Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Comments on MacLeans article "When did Crating your dog become a crime"

MacLeans Magazine currently has a contentious article about current dog culture and takes on the subject of whether it's okay to crate your dog, and that maybe - chaining your dog isn't as abhorrent as we've been led to think it is.

To have an article like this in the year 2012 in a major Canadian magazine as far as I'm concerned is personally disgusting - and the author quotes advocates within the humane community in Nova Scotia who are trying to make a difference and obviously duped them and has misrepesented what they stand for. As I am typing this my face is uncontrollably forming a look of horror.

So on to my comments about the article - the article begins with the description of a guy in Shelburne Nova Scotia who's been complained about for the last year by "animal rights activists" to the SPCA - and finally the cruelty officer has come to look into things. He's found the 2 dogs are kept on chains about 15 feet long - they "big long run ropes that allow the dogs to move while preventing them from straying out to the raod" - "they run around and get plenty of exercise" says his owner.

The investigator decides that the dogs have shelter, they don't get tangled up and they have a nice house and concludes that because of this - "they are well fed and cared for".

I had a chained dog living next door to me for many years that lived like this. He was on a long line - but for some reason - he kept breaking that long line and would go on walk-abouts. It eventually killed him - because on one of his walk-abouts he got hit by a car. He didn't get killed by that collision - he still came home so that he could be chained up again - it took him a couple weeks to slowly die on the chain. After about a week he was paralyzed, and then he slowly died from there.

The thing about chaining dogs out - even if they're on fancy long lines - is that they are not supervised. A nice sharp tug - and they're off - that's why so many dogs that are found have collars and lines still attached to them.

So Robbie Fowler feeling convinced that he's a good dog owner to his 2 dogs Buddy and Magnum is a misnomer - at least he has 2 dogs so that they aren't completely isolated. Thank dog for that.

I take umbrage with a phrase that used in the article - still on the topic of chaining - the author says the following -

"These attitudes are fuelled by stories of cruelty passed around by activists in the province. Scott Saunders, who is lobbying to ban continuous dog chaining in Nova Scotia, tells of a guard dog at a Cape Breton construction site that was found dead in the snow at the end of its chain two years ago."

That was not a story - that was an actual thing that happened - that was an actual DOG WHO FROZE TO DEATH - alone in the woods on the end of chain.

That dog did not need to die - he was not a fictional "story of cruelty" - he was a living breathing animal who died because of an unspeakable act of cruelty.

In the next paragraph - the author uses the same language to talk about the amazing dog - the Mighty Quinn when he describes his journey as "a powerful story". Quinn's life is not a story - it is something that was actually done to him.

Inevitably - when the topic of chained dogs is talked about - the issue of sled dogs is brought up - and a sled dog breeder is interviewed for this article - and the lady does not disappoint. The author describes sled dogs as some of the only working dogs left in the world and he talks to Shannon DeBruin - a breeder and trainer outside of Edmonton who has a problem with the way that people are "Anthropormorphizing" their pets - "that animal rights activists are equating the way pets should be treated with the way they believe humans should be treated."

I didn't think that cliches still existed - but this lady sure sounds like one. She is surprised that people treat dogs like children - and I'm surprised that people like her don't realize that dogs deserve to be treated like the sentient beings they are.

I am sure I am not the only person on this continent who believes that dogs are not human - but they certainly do not want to be abandoned to a little patch of land where they have no control over what happens to them, who they come into contact with, whether they get wet or stay dry, whether they are bored or whether they are entertained, whether they are around the things they love or whether they take a nap.

I don't call my dogs my children, I am not their mother - I am their owner - they are my property. And that's how I want it, because that's how I can best protect them.

And it's through legislation that we can protect our animals.

To think that banning the continuous chaining of animals means you can't crate your dogs inside your home, or tie your dog out so he can have a pee in the morning in your unfenced dog is just a lame, lame excuse enabling people to abuse their dogs.

