Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Media from SPCA AGM on April 26, 2008

Here are the news stories from Saturday's AGM:

As well - here are the news stories:

Curbing cat fights

Tue. Apr 29 - 4:46 AM

THE FUR was flying at the weekend meeting of the SPCA, forcing the province to impose a legislative muzzle on the agency responsible for preventing cruelty to animals.

It wasn’t the animals causing a ruckus Saturday at a Halifax hotel; it was the people responsible for protecting cats and dogs being cruel to each other. The three-hour, closed-door meeting produced a confidence motion against the executive, with those in charge surviving. But the discord left over from the handling of 100 animals at a Strait area shelter spilled out in the hallways. The chairman faced name-calling and yelling and a Chronicle Herald reporter was shoved out of the room.

The unruly behaviour made headlines, but also ruffled the feathers of Tory lawmakers. After receiving "a lot of feedback" and a staff report about the meeting, Agriculture Minister Brooke Taylor says he’ll fast-track new legislation to curb squabbling inside SPAC ranks. While the animal welfare agency has its own bylaws, it falls under the Animal Cruelty Prevention Act, enabling Mr. Taylor to intervene.

Too bad an agency responsible for preventing cruelty to helpless animals can’t manage its affairs. Hopefully cooler heads will prevail, and the SPCA will find ways to settle its internal problems. The ability of the agency to protect animals is being undermined by constant cat fights among humans.

Lawyer defends SPCA talk
Degen dismisses criticism of ‘Chatty Cathys’ comment
By CHRIS LAMBIE Staff Reporter
Tue. Apr 29 - 5:43 AM

A Dartmouth lawyer who came under fire for controversial statements he made at a closed-door meeting of the province’s animal welfare agency says he’s not a sexist.

Terry Degen chaired the SPCA’s annual general meeting in Clayton Park on Saturday.

"Let’s deal with what we have," Mr. Degen told about 120 society members 2 1/2 hours into the sometimes raucous three-hour session.

"We have a whole room full of Chatty Cathys."

A recording of the meeting obtained by The Chronicle Herald shows some people were clearly offended by that comment.

"Excuse me?" one woman said.

"You’re in a room with a lot of women," said another.

"I know that," Mr. Degen replied.

"Every time I go to a meeting with the board, I go back against the wall because I’d like to neuter everyone." In an interview Monday, he said his comments should not be construed as sexist.

"I have five sisters and I’ve been married for about 30, God, a lot of years," Mr. Degen said. "Those people know what I’m like."

He noted one of his former secretaries was at Saturday’s meeting. "They know I’m not sexist. That’s my personal twist on it."

Asked why he believes his comments are still headline fodder, Mr. Degen said: "It’s a fairly combative group of people all trying different ways to do the same thing."

Several people who were at the meeting noted the "Chatty Cathys" comment. They also reported that Mr. Degen said there was so much "estrogen in the room I wanted to neuter myself."

But Mr. Degen said he does not think he mentioned the word estrogen during the meeting, and it is not audible on the recording.

"I don’t think it was reported correctly," he said.

On the recording, Mr. Degen can be heard several times trying to hurry the meeting along. At one point, he shouts out, "Pitter-patter, let’s get at ’er." At another, he tells the crowd he wants the meeting to wrap up by 4 p.m.

"The real notion is that if every person was allowed to speak for as long as they wanted to speak, we would still be there," he said Monday. "And they wouldn’t have dealt with the issue of why they were speaking, which was whether or not they had confidence in the board."

During the meeting, the SPCA board, which has faced public criticism by members and former members for its handling of an alleged animal cruelty case in Cape Breton, survived a confidence motion. The vote was 81-47 in favour of the board.

Saturday’s meeting was closed to the public so "everybody could say what they’d like to say," Mr. Degen said.

"It was meant to be a free flow of comments. So there were lots of things that lots of people were saying that I don’t think that they would want in the open."

Mr. Degen, 55, ran twice unsuccessfully for the Dartmouth East seat in the provincial legislature as a Progressive Conservative. On Monday, he said he has no plans to try again.

"I think I’m content doing what I’m doing," he said.

If he changes his mind and decides to run again for public office, the "Chatty Cathys" comment is likely to resurface.

"Before someone becomes a candidate, they have to pass a fairly invasive scrutiny of their background," said Scott Armstrong, provincial Tory party president.

"Any comments anybody would make would be something we’d strongly look at before we consider them as a candidate."

HRM report slams SPCA
Burnside shelter, bylaw enforcement take hits
Tue. Apr 29 - 5:43 AM

Halifax regional council has had issues with how the Nova Scotia SPCA has provided animal control services in the metro area since 2005, a declassified HRM report says.

The report, discussed at an in camera meeting in July 2005 and recently released to the public, says staffing problems and woefully outdated shelter facilities have stood in the way of the SPCA fulfilling its contract with the city.

"There is no doubt in our mind that the current facility (at 5 Scarfe Court) makes efficient and effective shelter operation and animal handling difficult," the report states.

It lists a number of problems with the Burnside shelter, including poor drainage and ventilation, and a lack of corridors to separate the rooms where animals are housed.

The report also identifies problems with the SPCA’s ability to carry out animal bylaw enforcement and suggests the city take back this responsibility.

SPCA president Pam Keddy said she’s well aware of the report, which she helped work on in 2005.

"We knew full well going into this that the reason for the report was that the city wanted to take back enforcement services," Ms. Keddy said after an almost three-hour meeting of the SPCA board of directors Monday night.

"We knew at that time that our building is a dated building, so we knew that there were deficiencies in that."

Ms. Keddy said the SPCA has since complied with all the city’s recommendations for improvement.

"We are the SPCA and our main premise always has been helping and saving animals and that’s what we continue to do daily, even in light of negativity and bad comment," she said.

Ms. Keddy confirmed that Monday’s meeting, held at the SPCA’s provincial office in Bedford, was to discuss ways to counteract the negative attention the organization has recently received.

The SPCA has been publicly criticized by members and former members for its handling of an alleged animal cruelty case in Cape Breton earlier this year.

More recently, its three-person executive came under fire but managed to survive a confidence motion this past weekend.

The vote was 81-47 in favour of the board.

"There were some positive things already in the works and those will continue on," Ms. Keddy said Monday night. "I’m sure that will be of benefit and help with the whole transparency and everything that the members had been saying were concerns."

When pressed for details, Ms. Keddy said one of the organization’s first actions will be to improve its online newsletter. She said the SPCA wants to provide more information to the public more quickly.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting the news vids - I missed those (I caught a glimpse of me inside the meeting too!).