Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Too great a burden .....

One of the most thankless jobs I had during my military career was auditing food services accounts.   Nobody was EVER glad to see me walk in the door.   Getting a straight answer was often more challenging than any parental discussions on report card day.
The worst bit of course was that the process was always perceived in a negative light ... when in truth it was more about finding solutions than picking out problems.
Mind you, I did learn a thing or two along the way!   Numbers are just data ... the really interesting bits lay in where they are posted.   Equally intriguing can be when numbers are entered in the database. 
For instance, if a shelter with an animal control sheltering contract does not include the AC intake numbers until the animals are transferred to the shelter's custody ... that can create a more positive Live Release Rate.
While it is very interesting to see some shelters tracking the numbers of surrenders that have been refused, that number is only statistically valid if all phone calls and emails are returned in a timely fashion.  In realspeak, that means within hours ... not tomorrow or next week or when someone gets around to checking the voicemail.
Is it important to keep statistics?  You bet!  Even if they are not always one hundred percent accurate,  statistics do double duty by reminding everyone where the goalposts are.
At the end of the day, statistics simply serve to paint part of the picture by numbers, eh?
This week there was another society media release reminding us that Amendments have been made to the Animal Protection Act.  What do I think about this?
On the surface, it is mostly housekeeping bits and pieces ... but there is one little item buried in all that that DOES give me cause for concern.  That is of course that until that magical day when the Appeals Board is actually established,  the Provincial Board of Directors has the ultimate say in any review of any case.
Why do I see that as a problem?  Gosh .. are the Directors not trustworthy?  Are they not capable of making sensible decisions?
Actually it is simpler than that!   A non profit board is composed of like minded people volunteering their time in pursuit of common goals.   Even worse, these folks are privy to confidential information that reinforces the us and them perspective.
The worst bit of course is all their goals and agendas are derived from a shared journey of research and debate.  Why is that a problem?  Even with the best of intentions, directors become too engaged in the process to be well equipped as independent mediators.
There has been some discussion as to whether the 'watchdogs' need a watch dog.   Does such speculation stem from the intrinsic differences between the society in specific and animal rescue in general?  
Or is it simply that there is increasingly stiff competition for every fundraising dollar?  From my birds eye view, I have seldom seen such generosity of spirit outside of the rescue community  ... so somehow I suspect that it is generally not it either.
At the end of the day,  four years ago the society was still circling the wagons and killing three out of four that came in the door.  Straight, sweet and simple ... some of the horror stories are still too personal and raw to be easily forgotten.
How can the society mend fences?  They say imitation is the best form of flattery.   The little independent rescues have already learned most of the lessons the hard way.
If the society is seeking to wear rescue sheeps clothing for fundraising purposes, then there are lessons they can learn about walking the rescue walk.
The other day, I was appalled to find out that a dog had been returned to an SPCA branch when the adopter discovered her landlord wouldn't let her keep him.  So I went and looked at the branch adoption application and was gobsmacked to discover that applicants who rent are not actually required to provide their landlord's name or number!   Nor are they even obliged to provide veterinary references!
Imagine my surprise when I went rummaging around and discovered that this is not the exception but rather the 'new' standard rule that all the branches are using!   Before the keyboards catch on fire, yes I know I have been advocating for more user friendly apps ... but not for the baby to be thrown out with the bath water.
Yet I am wandering afield, as I am often wont to do.  The point I am making in my meandering way is that it really is not a great idea to have the society serve as its own watchdog.   
Actually there already is a watchdog ... the Department of Agriculture, eh?   Even better, because the society serves its mandate on the authority of our provincial government, each and every MLA in this province is capable of questioning any decision made on their constituents' behalf.
What time is it?   It is time to remember that the Appeals Board is a great idea and that it places an unreasonable burden of credibility ... or the lack of it .. to expect the society to be its own watchdog.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Delighting in butterflies ....

I love these beautiful mornings when we have a sweet breath of spring in the air!   Even if this is just a sneak preview before tonight's snow, it is still enough to give everyone a lift!  
Tomorrow I might need to get the blower back out ... but right here, right now it is sufficient unto the day to be able to rummage around the riverbank and wade over to the island.   
This morning, I had to call the Sydney Shelter to get a bit of information.  Before listing the adoptables from Wednesdays slide show on the homeless pet site, I had a thing or two to check. 
It was like a breath of fresh air!   In the past, I have had to scrape the frost off the phone after calling the shelter!   (The testy topic of how they were not the only branch miffed by me and my big mouth is an interesting ... and ongoing ... subject that may get a post of its own on another day, eh? )
The person I was talking to was polite and friendly!  Even better, she took the time to check details so that she was giving me accurate and up to date information.
If I had been a potential adopter or volunteer living in the area, after such a warm reception, I would have headed down there lickedty split!  It is no wonder that the community has been providing an overwhelming level of support for the shelter!
Does that mean that all the work is done?  Of course not!   Even though great strides have been made in an unimaginably short period of time, there is still work to do.
The difference is that now, change is possible.  Instead of bragging that they had addressed a few long overdue easy fixes, under new leadership the Sydney Shelter is actually changing!  Renovations are being made.   Proper shelter protocols established!   Proper animal care being provided!
No wonder it was a completely different experience to call the shelter this morning!  At the end of the day, meaningful change simply cannot be instituted without effective and knowledgeable leadership!
What time is it?  It is time to remember that, like the old Liberal Red Book, this is still a work in progress!    If you would like to help with this exciting journey, please contact The Cape Breton Branch.
If nothing ever changed, there would be no butterflies.  source unknown

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Meet the Adorable Adoptable Dogs at the Cape Breton SPCA

