Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Is importing rescue dogs to Nova Scotia good or bad?

There is probably no other hot button topic in the world of dog rescue than the issue of whether or not it's okay to import dogs from areas of the world where dogs aren't treated as well as we treat them here.

In order to bring a dog into Canada currently - all you need is a rabies certificate - they do not need to be quarantined, they do not need a health certificate, basically they don't need anything - if they are younger than 8 months old there are a couple more things they need - but older than 8 months old if they have a rabies certificate - they can pretty much just walk in.

They are visually looked at by Border Services Personnel - so if they look visually ill they can be turned back at the border - but if they look healthy - they will be allowed in.

Thousands and thousands and thousands of dogs are imported into Canada via rescue organizations all across Canada every year - they come from all around the world - the United States, Iran, Cuba, Mexico, Korea, China - anywhere that there are excess dogs - we take them.

There is a belief that we don't have an overpopulation of dogs in Canada - and especially in Nova Scotia.  Because we are a no-kill province - the people who have started up rescues here tell people that we are actually short of dogs.

That is of course untrue.  But I'll get to that later.

Dogs being imported is happening all across Canada - it isn't unique to Nova Scotia - and some would say it's a problem all across the country, not just here - but I'm just going to talk about here.

Importing dogs on a large scale is really a recent phenonemon - probably the last five years, other than greyhound rescue which has been going on for a lot longer and I'm not going to talk about that because that's a different thing - they are excluded from this discussion.

There are two ways that dogs find their way into Canada - people go away on vacation, see a dog on the streets, fall in love and bring them home or see a dog at a rescue and adopt them and find a way to bring them home.  They aren't really a problem because their numbers aren't huge.

What is becoming a problem is rescues that have started that are large scale and are dedicated to importing dogs - they bring in at least 30 dogs at a time from away and don't seem to adequately prepare for the numbers of dogs they're bringing in.

One rescue in particular - a rescue in New Brunswick that brings their dogs in from Georgia - has at least 50% of their dogs infected with heartworm when they arrive, and the treatment that they give them is called the "slow kill" method so they still have the heartworm in their bodies for months after they arrive. They swear up and down that heartworm is not contagious because our weather is too cold - but heartworm is endemic in Maine - and I think you'll agree that Maine's weather isn't too much different than ours - so how can our weather be too cold?

And veterinarians disagree with their assertion that heartworm is not contagious - so I am going to believe a veterinarian over someone who runs a dog rescue.

And that is one of the big problems with importing dogs - the diseases that they bring with them that we don't have here - heartworm, rabies, Anaplasmosis, babesiosis and Ehrlichia - all diseases that are not native to us that have been seen by veterinarians in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia because of imported dogs - well we haven't had a case of rabies in dogs yet - but it'll probably be coming.

Another problem is that - almost all of the dogs coming from the United States are being pulled from euthanization lists - and we generally don't know why they were put on those lists.  And then they aren't properly behaviourally screened before they are put in vans and brought to our area.

So unfortunately we have had some cases of aggressive dogs that have been dogs who were imported from the southern United States.  And it doesn't matter what the breed of the dog is - it is my belief that any dog over a certain weight can do damage - it doesn't matter if it's a golden retriever, a husky, a german shepherd or a bulldog - if they have had life experiences that make them fearful and want to lash out - they are going to hurt you.

Hearts of the North Rescue in New Brunswick at the beginning of this year - was in the news because they had imported so many aggressive dogs that they said they were going to pause their adoptions - but they never slowed down - not even for one day.  They have such a strong belief in their mission - that they just couldn't do it.  And they have brought up more than 1,000 - maybe more dogs from the South.

Another problem with importing dogs is that it doesn't help the area where the dogs come from - if you take 100 dogs from a euthanization list in a kill shelter - another 100 dogs will fill that list the next day.  There is an overpopulation problem in the US - and we here in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are not going to solve that problem that is for sure.  Only the people in that area are going to solve the problem - with spaying and neutering, licencing of animals, closing down of puppy mills and backyard breeders and things like that - shipping excess animals to places like here is not going to solve their problem.

There are 30 million people in all of Canada and 30 million people in the state of California - do you think that Canada is going to solve California's overpopulation's problem?   There are 28 million people in Texas and 900,000 people in Nova Scotia - do you think Nova Scotia is going to solve Texas's overpopulation problem?  I don't think so, as much as we might want to.

The people who are running these rescue's that have sprouted up who are importing dogs may think they have the best interest's of the dogs in mind - but a lot of them just seem to be in over their head.  They are bringing in 30 dogs at a time - and as the dogs arrive - they post to Facebook begging for food and collars and leashes - you'd think that they'd ask for that food 2 weeks before the dogs arrived - not as they arrive.

And when you look on Google - there is 4,043 kms between Harvey Texas and Halifax Nova Scotia - this picture shows how 26 dogs were transported between these 2 cities - how this van made it over the border I have no idea.  And how they all arrived healthy is another question.

Another thing that no one wants to talk about, is money.  Some rescues are making a lot of money off  of importing dogs.  Most of these dogs are being spayed and neutered and vaccinated at their place of origin, and then transported here for free - and then the rescue here is charging a minimum of a $400 adoption fee - and asking the public for donations of food, leashes and everything else that they need and doing constant go-fundme's asking for donations to their email addresses - and they aren't CRA registered, so none of their donations can be tracked.  There is a term for this, and it's called "retail rescue" and it has reared it's ugly head in Nova Scotia and has to be acknowledged.

So the last thing is - what does this mean for dogs in Nova Scotia who need to be rescued?

It means they have to go on waiting lists because there are no spaces for them.  There are now a lot more dogs in Nova Scotia than there were before - not every time that an imported dogs gets rescued does it stay in its original home so sometimes it needs to be rescued a second time - and sometimes that dog ends up at an SPCA or a pound and not back at the rescue who imported it - and there have been a few times that the dogs has become ill and the importer rescue couldn't handle it and signed it over to a local rescue who took on the onerable financial task of getting the dog healthy before adopting it out.  This has happened.

As well - imported dogs are very sexy and have sad back stories so people tend to want to donate money to them - making for less money donated to local rescues - and there is also less money to go around to much needed local rescue dogs - so local rescues suffer.

So after all this - what can we do about it?

The Canadian Medical Veterinary Association has a Position Statement on the Importation of Dogs that is a very good read - it's at

It says in part:

"There is limited regulatory control of importation of dogs into Canada. Animal health-related requirements are currently limited to a veterinary certificate of health and/or a rabies vaccination certificate depending on the age of the dog and whether the importation is classified as personal or commercial (10). Beyond this, no particular disease risks associated with the country of origin are considered when deciding whether or not a dog is eligible to enter Canada. In addition, in some source countries it may not be possible to confirm if the required certificates were in fact issued by a licensed veterinarian."
Changes need to happen regarding importation to dogs - behavioural screening needs to be done at their point of origin, their health must be cleared, quarantines must be carried out at their point of origin - we have to think about the dogs that are here first before we try to save the dogs that are everywhere in the world.  We can save them - but not at the cost of our own.

We have the biggest hearts in the world, there is no doubt about that, but sometimes we also need to think with our heads too.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Nova Scotia bans the declawing of cats in January 2018

Nova Scotia is an interesting province - our population is only a little over 900,000 people - the whole population of Canada is less than the population of California - but here in Nova Scotia we have a lot of pride in the place that we live in.

Some people who don't live here may think that we are a backwards society since we seem to be living on the edge of North America - physically we almost seem to be like a big mole hanging off the continent - but in reality when it comes to some things we are a lot more advanced than almost any other place.

And one of those things - especially in the last 10 years - is animal advocacy.

In the last ten years Nova Scotia has become a "no kill" province, we have no pet stores that sell puppies or kittens, we banned the continuous tethering of dogs in 2014, in 2009 we banned the cropping and docking of dogs, and just this month the Nova Scotia Veterinary Medical Association disallowed it's members to perform the elective declawing of cats.  We are the first province or state in North America to do this and that's amazing.

There are some municipal governments in California and a couple other places who have banned it - but it's only cities - no large area like us has done this.

Dog people are crazy - but there is definitely something to be said for cat people - and a lot of this advocacy was done by the Tuxedo Party of Canada Cat Welfare Society who have been unwavering over their years in their hard work with feral cats, tnr and the declawing issues.

Now they are moving to take this issue Canada wide and I hope they succeed - if we did this to humans it would have been outlawed decades ago because it is just that barbaric.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Things seem to be moving in a positive direction for off-leash exercise in the HRM

If you didn't know - HRM City Council talked for quite awhile today about off leash parks today.  Not for quite as long as they talked about orange flags at crosswalks - which they talked about FOREVER, but they talked about off leash parks for quite awhile - and good things were said, which is awesome.

And a 29 page staff report was made for the discussion - and it said positive things, which is rare for staff reports when it comes to dogs - usually staff has historically not like dogs - so I was happy to read the report.

The report is recommending new off leash dog parks in several communities around the HRM because they have determined that the off leash dog parks we currently have are horribly over-used because too many people use them - especially Shubie Park - it is a victim of it's own success - and the Mainlands Commons Dog Park (my words) is just one big dust bowl because so many people use it that no lawn or anything can take root because of all the dogs who are forced to go there.

Currently in the HRM - as the report states, there are "seven year-round off-leash areas located in major urban parks, plus one small dedicated off-leash area for service dogs. Each major OLA has been located in a park that can support multiple recreation uses due to the park size, configuration, amenities, and environmental conditions. The size of each OLA (off leash area) varies widely, and provides variable active recreation options for dog owners. Six of the off-leash areas include walking trails of varied length, which encourages greater activity and exercise by dog owners, as opposed to those OLA’s where there are no trails and dog owners tend to engage in more passive use. Some parks have limited hours of use for all or part of the OLA. Two of the off-leash areas are supplemented by seasonal off-leash sports fields.

There are also 28 sports fields designated for seasonal (timed summer and/or winter) off-leash use.
Seasonal OLAs are established on sports fields that are not scheduled in the off-season, or on fields that are underused at certain hours of the day in the playing season. The fields supplement the primary network of permanent OLAs and are limited in the level of service they can provide.  All of these off-leash areas have generally been well received and attract hundreds of people each week from communities across HRM. Some of the parks serve as major regional destinations for dog owners and experience heavy or even excessive use at peak times."

So that is the sum total of current space that is legal off leash space for the dog owners of the HRM - except of course for us wily dog owners who have been able to figure out where crown land is within the HRM of course - and those of us who know are usually not willing to divulge those secrets (snicker).

I have to mention here about the Calgary model - which everyone always flouts whenever any dog subject comes up.  They have ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY off leash dog spaces within their city - a fact that they brag is probably unlike any other city in North America and they are pretty proud of that fact and they should be.

They know that when you give dog owners access to legal spaces - they are probably not going to break the law - like we do here in the HRM and basically take our dogs off leash illegally all over Long Lake Provincial Park, the Halifax Commons, and tons of other spaces.

So I bet it's killing you where city staffer's are suggesting to make the new dog parks?

They are suggesting -

"Spryfield Area- The Province has approached HRM with an offer to place some crown land in the
area of Long Lake Provincial Park under HRM control for the purpose of establishing an OLA. This
would assist the province in controlling the ongoing problem of dogs being off-leash which is a
prohibited activity in provincial parks. This offer presents an excellent opportunity to address both
provincial and municipal needs and should be carefully considered. If deemed appropriate, the goal
would be to manage that portion of crown land as a municipal park where off-leash activity is

Cole Harbour - the former Rehabilitation Centre lands on Bissett Road are the subject of the HRM
Cole Harbour Basin Open Space Plan, and it is appropriate to consider an OLA on some portion of
the site.

Eastern Passage – The Eastern Passage Common on Caldwell Road offers an option that can be
considered for that community, although other appropriate sites may also exist. This would need to
be considered as part of an overall Eastern Passage Common Master Plan, which had been deferred
pending completion of the new school. Alternatively, approximately 1.5 km away there is a largely
undeveloped 20+ acre park parcel at the intersection of Caldwell Road and Hines Road, adjacent to
the Trans Canada Trail, that may be suitable for use as an OLA given the lack of nearby residential
land uses.

Dartmouth – Shubie Park is a major OLA area with a regional draw that may be operating beyond its
capacity. There is also an OLA on the Dartmouth Common; however, it has limited capacity and
serves a small area. To overcome these challenges, a dedicated OLA should be provided, and
consideration given to providing an additional off-leash area with lake access. There are existing
municipal parks in Burnside Business Park that could be appropriate for development of a dedicated
off-leash area."

So this is very pie in the sky talking from the city - we dog owners have been dealing with the city now for a very long time when it comes to off leash exercise and our dogs - we have watched them close - at the time - the only completely fenced in dog park - Robert Park Drive Dog Park - because one person complained to the city, and we watched the city threaten dog owners over and over and over - and even threaten to close Point Pleasant Park to dogs over poop issues - so we have very little good will built up with the city when it comes to city staff - and we pay (very high) taxes - the same as every other user of city services.

If this is an issue that is important to you - I'd suggest you contact your HRM Councillor and tell them that off leash exercise is something that's important to you - and you'd like to see expanded services around the city.

