Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare

The "Five freedoms of animal welfare" is something that I've been thinking about lately.

They were developed in 1965 from a UK report on livestock and have been used by then by groups and government around the world as a standard of how to treat animals - domestic and factory - properly, and with compassion.

The Five Freedoms are -

1. Freedom from hunger or thirst by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigour
2. Freedom from discomfort by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area
3. Freedom from pain, injury or disease by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment
4. Freedom to express (most) normal behaviour by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal's own kind
5. Freedom from fear and distress by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering

When we think about our own companion animals - our dogs, it is an interesting list, and it wouldn't seem to be too difficult to follow all the things that it asks of us.

For number one - all we have to do is to properly feed our dogs and give them access to potable water at all times - which is something that we all do as responsible dog owners.

Number two is a given - anyone who reads this blog keeps their dogs inside with them, and lets them sleep wherever they like - on our beds, on the couch - wherever they want to sleep or hang out - no problem

Number three - we all take our dogs to the vet at the slightest hint that something may be wrong - I know that I totally micro-manage the health of all of my dogs - my vet's receptionists know my voice whenever I call them - I don't even have to say - "this is Joan calling" - they know exactly who I am whenever I say hello - that's how often I call them!

Number four is where it starts to get tricky though. What is normal behaviour? Would that be something like barking? Growling? Humping other dogs? Humping the cat? Running up into the woods behind your house and going for a bit of a walk-about? What is normal behaviour?

And how much normal behaviour does a 6 pound yorkie get to express when he has more clothing than a typical factory worker?

And then there's freedom number five - "freedom from fear and distress - by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering" - that is a whole can of worms that a lot of dog owners who really believe that they love their dogs - really would rather not think about that - and that relates to controlling that so-called "normal behaviour" that our dogs like to express - like barking too much, and not wanting to come to us the second we call them to us, and growling at other dogs - and a whole host of inappropriate things that our dogs can get up to.

We as dog loving people, and responsible dog owners - really have to think of our dogs first - and what is best for them - and not - what is easiest for us - when it comes to making it easy to live with the canine life companions that we have chosen for ourselves.

We have chosen them to live with us - not the other way around - and I don't think that we should use things that cause fear and intimidation in order to make them obey and immediately bow down to us.

That's not the kind of relationship I want to have with my dogs - I don't need them to turn on a dime, and when I'm out with them - the only time I ask them to come is when I actually need them to come to me - and guess what - they usually do. And I'm happy with that. And so are they.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Pat Lee and Tristan Flynn weigh in on the subject of shock collars

Local dog trainer Tristan Flynn talked about shock collars on his radio show K9 Connection today on 95.7

Here is some of what Tristan said in his podcast - you can listen to it in it's entirety here:


Tristan said his opinion on shock collars is that he's never met a dog in the 8 or so years he's been training dogs he's never met an animal that he thought that putting a shock collar on them would improve his relationship with that animal - it comes down to your ethics - if you think it's okay to smack your child, then it's the same thing with shock collars - it can come down to the ethics of the country and what's legal in that country - shock collars are illegal in many countries - and is also illegal in Quebec - it's legal to sell shock collars, but illegal to use them in Quebec.

There's no doubt that shock collars work to change behaviour - but do we think that it's ethically okay to do that - if you put a shock collar on your 2 year old child, you'd be thrown in jail because ethically that's unacceptable but we're still at a point where it's ethically acceptable for dogs and one of the reasons is we're not legislated to do good proper training so when people run into problems, they don't know how to fix it so they look for an immediate fix, because that's what you want... and using that tool can get you the immediate results that some people are looking for because proper training, and really listening to the animal and building a relationship takes time and it takes a lot of expertise - so if you can't find a good trainer, a lot of people are turning to these tools because they want the quick fix.

So many organizations are against these that he doesn't know how an average person could not agree with the overwhelming amount of professionals who are against these devices -
- Canadian Veterinary Medical Society says the use of shock collars is associated with short term, long term negative consequences including fear and anxiety. Training methods including pain, fear, distress or anxiety including the violent use of shock collars are to be condemned
- American Humane Society
- American Society of Veterinary Behaviourists
- UK Kennel Club

Tristan said that he has never seen anyone with any credentials argue for the use of these tools - these are just people who consider themselves experts, or consider themselves good dog trainers but no one who is an actual veterinarian professional or an actual PhD behaviourist is arguing to use these tools.

He then goes on to explain how a shock collar actually works - explaining how a shock collar is used to teach how a dog is trained to learn how to "sit" - and it's very interesting to listen to - I would recommend that you do listen to the entire podcast.

As well, in Monday's Chronicle Herald - Pat Lee covered the topic in her weekly "Pat Lee Pet Corner" column - "E-collars put to the Test" - you can read her column below - she took me up on my challenge and got herself shocked, and didn't like the feeling very much.

So the word about shock collars is getting out there - there are a lot of people out there who have negative opinions about shock collars in Nova Scotia - I'd say that pro-shock collar people are in the minority.  And that's a good thing - it's just that the pro-shock collar people are very loud and aggressive - just like the dogs that they think they are trying to control.

A fun event took place Saturday in central Halifax with people and dogs mingling under beautiful sunny skies.

But unbeknownst to probably most attending the annual Pet Valu-organized doggie event held in Victoria Park, warring factions on the use of electronic training collars were warily eying each other from their respective information booths.

My friend Joan Sinden, who has been a vocal opponent of the collars for years, and never one to approach an issue related to animals with subtlety, had a table at the event that invited people to try out one of the collars on themselves.

And just down the way was dog trainer Guy Lapierre of Unleashed Potential, a proponent of using the device.

Mixed in there as well was a rep for Invisible Fence, which works on the same principle as the collars, but she seemed to stay out of the fray.
The world of dog training is an interesting one where there are many camps and battlegrounds, with trainers — some well trained themselves and others not — having differing and sometimes diametrically opposed views on how to handle woman’s best friend.

Use treats or not? Alpha roll your dog or not? Clickers? Prong collars? Head halters? You name it and there are varying views on techniques and tools to use.

Enter the e-collar, as proponents call them, or shock collars for those opposed, which can be found online or in many pet stores.

The collars are used to deter barking or remotely give corrections or get the dog’s attention by sending an electronic zap — my word — from the handheld controller through to the collar.

The level of the electronic tap is set by the person with the remote. I’m told the collars used by trainers are much more nuanced and can be set very low while the ones in pet stores don’t offer the same choices.

I took Sinden up on her offer and placed a collar, the type used by trainers, on my wrist to see what it felt like. I started off at 10 (out of 100) and didn’t feel much and slowly worked my way to 30 where it wasn’t unbearable but it also wasn’t pleasant.

I was told later that trainers would never dial it up to 30, which then begs the question why do the gizmos go up to level 100 or higher?

Opponents like Sinden believe the tool is cruel at any level, especially in the hands of an inexperienced dog owner.

Lapierre, on the other hand, says used properly the collars are not painful for your pet.

“I think it’s a wonderful tool that’s really misunderstood because most people think it’s a punishment tool, but that’s not how we use it,” he said Saturday.

Lapierre says the collar is instead meant to be a “tap on the shoulder, saying ‘hey, pay attention to me.’