One of the best bits about doing the homeless pet site is the birds eye view that it affords me.   Since the society regained control of the Sydney shelter, I have been on the watch for new petfinder listings from the branch ... though with such a formidable to do list, I am not surprised to see the Cape Breton SPCA petfinder listings are not back up yet.
Lucky for the animals at the shelter that those darned volunteers have been posting pics and descriptions on their facebook page, the  Friends of the Sydney Shelter Facebook Group :

  • Betsy- Pit mix female senior..She is a friendly girl who still has quite a bit of spunk left lol..Betsy spends most of her time now in the offices and reception area interacting with staff and visitors lol...QUEEN of the property..
  • Blackie- Lab mix male..Real nice guy..needs training but his hearts in the right place..It looks like Blackies been through alot and he deserves a good home...he always has a goofy smile on..come on in a check him out
  • Bonnie - Sweet Senior
  • Breton- Male terrier mix 7 months...Beautiful dog very social and playful, calm..Will make a great pet in any home..Come on in and see him..
  • Brutus- Pit/lab mix male..BIG BABY lol Great dog loves to run and have fun..handsome and very athletic...good natured, just a fun dog to be around..not a barker either..really sharp and yes he's a smuggler..
  • This is my foster puppy Corki. He is a Lab/Collie mix around 9 weeks old. His sister just went to her forever home last night. Corki is registered with the CB SPCA and will have to be adopted through the application process. Being his foster mom I want to meet potential adopters. If you want to meet Corki then that is no problem. We can always meet at the shelter.
  • Lucy- Shep mix female 4-5 months...Lucy is the cutest lil girl, she has a wonderful playful excited personality and will climb right up in your arms lol even if ur standing up lol lots of energy and potential..come and rescue this sweet lil pup she'll never forget it......
  • Mary and Sally- Female beagle mix sisters..These 2 are just sweeties. They need work on their house training though. They will have to go to a home with someone who will have the patience to work through this with them. They are 3- 4 years old and not spayed.
  • Miesha- Pitt/lab mix female 4 to 5 months...sweet little puppy..very cute and has an excellent personality..she will make a great pet...come in and visit her..
  • Miguel- Mixed Breed male...Very gentle and great dog to walk..He is quiet and smart..Hasn't been at the shelter very long...lets keep it that way...
  • Rosco- Beagle male..Rosco is a picture perfect beagle.. Great color pattern strong in excellent shape.. lots of energy, still young..need basic training..come check him out..
  • Sadie- Shepard mix female under 1 year old...Awesome dog, tones of fun....She has lots of energy and loves to run...lots of intelligence and with some training will make an exceptional dog...During our little photo shoot i don't think she stop moving the whole time,,just enough for a few shots lol..come and check this lil lady out...
  • Sandy- Golden retriever mix male 2 1/2 years...beautiful dog.. A great personality excitable and affectionate...I personally would love to be able to take this dog home he going to make someone extremely happy...come in and meet him ..............lol and very very photogenic..lol
  • Sky- Husky/lab mix female puppy...Awesome dog! So much fun and a happy little lady...Theres no missing her metallic Blue eyes...............
  • Star- Beagle female..Star is a beautiful dog gentle and shy at first but warms up very fast...Classic beagle look to her and she just likes being next to someone...come in and see her..
  • Trooper- Shep mix male 6yr old..Trooper is definitely the rite name for this guy since he's been at the shelter for almost 5 months..he is a great dog quiet..reserved and just like to hang out with anyone..Trooper would prefer to be the only animal in the house..and he deserves it that for sure..been through a lot and keeps on truckin..
  • Zoey- lab mix female 3 to 4 months...Very very cute and playful...Just a Puppy lol
Please note that all descriptions are directly quoted from their own words on the facebook group ... and that for further information or details about any of these adorable adoptables, interested kind hearts should call the shelter directly at 902- 539-7722
What time is it?  It is time to share these lovely pictures ... who knows what wonderful things will come of that?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Important info for turtle lovers

from the Ssafe Haven Facebook Group:  
Please share this information with reptile/amphibian owners in your area.

