Sunday, July 21, 2013

Is there any way to effect change for chained dogs in Nova Scotia?

It is really hard not to feel lied to, let down by and generally just very unhappy about both the Nova Scotia Government - and the Nova Scotia SPCA's treatment and attitude towards chained dogs in our province currently.

Nothing seems to be being done to help dogs that seem to currently suffering every day - and we as members of the animal loving community are watching these animals in our everyday travels go from one day to the next with no positive change happening. It is SO frustrating.

We write letters, we call the SPCA, we call the Minister of Agriculture - and nothing seems to happen - and in fact - in the case of one of the founders of the group People for Dogs - we are starting to be seen as the enemy - NOT the people who are chaining their dogs.

On Friday one of the founders of People for Dogs called the office of the minister for the Department of Agriculture - and her group was called "misleading" - and was told that "not all dogs are companion animals" - in response to why some dogs look so bad when people see them chained outside.

This is from the department of the Nova Scotia Government that's supposed to be protecting our companion animals.

And the NS SPCA doesn't seem to be helping chained dogs.

A couple weeks ago there was a large commotion about a chained dog named Bullet who lives in Hubley - he looked like he was not being treated well and his owner said that the SPCA had been there twice and had said there was no problems - so People for Dogs was making a point of what the owner had said because the dog definitely did not look okay.

The next day in a radio interview with CBC Mainstreet - the Chief Inspector with the SPCA said that was correct - they had been to Bullet's property twice and had seen no violations and had in fact been there again in the last day and there still was nothingg wrong under the current legislation. Everything was fine.

So as far as the SPCA was concerned - and they were willing to say this in public - a dog that looked like Bullet - was in fine condition as far as the SPCA was concerned. Bullet was not in distress enough for them to do anything about him.

I guess it has to be 120 degrees farhenheit, with him living on concrete, no shelter - and him to be so matted that he can't close his eyes anymore for that to be considered distress in the eyes of the SPCA.

It's getting a bit ridiculous, really.

So what all this is heading to is that the Province Seeks Input on Stronger Protection for Animals - for whatever that is worth.

This is our only chance to tell them what we as animal advocates want to have as protection for the dogs and cats that have no say whatsoever in our province. Here is the press release that they put out on Friday:

July 19, 2013 2:55 PM
The province is launching consultations to ensure the most fair and comprehensive regulations are established for protecting animals in Nova Scotia.

"Animal abuse is intolerable. That's why we established legislation in the spring that strengthens penalties for animal abusers, making them among the stiffest in the country," said Agriculture Minister John MacDonell. "Now we want to welcome Nova Scotians to share their thoughts as we create strong, clear guidelines to support this new legislation."

The regulations will address the standard of care for animals, including physical shelters such as dog houses, animal restraints and tethers.

"Many people get a lot of happiness and fulfillment from having a pet as part of their family. For others, animals are more than companions, they are valuable service animals that help them to more easily perform everyday activities," said Mr. MacDonell.

"Either way, we believe it’s important to provide clear guidance that allows people to make the best choices when it comes to caring for their animals."

The Protection of Animal Welfare and Security Act (PAWS) makes Nova Scotia one of the leading jurisdictions in Canada in the protection of animals. It expands the definition of distress for an animal, making it easier for SPCA investigators to do their job. It also makes it an offence to commercially sell a dog whose health has not been certified by a veterinarian. This step, the first of its kind in the country, is an additional tool that will help address the issue of puppy mills and focuses on sellers that are not ensuring the health and protection of their dogs.

"We've already reached out to key groups to invite them to participate in meetings to discuss potential regulations, including the SPCA, People for Dogs, and veterinarians," said Mr. MacDonell. "Pet owners and animal lovers across the province will also be able to share their views in writing in the coming weeks."

People will be able to provide written feedback concerning the new regulations, beginning Aug. 12, for 30 days at or by writing to the Department of Agriculture at:
Animal Protection Act Regulations
C/O Department of Agriculture
Legislation and Corporate Services
PO Box 890
Bible Hill
Nova Scotia
B2N 5G6

I don't personally believe almost one word of it - but we have to stay positive at this point and say that we can effect some change here and they are not going to throw out the things that we send them. They at least have to read it!

So have your say - and say what you believe - and I know that most Nova Scotians want what is best for our companion animals - and guess what Minister MacDonell - ALL dogs are companion animals!

The Chronicle Herald is carrying a story about Bullet currently - here it is -

A number of local animal welfare groups are concerned about a St. Margarets Bay-area dog named Bullet who is always tied outside, regardless of the cold or heat. They’re frustrated that a lack of government regulation regarding tethered animals is preventing them from taking any action.

Groups focus on Bullet’s welfare

Organizations concerned about regulations governing tethered animals

KENTVILLE — An Annapolis Valley animal welfare group has joined others in voicing concern over a St. Margarets Bay-area dog tied outside in the sweltering heat round-the-clock.

Anti-tethering laws in Nova Scotia would prevent the kind of situation, said Scott Saunders, spokesman for People for Dogs.

Saunders was referring to a dog named Bullet who is always tied outside, regardless of the cold or heat.

“We were alerted a couple of weeks ago about a dog named Bullet who is tied outside 24-7,” he said in an interview Friday.

