Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tour/Open House of new Homeward Bound City Pound

Yesterday was the Open House and tour of the new Homeward Bound City Pound that is opening April 1st - taking over sheltering services for the HRM's Animal Control Department from the long suffering Nova Scotia SPCA who had previously had the contract for the last 10 or so years. They have completely renovated a previous location of the Metro Animal Emergency Clinic so that they can use it to house the animals - dogs, cats, rabbits, and amphibians - brought in through Animal Control through seizures and other types of calls.
It was a very interesting morning. There were lots of media there, quite a few City Councillors, the new staff for the Pound, and some familiar faces I recognized from times past - which I'll get to a little bit later.

First off - I'll go through what I was given on the tour through the facility -
The first 2 photos are part of the "adoption" area at the front of the building - the photo with the xpens with Sue Uteck, Municipal Councillor being interviewed is a dog adoption/play room, and the other room is a cat adoption room - rooms that will be used so that cats and dogs can be viewed for adoption when people come in - people from the public who are interested in adopting animals from the pound. There are several ways that Homeward Bound is hoping to send out animals - through adopting animals directly to the public, through pre-approval (to the public), and through liaising with local rescues - breed specific, as well as with other local rescues. They will have their own website for adopting animals at http://citypound.ca/
This picture is of the outside exercise area at the back of the shelter - and also where all the animals will be brought inside - there is a separate gated off entrance from the exercise area.
This is where information about all the dogs will be kept - there are 16 kennels for dogs - although the manager I was talking to didn't expect that they'd be at capacity at any one time - each kennel has a guillotine door to the kennel behind it so that each kennel can combine to be double sized - ie 16 kennels could become 8 kennels and/or the dog in each kennel can be moved from one kennel to the one in behind it without having to actually touch the dog - which was something that did strike me. The whole dog area is set up so that there doesn't have to be really any interaction between humans and dogs - the dog food bowls are on a turnaround thingee at the front of the kennel so that you fill the bowls, turn them around and the dog can eat from them - no opening the door, no nothing. Pretty ingenious. To clean the kennels you just have to spray them down while the dog is in the other side - and the floors are tilted in a way so that everything washes down into the grates in the floor. Easy peasy.

There's going to be 6 staff and 2 managers to take care of these 16 kennels for dogs and 8 kennels for cats - 24 hours a day, 365 days a year - so they're going to need to be pretty much self-cleaning I'd say - especially if you think about the idea that last year they say that Animal Services took in about 850 animals - that works out to about 2.3 animals a day, every day - that's a lot of animals to take in, assess, vet, neuter, spay, adopt out, look for the owners, temperament test, euthanize, deal with, feed, water, etc., etc., - and everyday - there's more of them and new ones coming in every day.

Here are the dog kennels - and this is what I mean about the food bowls sliding around from front to back of the dog's doors. Everything in the dog area seemed nice and easy to clean - really super - very efficient, well designed - and small. For a city the size of 300,000 + people - it scared me.
Now this little guy was there yesterday - the lady who had him had the name "Wyndenfog kennels" on the back of her coat - does this mean that she's the owner of the fabulous kennel somewhere out there in the country that's going to be taking the "long term dangerous dogs" that were going to be getting to run in the woods and have a wonderful life while they were waiting for their court cases to be settled? I have no idea, but it was interesting to wonder why a kennel owner would be there with their name emblazoned on the back of their coat, wasn't it?

And if you notice something else about this photo, you'll also see - what do you see? CARPET. What is something that you should never see around animals? CARPET. And it's all through the front of the building and in the cat's area.
There are cages for 8 cats and 5 isolation cages for cats - and it's all carpeted. It'll be interesting to see what the staff think of that in a few months. I know the first thing I saw when I was looking at the house I'm living in now was the dusty rose carpet on the floor - and I said - do you think there's hardwood floor under this? But I digress.

So on to the intake and disposition of animals in the care of Homeward Bound City Pound. Yesterday when I was talking to one of the managers of Homeward Boundh - Diana Forrestall - she was still saying that they want to change the way people think about pounds - like Hope said in a previous article "its vision is to change the way people think about the 'city pound' by providing exceptional animal care and a service that the citizens of HRM will admire and respect." That is going to be a tall order.

Diana said that they want to work with local rescues to adopt out animals that come in through them and are suitable for being adopted out - all animals will first be spayed, neutered, vetted and microchipped by them so that they've covered all those costs first - and I guess, then they'll offer them to local rescues to be placed - which is really interesting.

Looking at a list that I have of local rescues - there really aren't that many that Homeward Bound can call on - less than five, not including the NS SPCA - and they are always full as it is - so I'm not sure how much help they'll be able to offer. The only rescue that I personally can will be able to help Homeward Bound IS the NS SPCA - so I really hope that they will allow the SPCA to help.

Which brings me to my next item - yesterday I received a mailing from Nathan Winograd - mine, and alot of people's hero - and it was about the date April 1st - which is also the date the Homeward Bound opens ironically. April 1st 1994 was the date that San Francisco became a "no kill" city - when the San Francisco Animal Services and San Francisco SPCA began to work together so that no treatable animal died in that city after that date. And amazing things started to happen. It was called "No Kill Day - A celebration of Compassion" - and it helped to start a revolution. I think it's so amazingly fortuitous that Homeward Bound are starting their contract on April 1st - and saying they want to work with local rescues - the NS SPCA is completely open and waiting to work with Homeward Bound - and here we have the story of the San Francisco SPCA and Animal Control from 1994 that started a revolution in the No Kill History.

Wouldn't it be amazing if our 2 organizations worked together like San Francisco did?

I know that it's asking a lot - especially after I came across this sign yesterday on the desk at the open house - thanking the contractors and volunteers for the Homeward Bound City Pound (and when was the last time a money making business had/needed volunteers). You read through the list of contractors, and it all sounds great. Fabulous. And it wasn't actually until I got home last night that I noticed the names of the volunteers -

And a lot of you who read the blog may not recognize the names of volunteers on this list - but a lot of you will, and right now you are saying to yourself - HOLY SHIT! HOLEEE SHITTTTT! What in the H-E-Double Hockey sticks is going on HERE!!!!!! Has the world turned upside down? Really - is there NO ETHICS LEFT IN THIS WORLD AT ALL?

And I have to say to you dear readers, that truly, I think there is none.

Here are a couple articles about yesterday's open house -

I notice that today's Chronicle herald article has opened up to comments if you want to go check them out - http://thechronicleherald.ca/Metro/1174710.html


  1. You know Joan,I went on the tour and had questions but when I saw the list of volunteers it just made me feel like I hadnt done enough. What do I and others need to do to get the public to understand what is best for both the community and animals in this city.

    We have a city council of ostriches and a public who arent getting the message. We are failing miserably!

    I think it is time to step back and reassess the way I have been approaching the need for change.

    I think individual cases need to be left aside. I think focus should be totally on the big picture to change laws and advocate for education of the public.

    In the meantime we all need to get behind ethical rescues and shelters and support them.

    HeatherM - who is now off to go scream in the woods.

  2. WTF??? Carpet in a animal facility? What type of drugs do the contractors/designers take? I'll have some please!

  3. Hi
    Yes you are right the long term dogs wil go to Windenfog, and I cannot believe they have Diane Forestall working there! Did you know she was behind the majority of dogs killed while at the metro shelter, and she has turned her back on helping the spca staff! I respect Hope, but she made a huge mistake with Diane. She is also friends with Andrea MacDonald and Lori Scolaro, something stinks, fix it fast Hope!!

  4. Anonymous2:51 PM

    Where is it located?