Wednesday, December 16, 2015

What to do when you find a stray dog in Nova Scotia

In the last week there has been a lot of news about a dog that was found in Hant's county named George.  He was found by a couple of very compassionate people who took him into their home and he had very obviously been seriously abused by some terribly awful people.  He had life threatening injuries to his body that could only be explained as having been done by long standing abuse. I'm not going to post the pictures that have been circulating facebook because they're just too raw. Suffice it to say they are severe.

The finders took him in last Wednesday, and they had the best of intentions but there were a few things that weren't done right away so I think it needs to get out there what needs to be done if you find a stray dog or you think a dog's been abandoned in Nova Scotia - or you find a dog that's been lost so that he can get back to his loving owners.

In 2010 I wrote a post called "Think Lost, not Stray" - at that time there was a movement in the States to start thinking about lost dogs as not stray dogs - but just dogs who were lost and trying to find their way home - it was a new concept and one that was growing.  And then in 2011 - I wrote a post called "Reuniting Lost Dogs with their Owners could be a Paradigm Shift in the Humane Movement" - and it was about the newly formed group "Nova Scotia Lost Dogs Network" here in Nova Scotia and how they were reuniting lost dogs with their owners.

Since then NSLDN has reunited literally thousands of dogs with their owners, (they have over 21,000 members) - saving the shelter system from having to take them on and saving tax payers untold amounts of money from having to house and try to figure out who the dogs belong to.  It truly has been a paradigm shift in the humane movement.  In 2008 the NS SPCA said that 75% of the dogs they took in were stray dogs - I don't imagine they'd say that statistic still holds true today.

So what should you do when you find a stray dog in Nova Scotia?

A couple things, and a couple things you should know -

#1 is that you don't own the stray dog that you've just found. Finders are not keepers.  Really, the original owner is still the owner - and it is your local animal control is the interim owner - the dog may have a microchip in him that can bring the dog home immediately - and there's no way you can know that.

#2 If the dog has been severely abused like the dog George was - the NS SPCA should be contacted immediately along with your local Animal Control and the NSLDN - because the dog is not only a dog - but he is also the lone piece of evidence in an animal cruelty case and he needs to be properly and completely documented in his current condition that you found him in - if he isn't the whole cruelty case could be completely compromised and any chance a conviction of animal cruelty for the original owner could be totally lost.

In the case of poor George - according to Facebook posts - the NS SPCA was not contacted until Saturday - so there 4 days that went before George's condition wasn't properly documented - which is a huge time lag.

So there are a few things you should do when you find a stray dog - you've either seen it, or you've been able to catch it - you call your local animal control to come pick him up, and you contact the Nova Scotia Lost Dog Network so they can put the word out that he's been found - the owners may have already contacted them to say that their dog has been lost and they will come directly to your house to pick him up and bypass Animal Control altogether.

And if the dog shows signs of obvious abuse - also contact the NS SPCA so that they can liaise with the Animal Control department to start a case file on the dog.

If you decide that you love this dog you've just found - if the owner is never found - you can apply either to the Animal Control department or the SPCA - wherever he ultimately ends up - to adopt the dog - and then he's rightfully yours to own.

I run a dog rescue here in Nova Scotia - I rescue dogs that have been chained up their whole lives and I've received several emails from people who believe that their neighbours have abandoned their dogs after they've moved away - and they want me to come get the dog immediately - but I have told them I can't do that - because to just come get the dog is theft - I have always had to investigate further, and there's always been a story behind it.

Either the owners have been coming to feed the dog everyday and ultimately came and gotten the dog - or in one case the owner thought that the dog had been fed by someone, and when they found out the dog wasn't being fed - they agreed to let me have the dog - but it was with the owners agreement (who was living out west) that I took the dog - I would never just go and take a dog that looked abandoned without trying to find out why he was there - unless of course it was in the middle of the woods - and then I would call the proper authorities - because that would be a case for the SPCA because that is cruelty.

So hopefully this clears things up a bit about what to do if you find a stray dog - the best case scenario is that he's going to have a microchip in him and he'll be able to get home immediately - and if not, the next best thing is that he's already listed as being lost on NSLDN - but you should contact your local Animal Control department so that if his owners are looking for him they'll be able to find him there - and if he's obviously been abused - that is a case that the NS SPCA should be contacted about so that when his owners are found they can be charged with animal cruelty.

That is how things should be done so that justice is done for the dog and the dog can find his way home.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Crystal Crescent on a beautiful Sunday afternoon

This is what living in Nova Scotia is all about - you can drive 20 minutes from the biggest city on the east coast of Canada and arrive at a beach and you are completely alone with your dog.

