Saturday, January 24, 2009

Tour of Dartmouth SPCA Shelter

So today me and a couple people has the luck to go on a tour of the Dartmouth SPCA - they've been doing some renovations over there - and the place is looking absolutely fabulous, I've got to say - the physical changes they've made to the building are going to make a lot of difference to their infection control standards for the cats especially - they've got new separate cat rooms that aren't just separated by curtains for sick and healthy cats, sick and healthy animals don't go through the same hallways, they're going to have a meet and greet area for people coming into meet dogs they're thinking about adopting before they take them out for dogs, they've put a new coat of paint out in the reception area, they've got all new flooring in the reception and kitchen area - there's just a ton of great stuff going on - and almost all of it has been donated.

While we were there there was even a lady who came to donate several hundred dollars from her work group - she works at Aliant and they do 50/50 draws and they donate the 50 part to local charities and she won the chance to choose where to donate it to - and she chose to donate it to the Dartmouth shelter - which was awesome! Her donation will pay for so much at the shelter level - everyone was so excited when she dropped it off.

We also went around and looked at the types of things that the shelter looked like they needed on a regular basis. They don't need food - Royal Canin donates all the food they require - but what they do need is washing soap for high efficiency washers -
that kind of soap is expensive, and that's the only kind they can use, because that's the kind of washing machines that they have. So they need that donated - and probably bounce would be helpful too. Towels and blankets are also easy to donate. If you have gentle leaders or harnesses - those are good.

They've also renovated their kitchen area which I'm sure will make life easier for their staff. They removed all the bins on one side that had food and treats so the area's a lot more streamlined and easier to move through, and this area also gives us ideas of things to donate. I see things like Q-tips, whiskas milk, dish soap, printer paper, alcohol, hand moisturizer, single use gloves, office supplies like scotch tape, masking tape, staples, markers, pens.

And talking about the food and stuff - I didn't take any pictures of the room - but they have totally organized a room just for stuff like that now - they obviously either have a staff member of a volunteer who is totally into organization - because they have new shelving, and everything looks really organized and you'd almost think the back area is a pet store and not the disorganized shelter that the SPCA has been in past years. In past years the excuse always was they were too busy "looking after the animals" to do things about the physical space - but I'd bet that the way things are looking now must be having a positive effect on the animals because of the boost in morale on the staff.

One thing they also need are large vari-kennels - so if you're feeling philanthropic - they need large and extra large vari-kennels at the moment.

Another thing the shelter needs is foster families. If you have space in your home for more animals - dogs and cats - but you don't want a long term committment - you should apply to the shelter so you can help the shelter save the dogs a lot of mental anguish. Today we saw 3 or 4 dogs who were just so unhappy about being in cages - and it would be so unnecessary if there were adequate foster homes. It doesn't take any longer to find perfect forever homes when you have the wonderful resrouces of Petfinder - but it's SO much better for the dogs who can't handle the shelter environment.

Dog walkers too - if you're in the area and you can walk a dog or two - in the morning or around 5pm - walk a dog. It'll make a difference.

Some of the dogs we met today were so beautiful too -

First off though - I have to talk about the 3 rats - if there's any rat lover out there, of whom I am one. I used to have rats, so I love rats. They have 3 rats at the moment, and they're beautiful and friendly, and lovely. And of course they've got to go together because rats can't live by themself. And I think they're offering an awesome deal on them.

We met Lou - who in her cage is looking awful - so sad and timid - but we saw her outside being walked, and she was transformed, looking happy and hopeful - she's been at the shelter since November - which is way too long - she's such a beautiful collie mix - she really needs to either be adopted or get into a foster home.

Jacques is such a beautiful dog, isn't he? I also took some video of him which I put in a separate post - he's been at the shelter for 5 months! It's probably because he's really young and he pulls like crazy because he's just so happy to be out - but Sean had him doing perfect sits and was laying down - and he wanted to please like there was no tomorrow. He is going to make someone such a great dog - and 5 months is way too long to be at the shelter - he needs a home now.

Puppies! This is one of the puppies there - they'll be available for adoption next week - so keep your eyes open if you're looking for a puppy.

This is the new revamped reception area - I think it's looking great

I put these photos and others in a photo album on my Picasa site - I've got a slide show below.


  1. Anonymous9:35 PM

    Fantastic! Though Lou is a girl, not a boy! The other change they made was that they teared down a wall in the entrance way to make the lobby bigger.

  2. Seriously! What is Lou short for? haha! I just went in and fixed that. And I never noticed that about the reception area - but now that you said that - you're right - that wall is gone - that's why it seemed so much more spacious. That wall was really useless.


  3. Hmmm, a co-worker of mine has applied to be a foster and was approved, but has been told there are no cats needing fosters. Odd.


  4. Cat's mostly need to be fostered when they have medical issues - and there might not be any sick cats there at the moment - but we did see some dogs who could use foster homes. That's the difference between dogs and cats - cats tend to be a lot more laid back about their short term living conditions.