Hello everyone.
On August 17, 2011, four armed Conservation Officers from the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources seized a Red-Eared Slider turtle from the home of one of our approved adopters, citing that she was "beingkept in captivity without a permit or license, contrary to S6(1) General Wildlife Regulations”: http://www.gov.ns.ca/just/regulations/regs/wigeneral.htm.
Upon inquiry, we were told that DNR had advised the turtle’s owner that “they haven’t really enforced this law before but they are now cracking down on it”. Since our native turtle populations are decreasing, DNR has been concerned with invasive species of turtles impacting our native wildlife. They stated that turtles can carry disease and when he became tired of the turtle he could release it outside. The owner asked how he could obtain a captive wildlife permit and was told that he could apply but would likely be denied, as they are no longer providing permits for turtles and tortoises. The owner explained that his pet was adopted through Ssafe Haven Society for Reptiles and Amphibians, but despite all efforts the turtle was permanently removed from his home. She is currently residing at an undisclosed location and there are no plans for euthanasia.
The turtle was most likely discovered by DNR when the owner had placed an ad on Kijiji to sell an aquarium. They posed as potential buyers who were looking into getting a painted turtle (a species native to Nova Scotia and illegal to keep in captivity) in order to obtain his address and contact information.
After learning of the seizure, we have since been advised by the Department of Natural Resources that it is now illegal to buy, sell orown turtles and tortoises in Nova Scotia. Unfortunately, this means that Ssafe Haven Society can no longer accept any turtles or tortoises for fostering, rehabilitation or adoption.
Throughout our years of operation, we have performed hundreds of RES turtle adoptions with the understanding that they are legal to own, but not allowed to be sold. We have consulted with the provincial authorities on numerous occasions and they have always been well aware that we perform RES turtle adoptions, especially since some of the DNR staff are on my electronic distribution list and receive regular announcements for our reptilian adoptees. Our contract ensures that the successful adopter must meet very stringent criteria, including the return of the animal to our Society if for unforeseen circumstances the new owner can no longer care for the animal, thereby preventing our adoptees from being released into the wild. DNR did not inform us that they had planned to enforce these outdated rules nor did they advise us to cease adopting turtles despite having many opportunities to do so.
The list of species that can be kept in Nova Scotia without a captive wildlife permit is available online at http://www.gov.ns.ca/natr/wildlife/doc/app2.pdf. Unfortunately, it is outdated by more than 25 years and requires significant revisions. While it does not include such commonly owned species as Bearded Dragons and Chinese Water Dragons, we were assured that those species will be added when the list of permitted species is updated and that owners do not require a captive wildlife permit. The regulations also state that reptiles commonly purchased in pet stores that are not on the permit exclusion list do not likely need a permit, but it is your responsibility to check with the Department of Natural Resources before your purchase. We will request that a grandfather clause be implemented to protect the hundreds of pets that are affected by this law. Unfortunately, until then your pets remain at risk and applying for a permit could result in seizure and significant fines.
We will keep you informed of any new developments. For more information on the bylaws regarding captive wildlife, please contact the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources, Bert Vissers at visserbj@gov.ns.ca or Bob Petrie at petrierd@gov.ns.ca.
Best regards,
Denise McKay
Chair / Adoption and Rescue Coordinator
Ssafe Haven Society for Reptiles and Amphibians
For my money, we are very lucky here in Nova Scotia to have such a reputable reptile and amphibian rescue such as Ssafe Haven.   It is run by a dedicated group of volunteers with an actual pair of herpetologists at the core.
Even better, their petfinder page is a model of creative and informative inspiration that is, imho, unequalled in this province.  And before the keyboards catch on fire, I know that other groups have embedded their own lovely web pages in their pet finder locations ... which is separate and apart from having a stand alone page.  
Best of all of course is that these folks take public education very seriously and their Halifax Reptile Expo is now an annual event that is well worth attending for anyone interested in reptiles and amphibians :) 
At the risk of sounding like a stuck record, there really is somebody for everyone to adopt in this province, eh?
What time is it?   It is time to share this updated note from Ssafe Haven for the benefit of any turtle lovers who might not be on their facebook group!

Monday, February 20, 2012

The only real truth in advertising .....

I have learned a lot from my rescued pets!   Building a relationship with my little feral kitty Dora taught me a LOT about patience.   Miss Ruby's eagerness to embrace a fresh start after being starved is living proof of the power of optimism.   Henry's ability to overcome his harsh history is a ready lesson in the healing strength of forgiveness!
To paraphrase the funny old poster, it does seem as most of the best bits have been learned from my family circus.
While it was disappointing to hear the 'big wheels' of the Westminister Dog show whining about Pedigree's adoption campaign ads .... in truth none of the animal loving community should have been surprised.
Westminister has always been long on style and short on substance.  Why would they want to remind viewers that handsome is as handsome does?  That there is more to picking a family pet than the beauty of the breed?
At the end of the day, Westminister exists to promote the commercial production of purebred puppies.  There are no 'points' to tally up towards a national grand championship.  
It is purely a prestige event with no guarantee that the winners will even pass any of the extensive (and expensive) genetic screening that are part and parcel of reputable purebred breeders!
Of course they are not going to want to remind people that the road to pet owner happiness can lead to an animal shelter door!  Nor will they wish to stir up any speculation regarding the role that commercial breeders play in the whole bit.
It simply is not sensible to expect Westminister to be a 'reality show'.  In the same slick Hollywood style that could portray a hooker having a happy ending with a rich Mr Right, the Westminister Dog Show is all about promoting dreams.
The only reality involved is that the split was 'partly for economic reasons'  ... which in realspeak means that Purina pitched them a better deal
Here in the real world ... I'll take those darned pet adoption ads any day over such a slick soft sell!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

In praise of taking it to the street .....

I love getting together with good friends for coffee!   Solving all the worlds' problems with the phone snugged into our shoulders while doing dishes is just not the same!
Lets face it ...multimedia might allow us to stay in touch, but there  is simply no substitute for the 'real thing'!  It is the difference between connecting and actually engaging on a personal level, eh?
That is why I am such an advocate of offsite adoption events.   Even the best petfinder photos cannot hold a candle to the personal appeal every pet has.  
What was the first thing I noticed about Henry?  Was it is handsome self?  Close .. but no cigar!   What really made an impression was that he was so responsive to every single thing that I said!  In other words, we had a chance to connect in a way that no petfinder photo would have allowed us to do!
One of the most savvy fundraisers that I have seen around is the monthly Dog Walk that East Coast German Shepherd Rescue puts on.   It is a brilliant in its simplicity!  No set up.  No tear down.  No rental.  No auction items to track.   Just pay a small fee and have a wonderful walk with like minded folks.
It really is frosting on the cake that it is also a fantastic opportunity to meet some of the adorable adoptables in their care!  Like a lovely little 'sneak preview' before putting in an application!
For any inquiring minds that want to know ... the next one is scheduled for this Sunday, Feb 19th at 11 am at the Salt Marsh Trail!
If you live in the valley, this weekend CAPS is coming back to the Greenwood Mall this Saturday (Feb 18th)!  They will be there from 11 am until 3pm and are bringing some of their beautiful kitties!  The foster pawrents will be there to answer any questions interested folks might have.   
It will also be a great opportunity to talk to the volunteers for anyone who has been wondering if it would be a good fit for them!
If you live in the Sydney area, this Saturday, Feb 18th,  the Friends of the Sydney SPCA will be back at the Mayflower Mall from 11 am till 3 pm with adorable adoptables in tow!   As I understand it that legendary big fat bank account actually turned out to be a huge deficit dripping with unpaid bills ... so they are wise to bring along the best four footed fundraisers to be found anywhere!
And before the keyboards catch on fire ...  even though it is not an adoption event per se, this is also the weekend of the GPAC Doggie Expo ... where nobody tries to pretend that changing sponsors from one dog food company that supports rescue to another one that does the same is about anything other than money.
What time is it?  Clearly ... this weekend in Nova Scotia it will be a good time to meet adorable adoptables and the wonderful kind hearts that rescue them!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Seeking a safer place ....