It was so beautiful at Crystal Crescent beach today - such a nice day to get out with the dog and have a nice long walk, with nobody around but the dog - Tia had such a great time running around the rocks - she's really in great shape for being a 13 year old dog - she loved it there.

I have to say that Crystal Crescent has always been my favourite place for walking the dogs because it's so barren - the part I go to is on private property and has a sign saying that that the owner says "enjoy the beach, please pick up your garbage and leave nothing behind" - so people are allowed to be there - it's a secret little treasure for the few people who go there - it's a totally awesome place.

I saw this sneaker on the rocks today - it made me wonder if it might belong to one of the unfortunate men who went overboard this week on dumping day - it was on the same beach that I saw several wrecked lobster traps :(

Saturday, December 5, 2015

What is the difference between Animal Control Departments and the SPCA?

There is a very clear distinction drawn between Animal Control departments and SPCA's that I don't think a lot of people know about or that they find confusing. So I'm going to let you know what the differences are so that we no longer have to call the wrong department anymore when a dog is either causing a problem or when a dog is in danger.

Animal Control departments exist to protect people from dogs. If a dog is causing a problem in your neighbourhood - barking incessently, running at large and causing a nuisance, if you feel afraid that a dog is going to escape his back yard and come to attack you while you're walking down your street and you feel afraid in your own neighbourhood because of that dog. If you believe a dog fighting organization is running in your neighbourhood - those are all calls you should make to your animal control department by calling 311 in the hrm

If a dog is running loose in the neighbourhood and no one can catch him - you call Animal Control and they will come and catch him and impound him - hopefully he is microchipped, or been listed on the Nova Scotia Lost dog Neightwork and can be reuinited quickly.

The NS SPCA is the only organization in Nova Scotia "empowered under the provincial Animal Protection Act to investigate complaints of animal cruelty; help secure the arrest, conviction and punishment of all persons violating the Act; and, when necessary, seize animals from situations of cruelty or neglect."

So if you see a dog has been living on your street and is tethered regularly for more than 12 hours at a time and you have documented that and you can see him suffereing - this is not a case for Animal Control - they don't deal with those call.

So if you see a dog suffering in some way - you contact the SPCA - they protect dogs from people - which is the opposite of what Animal Control does - and a lot people get this confused.

If you can figure out the different responsibilities of the SPCA and Animal Control - you have learned a lot.

Anial Control doesn't really care about the situation of the dog - they just to make sure that the dog is not hurting people.

When the SPCA is involved they want to make sure that people are not hurting dogs.

It's as simple as that.

The HRM has made this distinction very clear in their bylaw - more clear than just about every city in the country - there is almost care about cats or dogs in their bylaw - there are other bylaws across the country - and the HRM compared their bylaw to 17 other bylaws when they were doing their research to update the bylaw from A300 to A700 - and some of those bylaws do have sections in them that take into consideration the health, safety and comfort of dogs and cats - but the HRM chose to leave all of those qualities from our bylaw for some reason. There is nothing positive in our bylaw - it is all reactive and directed at charging people for offences.

One could say that the HRM has a culture of not caring for dogs and cats at all - you could lead yourself to that to that decision, but that's not my allusion to draw.

For instance -the city of Hamilton, Ontario has a zero tolerance for licences and sends people door to door to check for proper licencing, as well they have a section of their bylaw relating to proper care for dogs being kept out doors:

Every owner of an animal shall ensure that the place where the animal is kept is such that:
(a) the animal may extend its legs, wings or body to their full natural extent;
(b) the animal may stand, sit or perch, or the place is otherwise adequate for the needs of the animal;
(c) the animal may be readily observed, unless the natural habits of the animal require otherwise; and
(d) the place is in a clean and sanitary condition.
In addition to complying with section 7.10, every owner of an animal shall ensure that any structure located in a yard where the animal is kept is:
a in the rear yard;
b located not less than 1 metre from the boundary line between the owner's premises and any abutting premises;
c soundly constructed of hard, durable materials;
d impervious to water;
e constructed of materials that may be readily sanitized;
f maintained in a good state of repair free from cracks, holes, rust and other damage;
g kept in a way that minimizes as nearly as practicable the transfer of pathogenic agents; and
(h) adequately ventilated for the health and comfort of the animal enclosed.

