Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The NS SPCA Sticks its neck out

Yesterday Sean Kelly spoke on behalf of the Board of the NS SPCA at the Law Amendments Committee who were going over Bill 186 to amend the animal cruelty legislation here in Nova Scotia. Sean thinks that it was one of his better speeches - and he's a pretty good public speaker - so it must have been pretty good! I meant to get down there, but a little earlier in the afternoon I'd been on the radio for what I thought was going to be a couple minutes but turned into an hour call-in show, so I was pretty frazzled and needed to partake in some popcorn farts toute-suite - so I didn't get to Province House unfortunately.

There's a super article in today's Chronicle Herald about what Sean said yesterday - and a very disappointing response for the Minister of Agriculture Brooke Taylor.

Owners of dogs who partake in the purebreed dog fancy are going to be very unhappy with what went on yesterday because the SPCA wants to make it illegal for any person in Nova Scotia to alter an animal for cosmetic purposes - specifically docking of tails, cropping of ears, declawing, or removing vocal cords.

Personally, I don't see this passing as part of the animal cruelty law - I could see this being a position statement for the SPCA, and a policy of the Nova Scotia Veterinary Association - but the CKC is not going to let this one go I don't imagine.

As well, the NS SPCA wants to make it illegal to have any aspect of dog fighting in the province, which is awesome - as well as being able to put your dog loose in the back of a moving truck.

Another big thing the article doesn't mention is that the SPCA wants to be have any animal facility - any animal broker, groomer, day care, kennel, zoo, rescue, humane society, a breeder of more than 2 litters a year - be licenced and regulated under the animal cruelty act. Now THAT would be something amazing, I think - and how anyone could argue how that would be a bad thing - I would like to debate THAT with them! haha!

The Metro paper had a really good take on Sean's speech - I like their version better than the Chronicle Herald - here's what they said:

SPCA calls for ban on dogfighting and cosmetic surgery for pets

Michael Vick might have gotten away with it in Nova Scotia.

Currently Nova Scotia has no laws banning dog fighting. Yesterday the SPCA lobbied government to change that.

“Federal legislation is so weak right now that only, I believe, one quarter of people who get charged are convicted,” said SPCA board member Sean Kelly.

Kelly said participants can only be charged for cruelty to animals, but banning dog fights would make it easier to convict abusers.

The government seemed receptive, with agriculture minister Brooke Taylor saying he would work to see such laws put in place.

The organization also called for the government to ban cosmetic surgeries such as ear cropping and declawing on animals.

Kelly said veterinarians often refuse to do such surgeries, which drives owners to do the surgeries themselves without proper anesthetics.

“If they did it themselves, that’s cruel. I’m worried that within the (Animal Protection) Act they’re going to try and find some way out of it,” said Kelly.

“So if we just point blank make it all illegal, then we can charge them under the act.”

Taylor said he’d need to study the SPCA proposal before making a decision.

Here's the article from today's Chronicle Herald paper:

Docking ban on the docket

Cosmetic alterations among issues in consideration for animal protection law

By AMY SMITH Provincial Reporter

Nova Scotia should ban cosmetic procedures on animals such as tail-docking and ear-cropping, the legislature’s law amendment committee heard Monday.

Sean Kelly, a member of the board of the Nova Scotia SPCA, said animal protection legislation before the House should be amended to make altering an animal for cosmetic reasons illegal. He said that would include declawing and removal of vocal cords.

"When it’s done properly by a veterinarian and the animal is properly anesthetized, everything is usually fine. However, there are a lot of people taking this into their own hands," he said after his presentation. "There is no way to crop a dog’s ears humanely without anesthetic."

Mr. Kelly said removal of the vocal cords prevents an animal from communicating when it is in pain. He said the New Brunswick Veterinary Medical Association has recently stopped all cosmetic surgery for animals, adding the majority of vets in Nova Scotia don’t crop, dock or remove vocal cords.

Lendra Barker, an owner and exhibitor of Dobermans, said she fears such a ban would drive some people to do the cosmetic procedures themselves.

She said she has always had her dogs’ ears and tails done by a vet under anesthetic and doesn’t think the practice is cruel.

