In a Chronicle Herald article from the same time, Janice is referred to at all times as a "Backyard puppy breeder" and a "backyard dog breeder in Westville" - but is she? Or is she just a dog owner who has had misunderstandings with her neighbours, bad dealings with some SPCA special constables, and very bad luck for her and her family - dogs included.
The photos in this blog post were bravely provided by Janice Bingley herself - over on Facebook there has been a huge hulabaloo for the last month about her story - people can keep themselves unbelievable entertained in other people's misery, and this month it's all about this family's tragedy.
Janice has posted 164 photos on her Facebook profile and I think they tell a very interesting story - they tell the story of a family that starts with one or 2 dogs, and then gets another, and then another - and then another dog starts showing up in the photos -
And all of the sudden - your friend loses their job, or you don't think they're taking proper care of their dog - or their dog gets along well with your dog - so they might as well come stay at your house - and all of a sudden you've got 7 or 8 dogs at your house all the time. And if they aren't spayed or neutered - then things happen. And there are a lot of people out there who don't think too much about that - and by that I mean - they have other things on their mind than whether or not their dogs are fixed. There's also different levels of dog ownership - and there's nothing wrong with either, really.
You can see in these photos that Janice's dogs were inside dogs that were loved by their family - are these the dogs of a typical back yard breeder or puppy mill breeder that you would expect the NS SPCA to go after and want to seize all their animals from? I'll be getting into that shortly - but it seems to me that this is the kind of dog home where when the humans were home the dogs were inside, and when the humans were out, the dogs were outside - and by the looks of the prodigious amount of photos on Facebook - they were all tied to dog houses outside the owner's home. And a lot of people have a problem with that - and it would seem that maybe Janice's neighbours had a problem with that.
We have to be completely honest here when we say that when all of Janice's animals were seized in October - it was not her first interaction with the SPCA - last week she sent out a 31 page background of what has gone on between her and the SPCA, and she talked about the times that Animal Control, the SPCA and the Westville Police had been to her home.
She'd had neighbhour problems so bad that she'd moved, and was having more neighbour problems, from what I can tell - so that is what I call a lot of bad luck - if I could give her any advice - I would tell her to move to a house with a fence - there's nothing like a good strong fence when you have dogs to make good neighbours - and the higher the fence, the better!
So the SPCA felt they had lots of previous paperwork to fall back on when they seized all the dogs probably - they had warned her to buy non-tipping water dishes, replace a dog house, and to remove the dogs from a muddy area - and maybe each of those things were done on separate visits - I don't know.
But you've got dogs being loved on the inside - and dog houses on the outside - and that's what the world sees - which one is the reality? And should a dog owner not be allowed to tie their dogs out at all? That is a HUGE question.
And that ostensibly isn't even the reason that Janice had her dogs seized - she had them seized because of the emaciated condition of one dog - the mother of the great dane puppies.
And here we have to look at a chart that used to be in, and I'm sure is probably still in - the investigations manual for the Special Constables for the SPCA - and probably in every manual for Special Constable. And it charts healthy weights for dogs - and probably Janice's great dane fell into the emaciated category. For whatever reason.
So according to this chart - the Constables may have felt justified in seizing Shadow the great dane - because she was emaciated, indeed they have felt like they had to.
There's people over on Facebook who have said that Janice deserved to have her animals seized simply because she fed her dogs Alpo - which to me is absolutely ridiculous. Some parents feed their human children McDonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken but they don't have their children taken by Family Services - you cannot impose your own beliefs on other people simply because you believe you know better than they do. I personally disagree with tying a dog out for any amount of time, and if you ask me my opinion I will give it to you, and if you ask me for options on how to not have to tie your own dog out anymore - I'll move heaven and earth to do that - but I can't MAKE you stop tying your dog out.
Unless of course you are starving your dog or not providing water - then that is abuse, and that's a different story - then that IS a job for the SPCA.
