Thursday, May 1, 2008

Are we letting another Celtic Pets Slip By

Last week the Chronicle Herald article ran a story that no one seemed to notice or talk about. It was in the paper and then nothing. So I wanted to put it here so that maybe someone will remember it.

It's about the pound in Annapolis Royal. It's a bit of an odd story - I first wrote about that pound in 2004 when it was discovered that pound euthanized it's dogs by shooting them in the head. It was not only horrible for the dogs - but I'm sure it was also horrible for the human who had to do the job - Ron Sabean. It's my understanding that he's always been very rescue friendly, and he cares for the animals that come through the doors of the pound, so it must have been very hard for him to shoot an animal in the head.

The thing I'm worried about is the tone of the complaints, and the fact that no one can get in to see what's going on at the pound - it just sounds like what might have been going on at Port Hastings - people who HAVE gotten in complain that they saw urine and feces filled cages, and now no one can get in at all.

And it also worries me - because a volunteer from the TLC shelter in Digby is also complaining - and it was another person from the TLC shelter sho complained in 2004 about another cruelty case that went on for way too long and no one listened in that case either.

It just shows that we need better laws to inspect - government run shelters, as well as pet stores, AND homes. Someone should be able to get into this pound to do an inspection. We can't just rely on the people who are running the facility. And just let it go. At this point in our province's humane development, I don't think we can.

BRIDGETOWN — Ron Sabean takes his job seriously.

He's been the animal control officer in Annapolis County for more than 20 years and has personally placed hundreds of stray animals into homes over that time.

He's been known to occasionally take home stray kittens and nurse them from a bottle, say people who know him.

So when someone complains about the way lost and stray animals are treated in Annapolis County, he takes it personally.

"I placed 100 dogs into homes last year, myself," Mr. Sabean said in an interview outside the county's dog pound, which has recently been the subject of criticism by some local animal lovers.

"I personally have serious concerns about the pound situation in Annapolis," Kris Murdock, a volunteer at the TLC Animal Shelter in Digby, wrote in a letter to Premier Rodney MacDonald.

Her letter questions the "effectiveness" of the provincial SPCA in monitoring such facilities, given the current turmoil and complaints about that organization.

"Four years ago, it was brought to light that the pound had a history of shooting dogs that couldn't be placed," Ms. Murdock wrote.

"In addition, the facility itself was in a state of absolute filth and the animals were left by themselves with no human interaction in cages on cold cement floors."

As a result of those complaints, a group called the Companion Animal Protection Society of Annapolis County was formed to work with the county at finding foster homes for lost and stray animals.

But some issues have raised alarm bells again and people have complained to her about "filthy and deplorable" conditions at the pound, she said.

She tried to visit the facility but was told by county officials that the public was not permitted inside because of liability issues, she said.

"The SPCA seems unwilling or unable to do its job of monitoring and the organization set up to help out with the pound situation in Annapolis County seems to be having little effect on the numbers and is barred from the facility to check on the conditions inside as well as ensure that the animals are regularly fed and exercised," Ms. Murdock wrote in her letter to the premier.

She asked for mandatory monitoring of facilities where animals are housed, and she suggested the TLC shelter in Digby be a model for others across the province.

Ms. Murdock said in an interview she has tried to get information, including the number of dogs euthanized and by whom, but was turned down.

She said she was told to make a formal freedom of information application and pay the application and search fees.

"When you're met with this kind of secrecy, you don't know what to expect," she said. "If it doesn't raise some red flags, I don't know what will."

Rose and David Crouchman of Three Mile Plains adopted a border collie from the pound last year. Mrs. Crouchman said she saw inside the facility.

"It was deplorable. The odour from urine and feces was so strong it took my breath away," she said in an interview. "The floor was not clean. . . . I couldn't believe how dirty it was."

The dog had to be euthanized after it bit Mr. Crouchman.

Annapolis County Warden Peter Newton said he has not heard any complaints about the pound since the dog shooting issued was raised and dealt with four years ago.

"We work with the animal control officer and his staff, and I can't say anything bad," said Anna Clark, chairwoman of the Companion Animal Protection Society of Annapolis County.

She said no lost or stray animals are being shot.

"That was an issue four years ago and it was resolved."

Her society has 123 animals in foster care and last year found homes for 161 dogs and cats.

"I have never actually set foot inside the pound," she said. "But I have seen inside and it is clean, the runs were clean. . . . We know the animal control officer. We work with him on a daily basis and he's a kind man."

She added, "There was a time when it was not the ideal situation, but we have no qualms with anything they are doing now. Things have changed."

Ms. Clark said the pound has been renovated and enlarged over the past three years, including new outdoor runs for the dogs.

