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

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.

On page 27 and 28 of the Westville Nova Scotia dog bylaw - - 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 -

The press release that was posted today is here -

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 - 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

Their report - which will absolutely blow you away - is at

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.

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,, to raise awareness about the campaign.

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 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, 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. focuses on healthy pet food, and their Facebook group (Planet Paws Pet Essentials) regularly posts pet news.

The Canine Agility Association of Nova Scotia ( 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 ( 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 - - 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.