Talking about the ridiculous of other people imposing their ideas about dogs onto you - Charlie has had a life long weight problem because of allergies - and his top weight was 120 pounds, and there was a picture on one page of my Charlie loves Halifax page where he looked particularly fat - and I got an email from a guy in California about 7 years ago who said "keeping a dog overweight is a form of abuse and you shouldn't have this dog if you keep him overweight" - I emailed him back a very polite email explaining Charlie's health problems - but I didn't need someone I had no idea who he was from California telling me that my dog was overweight - I could see it right in front of me! Charlie is now about 72-73 pounds. And he still looks exactly the same. He's a lab - they all look fat. But that's the beauty - and the stupidity of the internet.
So on to the back yard breeder, puppy miller thing - and actually - I have to be honest, even calling this a "planned breeding" - does not make this a non back yard breeding. I am not against responsible breeders - I am PRO responsible breeders - in my perfect world I think every dog should come from responsible breeders and I've written many posts about just that, and I also think that "oops" breedings like her little dog breeding is okay too - because the world needs those too for genetic variety and cute little dogs - but just because Shadow should not have been bred doesn't mean she should have been seized by the SPCA.
Of course I am not privy to the files of the Special Constables and the SPCA - I only know what everyone else knows - but it does seem like simply because she was living the life of a pet owner who it didn't occur to her to hide what she was doing - she had ALL her animals taken. And it's because of what I'm going to write below that I'm saying that.
I think there will be things that can be learned from this, it's too bad that children had to lose their dogs and not understand why they were losing them.
And the real kicker of all of this is - the thing I haven't even mentioned yet is - the NS SPCA has issued to Janice Bingley - the owner of the dogs that were seized, a bill for almost $16,000 - which includes costs for the cube van that took away her dogs to drive them to the Dartmouth shelter, the cost of wages for the Special Constables who worked up the paperwork to seize her dogs, and the cost of boarding the dogs that were seized - and if she doesn't pay that bill - the dogs will become the property of the NS SPCA on December 18th, 2009.
Can you imagine if the SPCA would have submitted a bill to Gail Benoit after they seized her puppies in late 2007 for cruelty (of which she was convicted)? I'd imagine she would've made a stink about it. We would've heard that they'd done something like that - so I think this is something new that they've started - so why are they doing that. I have no idea. Cube van rental and wages really do seem like a cost of doing business - and I am an SPCA supporter most of the time.
Imagine if you had your car impounded - and before you could get it back you had to pay the guys wages who sits behind the desk in the office. You'd be outraged.
And another thing is - Janice hasn't even been charged with anything yet - the nearest I can find is a Chronicle Herald article from right after the seizure where Sean Kelly is quoted as saying that charges "may" be laid by the middle of December - which is when the $16,000 is due.
So on to the 2nd part of this post - and what really ARE pictures of a puppy miller and back yard breeder in Nova Scotia. These are pictures taken at what is so prettily called "Joe and Nan's Pups" - I was first alerted to the place by what I didn't know was actually a Board member of the NS SPCA - who knew she was powerless to do anything about the place in her position at the SPCA - and was hoping that by telling people in the Humane community about the place, that somehow the place of horrors could be shut down.
Unfortunately, she was wrong. Places like this exist everywhere. And they don't really hide too much, they just exist slightly below the surface. There's another lady named Donna Boyd who lives in Whispering Pines Subdivision in Wilmot Nova Scotia who keeps dogs imprisoned in her basement.
Another brave lady named Janice went there to try and expose her and wrote a very moving account of her visit -
"She has 24 dogs in her basement — I was not allowed in the basement. She said she has had problems with contamination before, and parvo. She said she keeps her kennels clean and bleaches them once a day and the dogs are fed and watered twice a day. She said the SPCA is onto her all the time so she has to make sure she does things up to snuff because they won’t let you get away with anything they think is unacceptable. She said she didn’t have much time for the SPCA and they were in a mess right now. She said Darlene Millet had paid her a few visits but that her kennels are up to snuff, so she is good to operate, and they can’t shut her down. She said her dogs are kept 2 or 3 per cage. They wanted her to have them in 10 by 10 foot individual cages and she said that was crazy and she would need an acre of land to keep dogs in cages that size. She said a few dogs should be caged together because they need company. They are kept in 4 by 6 foot cages or something close to those dementions. I asked if they got out for exercise and she said they can’t go outside because of “bylaws” restricting her.