from today's Herald
Group seeks legal help for dogs at end of their tether
Some Nova Scotia dogs need protection from psychological abuse, say animal welfare groups seeking amendments to the Animal Protection Act.

They want an anti-tethering regulation that would make it a crime to keep a dog at the end of a rope or in an enclosure for lengthy periods of time, after dark and during weather extremes.
There’s no clear legislation requiring an animal to be untied at the end of the day and brought indoors, said Debbie Harvey of Shelburne.
"It’s not illegal to chain a dog continuously in Nova Scotia," said Harvey, a member of Pet Projects, a Shelburne County organization trying to introduce anti-tethering regulations at the municipal level.
Shelburne municipal council recently updated its 13-year-old dog bylaw without specifically addressing tethering issues.
But Pet Projects has been asked by council for more input about anti-tethering, said Harvey.
"We want change in the laws and legislation," she said.
In the Annapolis Valley, animal welfare advocates met this month with Kings West MLA Leo Glavine to ask him to consider their position.
"We’re looking at the Animal Protection Act and . . . possible ways for amendments to be made," said Scott Saunders.
"We’re at the very preliminary stages of this. As it stands right now, if a dog has food and water and shelter, that suffices.
"But we’ve got dogs that are spending their entire lives strapped out to a tree or to a doorstep. I think that’s really emotionally and psychologically damaging to that animal."
Dog behaviour expert Silvia Jay said dogs that have been tethered for extended periods of time often lack proper social skills.
They’re like misfits who have not learned how to behave properly around others.
"They also develop something that we call restraint frustration. It’s an anxiety," Jay said from her home near Truro.
Dogs are frustrated because a tether prevents them from doing what they want to do. That frustration, sooner or later, will switch over to aggression, she said.
A dog in an outdoor enclosure is in a similar situation. Dogs that are tied outside but exposed to a lot of stimulation can never rest, and that can create barking and lunging, Jay said.
"It’s really important to a dog that he belongs so that he has . . . social acceptance with the group he lives with. That’s crucial."
Jay wrote a book, Dump Dog, about her rescue of a feral dog and the animal’s journey from being wild to becoming a companion dog. Jay’s website, voice4dogs.com, has more information.
Well then!    Every animal advocate knows that the subject of Anti Tethering Legislation is stickier than any sweets that were crafted in my kitchen this week!
Why on earth would that be?   Do people LIKE to see dogs suffering?  Of course not!
Part of the problem is that many kind hearts hear the word 'tethering' and worry that it might apply to the little leashes clipped to the back door so that pee breaks don't turn into Unhappy Lost or Hurt or Worse Tails.  After all, building a fence can be an expensive proposition that might not even be possible in places with prohibitive covenants!
A big part of the problem is that any legislation to limit 'personal freedoms' is automatically opposed!   Given that our criminal code still considers dogs to be 'property', this is a particularly sticky wicket for some to accept.
An even bigger part of the problem is the failure to recognize that anti tethering legislation is a public safety issue.  People generally have no trouble understanding that laws are needed to prevent drinking and driving.  That speed limits save lives.  That even the security checks that slow down checking in are of benefit.
Why is it so difficult to understand that anti tethering legislation will also create safer communities?
Actually, it is really very simple.   Politicians ALWAYS remember the one thing we usually forget .. that we 'hired' them and we can 'fire' them!
Politicians are like anyone else, sometimes they are working on outmoded assumptions and invalid premises!   Judging by how tight my own MLA's collar became when I brought up anti tethering, it is safe to say he was concerned that it would lose him votes.  Why is he meeting with animal advocates on the subject now?   Because now , he understands that this is not just some wacky idea that Janet has .. but that many other folks feel the same way!
What time is it?  It is always time to remember that the way ahead for the animals will only ever be paved by strong voter feedback!
The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing   Albert Einstein

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

In praise of foster pawrents .....

I love Miss Ruby!   From the moment I first clapped eyes on her skinny starved self, my heart was completely and utterly lost!  Four years ago this morning ARC sent me those first pictures and so I have always referred to her as my funny valentine :)
At the time, we had no idea she would bloom into such a beauty with better care.   To be perfectly honest, I thought that her  real charm lay in her courage and those clever, clever eyes!  
Is she a smartypants?  You bet!   To this day, when she wants something that Henry has, she is master of the diversionary tactic.    Sadly, it took Henry a couple of years to understand that running to the window to see what she was barking at often lost him the spot / toy / etc that she wanted!  My clever girl would run behind him and commandeer the booty:)
Was I able to bring Miss Ruby home right away?  Sadly not!    She was in such  terrible shape when she was rescued that it took weeks before she gained enough weight to be safely spayed.  
The short version of this story is that Miss Ruby was able to heal because ARC had an available foster home for her.  Straight, sweet and simple.   
Foster parents really are the life blood of animal rescue.   They are the reason that a rescue can say 'yes ... we can take this dog!"  Rescues can fundraise all they want ... but it is that safe slot that is the life saving game changer.
If ARC, CAPS and ASDR had not had an available foster, Miss Ruby, Henry and Rascal would not be here today.   Brock and Quinn both lived to tell the Happy Tail because foster space was found!
What time is it?   It is always time to salute those who volunteer their time and their love so that lives may be saved!   For all the foster pawrents .... every day of the year is Valentines Day!

