Tuesday, May 3, 2016

This week is National Emergency Preparedness Week

After Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005 I became slightly obsessed with survivalism and how to "bug out" with me and the dogs if I ever needed to - especially after having gone through Hurricane Juan in 2004 - so I wrote a really long post about how to survive an emergency and what things to compile if we ever had an emergency here - it's got a lot of good stuff in it - so in honour of National Emergency Preparedness Week I thought I'd share it again so you and your pets could be safe and you don't have to leave them behind unnecessarily should a disaster happen - the link to the post is - http://dogkisser.blogspot.ca/2005/09/off-topic-but-sort-of-not-hurricane.html 

Monday, March 21, 2016

Gail Benoit is back in business - but it's not Kijiji's fault

Gail Benoit - who has been in the business of selling unhealthy companion animals in Nova Scotia as far back as 2001 - has surfaced again on Kijiji selling maine coon kittens - for some reason she seems to be selling kittens now instead of puppies at the moment - and social media is on fire.

This was an ad posted on kijiji a couple weeks ago where Ms. Benoit is alleged to have been selling these kittens - and unfortunately someone took her up on the offer and paid $300 for one and $180 for the other.

Unfortunately the kittens the purchaser received didn't look like these kittens - but luckily for the person the kittens are healthy and hopefully will live a long and happy life - unlike a lot of other animals that Benoit has sold over the years.

There has been a lot of talk over the years about Kijiji selling live animals and that they shouldn't be doing it because of people like Gail Benoit - but the thing is - with everything purchased on online buying sites - it really is buyer beware - you have to do your research.

If Kijiji stopped selling animals - there are literally tons of other places to buy live animals in Nova Scotia where Benoit could - and I'm sure - does - sell her product - so it really doesn't matter whether Kijiji stops selling animals - the grift will continue to go on.

What we really need to do is just use these opportunities to educate the public about acquiring animals.

I personally recently acquired a much beloved puppy - from Kijiji - from a breeder within Nova Scotia who -

- let me visit the puppy anytime I wanted
- both parents were on site
- I received a health certificate (which is required by law in Nova Scotia)
- all the dogs in the care of the breeder were in the home and treated like pets
- the puppy was well socialized by the time I received him
- I am still in contact with the breeder for any ongoing questions I may have

All these things are really important - and you should be able to ask a ton of questions for any animal you are purchasing - it doesn't matter where the place is that you hear about the animal you want to get the animal from - whether it's kijiji or Petfinder or wherever - it's the research and the amount of work you put into it.

People spend weeks killing themselves trying to figure out which kind of phone to buy - but then they impulse buy a dog that's going to share their bed for the next 15 years - it doesn't make sense.

So don't blame kijiji for allowing Gail Benoit to continue her shafting people - blame ourselves for continuing to meet people in parking lots to buy animals that may be just hours from dying through no fault of their own.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Nova Scotia's rescue community is not short on small breed dogs

Nova Scotia is not immune to the current fad of groups forming to import dogs from the United States and other parts of Canada.

Usually they say it's because there is a shortage of small breed dogs that come into rescue in our province - they also say that it's because we are a no-kill province, so dogs aren't in danger here like they are in other places on the continent, so there's no urgency for rescue dogs here - and a "life is a life, no matter where the dog is".

While I agree with the statement that a life is a life no matter where that life is - there are dogs who are in danger here in Nova Scotia.

Because we are a no-kill province - there is a limit on the amount of dogs that can come into rescue at any given moment, because we don't kill for space, or for the health condition of the animal that's in rescue, so sometimes a dog can be in foster care or a shelter for months at a time - taking up space until he finds his perfect forever home - meaning that dogs who do need to be rescued - and are sometimes in very precarious spots - being chained outside in very unsafe conditions, or in a home that is in very bad conditions - cannot come into rescue because there's just no place for him to go - so because of that - there are dogs suffering right here in Nova Scotia for lack of good homes..

By bringing in these imported dogs - we are taking away forever homes for dogs that are already looking for homes from native Nova Scotia dogs - which to me is not a good thing.

Until there are no Nova Scotian dogs who need homes - we should not be importing dogs from California, Texas, Cancun, or wherever.

I don't think we shouldn't be helping them - but we can help them by supporting them where they are - sponsoring them, donating to the shelters where they are, and doing things like that - but we don't need to bring them here.  It is hurting the dogs who are already here.

And as to the myth being perpetuated that there are no small dogs coming into rescue in Nova Scotia - that is a big fat myth that needs to be dispelled - small dogs - and puppies - come into rescue just as much as big dogs - sometimes you just need to wait a little while and have a bit of patience.

The key is to contact responsible rescues - tell them that a small dog is the type of dog that suits your lifestyle the best - and get pre-approved for that type of dog - and then when one comes in - it can go directly to you - any responsible rescue will work with you - and there are lots of rescues who will do that.  I have a list of responsible rescues on my Charlie Loves Halifax page at - Charlie's links -

And if you need some more confirmation - here are some pictures of rescue dogs that have passed through my doors in the last few years - and notice their size - and I am just one rescuer out of literally hundreds in the province of Nova Scotia - and yes, these dogs all found wonderful forever homes within the province of Nova Scotia.

And maybe the most famous of all small rescue dogs - Buttercup - who was adopted from the Nova Scotia SPCA in August 2003

Friday, February 5, 2016

Heads up to local dog rescues - you have to licence your rescue dogs

So it has come to light that because of the recently passed A700 in the Halifax Regional Municipality that dogs coming into foster who are going to be in foster for longer than 20 days now have to be licenced with the Municipality in order to be in compliance with the bylaw.  This also applies to any puppy being born within the municipality, whether the puppy is born from a backyard breeder or a CKC kennel.

Under the old A300 you had 60 days before you had to licence your dog - what it used to say was:

Licensing Of Dogs 3
(1) No person shall own a dog within the Municipality without having obtained a license from the License Administrator within ten (10) days after the person becomes the owner of the dog, brings the dog into the Municipality or annually before the expiration of any current license.
(2) Notwithstanding subsection (1), a person who possesses, has the care of, has the control of or harbours a dog for less than sixty (60) days is not required to license the dog.

What A700 now says is:

Licensing Of Dogs
5. (1) No person shall own a dog within the Municipality without having obtained a license from the License Administrator:
(a) within twenty (20) calendar days after the person becomes the owner of the dog or brings the dog into the Municipality; or
(b) an annual license, before the expiration of any current license; or
(c) a lifetime license for the dog.

It has come to light because a local rescue's foster dog got out of a backyard and went for a very short walkabout and Animal Control got involved and the local rescue got issued a summary offence ticket for harbouring a dog without a licence - they had the dog in foster for longer than 20 days and hadn't got a tag for him.

I can say with pretty much utmost confidence that no one in rescue knew about this law.

Rescue's budgets are pushed to the limit now - and now we have to add this cost to our bottom line - pretty much unacceptable as far as I'm concerned because most responsible rescues have dogs in foster for longer than 20 days.

