Monday, February 4, 2008

The aftermath of Celtic Pets

What can I say. What has happened down in Port Hastings Cape Breton is an animal hoarding tragedy of national proportions. My friend Zonda MacIsaac is a woman who has been ill for a long time and has been hiding her illness from the whole world - me included.

And it is so unfortunate that this illness affects other sentient beings in a real and horrible way. Animal hoarding is a horrible - I can't think of any of adequate adjective to describe what it could be like - for the animals, or for the human suffering the disease.

And to the person who thought that snapping little dog WASN'T her little dog Charlie? It actually WAS. It was her little dog Charlie - she had let her own dogs get into that condition and live in cages.

The photo at the top of this post is Zeus. He's a bulldog that's been living at Zonda's for way too long. I'd like to personally apologize to him. He's a former chained dog that I had no idea that Zonda had possession of. I've been going back through cached pages of Zonda's website and the first time he shows up is March 5, 2005. That is too long to be waiting for a home, Zeus. I wish I would've known about you.

Mental illness is something that can just sneak up on you. It can fool you into thinking that you're making all the right decisions. That's when the people around you are supposed to step in and say - you're acting crazy - go get some bloody help! Wasn't there ANYBODY down there who saw the conditions in her kennel and house? Who knew that dogs were trying to eat through their cages and that they'd been there for years? If I'd known that I would've had a completely different take on the whole thing and would've moved heaven and earth to get her the help she needed.

But to all the people who are currently villifying her and calling Zonda a monster - she is NOT a monster - she is a person who needs help. Please encourage her to go get that help - she does not need any hatred right now - she needs medical intervention. She has been in a hospital since the seizure of the animals, and I'm glad for that.

If you see her - help her. If you talk to her - help her. She needs it now more than ever.

The animals are all now safe - they are all going to be fine and go to safe homes and have happy lives for the rest of their lives. It's all over. We've all learned a lot - all of us have. We have all learned that serious animal hoarding can even happen here amongst the seeming most innocuest rescuer.

It can even happen to our friends and we have no idea that it's happening right under our nose.

Here are some links about animal hoarding for you to have a look at - it might give you some insight:


  1. Anonymous9:20 PM

    I was frustrated by your previous comments mainly because there are some great people who work with the SPCA. Most are volunteers. This entry is much more your style. We should help the animals and people who need it most. Of note Alice knew everything about the house and kennel.

  2. Anonymous9:24 PM

    how could u not know this was going on if you were such good friends with Zonda? Did u never see the living conditions these animals were in? I was completely sick tonite when I saw this on the news, after I pleaded with spca not shut her down. I feel terrible about myself I almost hate myself for the letter I wrote, Zonda is a sick woman that should be caged up and forced to live in those exact conditions those animals lived in and left there to rot like she left those animals too. Shame on her. God will punish her for what she has done. And to think that I almost went to Celtic Pets to adopt a cat and changed my mind and went to the Metro shelter instead. I think Ii would have went into a rage if I saw with my own eyes how those animals were being treated. Those poor animals, my heart and prays go out to them tonite, especially the ones that are scared and frightened and trembling tonite due to her disgusting neclect.

  3. Anonymous10:56 PM

    I'm glad you have finally acknowledged what Zonda has been doing to these animals all along. I was absolutely outraged with your previous entry!

    What concerns me still though is that you are still defending her. Is this actually a case of "animal hoarding" or is it simply an easy excuse for appauling neglect?

    I'm sure I'll have nightmares tonight.

  4. Anonymous12:12 AM

    I posted a comment on your web page yesterday and I just saw your comment on how you wouldn't be posting the entries that you thought were harsh.

    Joan, what Zonda did was harsh. If you chose to post support for Zonda on your blog, at least allow people to refute your blurb of bs.

    Perhaps you're just a person who can relish in having the last word, therefore you only post the entries that don't ruffle your feathers.

    Think of the animals. Friends come and go throughout your life. An animal is the one true companion you can count on. I hope this doesn't sound too harsh, but I feel that you're letting the animals down by encouraging people to feel bad for Zonda. IF she needs help, I certainly hope she gets it. But from now on, you should focus your sympathy on these animals.

    I would appreciate you posting this on your web page. I do hope that Zonda receives the help she needs if she is indeed a hoarder. However, that is just speculation at this time. To me, this is neglect in its' worst.

  5. Anonymous12:13 AM

    very good post Joan.
    I agree Zonda needs help not hate.

    Jeannie :o(

  6. Anonymous12:35 AM

    A claim of mental illness is of no excuse here. I met with Zonda to adopt a pet and she seemed of sound mind enough to know right from wrong. Her preaching animal rights is like Hilter preaching Human rights. Such a disturbing display of cruelty, may she and all those who knew of her disgusting actions be severly punished. She is the Michael Vick of Cape Breton.