Monday, February 13, 2012

The love in your heart wasn't put there to stay .....

I am a middle aged grandmother, not a little girl snuggling up for story time!  What does that mean in realspeak?  Does it mean that I do not believe in fairy tales? 
Or is it simply that I have learned that here in the real world, fairy tails are more likely to be of the rough and ready brothers Grimm variety than the warm and fuzzy Walt Disney sort?
Still, if one scratches the surface of anyone my age, it is easy to find vestiges of that spirit that moved my generation to try to make the world a better place.  Even those jaded sorts who see world peace as a pipe dream still find themselves yearning for the story book ending!
Nine months ago, when kind hearts were moving mountains to keep Quinn from knocking on heaven's door, it was thought that he had already found his happy ending!
After years of neglect and abuse, Quinn was in terrible shape.  At that time, it was impossible for anyone to imagine how far he would come!  That with great love and good food, his poor body would mend!  That his poor battered spirit would heal!
In those early days, who would have dared to dream that the power of love would result in more possibilities than palliative foster!  
Last Thursday, on a beautiful blue sky and sunshine day,  Quinn went for one last car ride with his foster Mum!   He said good bye to the four footed friends in his foster home!   Bundled up in the back seat of the car .... and was off to  his new home in PEI!   
What a wonderful happy ending!   Quinn's new Mom loves seniors!  (You may recognize his new 'brother' Brock,  who is another senior Happy Tail :)
Even better, she is studying to be a vet and so will be singularly well suited to handle the health issues that will, after years of abuse, always plague Quinn.
Best of all, Quinn's foster Mum and Atlantic Small Dog Rescue will now be able to help another dog in need!  
Quinn has captured the hearts of the animal loving community.  Kind hearts have cried for him ... rooted for him ... and supported him every step of the way.  
I am a middle aged grandmother and so have learned a thing or two about love along the way.   Love really is a powerful thing!   It can move mountains!  Change lives!  It might not always be ours to keep, but love never really leaves us!
Without an available foster Mum, Quinn would have been pushing up daisies before I wrote the first post about him.  As we speak, plans are underway at ASDR to try to help another senior who has served a life sentence on the end of a chain.
What time is it?  It is always time to remember that it is the power of foster love that changes everything!
The love in your heart wasn't put there to stay
Love isn't love
Till you give it away
Reba MacEntire


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Important Caution about Dog Treats!

I love making treats for my dogs!   Do they notice the difference?  You bet!   When we go to the vets, mine will turn their noses up at the 'store bought' rewards offered when the visit is winding down ...lol!
Does that mean I never buy treats?  Of course not!  There are no shortage of neat things out there that I could never reproduce my own kitchen!  Of course, in some cases .. like the dried tripe ... the smell simply isn't worth any savings that might be had by making my own!
I received an email today from a dear friend in Newfoundland.  While I have no idea whether these are even sold in NS,  when my ever so sensible pal is concerned enough to email,  it would be remiss of me not to share this info she received from her local vet clinic.
Martha Sweeting Community Vet Hospital 
We're had 2 dogs come in within the last 10 days with Dingo Denta-Treats stuck in their eosphagi. In the first instance, by the time the dog arrived at the clinic the treat had worked its way into the stomach. In the second case, the puppy was vomiting blood and was in respiratory distress. The treat was stuck in the esophagus and was pushing down on the trachea (wind-pipe) and the heart. Dr. Maxina Hunt von Herbing was able to pass a stomach tube and push the treat into the stomach. This puppy would have died without veterinary intervention.
"Who Else They Gonna Lean On?"

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

How to share the love for Valentine's Day!

I love making curry on a cold day!   That sweet spicy aroma simmering on the stove almost warms me up as much as the seasoning in the dish!  
We are coming up to one of the 'sweetest' times of the year .... Valentines Day!  If you are looking for a lovely way to warm your own heart ... or to share with your sweetheart ... then you are in luck!   Animal rescue folks put the fun in fundraiser and  there are  a few things to choose from!
  • At any time, local artist Tracey Jessiman will do a painting of your pet for the incredibly modest fee of $100.00 ... with all proceeds going to ARC.  Can you possibly imagine a better gift certificate for the animal lover in your life?
  • As I mentioned yesterday, on Saturday, from ten am till two pm, the Meow Movers Adoption Fair and Mini Market will be held at Farrel Hall, 276 Windmill Road Dartmouth.   See poster on yesterday's post.
  • Later on that same day, the second annual Dancing for Dogs will be held at the Lions Hall in Eastern Passage.  Tickets are ten dollars each and I do believe that they are being sold in advance.   See poster below for details. All proceeds for East Coast German Shepherd Rescue
  • If you feel like trying your luck or tucking tickets in a Valentine Card, local artist Joan Hushard has donated a beautiful painting called Deer in a Field ( see picture below ) and tickets are being sold on this for $5.00 each, with all proceeds going to PET Projects
  • SHAID is running its Have a Heart Campaign with a Wall of Hearts on display at the shelter.   Hearts may be purchased for a minimum donation of a dollar and you could put your own or your sweethearts name on one!
  • The GPAC folks are running a Show us Your Heart campaign at Global Pet Foods in New Minas.  Buy a heart and Science diet will donate a dollar.  Make a five dollar donation and receive ten bonus air miles!
  • All month long it is Feline February at the Yarmouth SPCA.   Check their Facebook Page for details and to meet the daily Valentine Purrsonals!
PS ... if I have missed anything else happening this weekend, please let me know!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Mark Your Calendar for Meow Movers!

