Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Case in Calgary highlights the shortfalls on the Nova Scotia Justice system for animals

You may have noticed on your facebook timeline in the last day this picture of the 200 pound leonberger in Calgary who was being transported (illegally) on the flatbed of a trailer in Calgary.  His owner has been charged with causing an animal to be in distress, transporting an animal outside the cab of a vehicle, and other charges.

This is fabulous, and I'm very happy to see this.  In April of 2017 I observed a bernese mountain dog being transported in the back of a truck here in Halifax - in the Bayer's Lake park and then the truck went onto the 102 bicentennial highway and reached a speed of 100 kms of hour before exiting the highway and that's where I left them.  I took a short video to get evidence and took a couple pictures.

I then contacted the NS SPCA who said that they were going to charge the person because you could see the person's licence plate - so that was enough to identify the person and contact them - because it is illegal in Nova Scotia to transport a dog in the back of a truck unless it is in a secure enclosure like a crate.  It is written into the regulations - here - and it says:

Standards of care for transporting animals
9 (1) A person must not transport an animal in the trunk of a motor vehicle.
(2) Subsection (1) does not apply to a motor vehicle, such as a station wagon, passenger van, sport-utility vehicle or hatchback model, that does not have a closed area as its main storage compartment.
(3) A person must not transport an animal in a motor vehicle outside the passenger compartment unless the animal is confined or secured
(a) in a container that meets the requirements of subsection (4); and
(b) in a manner that prevents the animal from experiencing injury or distress, falling off the vehicle or otherwise injuring itself or causing a hazard to other vehicles.

In the Summary Offence Schedule that relates to Animal Offences - for causing an animal to be in distress for the first offence is $410.00 - and leaving an animal unattended or in conditions in a vehicle that could cause distress - is $697.50 - so there are definitely tickets that can be written for people who drive with their dogs loose in the back of trucks.

I gave a detailed statement to my contact at the NS SPCA and they thanked me very much - they had previously charged this same person a couple weeks previous with the same offence and were going to charge them a second time - he had a court date for the first offence of June 7th and for my offence it was going to be some time in August.

On July 21st I got an email from my contact at the NS SPCA with bad news.

The Crown Attorney's office had decided not to go ahead with the charges for three reasons:

1. Not in the publics interest.
2. Unable to establish conclusive suspect identification.
3. Dog does not appear to be in distress.

So even though something is against the law in Nova Scotia - if the Crown decides that it's not in the public's interest - ie it doesn't have to do with humans (I guess) - the Crown isn't interested in following up.

They weren't able to establish conclusive suspect identification - we had the licence plate - but we couldn't say who was driving the truck - it could have been anyone I guess.

The dog does not appear to be in distress - I guess the Crown Prosecutors - and not the NS SPCA knows what defines stress.

The owner of the dog DID completely claim his guiltiness because he agreed to donate $100 to the NS SPCA .

So the Crown Attorney's and Justice Department in Nova Scotia once again showed that they don't care about the animals of Nova Scotia OR following the laws that are in place to protect the animals of Nova Scotia.

This to me is unacceptable - and when we see the same laws that are on the books across Canada being enforced it is just completely maddening.

I think it's times like this when stories show up in the media that it's a great time to contact our MLA's and point out that our Justice System should be enforcing the laws that we have here but aren't protecting our animals like they are across Canada.

Why - if it's illegal to have dogs in the back of trucks - aren't the laws being enforced?  And that is not a rhetorical question.

Here is the article from the Chronicle Herald about the dog in Calgary:

Calgary-area man charged after social media photo of dog tied to flatbed truck

CALGARY — A Calgary-area man is facing charges after a photo of dog tethered to a flatbed trailer began circulating on social media.

Calgary police, the Calgary Humane Society and Rocky View County began an investigation shortly after the photo surfaced on Oct. 28.

Brad Nichols of the humane society says transporting dogs in the bed of trucks is extremely dangerous for dogs.

He says they risk falling off and are exposed to extreme weather.

Nichols says it was even more dangerous for the dog in this case because the flatbed truck had no side rails to keep him on the trailer.

Volodymyr Irodenko of Rocky View County was charged Saturday with causing an animal to be in distress, transporting an animal outside the cab of a vehicle and other charges.