  7. Guido Scharfenberg12:55 AM

    It is not my way to judge anyone without knowing him/here (contrary to others), but what I have read here, needs at least a comment! Dear Joan, you ask, if nobody had realized this!! Yes I did!! But unfortunally, I only was judged by Peoples who don't know me at all!! They called me disgruntled, nasty and more!! But nobody contacted me to ask about the proofs I have, maybe it was just much easier this way!! Instead, peoples have write support letter about a place they never have seen (this is the ugly part!! everyone of you would have seen it from the outside)!! Now, I have to read a comment from you Joan, if nobody have seen......! Yes, but you have not listened, you just have judged, like other ones to!! Even called it the God honest truth, could you imagine how it felt!!! You also ask, what can I say: Maybe a sorry to the Neighbour would be start?!
    To the end: I have read a lot of "support letters" for this Animal cruelty and it made me sick, because I was always thinking: do this peoples know, that they slow down the process of rescue this Animals.......later I was thinking: maybe this dog and cat would be still alive......
    Now, I wish you all a wonderful life at your Computer.......and a very goooooooood night sleep!!

  8. Anonymous1:12 AM

    Unfortunately this is not an isolated situation. There are many people who run so called "rescues" out of their homes that people think are respectable but no one ever seems to check out the environment that the animals are being kept in. It is a shame!

  9. Anonymous9:28 AM

    I agree with you she is clearly sick.
    But you make a point that needs to be addresed, her mother AN SPCA AGENT and her husband allowed this to happen, and what about all the people in the comunity that tried in vain to do somthing over the past year, the neighbours? the local VETS spoke out, complaints were made to the so called "HEROS" the spca who didnt do anything for months and months. Zonda posted some letter stateing that she was not under investigation, that the neigbours were harrasing her and some Private Investigator had been involved. Are all these people ill? The system let these animals down. Zonda, her family, the SPCA, the RCMP, all those that turned a blind eye.

    Your "friend" may be sick, but what about the people who were not that tried. The SPCA knew about this for a long time, Alice MacIsaac who was SPCA allowed this to happen.....please she sick as well, what your next excuse for Zonda going to be. THere are many people to blame here..

    I live in the Port hawkesbury area and many residents have known about this for a long time. Many have lived in fear of Alice and Zonda becasue of the authority they were given. Im so pleased that these animals are safe and that this is now at an end.

  10. Anonymous9:44 AM

    My feeling is that it is always good in life to try to see the best in people if you can. Mental illness is a very real and serious thing. I will not pass judgment until the doctors make their assessment. We cannot be judge and jury. Obviously I think the entire situation is completely unacceptable and I am aghast at the treatment of these poor animals. There aren't words for the horror. But, IMHO this was coming on for a while (well about two years when SAAR started out who's website is still up looking for donations btw - and if there had been a proper investigation two years ago it would never have become this tragic. So, all we can do is hope something good comes out of something bad because it is high time that we used more scrutiny in dealing with private rescues. We do, as the humane society says, require watch dogging and accountability. And the SPCA needs tougher laws to support them so they can do their job effectively. They never had a legal leg to stand on to investigate and enter her premises until a named complainant came forward. I personally had people come to me wanting the SPCA to investigate based on their dealings with Zonda but they did not have the courage to give out their name and without their name the SPCA could not legally act. Anyway, let's hope someday a ray of sunshine comes out of this tragedy. You know they never put a stop sign at an intersection until there is an accident. Unfortunately that is the way things work. We do what we can and we do what we know and when we know better we do better.

    ang & nelson

  11. Anonymous10:34 AM

    This situation breaks my heart - I don't know if there is any right or wrong here. I think there is some of both. One thing I hope comes to fruition is some sort of inspection of animal "rescue" sites. These poor animals may have been helped a lot sooner.


  12. Anonymous12:03 PM

    Why did Zonda do this? Why did her husband and mother allow this to go on? I'll tell you why - $500 a month and $20 for every call that they got as the contracted animal control for the municipality is why this happened. Zonda isn't a mentally ill hoarder, she and her family are morally reprehensible greedy humans who liked money more than the animals they pretended to care about.

  13. Anonymous1:11 PM

    Thar last comment is very interesting, if it is true. How could the conditions have gotten so bad if she was the contracted rescue for the area?

    Also, I was thinking that Zonda was just sick but that comment made me reexamine it. How could her mother and husband allow her to keep the animals in that condition if not for the money. For this to have happened indicates some shadiness for sure.

  14. I read this story in the paper, on the news, on the internet, but I also heard from a lady on a message board I frequent that the media was wrong. I always need to know the situation personally before forming a full opinion, and so I will not be passing any judgements on the owner of Celtic Pets. I have to say, I was very happy to have found this blog and hear this side of the story. It is refreshing to hear someone both defend her and at the same time admit that the conditions were... well, less than adequet. I just hope the animals all make it into a better situation. It is most unfortunate for THEM.