When a dog comes into rescue they take a few days to destress - then they go to the vet to be vaccinated. Most veterinarians require at least a week to 10 days between vaccination and spay/neuter - so you are now at 14 days - and then another 10 days waiting for the stitches to come out - and now you are at 24 days before the dog is even available for adoption - and if the dog requires more intensive vet or rehabilitation it could be a couple of months before they are available for adoption - I have personally had dogs in foster for 6 months before they are available for adoption - and then it could be a couple of months before the perfect forever home is found.

So 20 days is really a un-workable number.

I emailed Andrea MacDonald who oversees questions about bylaw A700 at the city asking her if there was some exemption or some answers that could be had with this problem - and her answer was:

"Our licensing system is set up to accommodate such situations. For example, when a dog comes into your care a license can be purchased with you as the primary owner. When the dog is fostered or adopted a secondary owner can be placed on the license. The license record can always contain the rescue contact information and the foster/adopted contact information. This can be very beneficially should the dog potentially get loose at any time, Animal Service will attempt to contact all individuals that are listed on the license record.

In addition, the cost to have the dog licensed can then be recovered through your adoption fee."

So now rescues have to do the extra paperwork of licencing every dog that comes into our rescue - and then when the dog is adopted - have the new owners added on to the tag - what about the next year, and subsequent years when the tag needs to be renewed - does the rescue have to keep renewing the tag? Does the owner do that or the rescue?

And adding another fee on top of our adoption fee? Most people looking for dogs already think our adoption fees are too high - so what are they going to think when we all have to raise our prices?

We all had an increase last year when we had to get Health Certificates added to our cost with the new regulations - which cost anywhere from $40 to $80 depending on the vet you go to - so now we are using our hard fought for fundraising dollars paying municipal fees and provincial fees - soon the government is going to add HST to adoption fees - that's going to be the next thing that's going to happen I think.

If we don't comply with this we are going to turn all of our foster homes into criminals - and what foster home is going to want to be a criminal - we are going to lose all our foster homes over this - and we all know - without foster homes a rescue cannot exist

If you have a concern over this I suggest as a person running a rescue inside the HRM you contact your Municipal Councillor to give your opinion - another fallout from A700.

If you do want to comply - most veterinarians take applications for city tags - so when you take your dogs in for their initial veterinary consultation - you can get their tags then.

Like as if we don't already have to deal with enough with our rescue organizations.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

What to do when you find a stray dog in Nova Scotia

In the last week there has been a lot of news about a dog that was found in Hant's county named George.  He was found by a couple of very compassionate people who took him into their home and he had very obviously been seriously abused by some terribly awful people.  He had life threatening injuries to his body that could only be explained as having been done by long standing abuse. I'm not going to post the pictures that have been circulating facebook because they're just too raw. Suffice it to say they are severe.

The finders took him in last Wednesday, and they had the best of intentions but there were a few things that weren't done right away so I think it needs to get out there what needs to be done if you find a stray dog or you think a dog's been abandoned in Nova Scotia - or you find a dog that's been lost so that he can get back to his loving owners.

In 2010 I wrote a post called "Think Lost, not Stray" - at that time there was a movement in the States to start thinking about lost dogs as not stray dogs - but just dogs who were lost and trying to find their way home - it was a new concept and one that was growing.  And then in 2011 - I wrote a post called "Reuniting Lost Dogs with their Owners could be a Paradigm Shift in the Humane Movement" - and it was about the newly formed group "Nova Scotia Lost Dogs Network" here in Nova Scotia and how they were reuniting lost dogs with their owners.

Since then NSLDN has reunited literally thousands of dogs with their owners, (they have over 21,000 members) - saving the shelter system from having to take them on and saving tax payers untold amounts of money from having to house and try to figure out who the dogs belong to.  It truly has been a paradigm shift in the humane movement.  In 2008 the NS SPCA said that 75% of the dogs they took in were stray dogs - I don't imagine they'd say that statistic still holds true today.

So what should you do when you find a stray dog in Nova Scotia?

A couple things, and a couple things you should know -

#1 is that you don't own the stray dog that you've just found. Finders are not keepers.  Really, the original owner is still the owner - and it is your local animal control is the interim owner - the dog may have a microchip in him that can bring the dog home immediately - and there's no way you can know that.

#2 If the dog has been severely abused like the dog George was - the NS SPCA should be contacted immediately along with your local Animal Control and the NSLDN - because the dog is not only a dog - but he is also the lone piece of evidence in an animal cruelty case and he needs to be properly and completely documented in his current condition that you found him in - if he isn't the whole cruelty case could be completely compromised and any chance a conviction of animal cruelty for the original owner could be totally lost.

In the case of poor George - according to Facebook posts - the NS SPCA was not contacted until Saturday - so there 4 days that went before George's condition wasn't properly documented - which is a huge time lag.

So there are a few things you should do when you find a stray dog - you've either seen it, or you've been able to catch it - you call your local animal control to come pick him up, and you contact the Nova Scotia Lost Dog Network so they can put the word out that he's been found - the owners may have already contacted them to say that their dog has been lost and they will come directly to your house to pick him up and bypass Animal Control altogether.

And if the dog shows signs of obvious abuse - also contact the NS SPCA so that they can liaise with the Animal Control department to start a case file on the dog.

If you decide that you love this dog you've just found - if the owner is never found - you can apply either to the Animal Control department or the SPCA - wherever he ultimately ends up - to adopt the dog - and then he's rightfully yours to own.

I run a dog rescue here in Nova Scotia - I rescue dogs that have been chained up their whole lives and I've received several emails from people who believe that their neighbours have abandoned their dogs after they've moved away - and they want me to come get the dog immediately - but I have told them I can't do that - because to just come get the dog is theft - I have always had to investigate further, and there's always been a story behind it.

Either the owners have been coming to feed the dog everyday and ultimately came and gotten the dog - or in one case the owner thought that the dog had been fed by someone, and when they found out the dog wasn't being fed - they agreed to let me have the dog - but it was with the owners agreement (who was living out west) that I took the dog - I would never just go and take a dog that looked abandoned without trying to find out why he was there - unless of course it was in the middle of the woods - and then I would call the proper authorities - because that would be a case for the SPCA because that is cruelty.

So hopefully this clears things up a bit about what to do if you find a stray dog - the best case scenario is that he's going to have a microchip in him and he'll be able to get home immediately - and if not, the next best thing is that he's already listed as being lost on NSLDN - but you should contact your local Animal Control department so that if his owners are looking for him they'll be able to find him there - and if he's obviously been abused - that is a case that the NS SPCA should be contacted about so that when his owners are found they can be charged with animal cruelty.

That is how things should be done so that justice is done for the dog and the dog can find his way home.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Crystal Crescent on a beautiful Sunday afternoon

This is what living in Nova Scotia is all about - you can drive 20 minutes from the biggest city on the east coast of Canada and arrive at a beach and you are completely alone with your dog.

It was so beautiful at Crystal Crescent beach today - such a nice day to get out with the dog and have a nice long walk, with nobody around but the dog - Tia had such a great time running around the rocks - she's really in great shape for being a 13 year old dog - she loved it there.

