Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Legislated rescue regulations are not going to be happening in Nova Scotia

This is not going to be a happy post.  This post is going to have quite a bit of information so I hope the people interested in this kind of stuff reads reads this carefully.

This post is meant to shame an organization and I'm doing it on purpose because I believe that it's necessary because sometimes it needs to be done and when you are unhappy sometimes that is the way that things start happening.

Back in 2015 people who run some rescues in Nova Scotia started talking amongst ourselves that there were some animal rescues that were not being run ethically and that was a problem.

The department of Agriculture's Minister - the Honourable Keith Colwell, had decided after the regulations around Standards of Care for dogs in Nova Scotia had become law in December 2014 - that he was going to meet with different animal advocates from around Nova Scotia on a yearly basis and in January 2016 he asked the people around the table if there was anything that could be added to those regulations that could help the animals of Nova Scotia and I suggested that regulations around animal rescues would be hepful.

Minister Colwell thought that was a good idea and he said that if I wrote some up and then submitted them at our next meeting scheduled for December 2016 that he would have a look at them.

Throughout the course of 2016 things progressed and got screwed up and messed about and the NS SPCA took over the writing of them - I had written up what me and other rescues wanted to see in the regulations - you can read them in a blog post I wrote in 2016.

I don't know what was finally submitted to Minister Colwell, or even if any regulations were ever submitted to him at all by the NS SPCA - but at our meeting this past January 2018 I asked what the status of the regulations were with the Department of Agriculture and was told that the department would not be moving ahead with them - that regulations around rescue organizations were not feasible under the regulations we have here in Nova Scotia.

Well that has really thrown me for a loop.

What do we do now?  And why are regulations around rescues not feasible?

The province of British Columbia and Saskatchewan are moving ahead regarding regulations - the city of Winnipeg already has regulations written into their city's bylaw.  Tons of States down in the US have regulations - why can't we have some semblance of legislation around rescues here?

Why can't dogs and cats have a safe place to fall no matter what rescue they land in here in Nova Scotia?

We all know that currently there is absolutely no legislation around rescues - anyone can say they are starting a rescue, start fundraising and never actually take in any animals - or they can start importing animals from the States - that are diseased, aggressive, and adopt them out here - never assess the animals in any way and adopt them out to unsuspecting people.

This past weekend a rescue here in Nova Scotia rescued a dog that they said had been abused for the past three years - they outlined all the abuse the poor dog had gone through - and when people suggested that they should contact the NS SPCA so that the original owner would see justice for the abuse they had heaped upon this poor dog - they simply deleted the posts on Facebook because they felt they were being attacked - and they said the SPCA was useless.

At the very least - when a dog is taken in by a rescue that they believe has been abused - they should have a duty to report that abuse to the NS SPCA so that the owner can be charged with that abuse.

Veterinarians in Nova Scotia have a duty to report - it is right in the Animal Protection Act - if the Department of Agriculture can regulate veterinarians in this way - why can't they regulate rescues?

It just does not make sense.  And the ones suffering?  The animals being taken in by these un-ethical rescues.  Also suffering are the ethical rescues who do things right.

So I am saying - Minister Keith Colwell - it's time that you think about the animals of Nova Scotia - and regulate animal rescues - at the very least - amend the Animal Cruelty Act so that rescues have a duty to report animal abuse when an animal is taken into a rescue.

It was just a story like this that started the whole regulation of rescues - if you can regulate veterinarians - surely you can regulate rescues.

Before an animal dies because of an unethical rescue - do something.

Until then - I think the ethical rescues of Nova Scotia need to get together and talk about regulating themselves.

Before now I would have been all over this - but I don't have my own rescue anymore - I'm not doing rescue now - so I'm not in a place to do anything a bout this anymore - so I hope that sharing this will sad news will spur some rescue owners into action to start talking amongst themselves.  Good luck to you.

So what can you do - if you are like me and don't run a rescue, but just are a regular dog owner?

Write to Minister Colwell and tell him that rescues need to be regulated - we were going to be a leader in the country when these regulations were being talked about - there is no reason why the regulations the rescues put forward can't be put into the legislation.

You can contact him here -

Department of Agriculture
6th floor (Suite 605), WTCC
1800 Argyle Street
P.O. Box 2223
Halifax, Nova Scotia
B3J 3C4

Phone: (902) 424-4388
Fax: (902) 424-0699

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Stellarton has shone a light on how vulnerable our dogs are here in Nova Scotia

This is a dog named Zeus - a dog who totally owned the balls of Lloyd Hines :)

If you were on Facebook in the last 24 hours you might have been angry at the town on Stellarton for a little while.