I am not a person who agrees with crating your dogs for 10 hours at a time - I personally wouldn't want to sit in a box that I couldn't only stand up turn around in and lay back down for 10 hours a day - but when you're house training your dog, keeping your dog in a room that's carpet free while you're at work is a good idea for everyone. I have 2 crates in my living room with the doors taken off so that if someone feels like going in and taking a nape - they can, and they get used regularly by everyone - so the dogs do like going in them. Crates are NOT a bad thing.

I even wrote an article a few years ago when I was still involved with Dogs Deserve Better on how to crate train a formerly chained dog - so I am definitely not against crates for house training.

But the continuous chaining of dogs is something that to me is a black and white thing - it is a philosophy who`s time has come.

A lot of people say they do it because they do it for security - what are you protecting in your back yard? If you're using the dog protection - he will protect your house much better if he's inside - then he can protect the things that are actually valuable.

If he's outside because you couldn't house train him or he was too jumpy - let him go - or find a trainer to get some help - it's that easy.

Back in 2004 I wrote a letter to an MLA in the government of New Brunswick when they were considering whether to enact bsl - and I wrote about my dog Daisy who was a formerly chained dog - and they were considering keeping restricted breeds of dogs chained continuously as part of their new law - so I wrote to them about that aspect of their proposed law.

In the last part of the letter I said - "The culture change of chaining dogs has to start somewhere - maybe it can start with you."

I think that is very appropriate for today in Nova Scotia - and maybe also could have been suggested to the author of the MacLeans article - he certainly did not seem interested in writing anything positive about chained dogs. I don't even think he was a particularly good writer. But I'm not so good a judge of that, which I'm sure it's easy to see.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Be careful where you get your dog licences from

Last March I was contacted by a lady who had gotten her dog licence from the SPCA when she adopted her dog from there - and 4 months later she lost her dogs tags and contacted the HRM to get a replacement tag.

The HRM had no record of her dog's licence - the SPCA paperwork hadn't been forwarded to the city and/or the city hadn't yet inputted the data into their database and therefore she coudn't get a replacement tag for her dog without a lot of complaining and phone calls.

This week I went to the HRM's Customer Service Ofice At Scotia Square, because I'd gotten a renewal form for Buttercup, but strangely - I didn't get one for Bubby, and I had to get a new one for Sidney (and I also had to pay my property taxes) - so I made the trip in.

When I got there - they had no record of the fact that I had bought a dog licence last year for Bubby. Because I hadn't got a renewal form for Bubby - I took his actual tag in with me - so the lady could see I had been issued a tag - so she was rather flabbergasted that there was no record of him in her system.

I'd imagine it's because I got his tag and renewed Buttercup's tags at my vet's office - and didn't do it directly at the HRM's Customer Service Centre, like I did this week.

The thing is though, that I did those renewals - LAST JUNE.

You would think that the HRM would have gotten the paperwork, or had time to input the data in that time.

What if I would have had a negative interaction with Animal Control in that time, or if Bubby would have run away and needed to be identified by Animal Control - and I had assumed that his tags would have been sufficient to do that? I would have been S-O-L - and so would have Bubby.

So consider this a warning. If you've just blindly been getting your dog's tags at the vet, or anywhere other than directly at the HRM - beware - you may not be protecting your pet.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Sidney was being fostered in Lunenburg County - which I have subsequently found out is loaded down with ticks - and since I got him on Sunday I have pulled these 3 ticks off him. Poor Sidney - I hope he doesn't get lyme disease.

His foster Dad had lyme disease last year - so the ticks on their property do carry lyme disease - whenever I pull a tick off the dog I always send them in to the department of Natural Resources - when I first found out about ticks I created a page about them on my Charlie loves Halifax page which lays out everything you need to know about what to do.

I found the first tick on Sunday, the 2nd tick on Tuesday, then the 3rd tick I found today - which is the huge tick you see in the photo - so it was full of blood. I feel so bad for Sidney - I also feel bad for the ticks, because they were all alive when I pulled them off - so they are still alive in that little plastic baggie - slowly dying - I don't know how to kill them so that they won't be compromised for their testing - and Sidney is more important than they are. Sorry, ticks.

I found a good website at http://www.cdha.nshealth.ca/public-health/get-tickd that has good photos of ticks and the rash you should look out for if you've got lyme disease - click on the pdf file "Ticks in the City"

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Introducing Sidney!