“They’re taught, ’when you feel this sensation, come to me.’ I don’t actually teach with the e-collar. They learn all their obedience through positive re-enforcement.”

While Sinden and Lapierre disagree on the use of the collars, one thing they do agree on is that they should not be sold in pet stores.

Along with stores selling an inferior product, the trainer said the collars should not be in the hands of folks who don’t know what they’re doing.

Like journalists inclined to crank it to 30.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Halifax Magazine features article on dog friendliness in the HRM

I was really happy to see that "Halifax Magazine" currently has a cover story about dog friendliness in the HRM.

I remember the author interviewing me for the story, but I didn't think it was going to be a cover story - I am really happy that they put such a priority on the subject matter - it shows how important the topic has become here locally.

As to my shutting down the Charlie Loves Halifax website, I'm thinking it might be a temporary thing - I was at a dog function this past Saturday with Tia - and it turns out she's hugely dog friendly and had a great time there - so I may have a new "going out to town" dog in her - she may be my new Charlie.  I thought those days were long past - but I may be able to go places with her - and that is a very good thing!

Here is the article from Halifax Magazine -

Pet projects

Halifax now has its first 24-hour veterinarian clinic, part of a wave of businesses and municipal services focusing more on pet owners

By Jon Tattrie | June 12, 2015
Halifax now has its first 24-hour veterinarian clinic, part of a wave of businesses and municipal services focusing more on the city’s pet owners.

But what about the shortage of public garbage cans to dump your dog’s poop in? And, even worse, what about those few trashcans we have overflowing with neatly tied stink bombs sweltering on hot summer days?

First, to the new round-the-clock clinic. It’s called 4 Paws 24-Hour Veterinary Hospital and it’s located on Lady Hammond Road in Halifax’s North End. As owner Dr. Emma Slater points out, it’s actually the first and only such clinic in all of Nova Scotia.

“I’ve been a vet in the city for about 10 years and I’ve dealt with client frustrations over the limited options for overnight care for pets that we had before we opened,” she says. “I’ve dealt with being the one who did the surgery at nine o’clock at night, and then the pet has to be moved right after the surgery practice over to the emergency hospital in Burnside.”

That would be the Metro Animal Emergency Clinic, which opened in 1997. It improved options for pet owners, as they didn’t have to take their pets home overnight. It’s run by a group of vets and offers round-the-clock emergency pet care when your regular vet is closed. The downside is that pets get shuttled back and forth from their regular vet clinic to the emergency facility.

Slater’s 4 Paws treats the hurting animals and keeps them in the same facility during recovery. “It’s a service that’s available in most of the other major cities in Canada,” she says. “We just didn’t have one here. I thought there was a real need for it.”

Slater also does house calls, like many other vets. She delivers home care daily in a customized minivan stocked with equipment.
“I think frustrations with the existing system have been there the whole 10 years I’ve been practicing in the city,” she says. After 10 years, she’d built up a client base and reputation that she hopes will sustain the new venture.

Slater owns three dogs, one cat, five chickens, a gecko and a well-populated fish tank. An animal lover herself, she’s seen a cultural change from her professional and personal perspective.

“There’s definitely been a shift in the last 15, 20 years in how we perceive pets,” she says. “A lot of us consider pets to be family members now and so the demand is there for better and more accessible pet care. We put a lot more thought into how our pets are feeling and how their lives could be improved compared to what was normal 30 years ago.”

If you’ve searched online for pet-friendly places in Halifax over the last decade, you’ve probably landed on the treasure chest of resources that is CharlieLovesHalifax.ca. It shared information on what shops catered to what pets, connected you to pet groups in your part of the city, and listed pet-friendly parks.

The website has drawn more than one million hits since its 2002 launch, but then it went dark this spring. Joan Sinden ran the whole thing for fun. In the disclaimer at the bottom of pages, she notes that it’s “the opinion and beliefs of one person. If you believe them to be anything more than that, you have been misinformed and given me an importance anyone would lust after, but I certainly do not covet.”

It’s a reflection of how big the site became; people assumed it was created by an official organization of some kind. But it was the work of one woman, dedicated to her dog, Charlie, and their mutual love of Halifax.

Charlie died in 2011. Sinden’s five new dogs are all rescues and aren’t friendly with other dogs. “I can’t really go on adventures with them,” she says. “It made it difficult to keep the site up to date.”

So after 12 years, she let it go. Sort of. The old site still lives online, offering many resources for searching pet owners.

She’s seen the city become more pet friendly over the years. “We have legislation in place now that helps dogs a lot more and people in general are more pet friendly,” she says. “There’s really a niche community that caters to dogs. There are a lot more doggy daycares and groomers, things like that.”

More stores invite dogs inside and leave bowls of water out for passing pets. Sinden says that’s smart for business, because pets bring owners eager to spend. Many storeowners sought her out to spread the word that they were pet friendly.

She’s seen Facebook pages take on some of the work of sharing pet-friendly tips in the city, but they tend to be fragmented communities. Plus, Facebook doesn’t turn up much in online searches, so you have to know which groups to join. She’s seen other websites start up, try to make a profit, and then flop. Her hobby outlasted them all.

Sinden still runs Dogkisser.blogspot.ca, updating people on legal changes, plans for pet-friendly parks, and warning people about bad pet dealers selling animals online.

Halifax looked headed for a classic Dog People vs. The Others showdown in late 2014, as the decades-long battle over Seaview Park (now Africville Park) snarled to a conclusion. The park got a replica Africville church, and school groups and visitors were often heading into one of the city’s best-loved off-leash dog parks. The site’s dual identity as an important cultural location clashed with its identity as a beautiful and popular off-leash park.

Get Haligonians talking about race and dogs, and conflict seems inevitable.

“There was a lot of concern about the impact of the potential closure on the part of dog owners,” says Jennifer Watts, the Councillor whose District 8 includes the park. “The motion [to close it] that came forward at Council clearly signalled that this was important for the African Nova Scotian community.”

Instead of conflict, most people were reasonable and Halifax found a solution that improved life for most people concerned about the park’s future. Watts says the dog owner community and the Africville community got together, explained their concerns to each other, and sought a common way forward. Council voted to make Africville a leashed park, but to first open a new park in a more suitable location.

On January 1, Africville became a leashed park, and a spiffy new off-leash space opened at the Halifax Mainland Common in Clayton Park. The city plans to add wooded trails to the new site.

Watts thinks she knows how we avoided a painful confrontation over the park. “One, there was clear affirmation and direction from Council about the decommissioning [of Africville Park],” she says. “Two, people spoke with one another and talked about what they wanted and what they hoped would happen. I think that really helped the communities. It wasn’t us versus them. We can understand one another’s positions.”

Watts says Halifax hasn’t historically supported off-leash dog parks, but plans to now. First up is finding a new home for the small fenced-in park used by service dogs for visually impaired people. The North Park-Cogswell Street dog run must move to make way for the roundabout, and the city is looking for a new location.

Anyone who’s tried to figure out when and where they can walk their dog off leash at Point Pleasant Park will be familiar with the tangled array of rules about park usage. Council knows this can be confusing, Watts says, and is seeking better sharing arrangements.

In general, the city is looking at having more “pocket parks” in the downtown area, complemented by bigger parks further out where land is available.

Oh, and about that shortage of public garbage cans for dumping dogs’ dumps? Watts says it’s about money. “For every can that goes up, it has to be serviced on a regular basis,” she says. “If people are using them to constantly drop off dog feces in the summer, they begin to smell.”

One of her constituents runs a convenience store, and people stuff the trashcan out front full of dog poop. “It’s been overflowing with dog feces on hot days, and we just cannot service that every day,” she says. “Take your dog feces home with you and dispose of it. That may not be popular, but I think people need to.”

If Halifax navigated dog lovers versus Africville, surely we can handle trashcans.

Lacking a central website or Facebook group, pet lovers in Halifax tend to congregate around pet businesses. Planetpaws.ca focuses on healthy pet food, and their Facebook group (Planet Paws Pet Essentials) regularly posts pet news.

The Canine Agility Association of Nova Scotia (CAANS.ca) deals in dog obedience, and connects its 80-plus members to the wider dog owner community.

Sublime Canine Services offers obedience, life skills and private training. Jollytails dog daycare (Jollytails.ca) runs a pet store, daycare, training, grooming and more, and regularly posts to its Facebook page.

The Greyhound Pets of Atlantic Canada boasts 1,400 members on its Facebook page and while obviously focusing on greyhounds, its members also update pet owners on local sales and events.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The history of dog advocacy in Nova Scotia

Sit back, this is going to be a long one.

Chandler and Piper - 2 superstars from Seaview Park - many years ago 

I'm going to talk about the history of dog advocacy here in Nova Scotia going back almost 20 years - where we started, and how we've come to where we are now - and where we hopefully are headed in the future.

Almost 20 years ago - prior to 2002 - the Nova Scotia SPCA was killing more than 50% of the animals they took in, and they did it in a very inhumane way - they used a gas chamber to kill the animals - which didn't kill animals quickly - it was a slow painful process that is not only awful for the animals, it's very hard for the staff to watch.

In 2002 a new management took over the at provincial level - and at the Dartmouth SPCA at least - the gas chamber was decommissioned and things began to change - we'll talk about the Cape Breton SPCA later. Adoption rates started to rise, and things began to look better - animal advocacy in Nova Scotia started to look up it seemed.

Daisy, a very special rottweiller

It was around this time that dog owners around the province - and generally everywhere across North America - started to become more savvy politically - more dog magazines like Bark Magazine started to spring up, and we started to talk with our tax dollars - the terms "breed specific legislation" and "dog friendly" started to become household terms - "puppy mills" and "puppy brokers" entered the vernacular and normal dog owners started to understand what all these terms meant - not just crazy dog people became involved in the dog friendly movement.

Spring ahead to 2004 - and New Brunswick's legislature talks about passing province wide breed specific legislation - luckily they don't pass it after much conversation with the province's population - but in 2005 - Ontario - much to the displeasure of everyone across the country and many experts - DOES pass BSL - that still exists to today.

Zeus and Sandy from Guysborough

Also in 2004 - a fight was brewing in the municipality of the district of Guysborough - a pit bull by the name of Zeus, was under attack by the municipality - the warden, Lloyd Hines wanted him dead - and there was a 2 year fight - but in December 2006 - Justice Stroud deemed the BSL in Guysborough as being "vague and over-reaching" - and Zeus was able to live out his days in peace - much to the displeasure of Mr. Hines. Hines would later try to bring this same law to all of Nova Scotia.

That brings us to 2006 here in Nova Scotia - when a small article appears in the Chronicle Herald - "Municipalities ponder dog breed bans" - the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities had struck a committee to look at the issue of banning certain breeds of dogs province wide. In 2008 it started working it's way through the legislature and it ALMOST passed - it was called "Bill 138" - we almost had province wide breed specific legislation here in Nova Scotia - except that it was caught in time by the dog advocacy community here in the province and it never passed. We REALLY dodged a bullet here - all you people who currently own pit bulls here in the province - you are SO LUCKY, you have no idea.

We DO have BSL in several pockets though - Richmond County, the district of the Municipality of Guysborough, Digby, the municipality of the District of Antigonigh, and a couple of other places in the province - DO have BSL - and it is also written into our Municipal Government Act - so if any municipality or town in Nova Scotia wanted to very easily write it into their bylaws - they COULD. Anyplace in Nova Scotia, with very little discussion - could have BSL written into their bylaws very quickly. I hope everyone who owns a targetted breed realizes that.  This is a conversation we need to continue to be talking about.

I have talked on this blog over and over about this fact - that the BSL needs to be removed from the Municipal Government Act - but no one seems to listen to me about this. But anyway.

The history of dog advocacy in Nova Scotia can't be talked about without talking about the Celtic Pets scandal at the beginning of 2008 - it almost brought the end of the Nova Scotia SPCA because of the corruption that was happening at the very top of the organization.

Jack - mine and Netta Armitage's Celtic Pets dog

They allowed a corrupt rescue group to continue to abuse animals in their care for years and did nothing about it - Celtic Pets rescue in Cape Breton - the mother of the head of that rescue was a Special Constable with the Nova Scotia SPCA, and an animal hoarder herself and the people at the top of the NS SPCA turned a complete blind eye to everything that was going on because that was what was convenient for them.

 Zeus - who was abandoned in a cage for 3 years by Zonda MacIsaac - and then loved unconditionally by his Dad Blaine for the best years of his life

They were complicit in the abuse that was going on - and ultimately it led to the end of their involvement with the organization, the complete crash of the NS SPCA - and a rise from the ashes for the organization with a whole new group of people who were committed to bringing the once well respected SPCA back to where it once was - which is what they ultimately did.

The Nova Scotia SPCA today is a shadow of what it once was - in 2008 it was corrupt beyond belief, with a lot of it's donation dollars being paid to lawyers fees and vehicles for board members - today it is an organization that seems to truly being doing what it is mandated to do - protect the animals of Nova Scotia, and it has taken a lot of work by dedicated individuals along the way - all of them unpaid volunteers to make it the group it is today - one that Nova Scotia can finally be proud of.

It has made Nova Scotia a "no kill" province - not a moniker that many provinces in Canada can claim - and one that we should continue to work toward - insisting that all of our Animal Control departments across the province pick up this pledge as well - the Halifax Regional Municipality's Animal Control pound - Homeward Bound City Pound is "no kill" - so there's no reason why every other pound in the province can't be no kill as well.

It was in 2006 that Kjiji came to Canada - and dog activists immediately saw the danger of people being able to give away or sell animals online - we pled with the company that ran the service not to allow for the sale of animals on their website - but we were ignored - soon, we and everyone else saw how people like Gail Benoit used the service - and today, just about everyone in Nova Scotia knows the name "Gail Benoit" - and who she is and what she does.

And that's a good thing.

Ms Benoit at her best

And today, it's pretty hard to sell a diseased and dying dog on Kijiji anymore - you have to go through some pretty good hoops to sell a dog on Kijiji now, you have to use a credit card, and there's a paper trail - so for people like Gail Benoit - it's almost not worth it anymore - but for rescue's - Kijiji has become a pretty good platform - and that's a good thing too.

In 2010 The Nova Scotia Veterinary Medical Association got involved in a big way with the dog advocacy movement when they banned docking and cropping within their organization in Nova Scotia - totally pissing off the purebred dog community, but making the dog people who are into natural looking dogs very happy. They weren't the first Veterinary Medical Association in Canada to do this - and hopefully they won't be the last.