For my money, forget the theatre ... anyone looking for real passion and heart will be best served by becoming better acquainted with the kind hearts who rescue cats.
No fair weather friends .... in the worst winter weather they are out trapping and rescuing and even fundraising for spay neuter!   Does that sound busy?  You bet! 
So much so that for a long time, it was every 'crazy cat lady (or lad) for themselves!    Why?   Was it that most cat people are as independent as those that they rescue?   That organizing them has proven to be more of a challenge than the tired old cliche about herding cats?
Or was it simply that everyone liked the idea of organizing ... in theory!  In realspeak, everyone I know in the cat world has just been too darned busy rescuing to have the time and energy for anything else!
Luckily for the kitties, there has been a quiet little 'force for good' at work.   Every weekend, volunteers with Second Chance Charity have been faithfully manning their booth at the Harbourview Market ... with all proceeds going directly to local cat rescues! 
Even better, Second Chance Charity has graduated from big garage sales to Meow Mixers where beautiful adoptable cats have been out in the public eye!   It is almost frosting on the cake that this has done double duty by providing an opportunity to the cat rescuers to network.
 That has been such a success that this Saturday there will be a Meow Mover Event (see poster below for details)!  Folks will be able to meet lovely cats like Mama Peekaboo (pictured above) and in some cases will even be able to bring their new pal home that day.
There are twenty (+/-) rescues taking part and I have it on good authority there will be kitties of all ages and sizes and colours!   
Best of all, if you are looking for a meaningful way to help the kitties, it would be a great ... and pressure free .... opportunity to meet the folks who are doing this wonderful work.
What time is it?  It is always time to support offsite adoption events!  We will not get to No Kill Nova Scotia without them!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Urgent ..... PET Projects could really use your help!

I love Oscar!   Underneath that handsome black tie and tails tuxedo exterior is one of the sweetest and well mannered gentlemen one could ever hope to meet!
Mind you, visitors only get to admire the back end of his sweet self as he disappears down to my bedroom.   After everything that Oscar has been through. it would seem he is all out of trust for anyone but me:(
Oscar was in terrible shape when he showed up here three years ago.  He was terribly thin and it was obvious he had come out on the losing end of more than one battle :(  To make matters worse, all this was happening at the hardest and coldest part of what was a particularly rough winter.
Originally, I had thought he might have been Dora's mother, but by the time the above picture was taken we had already been to the vets and discovered that 'Bridget' was actually Auntie Oscar!   And before the keyboards catch on fire, that actually made his tale sorrier still to discover that at some point someone had cared enough to have him neutered :(
But I am wandering afield as I often do in my meandering way.   After years of reporting a cat colony to PET Projects,  finally someone called who was willing to be part of the solution.   (The subject of how highly I hold PET Projects skill at partnering with their community is a timely topic that has been, and will be again, deserving of a post of its own :)
PET Projects had been told that, while there were originally fourteen cats, that the people feeding the colony thought the numbers were down to four or five.  When they went to investigate for themselves, they only found five fairly friendly cats, shivering in the cold.
Like the rest of the rescue world, at PET Projects most miracles are made on a shoestring.   Funds were down, but it was believed that five would be easily manageable.
One of their volunteers is such a skillful trapper that he has been nicknamed Trapper John.   Skillful indeed!  Within a day he had ten cats!  By the next day the numbers were up to seventeen!  As of last count, twenty one cats have been rescued from the old abandoned house!
How did they get there?  What do you think?!?   Oscar did not wake up one frigid February morning and decide to pack his bags and leave!  Neither did these poor little kitties!
Like Oscar was, many of them are in terrible shape!  It is the worst sort of deliberate blindness and cruelty to imagine for one minute that house pets will manage well when left to fend for themselves!
Out here in the country, we have seen them struck down on the roadside and found frequent evidence of violent and painful Unhappy Encounters with predators!  For every Oscar who eventually finds safe harbour there are ever so many more that suffer terribly for the short time that they survive!
What can you do?  Besides hug your own pets and keep them for life?  Right here, right now, PET Projects is facing a staggering vet bill!  If you want to help with that, please click here.
In the long term, if you personally see a cat being abandoned, please do not look the other way and think that it is not your problem.   Take down a license plate number or pass on the names of tenants who have left pets to the cruelty line! 
We might not have laws with enough teeth to prevent people from chaining dogs ... YET ... but at this point in time is actually is illegal to abandon an animal, eh?
What time is it?   When rescue groups like PET Projects are so often tasked with being 'clean up crew', it is always, always time to support that work!
“While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius.   Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do. ”   Apple Computer Inc.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Going upstream without a paddle