Here is the newest addition to the Dogkisser family - Sidney - he's a littermate of Bubby

He came from the same puppy mill in Cape Breton as Bubby and suffered the same fate - was bought from the puppy mill until he was 6 months old so therefore isn't socialized to humans at all - and he has the added problem of having skin problems
Judging by his vet records though - he had a horrible vet who wasn't very interested in actually healing him - he was only interested in making money - so I think his skin problems are going to resolve pretty easily with a good healthy diet
He is an interesting counterpoint to Bubby - he doesn't bark nearly as much - but he's a much rougher player, and is more interested in playing with me than with the other dogs - I suppose that comes from being in a human only household for almost a year - but he'll get used to Bubby pretty soon - that's why I got him - to be a companion for Bubby - so I think it's going to work out on that level - they are both following each other around pretty much all the time
If you can't tell - the first picture in this post was Sidney - and this picture is Bubby! You'll be able to tell them apart eventually - Bubby looks like the class clown and Sidney looks like a poet and is quite delicate in person!

Buttercup of course HATES him - but hopefully she'll come around - here she is rolling in something on the lawn oblivious to the other dogs around her - but at least she isn't attacking anyone here - she's been attacking the other dogs for some reason.

She hasn't been feeling well at all lately - I had to the vet a couple weeks ago and her thyroid is super low - we tried putting her on thyroid drugs and she had a bad reaction to them - so we took her off and are going to try something else, or a lower dose - so Buttercup is in a bad spot right now. At 18 years old I think she is feeling her age, she is sleeping almost all the time right now. Poor Buttercup.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Public talk hosted by Director/F​ounder of the Farm Sanctuary

The Founder and Director of the Farm Sanctuary, Gene Baur,is giving a a public talk as part of his North American tour on March 20 at 6 pm in the Ondaatje Hall, Marion McCain Arts & Social Sciences Building.

The title of the talk is “Farm Sanctuary: Changing Hearts and
Minds About Animals and Food”

I'm probably like a lot of people and having been receiving emails from the Farm Sanctuary just about as long as I've had an email address - which is a long time - they are an organization that has been around a very long time, which is very admirable - and the fact that they haven't been drawn into any of the controversies that drag down other humane organizations into the mud is really quite amazing.

There was an article in the Chronicle Herald which I'll post below - but when I was poking through the Farm Sanctuary's website, I discovered a term - that I've never heard of before, which blew me away - it's called "CARNISM".

It's the opposite of "Veganism" - carnism "denotes the ideology of meat consumption. Ideologies are social belief systems that have enormous power to shape people’s attitudes and behaviors. Ideologies are often so embedded in society that their influence is mostly unconscious-and therefore unquestioned. Typically, ideologies are only recognized when they are an exception to the “normal” way of thinking (what we call the “dominant ideology”). This is why there is a name, vegetarianism, for the ideology that considers the consumption of other animals inappropriate or unethical. The dominant ideology in our society maintains that eating other animals is normal and even necessary. However, there is no name for this ideology. We therefore tend to view eating animals not as a choice, but as a given. This way of thinking makes society view the consumption of animals as normal, natural, and legitimate.

If we consider carnism to be an ideology, then we can explain why it is possible to love some animals and eat others. We have been so socialized to believe in the legitimacy and necessity of carnism that most people do not even think of their meat as having once been an animal. Indeed, most people begin eating meat before they can even talk, and the process of maintaining the invisibility of the animals who become food continues for the rest of our lives.

carnism teaches us to justify eating animals, and it does this by presenting the myths of meat (and other animal products) as though they were the facts of meat, by promoting the Three Ns of Justification: eating animals is normal, natural, and necessary. The Three Ns are institutionalized - they are embraced and maintained by all major social institutions, from the family to the state - and, perhaps not surprisingly, they have been invoked throughout history to justify other violent, exploitative ideologies (e.g., slavery, male dominance, etc.).