These dogs do not get out of the cages and are just her breeding stock. She said she is trying to downsize and get rid of the shitzu stock but will only sell them as a group to someone who wants all of them. I said maybe someone would like them as pets, and she said — oh no, they are not trained, they are breeding stock and not house trained etc. she has King Charles stock as well. She wants all the shitzus to go to one place because in Nova Scotia everyone is breeding shitzus with everything else and coming up with designer dogs. She does not agree with this and wants the line kept as shitzus only, not mixed breeds and there are far too many people mixing shitzus.
She brought up the mother and held her in her arms. She said her hair had fallen out because she just had a litter. The mother wagged her tail at me and looked into my eyes. This is the most upsetting memory I went away with. She seemed well fed, clean. I asked her to put her on the floor, she did and the dog walked in a little circle and she said — I don’t like to put them down because she might pee on the floor. She brought her back down in the basement and brought up a black and white shitzu. I went to pat the dog and it was vacant, completely unresponsive. Did not change it’s expression as I moved my hand to its head. It’s eyes were unresponsive. I asked her to put it down. This one had splayed turned out feet. It did not move but sat on the floor. I called to it and it did not move. She said—no, she won’t come to you, she is scared/shy—doesn’t know what is going on.
She brought up the 2 remaining king Charles puppies. they were 1000 dollars each, healthy lovely and playful — of course. I told her I will get back to her on the puppy.
Her house was RELATIVELY clean, a bit shabby – in a nice neighborhood — also there was no obvious dog smell when I went in. You could hear all the dogs barking from downstairs. I was surprised there was not more bad odour with that many dogs, but she says she cleans it and bleaches it well. She has been doing this for 30 years.
I said $1000 is pretty good – if you go to a pet store you could pay more. She said—oh no no dear, don’t EVER by a puppy from a pet store. They get their puppies from a puppy mill. My husband played stupid and asked what that was and she said the pet stores buy them for 200 dollars then turn around and sell for $1200, the puppies could be sick and you don’t know what you are getting. She said all her puppies are needled and dewormed and vet checked before they go, by her vet Dr. Blithe.
I said—yes-I heard of puppy mills, that is why I want to see your kennel because a good breeder is supposed to show you. She said, I won’t let you down to the kennel because I had a contamination problem and anyone who went down had to be sanitized, have plastic bags on their feet, gloves—etc. I said lots of dogs are bred in barns and outside and you can see them. She repeated the contamination issue.
She had one dog upstairs with her. It was a $4000 red coat sharpie puppy. She got it from the States. She may or may not breed it. it seemed like her “pet”. But yet there were 25 dogs in her basement. (???)
She said ---look---I am following all the rules, I do everything they tell me, I get inspected.
This woman did not lie to me I feel, about anything. She was very willing to talk about the spca, her basement conditions and how the dogs were kept, and why I wasn’t allowed in.
I am very confused by this all. She clearly sees this as a business and sees the dogs as breeding stock."
So that is a clear and quite rivetting description of what an abusive and imprisoning back yard breeder and puppy mill is like RIGHT HERE IN NOVA SCOTIA - and these photos also depict the same situation - right here in our province.And currently - our legislation can do nothing about these two very active, and very legal operations - that sell their product on the same Kijiji website that Janice Bingley went on to in October and put her great dane puppies up for sale - and seemingly, led to the very quick seizure of all her dogs.
Is this right? Is this what cruelty legislation, what the NS SPCA, what our humane community, what the online Facebook community - is here for? Or is it here to try and free the dogs and puppies who are suffering right now in prisons in cages in basements - and the Nova Scotia SPCA's special constables and Executives can do nothing about it - even though they see it everyday - because our legislation, and the thinking of our legislators - isn't "humane" enough - or powerful - to free these animals - because the agriculture business, and the business community - think that by freeing these animals, we'll also be freeing cows and pigs - ridiculous, don't you think?I think any one of these dogs that live in Donna Boyd's basement of Joe and Nan's cages would KILL to live in Janice Bingley's house. That's my opinion. Take it or leave it.
And I'd bet, maybe that some people at the SPCA would agree with me too - pretty sure, anyway.