  15. Anonymous1:58 PM

    The animals are not fine. More will likely have to be put down. It is nowhere near over. The cost associated with trying to rehab these animals etc. will be enormous. It is fine for you to support your friend but be clear on this point. The suffering will continue. She has left a legacy of shame.

  16. Anonymous6:02 PM

    To the person that was going to adopt a cat from Zonda and changed her mind.
    You wouldn't see the place where the animals were living in those conditions because she would clean a couple of cats up and take them to you or meet you somewhere with the papers for the donation !!

  17. Zonda is not the only person to blame for the way these animals were living. The so called "disgruntled"neighbour had called the RCMP and the SPCA over a year ago. If these officals had did their job these animals would of had to live in such terrible conditions. As for having to leave your name when you make a complaint the neighbour had. If it wasn't for the neighbours presistance what else would have happened to these animals.
    In my opinion this shelter was just a money maker for Zonda, $500.00 a month and $20.00 for each dog she picked up. On her web site you had to make a donation before you could get an animal. If she was such an animal lover why was she selling them. She also had a write up on her Celtic Pets site on how to care for your pet, I guess she didn't write it because she didn't follow her own advice.
    Zonda MacIsaac should be put in a kennel without water or food for several days and to live in her own waste and see how she likes it.
    As for being sick is this a cover up because there is nothing worse than harming an innocent animal or her "furkids" as she called them.Zonda deserves to pay and pay dearly.
    As for the so called "disgruntled" neighbour he deserves a pat on the back. He cared enough for the animals to keep on the backs of the officals, he wasn't scared of Alice(Zonda's mother) or Zonda.

  18. Hi Joan,

    That is a really great post. I can have empathy for Zonda if mental illness is the case as I feel confident it is.

    If it isn't in the case of Alice or anyone else the reaction should be the same - we need to have regulations in place that will never allow a situation like this to carry on for so long no matter what the reason.

    I think the important thing is to move on to understanding why the complaints of Mr. Sharfenberg weren't able to catch this much earlier.

    I think people need to stop babbling about what happened and start doing something so it can't happen again!

    People can donate but also they can start writing their ministers and Rodney and our Prime Minister to put in appropriate laws to protect us and the animals from ever having to face such a tragedy again.

    Help people like Mr. Sharfenberg be taken seriously and have it understood that complaints have merit and the power is there to investigate to the fullest.

    Any person properly fostering or sheltering rescues should welcome such laws and regulations.

    In the case of Mr. Sharfenberg's complaint Zonda never would have had to write the letter to all of us. The situation would have been brought to light much sooner hopefully.

    Mr. Scharfenberg's complaint should have meant a full investigation. Every building on the property should have willingly been open to investigators. The truth could not have been hidden.

    I dont blame anybody but the system and we need to change the laws and regulations. Our efforts should be placed in unanimously demanding change.

    Zonda's mental illness perhaps could have been caught earlier and so the animals would not have had to suffer as much as they have.

    It is to everyone's benefit to contact the government and demand appropriate change and implementation.

    Joan, your heart is so in the right place regarding Zonda. I agree with you regarding mental illness etc.

    I would like to say to Mr. Scharfenberg that I think the animal rescue community has learned a lot and have a lot to think about and appreciate more now than you ever could conceive that this is a situation that none could even consider being the truth amongst their own community. Please bear patience with us as we struggle with our own emotions and reactions regarding this tragedy.

    I am not sure I can fully understand the illness Zonda may have that could allow this to happen. I don't know everything. I just want to protect the animals from it.

    The animals need us. Let's all work together for them.

    Heather Morrison

  19. Anonymous2:34 PM

    Great comments from everyone and all have a lot of merit. Unfortunatley I also made a written complaint back in January of 2006. This complaint was sent to the RCMP, the NS SPCA and all of its board members, the Town of Port Hawkesbury as well as many other people. Although the NS SPCA indicated that they conducted an investigation this is not true. In fact, not one of the witnesses were contacted and the only thing that took place was both Alice and Zonda were contacted and provided a heads up. Unfortunately it did not save any animals back then and although I personally know that there were not hundreds of animals hoarded in the house back then only a handful they were still chained in the cold basement and left with no food, water or human contact for days. This was all in my report along with photos and a video. Too bad no one listened then. Agree something is definitely very wrong with the system and it needs to be changed. I also agree that when complaints are made their should be a thorough investigation and regular inspections should be made on all shelters. Mental illness is not a joke but it is neither her nor there as the very people who were supposed to protect the animals fell short for whatever reason. Simply just doesn't make sense.

  20. Anonymous10:16 AM

    please tell me if Zeus is ok--did he go to a new home

  21. As of July 2, 08 - Zeus is up for adoption at the Dartmouth SPCA shelter - see post at