Carnism also defends itself by distorting our perceptions of meat and the animals we eat so that we can feel comfortable enough to consume them. We learn, for instance, to view farmed animals as objects (e.g., we refer to a chicken as something, rather than someone) and as abstractions, lacking in any individuality or personality (e.g., a pig is a pig and all pigs are the same), and to create rigid categories in our minds so that we can harbor very different feelings and behaviors toward different species (e.g., beef is delicious and dog meat is disgusting; cows are for eating and dogs are our friends).

There are a number of other defenses that overlap with and support those mentioned here, but all defenses serve a single purpose: to block our awareness and empathy when it comes to farmed animals and the products procured by their bodies. With awareness of carnistic defenses, though, we are less vulnerable to their influence; we are able to step outside the system and look at the issue of eating animals through our own eyes, rather than through the lens of carnism.

You have to question yourself - why will you eat cow and not veal? What REALLY is the difference? Why is eating dog so disgusting to our culture but not to the Chinese? What about snails and squid? And horse?

At the end of the day -the animal does have to die in order for us to eat it. End of story.

It's a subject that fascinates me - I know that even if I personally give up meat - I will still feed it to my dogs - they don't know what carnism or vegetarianism is, but it's something that I spend a lot of time thinking about - and this novel idea has got me thinking.

Activist offers sanctuary
By PAT LEE Staff Reporter

Farm animal rescuers oppose factory practices
As a good-looking kid growing up in Hollywood, Gene Baur would hit casting calls around town, landing background work in movies and television series as well as spots in commercials for fast-food giants McDonald’s and KFC.

While not a shocking admission on the resume of many Californians, it does stand out when reviewing the bio of the co-founder and president of Farm Sanctuary, the largest farm animal rescue organization in North America and avid opponent of factory farming practices.

"I was definitely a city boy," Baur says, chuckling, when thinking of his unconventional route to becoming an animal rights crusader for farm animals.

Baur, who will be in Halifax for the first time on Tuesday to talk about his organization, said his life’s work sprang from a need to do good, along with a growing interest in changing his own way of life.

He said his first taste of volunteering came in college with a group that helped kids with terminal illnesses.

By the mid-’80s, he had become a vegan and had gained an interest in animal welfare issues related to farming. He began working with others to rescue farm animals in distress. He even sold vegetarian hotdogs out of an aqua blue Volkswagen van at Grateful Dead concerts to help fund the rescue efforts.

"It all came together," he said recently from his home in Washington, D.C., where he now spends much of his time lobbying for healthy school lunches, humane euthanasia of cattle and tougher laws involving the treatment of factory farm animals.

"My initial primary focus was to take care of them and to tell their stories," he said of his early rescue work, which would lead to undercover operations exposing the conditions in slaughterhouses or battery-cage warehouses.

Farm Sanctuary was formally launched in 1986. Since then, the advocacy group has established a 70-hectare sanctuary in Watkins Glen, N.Y., and two shelters in California, as well as an extensive adoption network for animals that often fall through the rescue cracks.

The group also opposes raising animals for food and speaks about the environmental impact of producing and consuming meat, milk and eggs.

Baur said one of the biggest changes since he started Farm Sanctuary is the increased concern about the environment and with it a growing back-to-the-land movement.

He said a "convergence of issues" has propelled educational programs related to promoting animal welfare and a plant-based diet.

The author of several books, Baur has also been featured in documentaries on farming practices and animal welfare.

Baur’s speaking engagement in Halifax, arranged by the Nova Scotia Humane Society, is part of Farm Sanctuary’s 25th anniversary North American tour.

Friday, March 9, 2012

When does barking become a nuisance?

I'm being hassled by my neighbours - it's more than hassled - I'm being harassed by my neighbours - and I've told them that - and I've threatened them that if they don't leave me alone I'm going to call the police.

For some reason they have a zero tolerance for any kind of noise - last summer they called police several times on the house next to me when they had parties in their back yard - citing that they were making too much noise - so I'm not the only one that they've set their sights on.

What they're doing to me is that Bubby can be at the top of my back steps and bark THREE times - not bark for three minutes, or for thirteen minutes - but bark THREE TIMES - BARK, BARK, BARK - and they will holler out their window, or open up their door and holler "SHUT THAT DOG UP" - or "PUT THAT DOG INSIDE", or swear at me or swear at Bubby. It's nerve wracking.