Last night they had on their website a new dog bylaw that was going to a 3rd reading and if it was passed they were going to have breed specific legislation in their town - specifically - if you owned a dog that was "a American pit bull terrier, a Staffordshire bull terrier, an American Staffordshire terrier, or any dog of mixed breeding which includes any of the aforementioned breeds" shall, for the purpose of the by-law, be what they were calling a "restricted dog".

I have talked a lot on this blog about breed specific legislation and Nova Scotia - keeping it from coming here province wide, and the fact that it exists here in pockets in various places and has for a long time.

Currently bsl exists in the district of the municipality of Guysborough, Clark's Harbour, the town of Digby, the county of Richmond, and the district of the Municipality of Antigonish - so to add another area in Stellarton would have been just awful since we are such a peace loving province and we all love our dogs so much.

It turns out that luckily it was just a big administrative mix up with whoever posted the pdf of the dog bylaw on the town's website yesterday - the dog bylaw that they are working on and that will hopefully pass on April 23, 2018 is not going to have any breed specific legislation in it at all - whereas before a fierce or dangerous animal was partially described by breed - now it is only described by it's actions - "if it has attacked or bitten a person or animal".  And that is the kind of bylaw that works and protects everyone - what is called a "breed neutral bylaw".

Now that we have that emergency over - I hope you will indulge me - because we still have a very large problem here in Nova Scotia - not just the pockets of bsl that exist in the five areas that I mentioned above - but with something that you've maybe never heard of before - a piece of legislation called "The Municipal Government Act".

It lays out all the pieces of legislation that towns and municipalities can write around the province - and it has a section on dog bylaws.  If something isn't written in the Municipal Government Act or "MGA" - you can't write it into any of your bylaws.

And there are some things in the dog section of the Municipal Government Act that are truly awful - with the first one being of course - breed specific legislation - what it says there about that is:

1(e) defining fierce or dangerous dogs, including defining them by breed, cross-breed, partial breed or type;
(f) regulating the keeping of fierce or dangerous dogs;
(h) authorizing the dog control officer to impound, sell, kill or otherwise dispose of dogs
(iii) that are fierce or dangerous,

So at a council meeting tonight in your town or city - your council members could without any public input - impose breed specific legislation in your town - and authorize your animal control officers to impound any they believe are fierce and dangerous - based entirely on the basis of how they look and they can kill sell or otherwise dispose of your dog - with no so say by you - simply by the way they look.

This is directly from the Municipal Government Act here in Nova Scotia

And it gets better

Dangerous dogs
176 (1) Where a peace officer believes, on reasonable grounds, that a person is harbouring, keeping or has under care, control or direction a dog that is fierce or dangerous, rabid or appears to be rabid, that exhibits symptoms of canine madness or that persistently disturbs the quiet of a neighbourhood by barking, howling or otherwise contrary to a by-law, a justice of the peace may, by warrant, authorize and empower the person named in the warrant to
(a) enter and search the place where the dog is, at any time;
(b) open or remove any obstacle preventing access to the dog; and
(c) seize and deliver the dog to the pound and for such purpose, break, remove or undo any fastening of the dog to the premises.
(2) Where the person named in the warrant is unable to seize the dog in safety, the person may destroy the dog

So the peace officer gets a warrant because they think you have a fierce or dangerous dog - your beloved wide mouthed, small eyed labrador retriever - and with that they can come into your house - look all through your house while looking for that DOG - and they see a marijuana pipe - what do you think is going to be most important to them then? Your dog or your drug paraphenalia?

I have been saying for probably a decade that breed specific legislation needs to be taken out of the Municipal Government Act - if we could get that done then no area of Nova Scotia would be able to enact bsl without us knowing about it number one - and wouldn't be able to do it at all.

If you want to effect change for all the dogs of Nova Scotia - you should contact your MLA with your concerns about the MGA - and that you think that breed specific legislation should be taken out of it because Nova Scotian's love all their dogs

You'll find the list of MLA's in Nova Scotia on the Nova Scotia government website  and then send them an email telling them how you feel about this subject.

Probably one you'll want to stay away from is Lloyd Hines - if he's your MLA - shame on you - you shouldn't have voted him in in the first place - he's the person who said this about dogs:

"I don't want to be the warden of the Municipality of Guysborough and have to go to the funeral of some kid who was eaten."
He's probably the worst person in Nova Scotia.  I can't stand him.  Blech.