In response to the start of Kijiji - in 2006 "Advocates for Responsible Pet Ownership" was formed - a grass roots group of dog owners across the province dedicated towards attaining a dog friendly Nova Scotia and educating pet owners about the best places to acquire their pets - and lobbying government to end the sale of pets in pet stores.

I think the group achieved just about all the aims we set out to do because around 2011-2012 pet stores in Nova Scotia voluntarily stopped selling pets in their stores - it was a big win for the dog advocacy community - and it was long fought for - we had many protests in front of their stores and educated a lot of people in the process - and the pet stores listened to their customers.

Nobody can forget in 2010 when a guard dog froze to death in Cape Breton - and nothing was done to change things for chained dogs in this province - that was the start of a long road that has led to a paradigm shift for dogs today.

Since then, advocacy and dog politics has done nothing but continue to raise awareness in Nova Scotia - around 2010 the issue of chained dogs and tethering raised to the top of consciousness in our province - and with a lot of hard work, and with the cooperation of the government of Nova Scotia - because it is the right thing to do - in December of 2014 - legislation was passed that makes it illegal now to tether your dog for longer than 12 hours in Nova Scotia - and there are a host of regulations around letting your dog live outside now. Another huge win for dog politics in Nova Scotia.

Good things continue to happen for dogs in Nova Scotia.

It is also illegal to leave your dog in a hot (or cold) car, illegal to put them in the back of your open truck, and illegal to not get them groomed properly.

And talking about paradigm shifts - through the hard work of a couple of dedicated people - there are a lot less stray dogs in Nova Scotia now - through the work of the Nova Scotia Lost Dog Network - dogs are no longer considered stray - they are now considered lost - and literally thousands of dogs have found their way home because of that network, and their lives have been saved because of it.  This is something for our province to be hugely proud of - we are leading the continent in this movement.

As for the Nova Scotia SPCA - in Cape Breton - things are going fabulous down there - up until a couple years ago - the gas chamber was still being used there - it is no longer being used. 75% of their animals were still dying there - they are now no kill now - thanks to a transfer system that sees a lot of their animals coming to the HRM where animals are adopted quickly from here where they might languish in a cage down there. They have also recently opened a low cost spay and neuter clinic down there which will see unwanted litters diminish their overall animal population over time - things are looking great in Cape Breton thanks to the NS SPCA now. And for decades things looked very bleak there.

So what is next for dog advocacy in Nova Scotia? We have so many things that other parts of North America can only dream about - we don't have heart worm here, we don't have rabies - we are already no kill, our vets don't crop or dock our dogs, our pet stores don't sell puppies, our dogs are allowed at all parks on leash, and we don't have any public space bans in any of our towns - and we do have some BSL around the province - but we will continue to work at that - so things sound to be quite ideal, don't they?

There are some things we can continue to work at if we want to have only positive experiences for all dogs in Nova Scotia - and that is to lobby government to ban the use of punitive and aversive training devices like prong and shock collars - they have been banned in other countries like Wales - and in Quebec - so the time has come to start working on that here in Nova Scotia.

We have - as a group of committed, objective, loving - tax paying, dog owners - gotten so much done in the last 15 years for our dogs here in Nova Scotia - that this is the next natural step - to have these abusive devices removed from the collars of all dogs in Nova Scotia - it is diametrically opposed to everything that we as Nova Scotians stand for.

If you go to a pet store and see a display of shock collars there - talk to the people in the store and tell them you won't shop in their store anymore if they continue to stock these devices - it worked for puppies - they'll realize that they aren't making enough money from the collars to make up for what they're losing in sales from the rest of the store and stop selling them.

Don't seek out trainers who use shock collars as part of their "balanced training" of your dogs - there are SO MANY other dog trainers in our province who successfully train dogs with other methods. It's completely unneccesary today. These trainers say that dogs would be dead if it weren't for them - that is just not true - aggression can be treated positively, and if shock collars aren't used correctly - it makes aggressive dogs even worse.

I hope you will agree and work towards having shock collars banned here in Nova Scotia.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Standing up to shock collars

I remember a few years ago pet stores in Nova Scotia used to sell puppies. Pet owners and animal advocates in the province worked really hard to make a change - and do you know what? Pet stores stopped selling puppies - they realized it jeapordized their bottom line - they were not making money in other areas of their store, and they weren't making enough from puppies to make up for the losses - so they stopped selling puppies. And we won. It was wonderful. It was a great accomplishment.

Now we need to step up for something else. We need pet stores to stop selling shock collars, and we also need them to stop giving free advertising to shock collar trainers. As an aside - we also need veterinary clinics to offer free advertisements to shock collar trainers, but I'll talk about that at the end of this post.

If you don't know a lot about shock collars - they are also called "E-collars", "electronic collars" - they are also the collars that are used as part of containment systems used for "Invisible Fences" and electric fences for your property.

They can give a short sharp "ding", or they can give a continuous "shock", and some collars can also give what the literature calls an option called "vibrate" - which is supposed to be a different sensation from a "shock".

Shock collar trainers and afficanados of the devices are in love with them because they say they can train dogs "remotely" - from "a distance" - which you can't do with any other training device - you can be up to 300 feet away from your dog and tell them what you want them to do with a shock collar.

There are 2 different kinds of shock collars you can buy - the type you buy in a pet store that generally has a gauge that goes from 1-5 and the type that shock collar trainers use - and you can also buy online - who's strength goes from 1-120 - so the shocks can vary a lot more.

The types that you buy in a pet store are really highly inhumane - I have had a shock collar trainer tell me that if I want to complain about something - complain about the shock collar sold in pet stores - if you put one of those on yourself and set it to "1" - you are going to give yourself a hell of a shock - whereas if you put one of the shock collars that go from 1-120 - set at "1" - you can't even feel it - when I put the 1-120 on me, I didn't feel it until I got to about 7 or 8.

The thing about shock collars is though - I respect dog trainers when I see them successfully train dogs using positive methods - and dog trainers who use positive methods to successfully train dogs say the following about dogs who have been trained using shock collars -

They say that using methods like shock collars doesn't fix the negative behaviours that have flagged the dog as needing behaviour modification - ie aggressiveness, fearful behaviour, ect., - all it does is suppress the behaviour - it teaches the dog that if they do the negative behaviour that they are going to get this serious pain happen to their neck area that radiates throughout their entire body - so they better stop that behaviour right now. It doesn't teach them alternative behaviours, it doesn't teach them the correct way to do behvaiours - it only teaches them to suppress that bad behaviour in order to make that awful pain stop right now.

So that is the problem with shock collars - as well as prong collars and any other kind of repressive dog training that people use.

You don't get a happy, healthy, well socialized dog - you get a dog that is a ticking time bomb.

So having said all of that - shock collars sold in pet stores is something that needs to be stopped - they don't need to be sold in pet stores - just like puppies didn't need to be sold in pet stores - and we need to tell pet store owners that by talking to the people who work in those stores and saying we won't shop in their stores as long as they are selling these highly abusive appliances.