I have to say that Crystal Crescent has always been my favourite place for walking the dogs because it's so barren - the part I go to is on private property and has a sign saying that that the owner says "enjoy the beach, please pick up your garbage and leave nothing behind" - so people are allowed to be there - it's a secret little treasure for the few people who go there - it's a totally awesome place.

I saw this sneaker on the rocks today - it made me wonder if it might belong to one of the unfortunate men who went overboard this week on dumping day - it was on the same beach that I saw several wrecked lobster traps :(

Saturday, December 5, 2015

What is the difference between Animal Control Departments and the SPCA?

There is a very clear distinction drawn between Animal Control departments and SPCA's that I don't think a lot of people know about or that they find confusing. So I'm going to let you know what the differences are so that we no longer have to call the wrong department anymore when a dog is either causing a problem or when a dog is in danger.

Animal Control departments exist to protect people from dogs. If a dog is causing a problem in your neighbourhood - barking incessently, running at large and causing a nuisance, if you feel afraid that a dog is going to escape his back yard and come to attack you while you're walking down your street and you feel afraid in your own neighbourhood because of that dog. If you believe a dog fighting organization is running in your neighbourhood - those are all calls you should make to your animal control department by calling 311 in the hrm

If a dog is running loose in the neighbourhood and no one can catch him - you call Animal Control and they will come and catch him and impound him - hopefully he is microchipped, or been listed on the Nova Scotia Lost dog Neightwork and can be reuinited quickly.

The NS SPCA is the only organization in Nova Scotia "empowered under the provincial Animal Protection Act to investigate complaints of animal cruelty; help secure the arrest, conviction and punishment of all persons violating the Act; and, when necessary, seize animals from situations of cruelty or neglect."

So if you see a dog has been living on your street and is tethered regularly for more than 12 hours at a time and you have documented that and you can see him suffereing - this is not a case for Animal Control - they don't deal with those call.

So if you see a dog suffering in some way - you contact the SPCA - they protect dogs from people - which is the opposite of what Animal Control does - and a lot people get this confused.

If you can figure out the different responsibilities of the SPCA and Animal Control - you have learned a lot.

Anial Control doesn't really care about the situation of the dog - they just to make sure that the dog is not hurting people.

When the SPCA is involved they want to make sure that people are not hurting dogs.

It's as simple as that.

The HRM has made this distinction very clear in their bylaw - more clear than just about every city in the country - there is almost care about cats or dogs in their bylaw - there are other bylaws across the country - and the HRM compared their bylaw to 17 other bylaws when they were doing their research to update the bylaw from A300 to A700 - and some of those bylaws do have sections in them that take into consideration the health, safety and comfort of dogs and cats - but the HRM chose to leave all of those qualities from our bylaw for some reason. There is nothing positive in our bylaw - it is all reactive and directed at charging people for offences.

One could say that the HRM has a culture of not caring for dogs and cats at all - you could lead yourself to that to that decision, but that's not my allusion to draw.

For instance -the city of Hamilton, Ontario has a zero tolerance for licences and sends people door to door to check for proper licencing, as well they have a section of their bylaw relating to proper care for dogs being kept out doors:

Every owner of an animal shall ensure that the place where the animal is kept is such that:
(a) the animal may extend its legs, wings or body to their full natural extent;
(b) the animal may stand, sit or perch, or the place is otherwise adequate for the needs of the animal;
(c) the animal may be readily observed, unless the natural habits of the animal require otherwise; and
(d) the place is in a clean and sanitary condition.
In addition to complying with section 7.10, every owner of an animal shall ensure that any structure located in a yard where the animal is kept is:
a in the rear yard;
b located not less than 1 metre from the boundary line between the owner's premises and any abutting premises;
c soundly constructed of hard, durable materials;
d impervious to water;
e constructed of materials that may be readily sanitized;
f maintained in a good state of repair free from cracks, holes, rust and other damage;
g kept in a way that minimizes as nearly as practicable the transfer of pathogenic agents; and
(h) adequately ventilated for the health and comfort of the animal enclosed.

That's in a municipal bylaw - not a provincial law

Mississauga has an awesome animal bylaw -
Mississauga says this about keeping animals outside:

13) Every owner of an animal shall treat the animal in a humane manner, including but not limited to the provision of :
1) a shelter for the animal that is waterproof and that protects it from exposure to the elements;
 2) a shelter for the animal that is adequate for its size and breed; (230-14)
 3) adequate food and water for the animal;
4) access to shade during warm weather which does not include shade provided by an Animal Enclosure; (230-14) 8
5) sanitary conditions for the animal; and (230-14) 6) adequate veterinary care deemed necessary by a reasonably prudent person to relieve the animal from distress caused by injury, neglect or disease. (230-14)
14) No person shall allow an animal to remain outdoors during Extreme Weather, except for brief walks or brief periods of exercise, unless the animal has access to an Animal Enclosure that will adequately protect the animal from the elements. (230-14, 277-14)
As well:
6) no person shall tether an animal for more than four (4) consecutive hours in a 24 hour period. This time restriction shall not apply where a dog is subject to: (i) a Muzzle Order under section 35 of this By-law or (ii) a provincial court order, should either provide for tethering restrictions. (230-14) 7) any person can apply for an exemption to the tethering requirement of subsection 20.1(6) of this By-law by filing an application with the Commissioner as further outlined in Schedule “D” to this By-law. (230-14)
As well:
2) Notwithstanding subsection 20.2(1) of this By-law, no person shall leave an animal unattended in a motor vehicle if the weather conditions are not suitable for the animal to remain free from distress or injury.
 3) Notwithstanding subsection 20.2(1) of this By-law, no person shall transport an animal outside the passenger compartment of any motor vehicle unless the animal is contained in a kennel or similar device that provides adequate ventilation, adequate space, protects the animal from the elements and is securely fastened in such a manner to prevent distress or injury to the animal.  
So you can see other municipalities across the country take the dog's health and well being into consideration - not just whether or not the dog is running at large, trying to kill us, barking out of control or shitting everywhere, or their owners paying a yearly fee in order to own our dogs.

We have to ask ourselves - why is the HRM so focused on finding ways to micro-manage dog owneres - a demographic that is very easy to find and very easy to legislate so tightly that it can make it very difficult for us even to leave our house with our dogs and not do something wrong.

It's becoming very difficult for our dogs to exhibit normal dog behaviour like barking for 5 minutes and yet our neighbours can have in home child daycares and the children scream all day and nothing can be done about it - our neighbours can mow their lawn at 7am on Saturday mornings or go with their leaf blowers and we are helpless - Tim Horton's coffee cups are a blight on our streets, people think nothing about all the garbage that's everywhere - but the places we can take our dogs become less and less everyday because of some misplaced paranoia and it begins with things like the legislation that's been placed upon us by the HRM staff, and I think a lot of people agree with me.

If you've read A700 and you don't think it's good legislation - then you should do something about it.