Animal Rescue Coalition from Halifax Regional Municipality has been involved. The daughter of the man who owns the dog contacted the organizations. She was trying to get her father to take the dog in and provide better care.

Animal Rescue Coalition sent a volunteer out, and that person had been checking on Bullet regularly and providing food and water when there wasn’t any. SPCA Nova Scotia has also visited the property twice, but provincial inspector David Ross has told media there is nothing the agency can do in the absence of anti-tethering laws.

The dog owner is now refusing animal welfare groups access to the animal and the property.

“Bullet is still there. He is still chained up,’’ said Saunders. “We’re getting messages from people in the community.”

One neighbour described the situation as “even more pitiful in person.”

“As it stands right now, there is absolutely nothing we can do for Bullet,” Saunders said. “Legally, our hands are tied because there is no legislation.”

Bullet, an 11-month-old husky-Samoyed mix, is tied in a gravel yard to a two-metre chain.

“The dog is tied out in the heat, lying in the sun,” Annette Armitage, with Animal Rescue Coalition, said in an interview.

Her group has tried to buy the dog and find a new home.

Armitage said Bullet has become a symbol for all dogs that spend their lives tethered. Both groups have been lobbying for anti-tethering legislation.

“This is not a one-off case,” Armitage said.

The group has rescued dogs in similar situations and provided new homes. “We’re working with another case in Enfield. We have a case in West Dover. This happens everywhere.”

Saunders and Armitage said they will make anti-tethering legislation an election issue when the NDP government calls an election. The government recently marked the anniversary of its four-year mandate and the writ is expected to be dropped soon.

“We need the government to address this issue, but we also need to enforce the laws we already have,” said Armitage.

“There’s a voter at the end of every leash,” Saunders added.

Agriculture Minister John MacDonell said Friday the province is in the process of developing new regulations and will launch consultations in August.

“Animal abuse is intolerable,” MacDonell said in a news release.

“That’s why we established legislation in the spring that strengthens penalties for animal abusers, making them among the stiffest in the country.”

The regulations will address the standard of care for animals, including shelters such as doghouses, animal restraints and tethers.

The Protection of Animal Welfare and Security Act (PAWS) makes Nova Scotia one of the leading jurisdictions in Canada in the protection of animals, said MacDonell.

It expands the definition of distress for an animal, making it easier for SPCA investigators to do their job. It also makes it an offence to commercially sell a dog whose health has not been certified by a veterinarian, a first in the country and aimed at puppy mills.

Beginning Aug. 12, the public can provide written feedback on the regulations for 30 days at or by writing to the Agriculture Department at: Animal Protection Act Regulations, C/O Department of Agriculture, Legislation and Corporate Services, P.O. Box 890, Bible Hill, N.S., B2N 5G6.


  1. Minister Mac Donnell and the SPCA should all be fired!! Anyone who could look at Bullet and countless other dogs in similar situations and say that everything is alright, need to find other jobs. They should all be dressed in fur coats and tied to a shack in the mud for a few day, then maybe they would understand what distress is. I am so upset about this! Yes all dogs and cats are companion animals, Mr MacDonnell whether you want to believe it or not. Thank you for these articles, well done but I too am very skeptical that anything will ever change for Bullet or the many others!

  2. Evelyn Hayne10:30 PM

    I agree with John, that Minister MacDonnell and the SPCA should be fired. It is so obvious by looking at Bullet's picture that he definitely needs help. Wake the frig up, something has to be done to help the animals that are in these situations. Come on people give your heads a shake. I am so angry about this situation. Waiting until Aug. 12 and for 30 days, holy crap, how much more does this dog have to endure.

    1. Anonymous10:17 PM

      The SPCA is a non-profit organization that operates as best they can within the confines of the law. Bullet needs help, but if you read our laws regarding animal cruelty and neglect, it's going to be difficult to remove him from his situation legally. It's going to take some enterprising, brave person with bolt cutters.

  3. I agree with this - I think that dog is in a terrible situation and if I knew where he was I would definitely risk charges by removing him from that situation.

    One of the SPCA constables told me once that sometimes well-meaning people can end up defeating the system by providing these animals with food and water so that when they show up to do a check, the animal has food and water and nothing can legally be done, even though it wasn't the owner that provided it. This makes it hard because you don't want this animal to be hungry or thirsty, but that kindness ensures that the animal ends up staying in that situation longer. It's an awful catch-22. :(

  4. It is very sad that the authorites that could help in this situation are interperting the regulations/laws in such a black & white manner. Seems like what we need is people in power who are compassionate, well versed in dogs and their needs, as well as, better written and more specific regulations that are able to really spell out what proper dog care is. Care that takes in the whole dog, body, mind and spirit.

  5. Anonymous7:42 AM

    I too am angry with the lack of effort on the government and SPCAs part in getting Bullet and others like him out of their horrible situation.I am trying to do my part as I know many, many others have. I have sent email and made phone call none of which have been returned. All I can say is the good people who are trying to change this have to keep it up up and hope these poor dogs live to see change. I guess the politicians will know where I live come election day. I cant get my head around how people can treat dogs like this...just heartless excuses for human beings.