When the story was happening last year I wrote a few posts about it - initially I asked the question "Should the dogs and puppies in Westville have been seized by the NS SPCA?" - and I showed photos that Janice had provided to the public - laying bare her family life and the inside of her house with all the dogs in question, showing what she believed the was the life of a normal family with all her dogs around her, being loved, and living amongst herself and her children.
But other people saw a thin great dane being bred with a merle great dane - something that is never supposed to be done in purebred great dane circles, and there were photos taken after the seizure - and the mother Shadow - DID look really, really thin - but what about the other 21 dogs - WHY were they all seized for just one dog.
And I wrote a 2nd post - called "The SPCA's Dirty Little Secret" - which talked about just that. In that post I said -
I haven't made any further posts about the Westville dogs after my first post,
because I've felt very helpless about the story. There's nothing that can be
done about it, no way to help. Because, do you know why? This is standard
operating procedure for the NS SPCA.
I also said -
When is the Animal Cruelty Law for Nova Scotia - Bill 186 - going to come into effect? We need it now! There is a section in there that is going to have a "Animal Cruelty appeal Board composed of not more than ten members appointed by the Governor in Council for such terms as the Governor in Council determines." You can read it here - http://www.gov.ns.ca/legislature/legc/bills/60th_2nd/3rd_read/b186.htm-As far as I know - in October 2010 - we STILL don't have the "Animal Cruelty Appeal Board" that was supposed to deal with situations exactly like Janice Bingley's that would have saved heartache like hers.
Section 31 (1)
Right now there is NO ONE that a person can appeal to if they think the NS SPCA is taking advantage of them when they come to seize their animals. There is no one that a person can call or write who will listen to them - the guilty and the innocent are all lumped together - and that this not right - under any circumstances - and the fact that that exists is wrong - and cannot continue. An appeal board must be started - and soon - so that people like Janice Bingley - can have a place and a venue to get her dogs back somehow - just in case she didn't do anything wrong.
This is from Bill 186 (as passed with Amendments)
31 (1) There is hereby established a board known as the Animal Cruelty Appeal Board composed of not more than ten members appointed by the Governor in Council for such terms as the Governor in Council determines.
32 (1) Subject to subsection (3), an owner or custodian of an animal who considers himself or herself aggrieved by the removal of the animal under Section 23 may, within five business days of receiving notice of the removal, appeal the removal and request the return by notice in writing on the form prescribed by the Minister to the Chair of the Board.
(5) Within the prescribed number of days after receipt of a notice of appeal the Chair of the Board shall notify the person making the appeal and the Society or the Minister, as the case may be, of the time, date and place at which a panel of the Board will hear the appeal.
(6) The date fixed for a hearing must be not more than the prescribed number of days after receipt of the notice of appeal by the Chair of the Board and the decision of the Board must be issued within the prescribed number of days after receipt of the notice of appeal by the Chair.
(7) An appeal made under this Section does not stay the operation of an order removing an animal.
33 (1) At a hearing, the person making the appeal and the Society or the Minister, as the case may be, are entitled to hear the evidence, call and cross-examine witnesses, present arguments and be represented.
(2) After a hearing, or at any time with the consent of the person making the appeal and the Society or the Minister, as the case may be, a panel of the Board may order that an animal removed under Section 23 be returned to its owner or custodian unless the animal has been euthanized.
(3) Notice of a decision of a panel of the Board under subsection (2) must be given to the person making the appeal and the Society or the Minister, as the case may be, within the prescribed number of days after the hearing and written reasons for the decision must be given to those persons within the prescribed number of days after the hearing.
All of that would bypass the court system - and would save so much money for the dog owners - and the NS SPCA. What is holding back the Nova Scotia government? I am at a loss.
I then wrote a 3rd post - because we are bypassing the REAL culprits - and titled it "Meanwhile the real puppymillers continue unabated" - because Janice Bingley - who was being tortured and had all her animals seized - and was charged with being a puppy miller - but at the same time - REAL AND ACTUAL PUPPY MILLERS - were advertising in the Chronicle Herald and on Kijiji - and keeping enslaved dogs who had no access whatsoever to any kind of veterinary care or light or love or human family - and there was nothing the NS SPCA could do about it - and that was continuing on unabated. And that is the true and horrible tragedy of all of this.
If the NS SPCA could really do anything - I'm SURE they'd rather be focusing on that. I am sure they would.
I do have to say that I met Shadow and her new Mom at a SPCA function earlier this year - and her new Mom was absolutely convinced that Shadow was in desperate need of immediate veterinary intervention when she was seized - and that removing her from the Bingley home was the correct thing to do. She is a savvy dane owner and had to keep 24 hour watch over her for the first several days that she brought her home. She said that it was actually touch and go at some times in the first few days. Shadow grew into a lovely, and completely unphotographable dog because she wouldn't stop moving around the room that we were gathered in.
But as for the other adult dogs in the home - I hesitate to think that they should all have been either seized - or at the very least - not have been returned - even the animal abusers MacIsaac's got some of their dogs back - and Bud Wheatley got one of his dogs back. That was truly cruel and unusual punishment.
At least there is a new chief cruelty inspector in the province now that I hear is a super addition to the management team - and the decisions that were made in 2009 - will never be made that way again. And I am very glad to hear that.
Below is an article from the New Glasgow paper yesterday about the story. Congratulations to Janice and her family for this small victory.
Court ruling prompts SPCA to change procedures
The provincial SPCA says they’ll be changing their procedures after charges against a Westville woman they say was running a puppy mill were dropped in New Glasgow court on Friday.
The SPCA charged Janice Bingley under the Animal Cruelty Act and seized 22 dogs and puppies from her home last October, but the charges were dismissed Friday after Bingley successfully challenged the search warrant the association obtained, saying it violated her charter rights. Neil Fraser, chief provincial inspector with the SPCA, says there has been a change in personnel and policies since this case began last October.
“We’re certainly going to be using this as a learning experience,” he said outside New Glasgow provincial court. Fraser, who took over the chief’s role in April, came short from saying the SPCA was disappointed in the outcome.
“This is why we have court systems,” Fraser said. “We came there and put our case forward and they put theirs forward, and the court ruled in their favour. It’s why we have a justice system.” Meanwhile, Karen Bingley, Janice Bingley’s sister, said she was very pleased with the ruling. “We’re pleased with the ruling, but unfortunately it’s a year too late,” she said. “We sought help from al avenues to get the animals back. We knew the warrant was wrong from day one and we requested the warrant be investigated.”
Janice Bingley’s seven adult dogs, plus an additional dog she was caring for, and the 22 puppies have since been adopted by families and Judge Del Atwood told the family he was unable to order the dogs be returned, indicating they would have to pursue other legal means for their return. Janice Bingley says she’s determined to continue fighting.
“I want my family back,” she stated.
Karen Bingley, who represented her sister in court, said that they will consider their legal options before moving forward.
ps - people have asked me why I've been generous with this story, and not generous with another story that's working its way through the court system - and my answer to that is - #1 because I have opinions like everyone else does - it just happens that I also have a blog, but not everyone else has a blog where they can transmit their opinions to anyone who cares to read them. #2 is that the Bingley's always kept it about the dogs, whereas the other case very quickly degraded to becoming about the dog owner, and very little about the actual dog - which became very telling - and also became very lampoonable. And very much too bad for the dog.