson said Monday according to his inspection on Dec. 13, the animals appeared to be in good health.
“You have reasonable comfort knowing the facility is OK — not forever, but over the short-term,” he said.
“Is it perfect? Absolutely not. There are lots of improvements there that are going to have to happen.”
Walking through the facility located on East Broadway Street in Whitney Pier, Richardson told council he didn’t hear a kitten sneeze or a dog cough once.
And although he didn’t examine animals individually, there didn’t appear to be any animal in distress and many seemed “happy,” he said.
“I didn’t hear any dogs coughing, which would be indicative maybe of possible kennel cough, and I didn’t hear any cats sneezing, which could be indicative of an upper respiratory infection,” said Richardson, the registrar of the Nova Scotia Veterinarian Medical Association.
“The animals all had fresh food in front of them, the litter boxes were clean and their bedding was there. I didn’t see any obvious stress on the animals from a psychological perspective either.
“They weren’t cowering in the corners. They seemed interested in getting a pat when you walked by their cages. They seemed as content as you can be in an enclosed container.”
Overcrowding, an ongoing problem at the shelter, will need to be addressed, he said.
With every animal that enters the shelter, another one should leave through adoption or another means such as a transfer to another facility, Richardson said.
He said the staff are “kind and caring” but need to be aware of the building’s physical limitations.
The Cape Breton Regional Municipality paid for Richardson’s inspection, and that left some councillors asking why the municipality was getting involved with animal welfare when its primary concern should be the $249,000 a year contract it holds with the shelter.
“(Nova Scotia SPCA) as the body responsible for animal welfare, to stay clear until after the court case, they’re the ones who should have people in here inspecting the facility, not the Cape Breton Regional Municipality,” deputy mayor Darren Bruckschwaiger said.
The Nova Scotia SPCA dissolved the local board of directors on Nov. 21 — five days after it attempted to take control of the shelter due to accusations of poor animal care, abnormally high rates of disease transmission and bad bookkeeping.
The SPCA will ask a Supreme Court justice to grant an interim injunction giving the provincial body access to the humane society’s property to enforce the Animal Protection Act. The hearing is tentatively scheduled for Jan. 4-5 in Sydney.
Prior to Richardson presenting his report, council debated for an hour on the merits of holding the session when the decisions concerning animal care are in the hands of the humane society and the Nova Scotia SPCA.
CBRM Mayor John Morgan, who called the meeting, said it was necessary to meet with Richardson for an update on corrective measures being taken at the shelter, and to have assurances the animals are not in danger.
Following a report presented to council by two local veterinarians last month, the humane society received 27 recommendations it needed to carry out to meet minimum standards.
Humane society board chair Mike Mombourquette said he was pleased to hear Richardson’s report.
The board of directors has completed 16 of the recommendations to date, he said, adding that the staff is working to resolve overcrowding at the shelter.
Mombourquette said the shelter struck an agreement with the Nova Scotia SPCA on Friday to move six animals to the SPCA shelter in metro Halifax.
“We have agreed to the possibility of transferring more animals in the new year,” he said. “That’s huge news to me, that we’re able to transfer animals again.”
Council approved a motion to table Richardson’s report and discuss it at council following the court hearing next month. Councillors complained they didn’t receive the lengthy report before Monday’s meeting and couldn’t ask informed questions as a result.
Part of the motion also stipulated the CBRM would only discuss issues involving its contract with the shelter to enforce the dog bylaw, and stay away from animal welfare issues. The CBRM contract with the shelter expires March 31.
The motion also precluded council from carrying forward with its agenda, which included a presentation from the Friends of the SPCA group.
Well then!    This is like an unhappy bit of Deja Vu!   Four years ago, Dr Jamie Campbell did a walk through inspection of Celtic Pets at the request of the town of Port Hawkesbury. Why was he hired?   Disturbing complaints had been received by local residents that required some sort of response from Mayor MacLean and his Council!
Advance notice was given.  No animals were examined.   "They all had food and water".  Sound familiar?
Without access to the actual report, it would be churlish to nitpick .. but there is much to be read between the lines in this story.   The very fact that the society is willing to take in animals before any legal issues are resolved is very telling indeed. 
I rather expect that the society still remembers the disappointing results of the first unannounced visit to the (then) Cape Breton Branch from provincial.   Nor are they likely to forget how well presented the previous and well prepared for visits were.
At one time, the actual numerical ratings for annual military performance evaluations were classed as secret.   Superiors writing difficult PER's were able to carefully couch them diplomatic language to avoid workplace conflict .... such as "Pte So and So does wonderful work under maximum supervision"!
Clearly, Mr Mombourquette needs lessons on reading between the lines.  Is it not very telling that the society is willing to take lifesaving steps before the legalities are settled?  
What time is it?   It is time for Mayor Gordon and his Council to stop avoiding issues of animal welfare when they are enabling the renegade shelter with an untendered Animal Control contract ... one that is actually worth more than $250,000 a year when the full bill is tallied!
And that is how I see it on Thursday, December 22nd .... the THIRTY - SIXTH day since the dismissed shelter manager and the disbanded board created the renegade shelter.

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