Jacquie Farrow-Lawrence, director of human resources and administration for Annapolis County, invited reporters to visit the pound after hearing that complaints were being made.

"We're not trying to hide anything, but it's not a public facility," she said.

The building is old, but the floors were clean and the smell of bleach was in the air. There was no feces or urine in the kennels and the two dogs were in the outside runs.

Ms. Farrow-Lawrence said the pound is not extravagant, but it serves only as a short-term home for animals, which are taken by the protection society after three days.

Mr. Sabean said no animals are being shot. He personally placed 100 dogs in homes last year.

He picked up 201 dogs last year. Fourteen were returned to owners, 120 were adopted from the pound, 61 were turned over to the protection society and six were euthanized by a vet.


  1. Anonymous7:02 PM

    It is my understanding that NOT all municipalities have a pound BUT do have A/C officers who get paid. There is one community that used to house their dogs in a vacant schoolbus! I am not saying anything for or against CP what my point is is that there are MANY MORE PLACES that have unacceptable, deplorable housing for animals that are being paid for by our tax dollars. Oh and I checked through the grapevine and this interesting...the schoolbus for housing dogs was used by the A/C officer in Inverness County, BG, who by the way is Rodney MacDonald's cousin!!! And if you dig a little deeper, you will find out that a common practice in "that neck of the municipal woods" was electrocution!!!!! Rod up the rectum and I whatever the rest of the process was, the animals suffered. Another one of "his favorites," leave a dog that was picked up on the back of his truck hence, there was more than one that froze to death by the time he came out and was finished his chat with his buddies. And alas, the almighty "stick a dog in an oil barrel on the back of his (oh sorry the counties truck that you and I paid for), run a pipe from the exhaust, put the animal in the barrel and kill with the fumes while he travelled in the municipal truck on the municipal cell phone along with a municipal laptop and collecting $30,000 for the 20+ years of this KNOWN (by the employers and public) inhumane behavior. When the landfill site in Strathlorne was closed, then and only then was the pressure on BG because he had no where to dump the remains. Again, please note I am not speaking for or against CP but I am saying, I know that there are things going on in that area that are beyond our wildest nightmares and I am starting to hear chat of perhaps someone (CP) who started out to make a difference and get the animals out of the area, got so overwhelmed and obviously wouldn't get anywhere by talking to municipal govt. because good old Rodney probably had a family ceildih with them at one time or another! I think it is necessary to learn everything that led up to the climax of all this and I can tell you, if no one would act when informed of this behaviour, I myself would do ANYTHING I could to try to at least keep them out of the hands of those bastards. Just food for thought. Also, if you ask if anyone at Provincical was aware...yes they were.

  2. Anonymous7:33 PM

    Now that someone has finally brought some of the issues to light about what is happening in the rest of the area down there, my boyfriend is a recreational diver and was diving in the Strait of Canso and that was his first and last there. He said that when he and his buddies were diving a few years back, they were absolutely APPALLED at how many "bags with ropes around them and rocks inside" were on the bottom; upon closer investigation of ONE bag, they found what was left of some type of baby animals. This is only hearsay from my boyfriend, I have not seen this myself as I can't swim a stroke but there is such a problem in that area that ANYONE who tries to help is no doubt (IMHO) going to get overwhelmed. It took a community to make the mess and boy it is going to take alot more than one small rescue to change the mindset down there, if ever. Just my two cents.

  3. Anonymous10:06 PM

    Oh please keep telling the stories so people will read and understand how devasting it really is and that something has to be done and the only way it will get done is with a community effort and some open acceptance that there is a problem that needs dealing with!

    My heart goes out to people trying to do something right in CB...I don't think anybody really has the full picture of how bad it is!

  4. Anonymous10:55 PM

    PLEASE, just food for thought - I do know that the people at Celtic Pets did know and do know how bad it really is and unfortunately the story can't come out from them at this time. They have seen and met with the A/C guy now retired, trying desperately to get some changes made, only to have the CEO at the municipal office say "oh please, don't tell me, I know there are some horror stories!" Again, maybe we should ask ourselves, what would we do if we were trying to make a difference in a community where the ones at the top, trying to lure in tourists through the fiddle-playing Premier, were turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to the horrendous things that they KNEW were happening with these animals that NO ONE wanted. I know I would be looking for a nasty A/C guy and introduce him to the business end of a positively charged metal prode and let him feel the pain; all I can think is that if only the SOB had to look in their eyes right at that time. I hope he rots. Again, just food for thought because you know when you look at things a little closer with all that is happening at the top with the exec., something is not adding up here. And yes, I will keep getting info out there and hopefully someone will let the Premier know that we can see he doesn't give a fiddler's F--K even about the animals in his own riding!

