Saturday, March 22, 2008

IS the NS SPCA Dartmouth shelter the new PETA?

How is that for a title to a post? I've named it that way, because maybe it's true. I found an article from last July in the Metro Daily News that talks about how the Dartmouth shelter will come to your neighbourhood upon your request and trap your feral cats - and then immediately KILL THEM ALL. Read below for confirmation of that - "Any feral cats - which often run in groups as large as 20 - that are trapped are immediately euthanized, (Judith)Gass said"

I would like to submit that this is not what current literature on trap, neuter, and release of feral cats suggests - but it IS something that organizations like PETA - who don't think that companion animals should exist - do exercise.

This has to be the laziest incidence of animal management that I have ever encountered in all my years of researching, volunteering, and taking part in the animal advocate community.

Scrolling down the list of comments though - one name popped up that was VERY interesting - I'm not going to say WHO it is - but it's a current (as of Marc 22, 2008) Board of Director of the NS SPCA - who left the following comment on this article - it's VERY good!:

The best solution to preventing any disease is education. Trapping and euthanizing is not the answer. Our family was horrified that a humane society would even suggest that. I'm sure if the SPCA advertised that they were trapping, neutering and releasing cats the public would be much more supportive with fund raising and volunteering. Queens SPCA has a very aggressive spay/neuter program and it has made a tremendous difference in the number of feral cats in our area.

Another commenter left a link to an EXCELLENT website - it's

Luckily as well - someone left 2 comments to this post - talking about a lady, Angela Miller (who I met last year when a group of us formed a group called Advocates for Responsible Pet Ownership in the HRM to target pet stores around Christmas time in 2006) - who has started to deal with the stray feral cat problem in the HRM on her own - check out the comments to see the local news storys about her.
What do you think?

Here is the article:

SPCA targets feral cats
Trapping program aims to stomp out breathing illness

The Daily News

The SPCA is being extra diligent about trapping wild cats roaming city streets, due to health concerns.

"This year, there's a terrible strain of upper respiratory (illness)," provincial president Judith Gass said.

"One of the reasons we're perhaps responding more to the feral colonies is because we think it's infecting the regular population, and we're pretty frustrated, because we're not being terribly successful treating this."

Many house pets venture outside, mingling with strays and - if they're not vaccinated - putting themselves at risk, Gass said.

She said the SPCA responds to hundreds of calls about feral cats each year, many from people who have tried unsuccessfully to feed and tend to the animals.

The latest call came from the Myrtle Street area of Dartmouth, where trapping will be attempted next week.

Residents are learning about the program from signs on telephone poles in the neighbourhood.

One, at the corner of Maple and Dahlia streets, features a photo of several cats and the heading Lets (sic) Solve Our Cat Problem.

"The SPCA will be trapping cats in our area during the week of July 30-Aug. 3 so cat owners can you try and keep your cats in or have their ID tags on their collars if they're out," it says.

While the wild cats are usually easy to recognize because of their aggressiveness, the SPCA often asks complainants to post "courtesy" signs so pets won't mistakenly be caught in the cage-like traps, said Gass.

Any feral cats - which often run in groups as large as 20 - that are trapped are immediately euthanized, Gass said, who owns two formerly wild ones.

That may help stem the respiratory-illness tide, which has prompted the SPCA to isolate more than 40 affected cats and kittens in a rented space in Cole Harbour.


  1. Anonymous10:47 AM

    Thankfully a group of volunteers headed by Angela Miller -- NOT the SPCA -- went into that neighbourhood and organized a program to spay/neuter and care for those cats. Many of them have also been adopted out to homes.

    Angela has since started this group and is overseeing the Myrtle Street colony as well as another one in Bedford.

    Thank god for people like her.

    Honestly, there needs to be an independent inquiry into what's happening at the NS SPCA.

  2. Anonymous10:50 AM

    From the Jan. 10 edition of the Community Herald

    Millwood woman finds homes for stray cats

    By PAT LEE Staff Reporter
    LOWER SACKVILLE — With three cats, two dogs and several rabbits, you might think that Angela Miller has her fill of pets.

    But the Millwood resident can’t say no to an animal in need and is going the extra mile to find homes for stray cats that have taken up residence in a Dartmouth neighbourhood and on a Bedford commercial property.

    Most recently, her group Taking Action to Protect Animals, has hit the Internet to introduce its adoptable furry charges to the world. The group is now listed on, an online service for non-profit adoption agencies.