I would rather see three feet of snow than the freezing rain we had last night.  Setting aside the obvious bit of the higher risk of being hurt when it is so slippery ...  are all the other bits that are part and parcel of country life.
If any of us had been hurt, going to either outpatients or the vet clinic would have involved a rollercoaster ride to Berwick on unsalted back country roads!  Assuming of course that outpatients would be open or that the duty vet could make it in!
Mind you .... nothing that Mother Nature ever dishes out can hold a candle to the slippery slope that the Cape Breton Mayor and Council have been on since the results of the first unannounced inspection ever precipitated the escalating scenario with the Sydney shelter.
If Facebook was documenting this, there would be a timeline that would likely look something like this:
  • November 14th - The provincial board of the society votes to disband the Cape Breton Branch Board of Directors and to dismiss the shelter manager, Ms Patsy Rose.
  • November 16th - Acting on behalf of the provincial board, the society ED travels to Sydney to serve notice of termination to the Shelter Manager and the disbanded board.  Advance notice is given to the CBRM Police Department in the anticipation that the situation might escalate so that their services might be required.  When the ED arrives, the dismissed shelter manager locks herself in her office and within a very brief period of time the lawyer for the disbanded board arrived on site and asked the ED to leave the premises.   The CBRM police determine that this was a civil matter and leave the premises.  It should also be noted that Animal Control falls under the Police Department.
  • Nov 17th - The results of the (unaddressed) 2011 Shelter audit are made public.  The dismissed shelter manager and the disbanded board have locked the public out of the shelter and hired a security guard to control access through the locked gate.
  • November 18th - CBRM Mayor decides to intervene in the dispute and commission two local veterinarians to perform a second audit of the shelter.  On this date the society takes the next legal step and issues a Letter of Demand to vacate the premises to the dismissed shelter manager and the disbanded board.  At this time, Nova Scotia SPCA Announces that it is seeking Candidates for Cape Breton Board of Directors
  • November 21st - The deadline on the Letter of Demand passes at noon on this day.  
  • November 22nd - The Nova Scotia SPCA issues a media release that the Cape Breton Branch has been formally dissolved
  • November 24th - The results of the CBRM Shelter Audit are published.  The Mayor and Council expressed concern but still enabled the disbanded board by magically allowing them to assume the Animal Control that had been signed with the SPCA.
  • November 25th - The disbanded board issue a press release through their lawyer to state that they will be seeking a new shelter manager and that another board member has assumed the role of board president.  The dismissed shelter manager is still employed at the shelter in an "administrative position"
  • November 28th -  The Society makes public the original Memorandum of Association Agreement for the Cape Breton Branch.  Letters of warning are sent by their legal counsel to members of the disbanded and other related parties.  A deadline of noon on November 30th is given for compliance.  The disbanded board responds with a legal warning letter of their own to the provincial ED, forbidding her access to the Sydney Shelter. 
  • November 29th - Mr Mombourquette, acting chair for the reinvented and renamed disbanded board, announces on CTV news that it is a shame to have to spend donor dollars on legal costs.
  • December 8th - Nova Scotia SPCA starts Court proceeding .  At the same time, in response to accusations that the ED has "cut off free IAMS food" for the Sydney Shelter, a public statement reveals that the (then) CB Branch ordered excessive amounts.  A spokesperson for the renegade shelter admits there is at least a 4 month stockpile on hand.
  • December 17th - The CBRM Mayor and Council meet with the disbanded board for a report on the status of the action items in the CBRM Shelter Audit.   Mayor Gordon tells the Chronicle Herald that he has "assumed the role that the province would normally be responsible for".   At this time, Mr Mombourqette is quoted  in the Cape Breton Post that "the board has completed 16 of the report’s recommendations and the remainder are currently being addressed by the board".
  • December 18th - Dr Richardson, a retired veterinarian, delivers a report to a special meeting with CBRM Mayor and Council.  Council decides not to debate the report until after the court date for the injunction hearing.
  • December 19th - The Cape Breton Post reveals that the CBRM Mayor and Council are no longer interested in assuming the provinces role and will "only discuss issues involving its contract with the shelter to enforce the dog bylaw, and stay away from animal welfare issues."
  • January 19th - An interim injunction restores control of the Sydney Shelter to the society.  Following that, the ED and the disbanded Board Chair met with the staff at the shelter that, with the exception of the Shelter Manager, all staff would have the opportunity to keep their jobs.
  • January 20th - One paid staff member shows up for work.  The remainder call in sick. 
  • January 23rd - The society releases the Preliminary Report on the state of the shelter.   At the same time it is announced that the shelter will temporarily be closed to all intake other than AC, owing to the need to facilitate repairs and the shortage of trained staff.
  • January 27th - The ED tells The Cape Breton Post that she is thrilled by the level of generosity and support from the community for the shelter.  The same article also reveals that  the shelter account is in a $6,000.00 deficit ... and that the society cannot be paid for the AC work being provided until the disbanded board members sign off on the contract.
  • February 1st -In the  The Cape Breton Post, readers learn that the society still has not been paid for AC Services.  Only one AC officer has continued to come to work, and it is revealed that the municipality sat on the paperwork necessary to hire a second AC officer for over a week.  At the same time, Mayor Gordon expresses concern that the SPCA will not be able to fulfill their duties with only one AC officer.  Much emphasis is placed  by the Mayor as to whether legal concerns will even allow them to pay the SPCA at all.   No explanation is offered by the Mayor as to why a contract in the SPCA name was transferred to the renegade shelter following the dissolution of the branch
It is rare to see such blatantly circular logic so publicly expressed by an elected official.    One has to wonder what it it WILL take for the CBRM Mayor and Council to admit that this is not a situation created by anyone from 'away'. 
Who complained about the state of the shelter?  Why it was taxpaying CBRM voters of course!   Who is donating supplies and services?  CBRM taxpaying business owners of course!   When the society advertised for applicants for a new shelter Board of Directors, who were the twenty who applied?  Gosh, golly, gee!   It was all CBRM taxpaying residents of course!
What time is it?   It is way, way past time for the CBRM Mayor and Council to realize that it is never, ever in the best interests of elected officials to work against the best interests and best wishes of the taxpaying voters who elected them!
from The Cape Breton Post
SPCA demands payment from CBRM
Chris Shannon

Published on February 1, 2012
SYDNEY — The Nova Scotia SPCA is prepared to withdraw animal control services in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality on Friday if it doesn’t receive $20,000 it’s owed for services rendered.
Following the successful court injunction application Jan. 19, the SPCA took control of the Cape Breton shelter from the Cape Breton Humane Society.