  5. Anonymous12:01 PM

    I also had bad dealings with Hansel McEvoy who does Animal Control in the Bras d'Or in 2005 and Wes Stubbert who was the councillor for the area. This was regarding a dog who was in the middle of a dark 100KM highway they didn't see the need to go look for. Because there are hundreds of roaming dogs and that one will probably find it's way home they told me. Nice huh?

    I also remember seeing a pickup truck on Welton St. in Sydney with about 8 large breed mixed dogs loose in the back going somewhere with a driver I didn't recognize. It was nobody from the SPCA and I asked them about it too. Could have been from a rural community and slated to be shot or something? That's what people in the know seemed to think.

    It is really really bad in Cape Breton. Those are just every day things in addition to the horror stories that are posted above. And that is why the Cape Breton SPCA has such a difficult job. But everyone craps all over them instead of trying to help them. Why didn't people help them during all the Celtic Pets publicity?

    ang & nelly

  6. Anonymous12:46 PM

    The Sydney SPCA is located almost 2 hours from Port Hastings area and most people (from my understanding) on the Port Hastings end of the island have no where to turn; Sydney is overflowing just with the animals in the CBRM. Antigonish is not a shelter, it is a branch of the SPCA so there is nothing in between. Some municipalities have make shift pounds but I can tell you, they are just that MAKE DO. God help if there is a dog in the pounds on a Friday as they are pretty well doomed unless there is another place to take them because the A/C guy doesn't want to have to "go in on a weekend" to feed and tend to the dog(s). I KNOW that there are at least 2 municipalites on that end of CB (and 2 local mainland pounds) where this has happened and it was devastating trying to frantically find a place for the dog(s). Actually there recently was a dachshund that was found roaming and CP was asked to take the little one; couldn't take any more dogs and YES, DEAD that same afternoon. Richmond County has a brand new pound with a camera system and everything; most times empty (the weekend excuse- oh and yes, it was Richmond County where the dachshund got killed because there was no room at the fancy new pound built and located right in the A/C's yard; paid for by the municipality!) PATHETIC!! I know that there is a big problem in Cape Breton, bigger than most know and yes, Sydney SPCA gets a difficult time and sometimes the crappy end of the stick so to speak but what angers me is that some people are looking at the rescues and SPCA's that are "supposed" to take the dogs/cats as "that's what you get paid for; do your job!" (These are NOT my words, these words were spoke by more than one owner who turned their back on the little furbaby that they LOVED so much until the baby came along, the allergies struck, the hair/fur drove them crazy all over the furniture, "I'm moving away, I already had one cat/dog and I can't handle two." THESE are the people that are standing behind the rescuers/shelters and getting off scott free because some of the shelters are catching hell for overpopulation and in some cases, as with CP there are charges in place. IMHO, most of the animals that are in shelters/rescues (NOT ALL - this is generally speaking) are being "represented" for adoption by a rescue person trying in their own small way to help save a life; If we look BEYOND the rescue person/shelter, BEYOND the faces of the animals, you know what we won't see because they DUMPED THEIR RESPONSIBILITY; the responsibility of 12-15 Years of animal companionship and ensuring the pet "they chose to LOVE" was a part of the family, the PREVIOUS OWNERS. Behind EVERY animal needing a new forever home, there is a story of "where I used to live" PLEASE note I am not speaking of all places in this email and I know that there are cases where things happen and the animals MUST be rehomed; I am angry when supposedly "responsible people" take a pet into the family and then "get rid of it" by handing the animal to someone else and NEVER being accountable; questioned or in some cases, they won't even give a bag of petfood to help out with the animal while
    "waiting" for a new home. The problem starts at a community level (at least in CB) and there has to be more accountability placed on the Owners of these animals so that we don't have anymore cases of overcrowding and in some cases, the ones TRYING to help taking the fall for the "I gotta get rid of him" clan. With the stroke of a pen on a surrender form or simply open the door and "let him go", the onus is now on someone else to "fix the problem." Rescues and shelters are part of the solution, AND WHO then is a part of the PROBLEM - the previous owners who in some cases, are never heard from again. Sorry, the venting went on overtime. Just my 4 cents!!

  7. I certainly hope you have all reported this to MLA's, media, RCMP and yes, the SPCA. As much as some people dislike the SPCA, they are the only animal welfare organization that is able to obtain warrants and press charges! Please, don't just report these issues to a blog. Please report them so this doesn't continue.

  8. Anonymous6:38 PM

    There are some agencies who have been made aware of these methods but nothing has happened; it is sometimes difficult to get RCMP involved because they say call the SPCA. One person contacted Municipal Affairs and was told that EACH municipality makes their own rules!!! I do know that there is a press person who has been referred to this blog previously and no doubt, that individual is still reading. I agree; this MUST stop in all AREAS.