As well - most pet stores have a section where local businesses can put business cards and advertise for free - and local shock collar trainers have put their business cards there - the two local businesses you have to watch for are "Mangodogs" and "Unleashed Potential" - when you see those cards in pet stores advertising - you have to tell the pet store that as long as those cards are advertising in their store - you CANNOT shop in their store.

I have shopped at Global Pets at Bayers Lake for many years - it was always a safe place to shop - they did not sell shock collars - so it was a good place to shop - but about a month ago I noticed that they had business cards there for both Mangodogs and Unleashed Potential - and I brought it up to staff there and said I could not shop there anymore if they continued to stock their cards - and they refused to take away their cards - so I will NOT shop there anymore as long as they stock their business cards.

Almost all pet stores locally still sell shock collars - Pet Valu, Petsmart, Pet's Unlimited, Walmart, Canadian Tire - they all sell shock collars - basically the only places that do not sell shock collars that sell pet supplies are your local groomer, Jollytails in Halifax, B&R Pet Supplies in Waverly, Petsuff on the Go in Dartmouth, Best Friends Pet Supplies in Tantallon and Clayton Park, and your vet's office.

But watch out for vet's offices - a lot of them have business cards for the 2 shock collar trainers - but please alert staff at the vet's offices if you see them - a lot of vet's don't even know they are there, and when they are alerted that they are in their reception area - they will remove them, because they are as much against shock collars as we are.

So please - let your local pet stores know that you do not support shock collars and you want to see them removed from your pet stores - or you will stop shopping there - your money is going to make all the difference and will get shock collars removed from the shelves.

If you want to see what a shock collar really feels like - I will be demonstrating them on anyone who wants to feel them at the Victoria Barks – Dogs in the Park event being held July 4th from 10am to 2pm in Victoria park - which is on the corner of South Park Street and Spring Garden Road in Halifax. If you want to see what a pet store shock collar or a shock collar trainer shock collar feels like - I will have both of them available to try out.

Full Circle Vet to offer Ovary Sparing Spays and Vasectomy Neuters

Full Circle Veterinary Alternatives - located in Dartmouth, NS - the first alternative (vet to offer Integrative) veterinary medicine in the Halifax Regional Municipality - is now the first veterinary practice to offer spaying and neutering alternatives that don't completely remove the reproductive organs of our companion animals.

It's a very interesting idea - it's just something we've always taken for granted - that when you get your animal "fixed" - they get everything taken out - now we'll have an alternative - and maybe healthier alternative - that might make our companion animals live a longer, healthier life.

My Buttercup is going to be TWENTY ONE years old August 17th - a little over a month and a half away - I got her when s he was nine years old - and for the first nine years of her life she had her ovaries and uterus - she wasn't spayed until I got her - who's to say that she has lived this long a life because she kept her ovaries for a such a good chunk of her life? Maybe if she would have been spayed at 6 months like most dogs - I would have lost her a long time ago like most dogs do - not very many dogs live to be 21 years old - but Buttercup has - maybe it's because she was spayed so late in life?

They say that the regular spay and neuter is a better way to go because it reduces the changes of ovarian cancer and testicular cancer to zero percent - but what other cancers does it raise a huge amount of percent?

In humans when you have your ovaries removed you have to go on hormones for the rest of your life - why don't female dogs have to go on hormones? Maybe that's why there's so much hip dysplasia and other bone problems in dogs now?

I think if I ever got a new dog who needed to be spayed or neutered and they were my own personal dog - I think I might go this way. It just seems like the least invasive thing to do, and to me - that's always the best way to go - and kudos to Full Circle Vet for starting to offer this innovative procedure.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Movie "Max" Having an advance Screening in Halifax - June 22nd at Scotiabank Theatre - 7pm

There is a new movie about a war dog named Max and it looks really good - it's about a military dog who's handler dies in Apghanistan and somehow ends up coming home to the US to live with his handlers family and the only person who can handle him is the family's teenager - who doesn't want to have anything to do with him - but ultimately they save each other - it's a heartwarming tale of redemption and love

There is an advanced screening going on at the Bayer's Lake location Monday June 22nd at 7pm at the Bayer's Lake Cinema - Scotabank Theatre if you are interested - with the film opening in theatres June 26th!

Max The Movie

Port Hawkesbury's Dog Bylaw makes me Itchy

There was an article in the Chronicle Herald this week about how Port Hawkesbury may be getting a new dog park - which is fabulous, but it mentioned that their dog bylaw was recently rewritten, so I went and had a look at it - and it did not make me feel good inside.

It had all the usual things that a badly written dog bylaw has - that it is illegal to keep a dog for dog fighting purposes - which is silly to have in a bylaw - because that is covered in federal anti-cruelty laws, and that a dog can be killed on the spot for simply running at large - but it also has something that you don't see in most dog bylaws in Nova Scotia:

34. This bylaw may be enforced, at the discretion of the Town of Port Hawkesbury:
a:) in accordance with the procedures set out in the Municipal Government Act;

This really worries me - because the Port Hawkesbury dog bylaw up until this point does not mention breed specific legislation - but the Municipal Government Act - STILL does have breed specific legislation in it - it says -

175 (1) Without limiting the generality of Section 172, a council may make by-laws
(e) defining fierce or dangerous dogs, including defining them by breed, cross-breed, partial breed or type;

All around Port Hawkesbury - there is BSL - Richmond County, Guysborough County, the district of the Municipality of Antigonish - there is BSL - it really worries me that they would have this line in their dog bylaw.

If I was an owner of a targeted breed in Port Hawkesbury - I would be worried.

I would also be worried if my dog tended to like to go for walkabouts - that my dog would be killed for doing that - which he SHOULDN'T be.

Here is their dog bylaw if you are interested in reading it - http://www.townofporthawkesbury.ca/sites/default/files/DogBylaw_Apr10_2013.pdf - it's not a particularly good one.

Here is the Chronicle Herald article that got me started:

Port Hawkesbury sniffing out dog park site

Port Hawkesbury is going to the dogs.

Following a revamping of the town’s animal control bylaw a few years ago, several pet owners complained of having no place to take their furry friends.

With the goal of creating a dog-friendly space, a group of residents later formed a committee to build an off-leash park that would be the first of its kind in the municipality.

“We had a council meeting the other night and we have to look at two or three options for location,” said Mayor Billy Joe MacLean. “So they’re doing that as we speak.”

MacLean said members of the Port Hawkesbury Dog Park are now fundraising to support the ongoing project.

He said town will make a financial contribution, although the exact amount has not yet been decided.

“There’s full support on council for a dog park,” said MacLean. “It was unanimous, it’s just the location that’s in question.”

According to Port Hawkesbury’s amended bylaw, town employees may impound any dog that runs at large, is not wearing a tag, is not registered, is fierce or dangerous, is rabid or appears rabid, or persistently disturbs the quiet of the neighbourhood.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

This is a statistic I can get behind - pets outnumber Children in Brazil

I wonder what's going on in Brazil - in a report released this week - there are more pet dogs in Brazil than there are children.

"There are 52.2 million pet dogs in Brazil, while the number of children aged 0 to 14 is 44.9 million, which indicates a margin of over 7 million numerically, reported Brazil's G1 news website."

That doesn't mean that the dogs are treated well, or that the dogs have a good life - it just means that "Some 44.3 percent of Brazilian households have at least one dog, with each household having 1.8 dogs on average."