You should contact your councillor - or contact all the Councillors and say that you were unhappy that there was no public consultation before it was enacted, and you'd like it to come back to Council to see some amendments made

The Running at large section is far too vague - the only other bylaw in Canada that has legislation like that is Calgary, and what Calgary's bylaw says in relation to that reads:
- an Animal or Animals which are under the control of a person responsible by means of a Leash and which cause damage to persons, property or other Animals;

A700 says in relation to the same topic:
- on a leash but not under the control of a person

Do you see what I mean by A700 being too vague?

Calgary says that the dog is on a leash, but it's causing damage to persons, property or other animals - A700 just says "not being under control" - so it's completely up to the "Compliance Officer" to decide what is considered to be "not under control".

That is not what good legislation is called - that is what is called "bad legislation".  And it's legislation like that that hurts people having dogs doing normal dog behaviour and "Compliance officers" being assholes.  In my opinion.

I have listed below all the animal control departments all across the country that the hrm sought advice in building the bylaw - and they cherry pick some amazing things.

Brampton Ontario:  http://www.brampton.ca/EN/City-Hall/Bylaws/All%20Bylaws/DogLicence.pdf

Caledon Ontario:  http://www.caledon.ca/uploads/5/Doc_635224586181225636.pdf

Calgary Alberta:  http://www.calgary.ca/CA/city-clerks/Documents/Legislative-services/Bylaws/23M2006-ResponsiblePetOwnership.pdf

Edmonton Alberta:  http://www.edmonton.ca/bylaws_licences/PDF/C13145.pdf

Fredericton:  http://www.fredericton.ca/en/citygovernment/resources/Bylaws-Safety-S11.pdf

Hamilton:  http://www2.hamilton.ca/NR/2015-Bylaws/12-031amendments.pdf
- allow hens
- zero tolerance for licences - send officers door to door

London Ontario:  https://www.london.ca/city-hall/by-laws/Documents/dogsPH4.pdf

London has an off leash dog park bylaw - https://www.london.ca/city-hall/by-laws/Documents/dogs-off-leash-areas-PH7.pdf

As part of the Enforcement Division, Animal Services encourages safe and enjoyable communities for both people and pets. The Animal Care and Control Bylaw has been established to reflect Mississauga's community values.

Our philosophy is to promote responsible pet ownership. Our goal is to encourage voluntary bylaw compliance by first educating then enforcing the bylaw.

Moncton New Brunwick Pet owner bylaw - https://www.moncton.ca/Assets/Residents+English/By-Laws/H-202+-+Animal+Control.pdf
Do not allow your dog to cause a disturbance by barking or howling for more than five minutes between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.

Oshawa Ontario dog bylaw - http://www.oshawa.ca/uploads/16/ResponsiblePetOwners14-2010.pdf

Ottawa Ontario - http://ottawa.ca/en/residents/laws-licenses-and-permits/laws/respecting-animal-care-and-control-law-no-2003-77
Has a section on keeping dogs in sanitary environments and a section on tethering and responsibility to care for animals

Saint Johns Newfoundland - http://www.stjohns.ca/city-hall/about-city-hall/laws-and-regulations?/ByLaws.nsf/nwByLawNum/1514
Talks about leaving dogs out in unsanitary conditions

Toronto Ontario - http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/municode/1184_349.pdf
Talks about appropriate treatment of dogs and cats

Winnipeg Manitoba - http://www.winnipeg.ca/cms/animal/pdfs/RPO.pdf
Talks about regulating rescues

Vancouver Britis Columbia - http://former.vancouver.ca/bylaws/9150c.PDF
Has a whole section on the basic keeping of dog
Also allows chickens

Wolfville Nova Scotia - http://www.wolfville.ca/locomotive/plugins/file_manager/file_manager/user_files/download/55a550cb47aebac6114566e9
Is the only other bylaw provided by the HRM that also includes a section that allows officer to shoot animals on sight

Monday, November 30, 2015

Should Responsible Dog Owners be worried about Bylaw A700 in the HRM?

It was suggested to me that responsible dog owners shouldn't have to worry about the changes that have been made to the dog bylaw here in the HRM - that if we take our dog ownership seriously, and do things correctly - we aren't going to get into trouble because the laws as they are written will not bring us into conflict with Animal Control.

I have to wholeheartedly disagree with that statement - it's responsible dog owners who have to worry about the new bylaw the most, because we are the ones who actually try to follow the rules, and it is irresonsible dogowners who don't care about any rules at all and just continue to do what they want - so the new bylaw isn't going to affect their lives whatsoever.

If you are like me I have more than one dog - I've got five dogs - all rescue dogs - so that's five dogs worth of barking - I have never let them bark for more than 20 minutes at a time - I don't even let them bark for 5 minutes - but there have been times when they've needed to go out at 2 in the morning to pee and poop - and sometimes during those times they pee.

According to the new bylaw and people's comments about it - that's why the bylaw was changed - because people are pissed off that dog owners let their dogs pee at certain times of the day - not for 20 minutes necessarily - but it's a hassle for the neighbours to be woken up.

A person on facebook - who believed she had all the anwers said "there were complaints such as dogs that were let out at 5 am *every* morning and barked – but because it was only for 15 minutes each time, there was no violation. There were dogs that barked early in the morning and late at night but because it was less than 20 minutes at a time (even if the time in between barking was only 5 minutes so the dog was actually barking most of the time) there was nothing that could be done."

Things like this should be handled on a neighbour to neighbour basis - the dog owner probably doesn't realize he's being a nuisance

So now I have to not let my dogs out to pee in the middle of the night anymore for fear of people contacted by Animal Control? Because I'm a responsible dog owner and I don't want any negative interactions with animal control.

There are other dog bylaws across Nova Scotia that have better legislation regarding barking that I think would work better than what the HRM just passed. Amherst - just in November 2015 released a new "Companion Animal Bylaw" - and what they say about barking is -

7. No dog shall be permitted to consistently disturb the quiet of a neighborhood by barking, howling, or otherwise making noise to a degree beyond what the Animal Control Officer determines to be normal.
7.1 In determining what is “normal” in the context of this section, the ACO shall consider one or more, but not limited too, the following factors:
a) the time of day that the dog is reported as disruptive;
b) the frequency and duration of the reported disruptive behavior;
c) the proximity of neighbors and population density of the neighborhood.
7.2 If the ACO determines, upon reasonable grounds, that a dog is being disruptive, as defined in this section, the ACO shall give a written warning to the dog owner before taking any other action under this by-law.

This sounds much better than the threatening legislation than the HRM passed.

I had a couple more thoughts on the HRM's ability to destroy on sight an animal -

This morning my Councillor sent me a comparison of what was in A300 and what has been changed in A700

A-300 Version
Powers of Animal Control Officer
14 (2) If any animal is at large and cannot be seized safely, an Animal Control Officer, who believes on reasonable grounds that the animal poses a danger to a person or another animal and the owner is not readily able to be found, may immediately, without notice to the owner, destroy the animal, in a humane manner.

A-700 Version:
Powers of a Peace Officer
17(3) If any animal that is not a cat is running at large and cannot be apprehended safely, a Peace Officer, who believes on reasonable grounds that the animal poses a serious danger to the health or safety of a person or another animal, may immediately, without notice to the owner, destroy the animal, in a humane manner.