Here is an article from Metro back in April about the man who was charged with having his dog in the back of a truck:

Halifax man charged for letting dog roam free in back of pickup

A Halifax man who let his dog roam free in the back of his moving pick-up truck and a Queens County woman who docked puppy tails are facing charges under Nova Scotia’s Animal Protection Act.

In a media release, the Nova Scotia SPCA said Halifax resident Murray Newton is charged with “causing distress to an animal by transporting a dog in the back of a pick-up truck without being secured in a carrier.”

Newton is also charged with failing to provide reasonable protection from injurious cold.

He is scheduled to appear in Halifax court on June 7.

“The regulations are very clear in the Act that states that a person must not transport an animal in a motor vehicle outside the passenger compartment unless the animal is in a secured container or in a manner that prevents distress to the animal,” Jo-Anne Landsburg, chief provincial inspector of the Nova Scotia SPCA said in the release.

Debbie Baggs, 44, of Hunts Point has been charged for docking puppies’ tails “causing distress to the animals.” She faces two counts of animal cruelty and is scheduled to appear in Dartmouth court on June 7.

The Nova Scotia SPCA said the practice of docking dog tails was provincially banned in 2010 by the Nova Scotia Veterinary Association.

Veterinarians are not permitted to perform the procedure for cosmetic reasons.

“Docking is a medical procedure to remove part of the dog’s tail. It is often done by snipping the tail off with scissors or by placing a special band on the tail to cut off blood supply causing the tail to fall off,” Landsburg said in a media release.

Friday, October 27, 2017

When is it time to give up your dog to a rescue?

This week a woman by the name of Sarah Roberts was sentenced to a 10 year prohibition on owning animals after she was found to have 2 dogs who were in dire need of having medical care.

The Chronicle Herald article says that one of the dogs - a rottweiller - was actually screaming out in pain when the SPCA special constables were on scene at Ms. Robert's home - and the other dog had a large tumour on his chest that was making it difficult for him to breathe.

What a visual this gives you, doesn't it?  Can you imagine living in a place where these 2 sentient beings are living there with you?  Where these two living beings are breathing the same air and being in such pain - and you are just letting it continue?

This woman was in charge of these 2 animals - they depended on her for their survival and she allowed them to continue to suffer in silence.  All because she didn't feel like she had the money to pay for their veterinary care.

And that brings up the question that we all face at one time or another - can we afford to keep the animals that we live with?

I have a bichon frise who I've had since he was six months old - a rescue from a puppy mill so he has horrible genetics and in the last year I've had both of his knees replaced - it has cost me $8,000 and I'm on a fixed income - I can't afford that - so I remortgaged my home, sold pretty much everything that wasn't tied down and put the rest on a credit card which I'll be paying off for the rest of my life - at the same time one of my other dogs has also been sick which has cost quite a bit of money and added to my financial woes.

But I am willing to spend that money and I"d do it again - what's the alternative? Watching my poor little dog who depends on me lose the ability to walk?  That would be absolutely cruelty.

When you are faced with a medical crisis with your dog there are things that can be done - you can be like me and sell personal possessions you don't need, you could look to family members to see if they'll lend you money, you could have yard sales and sell baked goods, you could do something major and remortgage your house (which I did), you could do what a lot of people do and start a gofundme to raise funds and fundraise for your vet bills, there are also a lot of vets offices that offer financing for vet bills now - so you can do that and pay off the vet bill over time.

And then the last alternative is - giving up your animal(s) to the NS SPCA - if after all of these suggestions your animal still is not receiving the veterinary care they need to live their life healthily - then you are committing cruelty to your animal and something needs to be done - you cannot continue to do that to your animal.

You need to do the right thing and give that animal up so they can have a hope of a good life - not with you, but with someone who will spend the money to get them healthy and then keep them that way.  If you truly love that animal you will do this for them.

Not like Ms. Roberts - because both of those dogs who were sick had to be euthanized - if she would have acted sooner it probably would not have been that outcome.

I hope this conviction will be a wake up call to people who love their dogs, and think they are doing right by them by giving them coconut oil and tumeric and raw food - but they are being eaten alive by mange that could be cured by some simple veterinary intervention - but for some reason these people don't think that a vet can help their dog who doesn't have an inch of clear skin on their body. (this is a true story by the way)

Here is the Chronicle Herald Article:

Woman banned for 10 years from owning animals after two dogs euthanized


One of the dogs — a Rottweiler mix — was screaming in pain, partially paralyzed and unable to get up.