Rabies vaccinations are mandatory in Brazil - and last year, only 75% of dog owners got their animals vaccinated - but really, I'd say that's a pretty good percentage if you look at things in total.

I wonder if the population of Canada had a 1.8 dogs per household average of dog ownership in this country if the dog agenda would be more on the mind of the political agenda? I can't help but believe that it would be!


Thursday, May 14, 2015

We should have this here - "Off Leash Ambassador Program'

There is a program out west in cities like Ottawa, Nanaimo, Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, and Saskatoon - just to name a few, that is being tried out - called the "Off Leash Ambassador Program" - that sounds like a really good idea.

Dog owners are being trained so that when they walk their own dogs in off leash areas of the city that if they see other dog owners not being perfect canine dog owning citizens, they can gently urge or offer an alternate way for those dog owners to act so that our off leash spaces become a better place for everybody.

The city of Edmonton describes it this way -

What are an Ambassador's goals?
- Create a positive culture of community at your off leash area
- Open lines of communication to promptly address actual or perceived problems
- Help monitor interactions between dogs, and between dogs and people
- Encourage users to practice responsible dog ownership principles

What does an Ambassador do?
- No hourly commitment – volunteer as often as you like
- Orientation and safety training included
- Monitor sanitation by coaching others to pick up after their dogs
- Support and coordinate occasional clean ups of site
- Monitor signage and bulletin boards where applicable
- Post appropriate notices

You are not bylaw enforcement - you are only there for information, and it's a subtle form of public education

It all sounds good to me - I think our local off leash parks could use a program like this - in other cities it is instigated and maintained by the local Animal Control departments - so it's the city officials who pay for training and maintenance of the program - so I guess it happening here in the HRM is pretty slim - but it would be nice if something like this did happen here!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Dogs Kisses are good for you

Researchers at the University of Arizona are finding out if kissing your dog is actually good for your health.

They are holding a study with people over 50 to test if kissing your dog adds good bacteria to your gut like yogurt does - adding good probiotics to your stomach - and therefore is actually good for your health.

It's something that real dog lovers have known for a long time.

In addition to that they are testing at the same time during this study the emotional as well as physical well being of the humans to see if living with a dog has improved and given any evidence of change in both the dogs' and the humans overall health and well being.

It's all part of the "Human Animal Interaction Research Initiative" that sounds pretty interesting -
"Understanding and promoting the health and wellbeing of both human and non-human animals in symbiotic relationships through research, education and outreach."
They are currently raising funds to actually start the research - so if you want to help this along - go to http://www.uadogstudy.org/ 

Saturday, April 4, 2015

All the dogs, Easter Weekend 2015

Here is Pepsi, not sure what that big black thing is in my hand - I haven't really taken any pictures since he arrived back here in the house this past December

And this is Tia - who just arrived in January - isn't she the cutest thing ever?

Here is Sidney doing something he loves - hiding under pillows

And here is Bubby doing something he loves - barking at the tv!

Buttercup trying to convince me to give her a treat

A short conversation between Sidney and Buttercup

Buttercup ignoring me

Me getting what I love best - kisses!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Today was a good day for animal welfare in Nova Scotia

Today was a good day for animal welfare in Nova Scotia - new regulations came into effect - along with summary offence fines - that give the people who have the power to protect animals in our province "add bite to their words" as CEO of the Nova Scotia SPCA said today.

As of December 2nd you can't tie your dog out 24/7 anymore - you can only tie them out for no longer than 12 hours at a time, you have to pay attention to whether or not they have food and water or be subject to a $406.45 fine without being charged with cruelty at all - if a special constable comes to your house and finds that your dog (or cat) is being kept in inadequate space, in unsanitary conditions or inadequate conditions or without opporunity for exercise - they can issue you a ticket for $406.45 on the spot.

If you leave your animal in an unattended motor vehicle in conditions that could cause distress you can be issued a ticket for $693.95 on the spot.

You can read the regulations that have been put into place here - http://novascotia.ca/just/regulations/regs/182-2014.pdf

These 2 pictures are the list of summary offence tickets that are available to special constables and police officers across the province now to give to pet owners who are contravening the Animal Protection Act.

They have also targetted puppy mills and dog brokers by requiring that every animal that is sold in Nova Scotia have a Veterinary certificate signed and filled out by a veterinarian - which will be a big hassle for large scale breeders and dog brokers. You can find that form on page 9 of the Regulations.

So it's all good - Nova Scotia is now leading the country in animal protection legislation, and the important thing is - the government is excited about it. They are really into this and are paying attention to it. That is really great - that our government really does seem to care about our companion animals. I hope it continues, and I think it will, as long as we as a community are loud and speak with the same voice that this is a topic that is really important to us.

So keep speaking up when you see something you don't agree with - because the animals continue to need you to speak for them.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Public Meeting for Off-Leash Dog Park - Thursday October 30, 2014

I know this is short notice - but the city is putting on a public meeting regarding a proposed off leash park in Halifax tomorrow night at the Halifax Forum if you want to have your voice heard - here is the press release they put out -

Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014 (Halifax, NS) – Residents are invited to attend a public consultation session on Thursday, Oct. 30, to discuss a proposed fenced-in off-leash dog park at the Halifax Mainland Common to replace the off-leash area at Africville Park.

Regional Council voted on June 24 to close the off-leash area at Africville Park as soon as a new site is identified and opened. Until that happens, the current site at Africville Park will remain an off-leash area. Councillors have asked that the new park be in place by the end of 2014.

At its Oct. 21 meeting, Council approved a staff recommendation to hold community consultation on a proposed fenced-in off-leash site southwest of the artificial turf fields at the Mainland Common. A photo of the proposed site is attached here and available online at http://www.halifax.ca/property/OLPS/index.php.

Residents can provide feedback at the public consultation session, which will be held from 6-9 p.m. on Oct. 30, at the Halifax Forum, 6209 Almon St., in the Maritime Hall building. For those unable to attend, feedback can be sent to Holly Richardson in Parks & Recreation at richarh@halifax.ca.

For more information on municipal off-leash areas and the Off-Leash Parks Strategy, please visit http://www.halifax.ca/property/OLPS/index.php.

So if you want to stay up to date on whats going on - you should show up!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Elderdog's Dignity Project

Buttercup and I were so happy to take part in their "Dignity" project recently - "a visual exploration of the dignity, grace and beauty of the senior canine" - they allowed Buttercup to be part of the project - and yesterday they released one of the photos they took you can go check what they say about the picture on Facebook - or on Elderdogs website at http://www.elderdog.ca/Education/TheDignityProject.aspx - it was taken by noted local photographer Robert MacLellan

I am so lucky that we got to be part of this project, thank you so much to Elderdog for letting us take part.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Amended Animal Protection Act Submitted to Legislature October 9, 2014

I know I'm getting to this late, but better late than never.

Last Thursday Minister Colwell submitted an amended Animal Protection Act to the Legislature that has 3 amendments to it that were added from the previous Animal Protection Act that has yet to be proclaimed by the Legislature - this has to be done before the regulations that we are all waiting to come into effect so that the anti-tethering portion can come into play.

The items that were added into the Act were that cats are now specicifically included in the Act - it will now become an offence to abandon an animal, Municipalities and others will have enforced powers under the Act, and a veterinarians certificate will now be needed for the sale of any cat.