So, what has changed?
#1 is that it's changed from an "animal control officer" to a "peace officer". A peace officer as stated in the bylaw is - "“Peace Officer” means a police officer, by-law enforcement officer or a special constable appointed pursuant to the Police Act, S.N.S. 2004, c.31;

I think the only one of those noted that carries a gun is a police officer - so my next question is - and one I would question because in the previous A300 animal control officers could also "may immediately without notice to the owner, destroy the animal in a humane way" - and my question is - how are the animal control officers humanely killing dogs without using a gun?

What is the method they are using?

The next thing is about the running at large - and the part about how a dog being leashed and tethered to you could still be charged with running at large - even though he's really not because he is leashed to you.

It turns out that the city didn't have any way to charge these people who had dogs that were jumping on people and being rude - so they created this section just for that - so in other words - all of these new additions and changes were made in a completely reactionary way.

They weren't made to improve the lives of dogs and their humans and to make a better city for dogs, their owners and the city at large - it was simply to create more laws so that they could people for specific things that they've been having trouble with.

I'm not a lawyer or a rocket scientist, but in my education on these things in the last 15 years, I don't think that's the way you write good legislation.

Another thing is about the new leash law and how it can't be any more than 3 metres or 10 feet. a lot of people use "long leads" or "drag leads" when they are training their dogs - and this will no longer be allowed - they are using it for the safety of their dogs - so that if the dog starts to look like he's going to run - they can step on the lead and catch the dog - it's a vital tool that is now no longer available.

There has been a culture at city hall for many years - as long as I've been involved with dog politics - and that's almost 15 years - that there is no wish for public consultation - it's only staff who make policy, and the policy that they write rarely is positive for dogs and dog owners - it's always a losing situation for us. We have done nothing but lose services in the last 15 years, and that is a shame because we are an exploding community - I wish they'd come to their senses and stop trying to make us disappear and start giving us the services we so desperately need and deserve because after all - we pay the same taxes as everyone else.

To end off - I'm thinking about moving to East Hants, it's not that far from Halifax, and they have a much better bylaw than us.

Friday, November 27, 2015

HRM's Bylaw A700 has set animal welfare back in Nova Scotia by 20 years - REVISED with new information

The Halifax Regional Municipality today released news that a new animal bylaw is coming into force tomorrow - A300 is not going to exist anymore, it's being amalgamated with A700 which previously just dealt with livestock - and what we are going to have now is by far the WORST ANIMAL BYLAW in Nova Scotia. (It's very interesting to note that we can't compare A700 to A300 - HRM has removed all traces of A300 from the municipality's website)

I'm going to go through piece by piece why I believe this - and I think by the end you'll agree with me - and I hope you will write your Councillor and ask why there was no public consultation on the bylaw - and if there was - why it wasn't on the news, or why no dog owner heard about the new bylaw until today!

So here we go -

You can read the bylaw in it's entirety at http://www.halifax.ca/legislation/bylaws/hrm/documents/By-LawA-700.pdf

The first thing is about "running at large" -

(v) “running at large” means to be off the property of its owner and:
(i) without a leash;
(ii) on a leash that is not held by a person; or
(iii) on a leash but not under the control of a person;

You can now be charged for your dog running at large if the "peace officer" doesn't believe that you have control of your dog! That's kind of subtle, isn't it? I have my dog on-leash, he is tethered to me - but the "peace officer" doesn't think that I have him under control - so he's going to charge me with something - and now he's got something he can charge me with! Isn't that wonderful! It's like "I'm going to charge you with something, so this is what I'm going to get you for!"  And just to note - it's a $200 fine - up to $5,000.

The second thing relates to noise - in A300 a dog could bark for 20 minutes before it was considered a nuisance, and the person being bothered had to fill out a "barking log" before they could contact animal control - it was also under the "nuisance bylaw", not the animal control bylaw - now it's under A700 and under section 12.2 it says:
(2) For the purposes of this section, evidence that one neighbour was unreasonably disturbed by the barking, howling or by the making of noise by the dog is prima facie evidence that the neighbourhood was unreasonably disturbed by such barking, howling or noise.
That means that if your neighbour is pissed off after FIVE MINUTES of your dog barking - they can call Animal Control - and it's considered a valid call. That is a HUGE CHANGE in the bylaw.

If you've got more than one dog - you've got a problem - if you've got 3 dogs, say - and one dog goes out and barks for 3 minutes, then goes in and your second dog runs out and barks for 3 minutes and then your 3rd dog goes out and runs around for 3 minutes - you've got yourself a barking problem - because that's now 9 minutes of barking. And if you've got a doggy day care in the HRM - you've got yourself a BIG PROBLEM now if you've got neighbours who are unhappy with you.

A new things relates to leash length:

(h) “leash” means a device made of rope, cord or similar material:
(i) used by a person to restrict the movement of an animal;
(ii) that is adequate for the purpose of restricting the animal; and
(iii) that does not exceed 3 meters in length;

No more retractable leashes - leashes can be no more than 10 feet in length - and most retractable leashes are 16 feet - so throw out your retractable leashes, they are now illegal

This is not new, but they've made it much worse -
17 (3) If any animal that is not a cat is running at large and cannot be apprehended safely, a Peace Officer, who believes on reasonable grounds that the animal poses a serious danger to the health or safety of a person or another animal, may immediately, without notice to the owner, destroy the animal, in a humane manner.

It used to say - "If any animal is at large and cannot be seized safely, an Animal Control Officer, who believes on reasonable grounds that the animal poses a danger to a person or another animal and the owner is not readily able to be found, may immediately, without notice to the owner, destroy the animal, in a humane manner"

So it used to say basically that animal control officers, NOT "peace officers" could shoot your dogs. We know that animal control officers don't carry guns - so really the point was useless. As well - it used to say that "the owner is not readily able to be found" - but that part has been taken away - so now the "peace officer can shoot your dog right in front of you.

So say you are in a park, and your dog is leashed to you - but he's growling and barking at a "peace officer", and the officer feels threatened - he can now legally shoot your dog.

Or if your dog is running at large, and the "Peace Officer" - and what is that? It could be a police officer, or an animal control officer - I don't know what that is - is chasing your dog - and it's running through a playground, and there's a couple kids there - and it's a pit bull say, and that "peace officer" has a certain disposition towards pit bulls - they can SHOOT YOUR DOG ON SIGHT now.

It has been in lots of animal bylaws across Nova Scotia - but as every bylaw across the province has been updated - it's been REMOVED from almost every one because it's an old and antiquated idea.