The other, a boxer mix, had cancer — a large mass on its chest severely restricting the dog’s ability to breathe.

That was what Nova Scotia SPCA workers were confronted with at a Chester Basin home last September. Both animals had to be euthanized.

Their owner, Sarah Roberts, is banned from owning animals for the next 10 years, a sentence she received last Friday after pleading guilty to permitting an animal to be in distress, a violation of the Animal Protection Act of Nova Scotia.

“Considering the distress that these animals were in, she failed to provide them with any sort of relief,” said Jo-Anne Landsburg, Nova Scotia SPCA’s chief inspector. “It is our belief that they had been like that for some time. Failing to reach out to anyone would say it was a severe case of neglect.”

What makes this case particularly tragic for Landsburg is how easily it could have been prevented. She urged people who are unable to care for their pets to turn their animals over to the SPCA. The organization is equipped to find treatment for sick animals until they find suitable homes.

“Unfortunately, we see a lot of these cases where animals are sick or injured and sometimes, I’m not sure if it’s applicable to this case, it’s a lack of affordable veterinarian care . . . So they will try to treat it themselves or they simply will not take the animal to the vet. It’s very sad.”

But Landsburg said it’s no excuse.

“You can always reach out to the SPCA. It would be better to surrender your animal than to leave them suffering in pain and distress.”

Roberts was ordered to turn over her other dog, a beagle, to the SPCA. The animal ended up overnighting at Brian Truelove’s kennel business, Oceanmark K-9 Resort in Chester Basin, before being transferred to the Halifax SPCA on Wednesday.

Truelove, who also serves as the animal control officer for the Town of Lunenburg as well as the Lunenburg, Mahone Bay and Chester municipalities, said the dog appeared healthy and happy.

But he also said the punishment Roberts received fit the crime.

“If I had a dollar for every dog that I had to take in myself and re-home, I’d be a rich man,” said Truelove.

“The public needs to be better informed that there is the SPCA and animal rescue organizations throughout this province where you can go if you can’t look after your dog. Take it to the SPCA and sign it over to them. Give it a chance.”

In his role as animal control officer, Truelove said, he’s repeatedly dealing with cases where pet owners attempt to abandon their animals by reporting them as stray.

In some cases, he has taken on the responsibility of caring for the animals himself.

“Sometimes you have to do it, because it is a problem of animal neglect in this province. Part of the solution is raising awareness about it.”

Saturday, October 14, 2017

What is life like for a tethered dog in Nova Scotia in 2017

What is life like for a tethered dog in Nova Scotia in 2017?  You can judge it one way - this week I shut down my rescue - No Chains All Love - where I rescued dogs who were tethered out 24/7 - Nova Scotia doesn't need a dog rescue that solely focuses on those types of dogs anymore.

When I started the rescue back in 2013 people were hesitant rescue and foster chained dogs - they thought that the dogs would piss everywhere in their house and that they'd be impossible to rehabilitate and become normal house dogs - but I proved over and over and over that dogs who were tethered outside 24/7 were amazing dogs - they were really easy to house train - it was like they knew that outside was where they were supposed to go because that's where they had gone their whole lives.  Other dogs who come into rescue who have pissed inside their whole lives - THOSE dogs are hard to house train - but chained dogs are the opposite.

And the personalities of chained dogs are amazing - when you bring them inside they are so grateful - they have been waiting their whole lives for someone to love and to have someone love them - so really, the biggest problem with them is separation anxiety - they don't ever want to be anywhere but by your side.

At one point I rescuing almost a dog a week - and they were all fabulous dogs - happy, got along with other dogs and completely photogenic.

And then finally - in December 2014 the legislation that many of us had worked so long for - came through - it was illegal to chain a dog outside for any longer than 12 hours a day - and then you had to bring the dog inside for 12 hours.

It doesn't sound great - but it gave the NS SPCA a reason to visit the owner's home if they received a complaint that someone believed the dog was being tied out 24/7 - and then the SPCA could inspect where the dog was living and do a health check - because the new regulations that were passed in December 2014 also gave specific body conditions that weren't allowed anymore - like the dog's coat had to be in good condition and their nails were not allowed to be long.

So now the SPCA could seize dogs - or give the owner conditions that they had to improve the life of the dog - and they have totally stepped and if someone believes that a dog is being tied out longer than 12 hours at a time they will visit the home - and if the dog needs seizing - they will seize the dog.