Before the regulations can be passed by the Cabinet - this Act has to work its way through the government and be proclaimed - hopefully by November, and then the Minister said it will hopefully be a quick process that the regulations we've all been waiting for can be passed. It's the regulations - not the actual Act - that has the provisions for dogs not being tethered longer than 12 hours at a time - here are the "Draft Standards of Care" that the regulations will be based around, that we have all been waiting for - it will work in tandem with the Animal Protection Act as it is passed in the Legislature - I am interested to see how making it illegal to abandon an animal will play out - because just that happens so often and causes so much turmoil that will be a huge thing for the animals in Nova Scotia - it's a fabulous change that I applaud the government for doing.

Including cats too has been a historic thing for Nova Scotia - cats suffer so much - including them in the legislation shows how far we've come as a province when it comes to animal suffering, and how much the government has listened to the political groups in this province. Last week was a historic day for animal welfare in Nova Scotia, that's for sure.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Buttercup's life in Pictures

If you want to see the ultimate photo album of Buttercup's life in pictures - go to http://joansinden.ca/ and check out about 21 pages of photos that I've accumulated of Buttercup running around and having fun, I think it's pretty spectactular - there would have been a lot more pictures but unfortunately the free program that I used couldn't handle all the pictures I tried to download to it.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

This weekends HKC Kennel Club Show

I went to this weekends kennel club show - here is Shana Show with one of her little papillons who had just won best in breed

I went there specifically because something amazing has happened - mixed breed dogs can now compete in rally-o and obedience - so mixed breed dogs can now enter the building - the Halifax Kennel Club has been in existence for 70 years and has never allowed a mixed breed dog through it's doors - but this September for the first time, if you meet the qualifications - your mixed breed, neutered dog could come into the room to compete for obedience and walk amongst the hallowed halls of the Halifax Kennel Club - and that to me is a pardigm shift and really shows something is shifting in the purebred world.

Today when I was there watching the obedience trials - there were no mixed breed dogs competing - but it's only a matter of time before a dog applies and gets in through the doors - the time is coming when a neutered, mixed breed dog is in the room, and heads will turn when that day happens.

There were a lot of very cute purebred dogs there today, that's for sure - but those are not the only types of dogs in this world - I have a 20 year old dog that is still very healthy and she is a mixed breed dog, and I have 2 purebreed dogs that are both CKC registered and they both have a lot of problems

Every part of the dog world has its place in getting a dog - and the pure bred dog world has its place too - responsible dog breeding certainly has a place in the world in dog acquisition - you just have to be really careful when choosing a breeder - it's not like with rescue where you fall in love with a dog - getting a puppy is much less tangible.

In reality it's all a crap shoot either way - you are taking on an individual who is going to grow and change from day to day whether it's a puppy or adult so it's a lifetime committment whether you get a purebred or puppy - and I think it's fabulous that the CKC has recognized that mixed breed dogs do exist and are part of the fabric of Canadian life.

Other posts about previous vists HKC Kennel Club Shows







Friday, August 22, 2014

Starting to post again

I would like to start posting again to this blog

Mostly just pictures that I'm taking day to day but maybe also some dog politic stuff again but here's a couple pictures to start things out - Buttercup turned 20 last week and is going as strong as ever so she deserves to have her face out in the world and Bubby is just so photogenic it's ridiculous - let's see what we can come up with now that I have some time on my hands...

Thursday, August 21, 2014

What I learned from a year of rescuing chained dogs

My little dog Sassy and Ben

Since June of 2013 I ran No Chains All Love Dog Society - an organization that rescued and rehabilitated chained dogs in Nova Scotia - we rescued 40 dogs who had been chained their whole lives - some of them had been chained their whole lives and some of them had been just chained part time, and a few of them hadn't been chained at all - and we found them homes where they could live inside and become just normal dogs.

It was the hardest, and the easiest job you could imagine.

It was the hardest because of the humans - and it was the easiest because of the chained dogs - I have rescued a lot of dogs, and chained dogs for the most part have been the easiest dogs to rehome and rehabilitate. Especially the ones who have lived outside 24/7 - which is the opposite of what their reputation would have you believe, and is also the reason why it made the humans the hardest to deal with.

Everyone thought that rescuing chained dogs was a really noble, important thing to do - but no one wanted to help - no one wanted to foster a chained dog, no one wanted to actually help the rescue - but everyone thought it was a great idea.

Anyone who I asked to help with the rescue thought that any chained dog they brought into their home was going to "wreck their home" - would piss everywhere, tear their house apart when they went out - and no way would they have anything to do with that - because the dog had never been inside they thought the dog was going to be totally wild.

So no one - even seasoned rescuers - were willing to help.

And that couldn't have been further from the truth.


So because of that - of the 40 dogs I rescued - I ended up taking 22 of those 40 into my own home - I did have a few spectacular people volunteer to help out - but mostly it was shelters across Nova Scotia - the Lillian Albion Shelter, the Cape Breton SPCA, King's County SPCA, Doghouse Boarding and Daycare, - and Camp Bow Wow in Dartmouth - who fostered most of the dogs I took in - without them I couldn't have done what I did.

And what I learned from the 22 dogs that I took in is that chained dogs when they are thrown into the backyard - usually in puppyhood - is that whenever they are put out permanently - that's where they are frozen in time - so whenever you bring them back in - is what stage they come back in as - so a lot of time you are rescuing a 10 year old puppy, or a 5 year old puppy - so they are a JOY to rescue - who doesn't want to bring a puppy into your house?

Ace and my little dog Bubby

Statistics say that chained dogs are 2.8 time more likely to bite than dogs that aren't chained - but once you release them from their chains - they revert to what they were like before they were chained - so if they were put out at 8 months old - you get an 8 month old dog in your house - you get all the problems of an 8 month old dog - but you get all the wonderful things of an 8 months old dog.

As for pissing everywhere and wrecking your house - it is so untrue - I have had 22 dogs come through my house in the last year and it still looks exactly the same as it did a year ago - all my furniture is still intact - mostly!

Just a couple of minor things gnawed - and I come and go like a normal person does.


Chained dogs are very quick to house train - it's like they know that outside is where they're supposed to go to the washroom since outside is the only place they've ever used the washroom - so pissing everywhere is nonsense.

There are a couple things though in the last year that have gone awry that have made me decide that I can't continue to do chained dog rescue - and the most important thing is my own dogs - I just can't continue to put my own dogs through the constant stream of new animals coming through the door.


They have put up with so much I can't believe all that I have put them through. When I rescued dogs I didn't ask any questions - I didn't ask if the dog was dog aggressive, I didn't ask if he had had negative interactions with another dog - I just said "thank you very much for giving me your dog" - and put the dog in the car and drove him from their home to my home - and walked through the door and hoped very much and they didn't kill my dogs when we walked through the door - I was so lucky in the last year that none of the chained dogs were really dog aggressive and I didn't have any problems. I did have one really bad encounter with fostering a dog - but it was with another rescue when I had to do an emergency foster and it was over food aggression and I was really lucky my little dog Sassy - wasn't killed - that was the only negative interaction I had the whole year - with a dog from another rescue.