If either Bubby or Buttercup is outside I am always there - I have never let either of them bark for more than one minute at a time, ever. I am a responsible dog owner. So to have people next door to me freaking out is freaking me out.

So it's gotten me thinking - is there anybody out there who has a dog that never barks when they go outside to poop or pee? I don't think so.

I wrote my next door neighbours a letter and stuck it in their mailbox and told them to stop harassing me and told them that HRM has a dog bylaw that says that "A dog is considered to be making excessive noise if it barks or howls repeatedly for a period of 20 minutes." And my dogs never even get to bark for 1/20th of that time.

As well - here in Halifax - if you're going to complain about your neighbour's barking - you have to fill out a "barking dog log" and be prepared to go to court - the previous week they thought they could do some good by making a complaint to Animal Services about Bubby's barking - which was a complete waste of taxpayer money.

When the Animal Control Officer came to visit me he had already figured out that it was a nuisance complaint on the part of the complainer - they weren't willing to fill out the barking dog log, they probably couldn't say how much Bubby was barking, my dogs are legally registered with the city - I'm a typical good dog owner - so he basically apologized that he had to bother me, but he had to tell me that a complaint had been filed, and he was closing out the file and was sorry I had such asshole neighbours.

We're lucky we have the 20 minute rule and barking dog log here in Halifax - I went and had a look at a few dog bylaws around Nova Scotia - and most of them don't have the 20 minute rule in them - they almost all just say -

"No owner shall suffer, permit, allow or for any reason have his or her animal, bark or howl excessively or in any other manner disturb the quiet of any person"

That's Parrsboro's bylaw. I don't like that one too much.

Windsor Nova Scotia's bylaw has got a barking dog section that is mirrored in several towns across Nova Scotia - their's says -

"Any constable, Peace Officer or Bylaw Enforcement Officer, without notice to, or complaint against the owner of any dog, may IMPOUND a dog:
(d) which persistently disturbs the quiet of the neighbourhood by barking, howling or otherwise".

I don't like that one very much either.

The town of Truro has a whole section on what they call "Disruptive dogs" - it says "No dog shall be permitted to consistently disturb the quiet of a neighbourhood by barking,howling, or otherwise making noise to a degree beyond what the Animal Control Officer determines to be normal."

In their bylaw - everything is up to the discretion of the bylaw officer - and if we've learned anything here in the HRM - it's that leaving things up to the disretion of bylaw officers is a BAD thing. Usually it's the animals who lose.

Thinking about this subject brings to my mind a dog that my neighbours SHOULD have lived next door to - Po. Who became Henry - the wheaten mix from Cape Breton who was chained out his entire life and when his owners put up a fence in their backyard they put Po's dog house up BEHIND it so they wouldn't have to see him.

It was his constant barking that finally saved his life. A kind lady named Corinne could hear his constant barking night after night - and finally one day she walked through the neighbourhood to find the dog that she constantly heard barking - and she was brave enough to rescue him - and from there he went on a journey that took 6 long months to find his forever home - but Animal Rescue Coalitions never gave up on him - and today he is a fabulous dog transformed in the best home. And it was his constant barking that saved him.

Sometimes making a lot of noise gets you noticed in a positive way.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Do you know a rescuer who deserves a Spa Day of Pampering?

Global Pets, with Hill’s Science Diet are inviting Canadians to nominate outstanding animal shelter and rescue volunteers for the first Heroic Heart Pet Service Award.

Nominations can be made at your local Global Pet Foods store or online through Facebook.com/GlobalPetFoods starting March 1st! Nominations will close March 31 and a panel of judges will review all nominees’ Heroic Heart stories. Four award winners will be selected - with one recipient from each region of Canada: Western Canada, Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada.

Heroic Heart award winners will receive a much deserved relaxing spa day and a one year supply of Hill’s Science Diet Pet Food, which will be donated to their shelter of choice.

I can certainly think of a couple people off the top of my head that I would nominate - and I'm sure that there are other readers out there who also might have some ideas - I think it's fabulous how philanthropic Global Pets continues to be. Yay!