I haven't made any further posts about the Westville dogs after my first post, because I've felt very helpless about the story. There's nothing that can be done about it, no way to help. Because, do you know why? This is standard operating procedure for the NS SPCA.
I am sure that in almost all cases the NS SPCA is taking animals out of abusive situations when they seize dogs and cats from people, and it is the best thing that could have happened to the pets. That is what the Society is for - to rescue animals from people who are not treating their animals properly - but then to prove the abuse, because of the archaic laws we have here in Nova Scotia, is almost impossible - so what the SPCA does is - they don't lay charges, they just keep the animals.
Right in the Animal Cruelty Act it says that the Society can bill the owners of the animals for any charges that accrue for the cost of housing and feeding and vetting the animals while they are seized - and if they don't pay up, then the animals become the property of the Society to do with what they like - they can kill them, sell them, or adopt them out.
So in other words - the NS SPCA can come to your house - take your animals, then issue you a bill tell you that you must pay them money by a certain date, and if you don't pay that bill - the Society will then own your animals - all without ever having to prove that you ever did anything wrong to your animals, or charge you with any abuse, or any infraction of the Animal Cruelty Act. Your animals are gone forever.
Your neighbour could decide that they don't like you - make a cruelty complaint to the SPCA - you get cocky with the Special Constable - and Bobs your uncle - all your animals are gone. And there is nothing you can do.
There are more than 2 sides to every story - that is certainly true - and over the years that I have had this blog - I have received emails from people who have had their animals seized for one reason or another - and at the end of the day - only one of those people who emailed me was ever charged. But none of them ever got their animals back.
When is the Animal Cruelty Law for Nova Scotia - Bill 186 - going to come into effect? We need it now! There is a section in there that is going to have a "Animal Cruelty Appeal Board composed of not more than ten members appointed by the Governor in Council for such terms as the Governor in Council determines." You can read it here - http://www.gov.ns.ca/legislature/legc/bills/60th_2nd/3rd_read/b186.htm - Section 31 (1)
Right now there is NO ONE that a person can appeal to if they think the NS SPCA is taking advantage of them when they come to seize their animals. There is no one that a person can call or write who will listen to them - the guilty and the innocent are all lumped together - and that this not right - under any circumstances - and the fact that that exists is wrong - and cannot continue. An appeal board must be started - and soon - so that people like Janice Bingley - can have a place and a venue to get her dogs back somehow - just in case she didn't do anything wrong.
Isn't this the 21st century that we're living in now? We're the presumption of innocence - even when your dog DOES look very skinny - but you haven't seen the other 20 dogs - is supposed to rule? And maybe we the public, haven't heard the whole story?
Why would the NS SPCA want to put a gag order on a dog owner? Are they trying to keep the doublespeak all to themselves?
I find the people at the top of the NS SPCA to continue to be interesting.
Last year as part of the plea bargain with the animal abusers MacIsaac's - they GAVE BACK some of the animals they had originally seized - horrifying people in the animal loving community - because we all knew that those animals were going to face the rest of their lives being abused like they had been previously when they had lived under the MacIsaacs' roofs - and the NS SPCA were allowing that to happen once again.
And yesterday - the NS SPCA were once again trying to broker a deal whereby they were going to let the Bingley's have ONE of their dogs back - IF they agreed to pay around $8,000 of the money the SPCA said they owned them, didn't make any internet postings about the SPCA, and didn't get any more dogs - and also the SPCA wouldn't follow through on charging them with cruelty.
So here once again - the SPCA seemed willing to let an animal go back to a home that previously they believed they had REMOVED animals from a situation that cruelty had taken place. So what's up with this?
Could it be that the SPCA doesn't really care about animals? Could it be that the SPCA doesn't mind putting animals back into the line of cruelty's way? Could it be that the NS SPCA are the worst negotiators on the face of the planet and they need to get new legal representation? You pick your answer, I'm not smart enough to figure out the answer.
All I know is I've got an upset tummy, there's some dogs who are pretty confused because they've had what they considered to be a pretty good life - Alpo is full of sugar so it tastes good even though it's nutritionally shitty - and they're all split up into foster homes now or in the shelter in Dartmouth, and there's some kids who are pretty unhappy.
So I'll leave the answers and the conclusions to people who are smarter than me - and hope that bill 186 gets made into a law sooner rather than later - so that the NS SPCA can get some credibility back before it's too late.
Janet Young over at Reigning Cats and Dogs has some very good thoughts on where Bill 186 is right now, and what needs to be done to get it finished up - go check her post out at "It's time to finish what they started"
Dog owner “disgusted” with SPCA offer
WESTVILLE – A Westville woman under investigation for animal cruelty says she was ‘disgusted’ by a settlement offer made to her by the provincial SPCA Thursday.
Janice Bingley said officials from the SPCA came to her home, issued her a caution and presented her with an offer that would, among other things, significantly reduce the amount of outstanding fees incurred during the Oct. 19 seizure of 21 adult dogs and puppies.
The SPCA sent a bill to Bingley for $16,000 on Nov. 20, which would recover the cost of the seizure. Payment is due today and the SPCA has the right to collect under the Nova Scotia Animal Cruelty Prevention Act. If Bingley doesn’t pay, the dogs become property of the society and could be put up for adoption.
“What they offered me was that they would drop the bill down to two payments – it was something like $3,481 due tomorrow (Friday), and another $3,481 or whatever it was due on Feb 10,” Bingley said.
Additionally, she said the settlement included a clause that she “have no contact with any media or online – I’m not allowed to put anything online unless they approve it first.
“They are willing to allow me to own four animals. I own three cats so that would mean I could have one dog back. I also have fish, but they were going to waive the fish.”
She indicated that the SPCA would stop pressing charges if she accepted.
SPCA officials could not be reached to confirm the terms of the settlement. It wasn’t left as a standing offer either. Bingley said they refused to let her keep a document to keep outlining the settlement terms.
However, the SPCA did acknowledge that a deal had been offered to Bingley. The information came to media outlets by way of an emailed statement from the Nova Scotia SPCA’s public relations email address.
“The conditions and stipulations in the proposed settlement included restitution and prohibitions. The Nova Scotia SPCA is disappointed to report that Ms. Bingley refused the settlement,” it reads.
The SPCA’s executive director, Kristin Williams, is also quoted. “We were disappointed that Ms. Bingley refused the settlement, which was proposed in good faith and initiated out of compassion for her circumstances.”
Bingley said she was told the compassion extended to her was partly due to the approaching holidays.
“I refused it and I told them to press charges, put me in front of a judge.”
“I’m not concerned, I have done nothing wrong. Seriously, I don’t know what I did.”
The dogs seized in October include four adult great Danes and 11 puppies. Also seized was a chihuahua mix, with three puppies and two mixed breed dogs. Investigators said that one of the great Danes was emaciated.
That information is supported by an Oct. 26 letter from New Glasgow veterinarian, Dr. Bruce Robb, stating that Bingley’s dog Shadow was “very thin,” but an alternate feeding arrangement had been suggested.
Bingley has claimed that she has been the target of a smear campaign by the provincial organization, and she has attracted supporters on the Internet.
Here is the NS SPCA's new release after they visited Janice Bingley Thursday December 16th, 2009 - http://spcans.ca/news/press_releases/20091217.html