Nova Scotia SPCA executive director Kristin Williams said Wednesday a payment expected in the shelter’s bank account on Jan. 20 wasn’t deposited.
She said the provincial SPCA branch gave $10,000 for the operation of the shelter on East Broadway Street in Whitney Pier. However, one of the shelter’s bank accounts remains $6,000 in overdraft.
On top of the shelter’s money woes, there is currently only one animal control officer working. Two other officers have been off sick since the Nova Scotia SPCA takeover two weeks ago.
“If we do not receive payment in a timely manner — and I think probably by the end of this week— I’m going to need to make a decision as to whether or not we can continue to provide those services without payment,” Williams said.
The services include collecting stray and dangerous dogs and licensing, which are part of animal control under the CBRM’s dog bylaw.
Last weekend, the SPCA suspended animal control over two days because it only had the one animal control officer.
Williams said the municipality has held up the process of hiring a second officer by failing to sign off on paperwork in a reasonable amount of time.
“They just signed off on the appointment (Wednesday) and it’s been with them for nearly a week.”
The Nova Scotia Department of Justice must sign off on the paperwork to give the animal control officer official authorization to seize animals, and Williams said it may take up to a week or more before the SPCA gets word from the department that it can appoint a second officer.
A section in the contract allows the shelter to address a staffing shortage in the event circumstances arise beyond its control.
“Certainly, having two of three animal control officers not available for work because they are sick constitute circumstances beyond our control,” Williams said.
CBRM Mayor John Morgan said municipal staff has some concerns the SPCA can’t fulfil the contract with only one bylaw enforcement officer at work.
He said the municipality’s hands are tied until its solicitors receive the written order.
“The court can make a number of different determinations as to how money is paid pending the final decision,” Morgan said.
“For example, one mechanism could be that (the order) simply says all money is to be paid to Nova Scotia SPCA, or it could order the money to be paid into a trust. There’s a number of different variations as to what the order may say in terms of how the payments are to be made.
“Our legal department ... hasn’t arrived at the conclusion that it shouldn’t be paid. I think they are simply waiting for that order to make sure that they are making the payment in the way the court has directed.”
But it does seem to be taking longer to obtain the written order in this case, he added. It normally takes one to two weeks following a judge’s oral decision before the written order is carried out, Morgan said.
The ruling is only an interim measure with both sides now proceeding to trial to more thoroughly address some of the issues raised during the injunction application.
Improper intake procedures, incidents of animals not receiving proper and immediate medical attention, and concerns over proper cleaning methods were among the issues raised during the court hearing.
Williams said she feels there’s been a “double-standard” at play since November when the former board of directors refused to move out and renamed the shelter the Cape Breton Humane Society.
She said at that time the CBRM was willing to co-operate and continued to fund the contract even though it was legally under the name of the Cape Breton SPCA.
“We are continuing services in good faith and our expectation would have been they would have continued payment in good faith as well,” Williams said.
“It appears a greater level of scrutiny is being afforded to this situation of us reassuming our obligations under the contract. I can’t say for sure but I don’t believe the same level of attention was afforded to the Cape Breton Humane Society when they took over the contract from us for that interim period.
The SPCA’s contract to enforce the municipality’s dog bylaw expires March 31, and Morgan said he expects the tendering process for a new contract to begin within a few weeks.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

In praise of secret loves

I love Dora!  When we are batting about here by ourselves she is the loveliest little companion  ... following me around like a puppy and first in line to greet me at the door when I come home.
Mind you, this is a solitary pleasure as even the most regular visitors here seldom catch even a glimpse of her beautiful self!   She is living proof that feral cats are not well suited to anyone needing to show off their pets!
Does this mean that she is not friendly and affectionate with me?  Of course not.   This little miss has the loudest purr in the house and sleeps on my shoulder at night :)
She has come a long, long way from the tiny little warrior who was hunting under my bird feeder three years ago.  She was so scruffy and so scared that I just could not bring myself to scold her for succeeding in her hunt !
The short version of this story ... as any long time reader knows ... is that after weeks and weeks of laying on the ice to coax the little ninja who was too clever to trap, I was finally able to build enough trust to take the long and patient journey that brought her into the safety of the house.
Casper reminds me a bit of my sweet little Dora!    Sadly, the streets have not been kind to this handsome fellow.   He simply did not have either the street smarts or the strength to defend himself against the neighbourhood bully of a tom.   Even worse,  some juvenile delinquents had spray painted this poor boy last summer.
Worst of all was the emotional toll this has taken on this lovely boy.  Lets face it, if he was a human who had suffered such cruelties, he would spend the rest of his life being treated for PTSD.
Lucky for Casper that a kind heart in the neighbourhood took pity on him.   She saw how hurt he was and finally was able to trap him.  Casper has been cleaned up and vetted and is now being cared for by an SPCA volunteer.
Casper has been in foster since boxing day and is already started on the journey to rebuild trust.   His shy self might hide at first, but he will now purr up a storm on his foster Mum's lap and will even let her brush him :)
What time is it?  It is time for everyone to put their thinking caps on to find that special someone for Casper who understands that this are special rewards waiting for those who have a secret love!
Once I had a secret love
That lived within the heart of me
All too soon my secret love
Became impatient to be free
So I told a friendly star
The way that dreamers often do
Just how wonderful you are
And why I'm so in love with you
Now I shout it from the highest hills
Even told the golden daffodils
At last my heart's an open door
And my secret love's no secret anymore
from Secret Love written by Sammy Fain and Paul-Francis Webster