Tony with all my little dogs - Sassy in front, and Buttercup Bubby and Sidney in back

To put them through all these dogs in the last year I just can't put them through this anymore - it has changed them - they are little dogs - and it has taken so much time away from them too - I don't spend any time with them and little dogs need to be doted on, and I haven't done that - in the last week or so I haven't had a foster and I have really noticed a change in them - they are starting to play with each other again and it's so nice to see - I want to see more of that.

Recently one of my little dogs died - Sassy - and I really miss her, and it has really affected me - and I need to spend time with my remaining three dogs to get over that as well

So because of this, No Chains All Love is not going to rescue dogs anymore - it is just too hard for a one person organization to rescue chained dogs - there are still organizations out there rescuing chained dogs - Marley's Hope, Animal Rescue Coalitions, Litters n Critters - they are taking in chained dogs - and in the last year - the Nova Scotia SPCA has made a paradigm shift in the way they deal with chained dogs - what they have done has been absolutely amazing - they do not walk away from chained dogs anymore - and this fall - hopefully - new regulations are coming into effect that will give greater protection for chained dogs across Nova Scotia.


So hopefully it hasn't all gone to waste - and of course, 40 dogs now have homes that before had different homes that weren't quite so lovely. I put a lot of work into it, and hopefully the landscape changed a little bit - but I've got some other things in mind that I want to do - none quite so mind blowing as rescuing chained dogs of course, but at least my own dogs might get walked a little more often.

When I said this has been a one person rescue organization, that's of course not true - there have been other people helping me, and I am so grateful for everyone's help - one person that I couldn't have done this without their help is Caryl Gomes - she went with me when I went to pick up dogs, went with me to the vets, sat in the back seat after we rescued dogs and sang to them - was a true dog whisperer - did whatever was necessary to make the dogs happy and get us on our way to their happy new lives - without her I could not have done what I did.

Thank you to everyone who helped me in the last year - I really appreciate all the help that you gave, your little kindnesses have not been forgotten.

Monday, April 28, 2014

People for Stronger Animal Protection put on a rally in New Brunswick and tons of people come out to support them!

A small portion of the audience from my view at the podium

I was so lucky that I was invited this past Saturday to a rally in Fredericton for the group "People for Stronger Animal Protection"'s rally that they organized in front of the legislature in Fredericton - they had a lot of great speakers - the mayor of Moncton, MLA Pam Lynch, dog trainer Bill Grimmer - People for Dogs Scott Saunders, myself - and PFSAP's Rita Bier and Susan Henley also gave super speeches - they had tons of media there which was great to see and they really got their message across that animal abuse in New Brunswick isn't going to be tolerated anymore and legislation in the province has got to be changed so that animals won't have to suffer.

I'd like to thank the organizers for inviting me up - I had such a good time - it was an honour to be involved in the day!

I thought I'd put my speech here so I could put it out there what I said, such as it is - along with photos from the day - all the photos I took are available here - https://www.facebook.com/dogkisser/media_set?set=a.10152319685160546.1073741833.592875545&type=3&uploaded=20

The only place a dog house should be seen - as a prop at an animal rights rally

A couple of very cute frenchies telling us what they think of animal abuse!

A couple of the organizers Wendy and Susan

Here's my speech -

"When I was thinking about what I could talk about today I looked back at old blog posts that I’ve written on a blog that I have going back to 2003 - and it occurred to me that you guys here in New Brunswick should be proud of yourselves – when push comes to shove – you step up – back in 2004 your province was faced with the prospect of province wide breed specific legislation – maybe a lot of you remember that time – there were hearings held around the province – and guess what – you all won – you don’t have bsl in your province today.

In 2009 a kennel by the name of Chapman killed 175 dogs and no one noticed. Also in - In 2009 a man by the name of Keith Barton bludgeoned his Pomeranians to death – he killed all but one - a beautiful little creature named Sugar Bear – Mr Barton was found guilty of only count of cruelty to animals – but the animal lovers of New Brunswick came together to form something called “The Bark Campaign” – which I can’t help but think has led us to this rally today - to this huge group of animal loving New Brunswickers who are committed to making the world better for animals who can’t help themselves.

In Nova Scotia we are very close to having it in our laws that abandoning a pet will be illegal when our new regulations come into effect – hopefully in the fall – it will be illegal to abandon an animal in Nova Scotia. Here in New Brunswick your animal advocates don’t walk away from animals in distress – and that is something to be very proud of – you have many people here who are stepping up today, and have been for a long time – for all animals – and it has gotten us to this rally today - so that today – lots of people are listening and caring and wanting to make changes to the laws you’re currently living with so that the people who have the real power won’t be allowed to walk away from animals in distress, and basically abandoning that animal wherever it is.

The reason I’m here today is because of the anti-tethering movement – how it’s been brought to the forefront in the last year and the great strides we’ve made bringing it to people’s attention – and to the legislators attention too!

I run a rescue called No Chains all Love that since last July has taken in 35 dogs – 32 of which were permanently chained – some to dog houses, some to just trees with no shelter at all – but when all of them were unchained something magically happened – they became normal dogs. They didn’t become perfect dogs – you only have to look to your own dogs to know that a perfect dog does not exist – but these chained dogs – who statistics say are 2.8 times more likely to bite and are in the news for mauling children – have all just become normal pets when the chain is taken away. It’s a fact. We are proving that one dog at a time in Nova Scotia with no chains all love.

Tethered dogs deserve the same love and attention as any other dogs and it’s time that they get the same attention under the law as well.

Tethering gets to the core of cruelty to animals – dogs cannot escape from where they are at and they are at the mercy of everything – their owners, their environment, the weather, other passing loose dogs, wildlife – everything – that’s why it’s so heinous – and why it needs to be stopped – and it’s so simple to do – just bring the dog inside – and if you as the dog owner can’t do it – let the dog go.

What most moved the anti-tethering movement along in Nova Scotia was the people of Nova Scotia – the time had come and people were sick and tired of seeing the same dogs in their neighbourhood being neglected day after day after year after year – and started calling the SPCA over and over and over and over – and it has produced results - those dogs are now gone – the SPCA has in fact seized 100’s and 100’s of dogs in the last 9 months because people have started to believe in their own power – when they see nothing happen – they call again – and again – until something is done. And it’s working.

The agenda at the NS SPCA HAS changed – they DO seize chained dogs now who live in poor conditions even if they have food water and shelter – they will seize a dying dog even if he has water food and shelter – and that’s a paradigm shift – and it only happened because the people of Nova Scotia demanded it. And that’s a fabulous thing – People do have power.

It wouldn’t have happened though if we would have continued to allow the status quo – if we would have allowed to have dogs continue dying on their end of their chains – hopefully no more will, but I’d imagine we haven’t seen the last of it unfortunately – I hope not too many more have to die before we get our laws, and the enforcers of our laws doing things the right ways.

Here in New Brunswick you too have had enough of pet owners who are not willing to give their animals basic care – and that makes sense to me – because for as long as I’ve been watching the animal advocate community – this last 10 years – your province has been stepping up when you’ve needed to – and I know you will continue to do it until the job is done – the rest of Canada can only step back and watch.

Your time has come – and the government of New Brunswick should get it’s legislation in line with what it’s constituents beliefs are – let them hear what your voices are, and make them listen!"