  5. Anonymous9:57 PM

    Thank you Joan for doing this piece, it is great to see all the progress the Metro shelter is making recently, I'm sure most people were not aware of these changes. The reception area doesn't even look like the same place, it was so drab and grungy before and now it looks so clean and fresh and open. It just proves that with the right people, and focus on the right things, anything is possible!

  6. Anonymous10:30 PM

    Lou is short for Lou Lou or some of the staff call her Lou Lou Bell. She is an absolute doll, and is nervous of people, but is not believe to have been abused or anything like that. Once she is used to you she jumps up and barks and acts like a normal collie!

    The decrease in sick cats could be because of those amazing changes!

  7. Anonymous11:22 PM

    Great job everyone. You have a lot to be proud of. Your hard work is evident.

    I'm particularly thrilled to see the renovated lobby. That used to be such a nightmare. We adopted a cat not long ago and picked him up on a Saturday. Oy. We had to wait in the lobby for a few minutes while the paperwork was being done up and we were squeezed in there with others there to walk dogs, ask questions and one guy was even dropping off a stray cat. It was pandamonium! I was only there for about 10 minutes and just about went out of my mind. I felt bad for the staff and volunteers who were there every day!


  8. Anonymous8:22 AM

    Nice to see something positive on the SPCA, rather than all the negative bashing by a certain someone as of late.

    Joan I see you are no longer a link on Francesca's come?

    thanks for the unbiased perspectives in your Blog!

  9. Anonymous9:31 AM

    Like Joan and all - I was gob smacked at the wonderful changes at the Metro shelter - just have to wonder what the 'double H hockey sticks' the past admin was doing when they claimed they spent so much time at the shelter - the changes are amazing - and actually SIMPLE in logic ...and it is all for the best of the animals. Their is no longer a smell to the facility and it just makes much more sense in layout!
    The staff is visibly happier and not to over due it but I am sure the animals are happier too! ( at least they are in better digs)
    NOW this is NOT to say that the shelter is finished RENO's - far from it - so please if any of you that read Joan's blog have any connections in the building trades and supplies - let us KNOW! Flooring would be great - you know that wonderful cushy stuffs that costs a fortune!
    and PLEASE crosspost Jacques - he brought tears to my eyes - he is just a huge love bug that wants to learn and be loved!
    Janet and the Casbah Crew

  10. Anonymous11:09 AM

    I went to visit the shelter today for the first time in a long time too. WOW the work they have done! What a difference a year makes!

    I really want to say a BIG thank you to all the staff for hanging in there through all the changes and pressures they have been put under to facilitate the transformation of the shelter.

    As janet does make you wonder why this wasnt able to happen in the past.. but at this point thats the past and I am looking forward!

    Check it out for yourself - go visit. Your eyes wont water and it doesnt smell anymore!! That says tons to what is actually happening there. The atmosphere is much lighter and I am sure as joan says the animals feel it.

    Please, take some time to spread the word about Lou Lou and Jacques. They really are in need of homes and I think really great dogs.

    Jacques was just so keen! and happy! The eye to eye connection with Sean when getting him to do sits etc was LOCKED in - Jacques is so willing to learn and bond.

    Lou Lou is just an absolute sweetie. She needs to be out of the day to day activity of the shelter. She is a sensitive girl and would absolutly blossom into her personality of a happy cheerful loving girl in a quiet home. She is so expressive and sweet. She really talks to you with her eyes! It was amazing to see her happy gait and her perky ears when she was out with a volunteer walker! She is a real love bug!

    All this great stuff couldnt have happened by itself and I think after this past year there is a lot of people to thank....

    To the volunteers who work on the shelter committee and work tirelessly and enthusiasitically doing their best to make not just physical changes but positive mental changes that make the whole place so much better for the animals who have to spend time there. Thanks guys you are the WD40that has unlocked so much potential and hope!

    To anyone who has dropped off donations, walked a dog, cuddled a cat, fundraised, wrote a letter/blog, said a hopeful and encouraging word - thanks.

    Especially those of you who have adopted animals from the Metro Shelter and given them happy and loving forever homes and given them a chance to enrich your lives..and yet we still have more to do..but this is such positive encouragement that proves it can be done!


  11. Anonymous11:49 AM

    Is there any plans to enlarge the dog an cat cages. I know this is difficult in an existing site but any new site should be considering this. It is recommended that dog cages be at least 10x6 feet and cat cages be 5x4 feet. Also have they looked at cat colony rooms?RG

  12. Anonymous12:29 PM

    Probably because you have to agree with everything FR says and every ridiculous notion her "angels" have which is ridiculous considering JS is the reason most people know about the case.

  13. Anonymous6:06 PM

    Thank you for sharing another great blog post !

  14. Anonymous6:19 PM

    Cat colonies can be great but can cause issues. They facilitate the spread of disease, which can happen quite quickly in a shelter environment.

    If you have suggestions about a new shelter visit the metro shelter website and complete the survey on the home page: