SPCA dispute headed to court
Published on December 6, 2011
SYDNEY — The fight between the Nova Scotia SPCA and its former Cape Breton branch is about the enter the legal arena.
Kristin Williams, executive director of the Nova Scotia SPCA, said Tuesday the provincial body is seeking an injunction against the newly formed Cape Breton Humane Society to hand over the former Cape Breton SPCA building. Depending on court availability and if the date is also suitable for the humane society, she said, the tentative date to go before a judge in Sydney is Dec. 16.
The Nova Scotia SPCA had been planning to enter the local shelter last week to serve former staff and board members with notice under the Protection of Property Act, but a stalemate ensued when Williams was also served with a Protection of Property Act notice and told she would not be allowed to enter the shelter.
“Our legal authority is clear, so we resent being put in this position,” said Williams. “In the Animal Control Act, we are given direct control of our branches and the bylaws of branches. If a board is dissolved, the branch is turned over to the provincial SPCA. We gave them a deadline to vacate and they didn’t comply.”
Sydney lawyer Robert Sampson is representing the Cape Breton Humane Society in the dispute.
“I think there are two issues here,” he said. “One is whether (the Nova Scotia SPCA) has any authority or right of ownership even to advance a court action. Two, the judge is going to be asked to interpret the statutes — did (the Animal Protection Act) have the reach to allow a provincial organization to do what it did?”
Mike Mombourquette, acting chair of the Cape Breton Humane Society, would like to see a quick resolution to the dispute.
“We’ve said all along that we would like to have a meeting, even if it takes a mediator to head it up. We would like to sit down and resolve this instead of spending money that should be going to the animals.”
Well then. Is that the pitter patter of cold feet? There is some very interesting language being used.
In stating the obvious, their lawyer is attempting to shift any blame for the situation squarely onto judicial shoulders.
I am a middle aged grandmother ... not a legal expert ... but when I hired a lawyer to close my first house, I would not have been pleased to find that any deeded right of ways or other contractual obligations had been overlooked in the search process.
Indeed, had such an unhappy situation occurred, I would have been well within my rights to complain to the Nova Scotia Barristers Society. Happily I was not disappointed and so have stayed with the same solicitor for the last twenty four years.
Mind in all fairness, my Dad used to say that that lawyers and policemen had one thing in common ... they could usually tell that people were lying to them because their lips were moving.
When I first read The Shopoholic, I was in stitches at the witty way it described the heroine's efforts to ignore all communications from her creditors. As a work of fiction it was utterly hilarious!
Was it a good game plan for the dismissed shelter manager and the disbanded board to follow? It is poor logic now for Mr Mombourquette to claim a desire for a speedy resolution, when at every single step of the way this entire situation could have been avoided, if:
- the shelter had been properly run in the first place, the surprise visit would not have yielded the horrific results of the 2011 Shelter Audit. This was a direct result of the now dissolved branch having ignored every single directive from the provincial branch.
- failing that, had action been taken to remedy the shortcomings, there would have been no need to take the drastic step of dismissing the shelter manager and disbanding the board. Instead, the audit was ignored and not one single recommendation was implemented
- When the shelter manager was dismissed, it begs the incredibly interesting question about what was so damaging in her office that she was obliged ignore the provincial ED and lock herself in there until the police and lawyers showed up.
- The Letter of Demand issued by the society's lawyer was utterly ignored .. which led to the formal dissolution of the branch by the provincial Board of Directors.
- The original Memorandum of Association which clearly outlined the legalities of the situation was published by the society and .. you guessed it .. utterly ignored
- Admittedly, the subsequent legal Exclusion of Property Notices were not utterly ignored ... they were countered by a notice being issued to the society ED (the testy topic of how certain parties keep trying to make this personal instead of recognizing that the ED is simply fulfilling the mandate given her by the elected provincial board is a separate subject for another day, hmmm? )
Are the good people of Cape Breton complaining about their donor dollars going towards legal fees? Or are the good people of Cape Breton perhaps appalled to realize that the (then) shelter actually had money in the bank when it was not providing the proper care for the animals?
The disbanded board has made every effort to portray the provincial society in a poor light ... claiming they are seeking to commandeer assets from the good people of Cape Breton.
One has to wonder which good people they are referring to? Is it the good people whose complaints fell on deaf ears for years until a surprise visit unravelled the glib tales that the shelter manager had been spinning?
Perhaps it might be the veterinarian who, in 2007, donated her time to put on a workshop on "Understanding and Preventing Infectious Diseases in an Animal Shelter" for the shelter workers and the (then) board of directors.
Might it be any of the heartbroken good people of Cape Breton who adopted dogs that were already ill? Who were ignored and rebuffed at best and vilified at worst when they complained to the shelter?
Perhaps it might be some of the good people of Cape Breton who wound up risking their own dearly beloved dogs when they were utterly unaware that the dogs they were transporting from the (then) CB branch had parvo?
Or perhaps it might be the good people of Cape Breton who are currently locked out of volunteering at the shelter for fear of what they might find?
Or perhaps it is the good taxpaying people of Cape Breton who woke up one morning to find that their Mayor and Council had awarded a half million dollar contact to the renegade shelter without due process of tender?
What time is it? It is time to hope for a speedy resolution ... so that the good people of Cape Breton can finally have the opportunity regain control of the renegade shelter.
"The trouble with giving yourself a pep talk is that deep down you know it's all bullshit - Sophie Kinsella, Remember Me
And that is how I see it, on Wednesday, December 7th .... the TWENTY-FIRST day since the dismissed shelter manager and the disbanded board created the renegade shelter.