In 2011 I wrote a blog post about Yarmouth's potential dog bylaw and I addressed this very topic, in that post I said:

"The ability for Town Staff to shoot a dog on sight (or after capture) without notice to or complaint against the owner for infractions such as running at large, or eluding capture – and town staff being able to shoot on sight any dog is rabid or exhibits symptoms of canine madness: 
We do not have rabies in Nova Scotia yet in any number to be aware of – about 3 or 4 cases in the last 10 years – and only 1 or 2 of those (maybe) have been in a dog – to allow the shooting on sight of any dog for the perceived case of rabies based on those statistics – is not a reasonable argument. http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/anima/disemala/rabrag/statse.shtml#a2010

On page 27 and 28 of the Westville Nova Scotia dog bylaw - http://www.westville.ca/images/stories/Bylaws/Dog.pdf - you will find an explanation as to why “shoot on sight” statutes are in dog bylaws – it is because at one time more rural areas inserted them into bylaws for their ability to be able to shoot dogs that were being a nuisance to wildlife – it chasing wildlife – indeed, the Nova Scotia Wildlife Act still has a section allowing the shooting of dogs running at large in their statutes when unattended by their humans. 
It is perhaps appropriate when they are running at large in the woods after a deer – but not in the middle of a town when they are running down the middle of Main Street. If they are menacing and attacking a human – Police officers or another designated (armed) town official will obviously still be empowered through their other duties to shoot the dog – but a bylaw enforcement officer should not have the ability to shoot a dog on sight simply for a dog running at large in the 21st century."
PLEASE, Halifax Regional Municipality staff who write bylaws - THIS IS 2015! Things like this don't belong in animal bylaws! Things like this are being removed from bylaws. Give me a fucking break.

Okay, I'm going to calm down a little bit and move on to the next item.

Another problem is that the "licence administrator" seems to have a lot more power than they did in A300 -

They are empowered to:
4(b) issue an Order to comply with this By-law.
Under Section - "Duties of an animal owner" - it sets out the offences for when you own a dog or a cat, and in section 8.3 it says:

(3) The owner of an animal that is livestock shall build and maintain an enclosure sufficient to prevent escape.

Section 9 references section 8.3 and says
9. (1) Where the License Administrator has determined that the owner of an animal is not in compliance with clause 8(3), he or she may issue an Order to the owner that the owner shall, at the owner’s sole expense, build or maintain an enclosure.
But then section 9.3 says:

(3) (a) An owner may, within seven (7) calendar days of being served with an Order that was issued pursuant to subsection (1) of this section, appeal the Order of the License Administrator to the Committee.

What is this COMMITTEE? Who is on this committee? How does one get on this committee? We've never had a committee before? Where did this committee come from?

Cats don't get away with anything in this bylaw either - they have their own section now, and it's now illegal for them to shit on your neighbour's property -

Duties of A Cat Owner
10. It shall be an offence to own a cat that:
(a) damages public or private property; or
(b) defecates on any public or private property, other than the property of its owner, without the owner of the cat immediately removing the defecation.

So you better bring all your cats inside - because they are only allowed to shit on your own lawn now.

The last bad thing - and this was in A300 - but it needs to be removed, is 6c
(c) the description, including its sex, breed, and known or approximate age; 
The HRM wants to know the description of your dog - down to what breed your dog is.  I don't have to tell you - this is the first step towards breed discrimination - or more popularly known as BSL.

The city will now know where every registered pit bull is in the city - so if they decide that they don't want any more pit bulls - or they want to round up every pit bull type dog and kill them - they now have that information.  I would suggest to you that if you do register your dog and you have a pit bull - register him or her as a lab mix.  I know when I had a rottweiller I always registered her as a "doberman mix".  Beware.

So what do we do from here?

Contact your councillor and tell them that you are very unhappy that this bylaw has changed and you were not consulted and you want these things changed so that your dog is not in danger - because I can tell you - your dog is in DANGER right now.

Tell them that if these things in the current A700 are not changed - you may move out of the Halifax Regional Municipality - they may lose your tax dollars - because you love your dog(s) that much.

This is very serious.  We have been seriously had the rug pulled out from under us by this bylaw.

It is very obvious that the staff of the Halifax Regional Municipality HATES dogs - for what reason I have no idea but this has been building up to today for many years - and it has to stop today.

PLEASE, do not let this continue - A700 has to be repealed - for the love of your dog(s) - do something about this very dangerous bylaw.  The life of your dog(s) is at stake.  I am not kidding about this.  Read the bylaw and choose for yourself.

You can find out the contact information for your councillor here - http://www.halifax.ca/councillors/index.php

The press release that was posted today is here - https://apps.halifax.ca/hfxnews/3595

You'll notice that I didn't post any of the good things that were passed in the new bylaw - that's because the bad things in the new bylaw far outweigh anything that was passed that heinous and dangerous.

Revision added at 10:24 pm November 27, 2015
I have been in contact with my Councillor - Stephen Adams, and he informed me that the Bylaw went before HRM Council for a public hearing on November, 10, 2015

You can watch the council meeting on video at http://archive.isiglobal.ca/vod/halifax/archive_2015-11-10_live.mp4.html - skip foward to section 9.2 to just hear the section about A700 - you'll hear the presentation by Andrea MacDonald.

She gave a presentation which you can see at http://www.halifax.ca/council/agendasc/documents/151110ca92pres.pdf

Their report - which will absolutely blow you away - is at http://www.halifax.ca/council/agendasc/documents/151110ca92.pdf

Andrea MacDonald, during the question and answer period with the Councillors, was asked a question by David Hendsbee - he asked her

"In regards to consultation with the general public there's some comments we received about some people feel that not enough public consultation has been done on this, so if this gets passed tonight in this forum what kind of communication strategy will we advise the public of these changes and if there should be any outcry for changes within the proposed bylaw would that be a simple amendment
Andrea MacDonald:  We would work with Corporate Communications to come up with a strategy to communicate the changes and I didn't get the second part, sorry.
David Hendsbee:  And if there's any outcry for possible adjustments within the bylaw would there be an opportunity to amend those within any reasonable time?
Andrea MacDonald:  I would assume they'd have to come back to Council

And that's all she said.

So I guess we need to contact our Councillors and demand that the Bylaw come back to Council for amendments.

What followed after this report was a Public Hearing.

And guess what - NOBODY SHOWED UP.


Because no dog owner in the HRM knew about it.

And the only people consulted about the bylaw was the NS SPCA, The NS VMA and the shelter keeper ie Homeward Bound - I can tell you that those 3 organizations don't speak for me.


Contact your Councillor and demand amendments to this horrible bylaw.

Further posts on this topic:

Should responsible dog owners be worried about Bylaw a700 in the HRM?

What's the difference between Animal Control and the SPCA?

Monday, October 19, 2015

Losing Buttercup

After being together for 4,446 days I have lost Buttercup.  She was the love of my life.

Most people say that about humans, but I say that about a dog.  She understood me. She never left my side.
Every night when we slept she was by my head.  She was my constant companion.  When I had anxiety she calmed me down. When I was sad she made me happy.

When I needed to get out she took me to the beach.  When I needed to eat we shared a bowl of oatmeal.

When I needed warmth she snuggled up next to me.

When I needed protection she put her body in front of my face.

It is so unfortunate that when I got Buttercup from the SPCA she was already a senior. The vet thought she was about 9 years old, and that was in August 2003.  As the years went on though she seemed to get younger as time went on.

She could go anywhere and do anything - climb any rock, and keep up with the big dogs Charlie and Daisy - we went somewhere everyday off leash for at least an hour - a new adventure every day 365 days a year, we had such a great life.  That went on for years - I took her shopping with me, we had so may fun times.