"I have had Dobermans for 30 years, and the general public wants them cropped and docked," Ms. Barker said. "I guess it’s just a look that we prefer."

Lee Steeves, director of the Canadian Kennel Club for Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, said the club is reviewing best practices for purebred dogs.

"Will we see changes over the next few years? Absolutely. Is it something that should be mandated by a legislature? Absolutely not," Ms. Steeves said.

Agriculture Minister Brooke Taylor said he will review the suggestion.

"Some (procedures on animals), I think, are quite ethical but then there might be others that, in fact, might be inappropriate."

The minister seemed a bit more receptive to another of Mr. Kelly’s suggestions — to make it against the law to put an animal in the back of an open pickup truck without a crate or safety harness.

"If it’s more safe and more humane, then I would be for that," the minister said.

Mr. Kelly told the committee there should be an entire section in the act to wipe out animal fighting and prohibiting the possession of an animal for fighting. It should also be illegal to attend, fund or profit from animal fights, he said.

Mr. Kelly said NFL quarterback Michael Vick, in jail for bankrolling a dogfighting ring in Virginia, might have gotten away with it if the case had been in Nova Scotia.

The minister, who called dog fighting abhorrent, said he will speak to his staff about bringing in the rules that Mr. Kelly spoke about.

A group from Dalhousie University also made a presentation, saying it’s not necessary to have the SPCA oversee care of research animals because that is already done by the Canadian Council on Animal Care. The council and SPCA both oversee animal testing, but amendments to the legislation would remove the SPCA.

But Mr. Kelly said there needs to be oversight by an organization that isn’t affiliated with animal testing.


  1. Anonymous10:26 AM

    >>>Mr. Kelly told the committee there should be an entire section in the act to wipe out animal fighting and prohibiting the possession of an animal for fighting. It should also be illegal to attend, fund or profit from animal fights, he said.<<<

    There's not now? Oh my...

    Go Sean...great effort.

    I will be tackling the dog fighting issue on WOOF soon, and already brought it up a while back but didn't really know this. How awful!

    Anyway...great work.

    ang & nelly

  2. Anonymous11:40 AM

    I hope Nova Scotia will have a different policy than Ontario does as far as the "rescued" fight bust dogs.


    [quote]It is standard policy to euthanize dogs seized as part of a dog fighting investigation. Though these dogs may be very friendly towards humans, they are extremely aggressive towards other dogs and can typically not be rehabilitated.[/quote]

    Apparently Ontario hasn`t heard about the dogs rescued from the Vick Fight Bust and other Fight Bust dogs who have been given a chance.


    I wonder what Ontario does with children who are rescued from abuse/pedophiles and such.

    Would a person call and report abuse if the victims were going to be killed after "rescue"?

  3. Anonymous11:48 AM

    How much dog fighting do they think goes on in Nova Scotia, just for the record?

  4. There are pockets of it here in Nova Scotia - and especially around the metro region - there's more of it than you would think - anywhere that people think that they themselves are tough, and they think their accessories can also be tough and they can make some money at it - there is going to be dog fighting - they see it as being part of a sub-culture - but in reality it's just causing abuse to the animals and everyone who condones it.


  5. Tracy M11:59 AM

    The NBVMA recently passed their own laws....no more ear cropping, tail docking or dew claw removal. Unfortunately, declawing of cats was left out. And the NBSPCA will be prosecuting anyone found performing these on their own...it will be considered cruelty and practicing medicine without a license.

  6. Anonymous3:37 PM

    I personally am all in favor of having daycares etc all licensed and as some of you may know I proposed the very same thing to HRM during the A300 public hearing - and for dog walkers too!

    Re: any dogs seized - should be PROPERLY assessed - but then again that would mean that the SPCA itself has properly trained personal to assess dogs - BUT not all dogs that have been in the fighting ring need to be PTS - as one of the posters mentioned just look to the Vick case where many of the dogs were successfully rehabed.

    I am hoping that the Prov. Gov't will finally open up their pockets so staff can get the proper training in dog behaviour or at least to be able to CONTRACT out for qualified persons to assist with assements.

    Janet and the Casbah Crew