That's in a municipal bylaw - not a provincial law

Mississauga has an awesome animal bylaw -
Mississauga says this about keeping animals outside:

13) Every owner of an animal shall treat the animal in a humane manner, including but not limited to the provision of :
1) a shelter for the animal that is waterproof and that protects it from exposure to the elements;
 2) a shelter for the animal that is adequate for its size and breed; (230-14)
 3) adequate food and water for the animal;
4) access to shade during warm weather which does not include shade provided by an Animal Enclosure; (230-14) 8
5) sanitary conditions for the animal; and (230-14) 6) adequate veterinary care deemed necessary by a reasonably prudent person to relieve the animal from distress caused by injury, neglect or disease. (230-14)
14) No person shall allow an animal to remain outdoors during Extreme Weather, except for brief walks or brief periods of exercise, unless the animal has access to an Animal Enclosure that will adequately protect the animal from the elements. (230-14, 277-14)
As well:
6) no person shall tether an animal for more than four (4) consecutive hours in a 24 hour period. This time restriction shall not apply where a dog is subject to: (i) a Muzzle Order under section 35 of this By-law or (ii) a provincial court order, should either provide for tethering restrictions. (230-14) 7) any person can apply for an exemption to the tethering requirement of subsection 20.1(6) of this By-law by filing an application with the Commissioner as further outlined in Schedule “D” to this By-law. (230-14)
As well:
2) Notwithstanding subsection 20.2(1) of this By-law, no person shall leave an animal unattended in a motor vehicle if the weather conditions are not suitable for the animal to remain free from distress or injury.
 3) Notwithstanding subsection 20.2(1) of this By-law, no person shall transport an animal outside the passenger compartment of any motor vehicle unless the animal is contained in a kennel or similar device that provides adequate ventilation, adequate space, protects the animal from the elements and is securely fastened in such a manner to prevent distress or injury to the animal.  
So you can see other municipalities across the country take the dog's health and well being into consideration - not just whether or not the dog is running at large, trying to kill us, barking out of control or shitting everywhere, or their owners paying a yearly fee in order to own our dogs.

We have to ask ourselves - why is the HRM so focused on finding ways to micro-manage dog owneres - a demographic that is very easy to find and very easy to legislate so tightly that it can make it very difficult for us even to leave our house with our dogs and not do something wrong.

It's becoming very difficult for our dogs to exhibit normal dog behaviour like barking for 5 minutes and yet our neighbours can have in home child daycares and the children scream all day and nothing can be done about it - our neighbours can mow their lawn at 7am on Saturday mornings or go with their leaf blowers and we are helpless - Tim Horton's coffee cups are a blight on our streets, people think nothing about all the garbage that's everywhere - but the places we can take our dogs become less and less everyday because of some misplaced paranoia and it begins with things like the legislation that's been placed upon us by the HRM staff, and I think a lot of people agree with me.

If you've read A700 and you don't think it's good legislation - then you should do something about it.

You should contact your councillor - or contact all the Councillors and say that you were unhappy that there was no public consultation before it was enacted, and you'd like it to come back to Council to see some amendments made

The Running at large section is far too vague - the only other bylaw in Canada that has legislation like that is Calgary, and what Calgary's bylaw says in relation to that reads:
- an Animal or Animals which are under the control of a person responsible by means of a Leash and which cause damage to persons, property or other Animals;

A700 says in relation to the same topic:
- on a leash but not under the control of a person

Do you see what I mean by A700 being too vague?

Calgary says that the dog is on a leash, but it's causing damage to persons, property or other animals - A700 just says "not being under control" - so it's completely up to the "Compliance Officer" to decide what is considered to be "not under control".

That is not what good legislation is called - that is what is called "bad legislation".  And it's legislation like that that hurts people having dogs doing normal dog behaviour and "Compliance officers" being assholes.  In my opinion.

I have listed below all the animal control departments all across the country that the hrm sought advice in building the bylaw - and they cherry pick some amazing things.

Brampton Ontario:

Caledon Ontario:

Calgary Alberta:

Edmonton Alberta:


- allow hens
- zero tolerance for licences - send officers door to door

London Ontario:

London has an off leash dog park bylaw -
As part of the Enforcement Division, Animal Services encourages safe and enjoyable communities for both people and pets. The Animal Care and Control Bylaw has been established to reflect Mississauga's community values.

Our philosophy is to promote responsible pet ownership. Our goal is to encourage voluntary bylaw compliance by first educating then enforcing the bylaw.

Moncton New Brunwick Pet owner bylaw -
Do not allow your dog to cause a disturbance by barking or howling for more than five minutes between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.

Oshawa Ontario dog bylaw -

Ottawa Ontario -
Has a section on keeping dogs in sanitary environments and a section on tethering and responsibility to care for animals

Saint Johns Newfoundland -
Talks about leaving dogs out in unsanitary conditions

Toronto Ontario -
Talks about appropriate treatment of dogs and cats

Winnipeg Manitoba -
Talks about regulating rescues

Vancouver Britis Columbia -
Has a whole section on the basic keeping of dog
Also allows chickens

Wolfville Nova Scotia -
Is the only other bylaw provided by the HRM that also includes a section that allows officer to shoot animals on sight