But then everyone started to get older, Buttercup's knees started to give out - and she spent most of her time on my Dad's lap, but that was okay - she had new job - taking care of my Dad.  And he loved her so much - she'd stay on his bed when they had a nap - he loved her as much as I loved her - that went on for about 4 years. She made him so happy.

And in 2012 my Dad died.  And Buttercup took on a new job - one that she didn't like at all - hanging from the jowels of all the foster dogs that started coming through the house - almost 40 dogs moved through the house from 2012 to now - and she hated every one of them, and tried to kill all of them.  And we are very lucky that not one of them tried to kill her - it's a testament to the fact that former chained dogs tend not to be dog aggressive.

But Buttercup continued to be the boss and continued to keep all dogs away from me - and also got as much dehydrated liver as she wanted - sometimes I think that her love of dehydrated liver was the only thing that kept her alive.

She had a heart murmur, low thyroid, her knees weren't in their sockets at all, they were just floating in them, she was 5 pounds less than she was at the height of her life - but still she walked as far as I asked her to, she went outside to use the washroom, and she did whatever she wanted - right up until her 21st birthday this past August.

But even in August, I could tell that she wasn't feeling well, I knew the end was coming but I just couldn't handle it.

And today the end came.  Now I have to live my life without her smacking my leg at 7pm to tell me that it's time to go out to the kitchen to get some liver.  There is no boss of this crew anymore.  I am alone, even though I still have 5 dogs left in the room with me.

I am without my Buttercup.The animal I would pick up and press to my neck and give kisses to and hope that everything would be okay in the world, now I have no reassurances at all. I have no little dog to lay on my head to dissapate the thoughts that swirled in my head.

Buttercup made me feel special.  I was so lucky to have her, I didn't deserve her, but I had her and she was mine. And now she's gone. And I am no longer special.  I don't know what I'm going to do without her. Now I am just me, and I am no one.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Pat Lee Speech about State of the Cats in Nova Scotia Today

Last night I went to a cat event - the Spay-Getti Gala Dinner hosted by Spay Day Nova Scotia and Pick of the Litter Society, and it was a lot of fun - they had a lot of silent auction items and I of course bid on a dog basket (which I won) and the spaghetti was awesome - but Pat Lee - local writer and bon vivant gave a speech that I didn't want to escape into the ether, so I thought I'd publish it here with her permission - so I'm having my first guest post ever on this blog - written by Pat Lee - who publishes a column weekly in the Chronicle Herald Called "Pat Lee's Pet Corner" - here is the speech she gave last night:


Awhile back I wrote something in my Pet Corner column that annoyed the heck out of a dog lover, sparking the comment: “Stick to writing about fluffy kittens”

The column that ticked her off so much was my take on Halifax's decision to relocate a dog park. At the time I recall thinking, “wow, if cats only had the equivalent of a park, paid for by the city, that their owners could get up on their hind legs about. Wouldn't that be nice?”

Because, of course, cats don't have that level of municipal support or anything close to it.

In fact, cats, especially free roaming cats, are for the most part left to fend for themselves unless they're lucky enough to be cared for by a kindhearted person or volunteers from a rescue group who might be able to provide a shelter and food, or, if they're lucky, get a trip to the vet if they become sick or injured.

A recent case in the news about an owned cat, who nonetheless looked, and it turns out was, very ill, further highlights the problem. When the owner couldn't be found, the elderly and sickly cat was humanely euthanized instead of being left to fend for itself in that condition. In fact, Halifax's Animal Services had seen the cat previously, but it was not deemed "critically" ill or injured and it was not taken off the streets.

As a society, we undervalue cats, which is ironic given that they are the No. 1 household pet in Canada. Most people love their own cats to bits – I know I sure do my Ollie and Buddy -- but in society they are still given second-class standing.

Here's a quiz for you: Can you guess when the Nova Scotia government included the word “cat” in its Animal Protection Act? It was just last year. We can thank our friends from the Tuxedo Party for lobbying the minister to
make that change. Up until then, the Act only mentioned dogs. Cats truly are the underdogs.

Here's a few more examples.

Just before Christmas, my friend Inge Sadler of Pick of the Litter took in six pups who had been found tied in a garbage bag and thrown in a watery ditch. One had already died and the rest of the litter was doomed too if not for some young girls who came upon them. As is her speciality, she bottle fed them, stayed up through the night in the first few days when their survival wasn't certain, and got them to the point where they were healthy and eventually adopted.

While she had the puppies, my brethren in the media, print and broadcast, beat a path to her door, wanting to tell the story of the wonderful – and it truly was wonderful – rescue of these dear, sweet pups. In fact, many media outlets wanted to come more than once to track their progress.

Inge, who's prime mission is rescuing orphan kittens – having hundreds of them go through her home a year – mentioned to members of the media that she continually takes in kittens who are found in equally deplorable
situations. She said they would be welcome to document their stories as well. In fact, not long afterwards she got a little of kittens delivered to her door, found in a bag in a ditch. Sound familiar? But there was no interest.

This is Angel. She was found this winter, frozen and half dead in the middle of a highway outside of Halifax. I shudder to think how many drove by her before someone stopped, pulled a blanket out of their vehicle, and scooped Angel off the road, taking her to a friend who does cat rescue. Would a dog have been left in that condition? Would a dog be outside long enough to GET in that condition? After hearing about Angel, I spread this story far and wide on social media and included it in a column, but the rescue – Sympathetic Ear – never heard from any other media about this. What's newsworthy about a half-dead cat in the road? But say the same sentence with the word dog in it. I think there would have been a different response.

Last year when Halifax announced that it was closing a popular off-leash dog park – remember? Fluffy kittens? -- there was a hue and cry throughout the land, with again the media all over the issue. Public meetings were held to hear dog owners' concerns and to find a replacement – which the city did. Other than perhaps dealing with an issue before council, when was the last time you heard about a municipality holding a special public meeting to address cat issues? Nothing comes to mind for me.

Again in Halifax, a few months ago the city rubber-stamped its new, fiveyear, $2.4-million animal services contract, awarding it once again to Homeward Bound City Pound. Sadly, there are no provisions for cats in this hefty contract, unlike the SPCA's lower bid, which did include programs to address the needs of cats. But instead, council chose to stay with the non-feline-friendly status quo.

So what's the result of society's systemic neglect of cats?

Well, as I don't have to tell some of you, it's an epidemic of feral and stray cats, primarily in dense urban areas, or outside cities where they find refuge and food around farms and wharves. Many of these cats are sick, spreading disease among their colonies and dying horrible and early deaths. And because they're not spayed or neutered, the cycle just continues. We are just coming out of what rescuers call “kitten season” and it's not a
time to celebrate.

Because many municipalities do not support cat rescues even just a little bit, it's left to the hard work of individual rescuers, most doing it on their own time, on their own dime, and working literally to exhaustion. Burnout among cat rescuers is, not surprisingly, very high.

But there are a few bright lights out there.