    Miller, a provincial government employee, was one of several volunteers who stepped up last summer when a group of cats in the Myrtle Street area of Dartmouth came to their attention. The SPCA had planned to round up the strays and destroy them, but Miller and others instead set up a trap, neuter and adoption program.

    ”We went over and had a look at the cats, and they all seemed to be fine,” she recently recalled. ”We had them vet checked and decided to get as many of them out of there as possible.”

    Miller, who has been involved with animal rescue in various ways for about 17 years, said so far they have been able to find homes for about 11 cats from Myrtle Street.

    ”We assess them to see if they’re suitable for adoption,” she said. ”If they’re not, we have them tested, vaccinated and spayed or neutered and they’re returned to the site.”

    Not long after the Myrtle Street cats came to her attention, Miller was alerted to another group of strays that had made its home on a vacant commercial property in Bedford and were being fed by a former employee.

    ”At that place, there were 30-40 cats,” said Miller, who has agreed not to identify the property so that they will have continued access to the cats, which are also being vet checked, spayed or neutered and assessed for adoption.

    Miller said the situations on Myrtle Street and in Bedford are the fault of irresponsible pet owners who didn’t have their cats spayed or neutered.

    ”Someone puts one or two out, and they start breeding. Then they’ve got shelter and food, and it just goes from there.”

    Volunteers are feeding and overseeing the cats at both sites.

    Miller said generally kittens or younger cats are better suited to adoption, but a few older ones have been given the OK as well.

    ”I think (feral cats) are misunderstood in a lot of cases,” she said, showing photographs of some of the adoptable cats she has living in her home.

    ”For some people, it’s not the pet for them, which is why we do the assessment. But over time, they do change.”

    Miller, also known as the ”rabbit person” for her history of taking in abandoned pet rabbits, said the goal is to find as many homes as possible for the adoptable cats and spay and neuter the rest.

    ”The previous method of dealing with feral cats was round up and euthanize, and that just doesn’t work. It’s not a long-term solution.”

  3. Anonymous7:12 AM

    The decision to try and catch-and-kill cats on Myrtle St. (during the summer of 2007) in order to stem the spread of a new strain of upper resp, was obviously a HUGE mistake- for all kinds of reasons.

    I strongly disagreed with that decision and was relieved that they decided to open a satellite shelter instead. Happily, most of these cats have since recovered and found their way to their furever homes.

    Although highly critical of that decision, I should also acknowledge that in all fairness, unless one has been given the responsibility to have to even contemplate such decisions, one can never fully appreciate how difficult it can be, how many factors come into play and how desperate a situation can become when resources are so tight and there are so many animals who are crying out for help. That said, it was obviously a bad call and thankfully, the community reminded them about core values and encouraged them to think outside the box again.

    A corollary to this is that HRM should STOP dumping its problems on the shelter. For decades, the SPCA has provided a huge service to citizens yet receives no grants or significant direct funding except for rental space it provides to HRM Animal Services. HRM has been quite content to get a free ride from the SPCA for years. The Cat Bylaw issue saw the chickens come home to roost because when Council received the SPCA's cost estimate of what it would cost to implement the cat portions of Bylaw A-300, the pricetag gave Councillors a MASSIVE hairball (never mind that their own internal cost estimates provided to Councillors on 13 November 2007 were very similar). What may not have occurred to them was that even before Bylaw A-300, the SPCA was bearing the full brunt of such costs because citizens have always had the right to trap cats and bring them in to Animal Services (whereupon many would end up at the shelter).

    HRM Council recently voted to remove cat licensing from Bylaw A-300 and shift provisions regarding nuisance cats/humane trapping to Bylaw N-300 The Nuisance Bylaw. As such, HRM has a window of opportunity to finally take decisive action to resolve the issue of displaced cat overpopulation. The only way to do this, given that HRM cannot afford to spend millions on a new shelter (this is mainly why they declawed Bylaw A-300), is to first focus on hardcore areas of feral cats and to collaborate directly with Trap-Neuter-Return and Rescue Groups with a view to getting concrete results which citizens require before they fully support such approaches. Make areas such as Myrtle St. a pilot project (I've been there assisting with TNR and that area has a serious problem, but it CAN be resolved), make it work and use it as an example of what can be achieved when government, community groups and average citizens work hand-in-hand. In 1822, the province of Nova Scotia became the first place in North America to pass prevention of cruelty to animals laws at the same time they were being implemented in England. As Bluenosers and citizens of the provincial capital, we ought to be enormously proud of this fact. We should never forget that we were amongst the first to think outside the box when it comes to domestic animals issues.