Thursday, May 1, 2008

So - where do we go from here?

So where do we go from here? I think that's an important question at this point. Judith Gass has announced that she is in fact has resigned, and for some unfathonable reason - actually resigned February 2nd, but just didn't bother to tell anyone - she just kept calling herself the chief cruelty inspector for the province.
Kirsteen Thompson - manager of the Lillian Albion shelter in Amherst, wrote an interesting letter to the editor to the Chronicle Herald today - which is below. She's also a Special Constable with the NS SPCA - so she's got special insight to what's going on. Even with all the stuff that's going on at the top - she's got to go out day after day on cruelty calls and look after the mundane business of the SPCA - no matter what.

To me, there is no question that the NS SPCA is a fully functioning, wonderful institution that is protecting the homeless and abandoned animals of Nova Scotia. You see the fruition of it everyday. There are 100's of volunteers and special constables scattered throughout Nova Scotia working hard 24 hours a day. The Nova Scotia SPCA is an organzation that anyone would be PROUD and LUCKY to be associated with. I have LOVED to be doing stuff with them for years - and I think that's why people have been so passionate about trying to make things right - and have finally gone public about their struggles at the top - because they just couldn't let things go on as they had been any longer.

I think the point I'm trying to make is that it takes a lot of people to run an organization - and every part of that organization has a role to play - and they have to play their own part. And do it the best they can. It's just like running the province of Nova Scotia. I play a little part in running the province of Nova Scotia. So does Rodney MacDonald. But I don't think the province of Nova Scotia would be run quite so well if Rodney MacDonald insisted on spending most of his time driving a snow blower whenever we had a snow storm - to cut down on the cost of snow removal, now would it?

That is how the NS SPCA has been run for the last several years - and I think that the organization needs to have some different thinking be done about how it's run.

It needs to have someone come in who can work with both sides of this little war that's built up - somem very clear headed egalitarian peace maker who can get the job done of getting back to work - and involving all the branches in the process so that they feel included - and also including all the Special Constables as well in tightening up the legislation - and working with the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Justice - and ALSO the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities to make Nova Scotia the leading province in Canada in regards to animal sheltering, advocacy, humane treatment of domestic, and animals for agriculriculture - and also humane education in schools.

I think that we're at a critical point when we could go either way - and it's whoever takes over the reins at the NS SPCA right now who's going to make that decision. I just hope and pray that a good person gets in there. And I have no idea who that person is going to be, because I'm pretty sure I don't know them.

Here's Kirsteen's letter and the article about Judith Gass that was in the Chronicle Herald:

Weak legislation

Recent articles have portrayed the SPCA as ineffective and incompetent, in complete disarray and incapable of enforcing any animal cruelty laws. The reality is far different.

The SPCA works within the mandate of federal and provincial law. On an incredibly small amount of money, little or none of which comes from government funding, a group of dedicated volunteers and pair of paid employees investigate nearly 1,000 cruelty complaints each year. Often, numerous visits are made to each property in an attempt to educate the animal owners, to inform them of the law and to issue warnings if conditions do not improve. Our laws require that every effort is made to encourage owners to rectify the situation before animals may be seized. If these protocols are not followed, and the society attempts to take the perpetrators of cruelty or neglect to trial, the case will probably be lost.

It is the weakness of our animal cruelty legislation that causes most of the problems that your paper has been highlighting. When the law merely states that an animal must have "adequate food, water and shelter" and animals are seen as property, there is a lot of room for interpretation. Perhaps instead of criticizing the people who are attempting to make lives better for the animals of this province, some vocal individuals would be better off trying to get our laws changed to provide more scope to protect the welfare of animals.

Kirsteen Thomson,
L.A. Animal Shelter, Pugwash

Gass plans to resign from SPCA board
Thu. May 1 - 5:36 AM

Judith Gass, past-president of the SPCA, at work at an Annapolis County farm where 160 cattle were seized in 2006. (Gordon Delaney /
Valley Bureau)

Longtime Nova Scotia SPCA volunteer Judith Gass is planning to resign from the group's board of directors, she told The Chronicle Herald on Wednesday.

"I have been volunteering for the SPCA for a number of years in what seems to have been an `on-call 24-7' position," she said in an e-mail message. "I cannot sustain this level of commitment."

Ms. Gass, a Dartmouth lawyer, said she'll quit "once a provincial (animal-welfare) investigator is in place."

"Interviews are scheduled to take place within the next week and I therefore anticipate the resignation to be effective when that matter is finalized in the next few weeks."

She said she originally sent her resignation to the non-profit organization's board on Feb. 2 "but agreed to stay, under pressure from the provincial office, in order to assist with investigations until the investigator was in place."

Ms. Gass is a past president of the SPCA who has been publicly criticized by opponents inside the organization, which has seen its share of infighting this year.

Trouble has been brewing for the organization because of a number of issues, including how the SPCA dealt with an alleged animal cruelty case in Cape Breton earlier this year.

And just last weekend, the society's annual meeting in metro was the scene of a raucous get-together at which the three-person executive came under fire yet again.

But the executive managed to survive a confidence vote, with members voting 81-47 in favour of the board.

Ms. Gass said her principal motivation has always been to help protect animals from abuse or neglect.

"My only interest in the organization was to help out with the animals and in assisting to enforce the Animal Cruelty Prevention Act . . . to prevent and prosecute cases of cruelty," Ms. Gass said in her message. "Lately, members of the organization seem to be having difficulty with that goal, and I do not have time for board or membership squabbles."


  1. Anonymous10:44 AM

    Gass resignation: WHAT?! The only thing that popped out to me when reading the article re: Gass' resignation, is that I CANNOT believe she is a lawyer? WTF? I mean, she is educated and knows the legal system. Shouldn't she be more accountable than others because of this??? What a joke.

  2. I find it interesting she submitted her resignation the day of the C.P. seizure....