At his invitation, Inge Sadler and I met with Halifax Mayor John Savage to talk about cat issues and he seemed receptive. There have also been other meetings with city representatives by members of Spay Day HRM. The city
is also currently establishing an advisory committee to address cat-related issues, which could go a long way to bringing forth programs to battle a feral and stray cat problem and heighten education among cat owners. We're all anxious to see what this committee will look like and how the city will implement its recommendations sometime in the future. I remain cautiously optimistic.

A few years ago Cape Breton Regional Municipality began giviing a $25,000 annual grant to the Cape Breton Feral and Abandoned Cat Society, a coalition that has been aggressively tackling the feral cat problem in the Sydney area. While that money goes nowhere near covering the cost of such a program, it set the ball in motion to begin the work they're doing.

Rescues around the province are working to come up with ways to help cat owners spay or neuter their pets, including the SPCA which has two clinics – one in Dartmouth and its new one in Sydney – to help rescuers and low income households to fix their cats at an affordable rate.

But those programs and others are just a drop in the bucket until cats are put on a level playing field with dogs when it comes to increased care and concern, not only by pet owners, who would abandon their cat or let their unspayed or unneutered cat roam the neighbourhood, but also by our elected officials.

If a town is willing to spend money on staff to catch lost dogs, provide pound services and dog parks, they should also be willing to pony up the cash to help spay and neuter cats for humane population control, provide educational programs to deter abandonment and abuse, and generally promote goodwill toward the No. 1 household pet in Canada.

So next time you hear your community express support for dog initiatives, don't be afraid to stand up and ask for the equivalent for our feline friends. Or next time you hear of a cat-related story worthy of media attention, don't be afraid to pester your local news outlet for equal time. And, of course, -- which probably needs not be emphasized in this room – donate your time, money or supplies if you can – to organizations like the SPCA or cat rescues like Spay Day HRM or Pick of the Litter doing this lifesaving work with little or no governmental support.

While we all love dogs and only wish the best for them, it's time for us all to become cat advocates.

Thank you.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Sled dog people are full of hooey when it comes to chaining out dogs

A sled dog yard in Quebec

The Montreal SPCA is asking the Quebec government to ban keeping dogs chained around the clock as part of an upcoming overhaul of the province's animal-rights legislation.

There is an article on the CTV News website that interviews both the Montreal SPCA and Bernard Saucier, president of Quebec's Sled Dog Club - who gives us some very choice quotes on what he thinks about chaining dogs out. It's quite unbelievable really, what he says.

He "says anti-tethering campaigns are based on a lack of understanding, and maintains that his dogs are happier and healthier tied outside near their friends than stuck in a house all day."

"My dogs are in a park, they each have their territory, they socialize with their friends, run around their houses, go take a nap, they can urinate when they need," he said. "They get more exercise outside than lying around a house all day."

If that isn't the biggest load of hooey you've ever heard in your life - I don't know what rock you're living under.

What are the reasons that companion dogs exist in today's world?  Is it soo that they can run around a dog house continually, bark at the air and lay down next to their own feces and urine and live in a 6 foot perimeter with a chain hanging off of them their whole life - "near" their "friends" - but never able to actually touch them, interact with them or play with them?

My dogs, and all companion dogs, live inside a house - have access to water that's not been tipped over because the chain has knocked it over, usually have a plethora of toys to choose from to play with - have a soft bed - or a couch, or a soft chair to sleep on - have soft music or the tv in the background - a lot of times have a dog brother or sister that they can cuddle with and actually interact with through the day while their owner is at work - they also have the freedom to bark at any time they want to - they have access to water any time they want, and because they are trained and socialized - they hold their pee and poop inside until their owners get home.

They just hang out and relax all day and then when their owners get home they have alot of fun for a few hours, and then they have the best time of all - they get to sleep with their owners all night long - the piece de la resistance.  The best part of their day as far as the dog is concerned.

What part of this does a sled dog get?


What part of a sled dog's life could possibly make them happy?  The 30 seconds that the human is in the yard feeding them once a day?  Give me a break.

And they call that "responsible tethering".

That is no life for any animal - any predator can come into that yard and in half-an-hour kill every dog in the yard - a companion dog is safe inside a home.  A storm could come and kill every dog in a sled dog yard - no storm can kill a companion dog inside a home.  Chained dogs are not safe in SO MANY ways.

They are prey to passing transiant dogs - none of them are ever spayed or neutered, so any dog that passes by can have their way with them - they are trapped.  Any human that wants to come by can abuse and tease them.  They are marked targets.

So all of this added up makes permanently chained dogs - sled dogs, not "happier and healthier" - but in fact sad and marked targets that you can do nothing but feel sorry for - and hopefully the Quebec government will enact legislation that will do a better job of protecting them in the future.

Here is the CTV News article -

MONTREAL - The Montreal SPCA is asking the Quebec government to ban keeping dogs chained around the clock as part of an upcoming overhaul of the province's animal-rights legislation.
The animal welfare organization is launching a campaign Tuesday to raise awareness about tethered dogs, which they say are more likely to be injured or neglected, are exposed to the elements, and suffer psychological damage as a result of being constantly tied.

"Dogs are social animals. They need to be in contact with other dogs, with other animals, with people," said Sophie Gaillard, the SPCA's lawyer and animal advocacy campaigns manager.

"When they're kept isolated and deprived of the ability to play or exercise they develop very severe behavioural frustration, boredom and psychological distress," she continued.

Gaillard said approximately one-third of the complaints received by the Montreal SPCA's cruelty investigation unit concerns chained dogs.

Quebec introduced a bill earlier this year that, if passed, would see the status of animals upgraded from "movable property" to "sentient beings."

The SPCA is hoping to get a ban on round-the-clock dog tethering included in the bill or accompanying regulations, which will be debated this fall.

Gaillard said the bill would not focus on people who walk their dogs on leashes or tie them up for a short time, but rather on dogs who spend every day on a chain.

Both New Brunswick and Nova Scotia have recently passed legislation banning 24/7 tethering, as have some municipalities across Canada.

Gaillard says that in addition to welfare concerns, tethering of dogs is a "public safety issue" since dogs who are tied are more likely to attack humans or be involved in dogfights since they are less well socialized and cannot flee from perceived threats.

The SPCA's proposal may face opposition from some groups including the province's sled dog community, who commonly keep dogs outside on tethers.

Bernard Saucier, president of Quebec's Sled Dog Club, says anti-tethering campaigns are based on a lack of understanding, and maintains that his dogs are happier and healthier tied outside near their friends than stuck in a house all day.

"My dogs are in a park, they each have their territory, they socialize with their friends, run around their houses, go take a nap, they can urinate when they need," he said. "They get more exercise outside than lying around a house all day."

Gaillard maintains that sled dogs are still deprived of social interaction because they cannot touch each other and are rarely let free.

Saucier said his dogs cannot touch but are let off their tethers to play in small groups at times.

He said anti-tethering campaigns are the result of well-meaning people who want to ascribe human characteristics to their pets.

"There's not a dog kept in a house that's as healthy as ours," he said.

The SPCA is launching a website, cutthechain.ca, to raise awareness about the campaign.