This staff report released today is a very good sign (hopefully) of things to come - and we can only hope that it doesn't die - and the way that it won't die is if dog owners stay noisy.


Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Meeting a sloth is not a good thing!

I have to say that I was pretty horrified yesterday to see it pop up on my timeline in facebook the headline "Meet a sloth! Halifax - Diversity of Living Things" Hosted by Little Ray's Reptile Zoo - so I clicked on the link - which I am not going to provide because I don't want to give them any extra publicity for their event - and when I went to it I saw that indeed - they actually had a live sloth that they were pimping out that they called "an educational animal" that they had acquired - they said from a captive bred facility in the United States just so that they could show people how fabulous these animals were.  They said "leaving wild animals in the wild are one of the main messages at their events".

When I dug deeper to find out more about "Little Ray's Reptile Zoo" it would seem that there are several franchises of this organization and there are zoo's in Ottawa, Hamilton, Nova Scotia, and there is a page for "United States" - but all it says on that page is that they are "expanding" and that if you want to book an exhibit to contact their Ottawa location.  It also lists a Newfoundland location - but when you click on that page - it comes up as page not found.

For the Nova Scotia page - it lists Lisa and David Janes as being the owner of that franchise - who own "Blue Nose Reptiles".

I have no doubt that the Janes are committed reptile rescuer's and have a great love for the animals that they are committed to - but there are some species that do not belong to roving pet shows - and sloths and their type are one of them.

Looking at Little Ray's facebook page it appears that the sloth - and I can't see anywhere that they've said what this sloth's name is - has shared ownership between the different franchises - and I only went back to the beginning of October - and since that time has been part of TWENTY FIVE - educational days around Ontario, New Brunswick and PEI.  That is a shit-load of public appearances I have to say.

This poor animal is a huge money maker for these franchises - so I can understand if pointing out this fact is going to get some blow back from this money making "educational group".

You may ask - why do I have a problem with this?

The problem I have with this is that sloths are very beautiful and when people see wild animals like this up close a lot of people are going to go "OH MY GOD - this animal is so cute - I WANT ONE." 

And then what's going to happen?  These captive bred organizations who are only breeding for these "educational facilitys" are going to start breeding for pet populations.

There is a huge demand down in the States for cute little monkey's - and guess what - people are able to buy them from people who breeding them in captive bred facility's - remember Darwin in Toronto who was found outside the Ikea in Toronto?  I wonder where he came from?

If there is a need for something - someone is going to provide it.

NO ONE needs to see a live sloth - you can see all the ones you need on the internet.  PERIOD.

Please do not give any money to Little Ray's Reptile Zoo with their live baby sloth.

Please.  You are giving them blood money - what will they show you next if this is a success?

I can only guess.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Funny story - remember that time you left your dog in a locked, parked car by himself for 2 months?

Of course you don't remember - you aren't a psychopath who would let their dog starve to death, alone and abandoned in a car in a rarely used parkade in the middle of Halifax Nova Scotia.

But Bethany MacLean did - and she's now charged under section 445.1.1 (a) of the Criminal Code for willfully causing unnecessary suffering, or injury to an animal. MacLean was also charged under section 446 (b) of the criminal code for failing to provide suitable and adequate food, water, shelter and care for it.

For some reason she saw fit to abandon her dog for 2 months in her car in the Staples underground parking lot  and the poor thing starved to death.  That parking lot is barely used so probably no one ever heard his barks and he just slowly died.  I can't imagine a worse death.

The NS SPCA said that when they did a necropsy on him that he had garbage in his stomach - he probably tore the inside of the car to pieces and ate it trying to fill his stomach poor thing - and that "due to the condition of the dog, the Nova Scotia SPCA’s chief provincial inspector, Jo-Anne Landsburg, says it appeared the dog had been in the car “for a very long time.”"

It's amazing that something this evil could happen here in Nova Scotia - it goes against every value that we hold most dear - respect for every living creature, love for animals, caring for everyone and everything we come upon - I can't believe that no one came upon this animal in the two months he was in the car - but somehow no one did.

Bethany MacLean is going to be going to trial in April 2018 - I hope at a bare minimum she gets a prohibition on ever owning an animal again in her lifetime, and a sizable fine - due to horrific nature of this crime - I don't think a jail sentence would be out of order - depending on which judge is giving this file I think it may happen - which would be amazing.

I plan on attending the trial if my health is okay because the thing will be very interesting to bear witness to for this poor dog who had no say in his horrible death.