Are dogs still being tied out 24/7 in Nova Scotia?  Absolutely - but all it takes to make it stop happening for each of those dogs is for someone to be that dog's saviour - and to have a call made to the NS SPCA at 1-888-703-7722 and visit that dog - and hopefully the right thing will happen for that dog.

So after four years and many many rescued dogs - I have shut down my rescue - "No Chains All Love" - it was fun to have and I met a lot of nice people - I couldn't have done it without the volunteers that I had who believed in the cause of freeing chained dogs, and to my vet Westwood Hills - and also to Camp Bow Wow who fostered several dogs for me when I could't find fosters and for whatever reason I couldn't foster the dog myself - they always stepped up for me - they are awesome.

I think that chained dogs are the best dogs - I found that they are blank slates - whatever age they were when they are put out - whether it's 10 weeks or 3 months - that's the mental age they are when you bring them back inside - so if your dog was put out at three momths - when they are rescued at 5 years or whatever - you have a mentally 3 month old dog in a 5 year old's body - they are fascinating to watch.

We are lucky here in Nova Scotia to have this legislation - some say that it should be a lot stricter but I think that it's good enough - it IS getting the dogs off of the chains and that's all you want and need - it is legislation that is enforcable and that is the best kind of legislation.

If we had legislation that banned tethering altogether we would turn everybody who chains their dogs out into law breakers and they would start keeping their dogs in their basements, or just kill their dogs, or build fences around their dogs so no one could see them - there's no end to what people would do - but they'd still tie their dog out - that is a for sure thing.

A last thing - along with the NS SPCA stepping up - other rescues have also stepped up - they now see that chained dogs are awesome dogs and that they aren't any different than the other dogs that they rescue - they aren't going to be difficult to adopt out - like every other dog - they are an individual and should be treated that way.

I hope in some small way I showed that chained dogs are great dogs - they aren't any different than any other dog - they aren't perfect - but our own dogs aren't perfect either - they are just dogs who want to live out their lives feeling like they have some control over their surroundings - and when they are chained out they have none of that.

I am so glad that through the advocacy of the rescue we got legislation passed so that dogs can't be chained out 24/7 anymore and I hope that Nova Scotians will call the NS SPCA when they believe a dog is being tied out longer than 12 hours at a time.

Hopefully people will remember that at one time there was a dog rescue in Nova Scotia that was run by someone who really cared a lot - but in the end she shut it down because things improved enough so that it wasn't needed it anymore - and that's really good - Nova Scotia is a pretty super place to be a dog because of people like her and people like you, and for a little while you should have a warm feeling in your heart thinking about that.

As for what I'm going to do to replace the rescue - I've had a couple posts on this blog about a new venture I've started talking about dog training and what are better ways to train your dog - that is at - I also have my website about dog friendly Halifax that I've had since 2002 called "Charlie loves Halifax"

I'm also starting a new little venture to make and sell dog pack packs - they are for humans and they are made out of dog themed material - I'm also going to make quilts for dogs.  I haven't completed anything yet but I do have the site up - with nothing on it

So that's what I'm planning on doing - as well as blogging here - which I've been doing quite a lot of lately - I seem to have gotten the bug back, which I'm sure is annoying some people, but what can you do.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Coroner's Report from 2016 Montreal Fatal dog mauling is in and it is very sad

A dog named Tina - not the dog from Montreal - just a very nice, good dog - like almost all dogs with blocky heads, wide smiles and little ears

Last week the coroner released their report on the fatal mauling of Christiane Vadnais who was killed by a dog in 2016 in Montreal and it's really no surprise - the dog who killed her wasn't a boxer as the owner had listed him on their dog registration with the city - but he also wasn't a pit bull - he was simply a mixed breed dog - so the hysteria that was caused by the tragic death of Ms. Vadnais is completely unfounded and misplaced - the dogs that the government of Montreal and Quebec are targetting aren't responsible for this person's death - it's all a sham and there is still only one person in Canada since 1983 who has been killed by a pit bull type dog.

What the coroner's report did reveal though is that this dog - who's name was Lucifer - had previous bite incidents, and one of those negative interactions involved a visit to the hospital for the human and a possible fractured arm.  The second incident wasn't as severe and was a bite to the thigh of the person.

The more serious incident was supposed to be followed up by Animal Control but never was - so not only did the dog's owner fail Ms. Vadnais - the city of Montreal also failed her and in some ways are also complicit in her death.

The report also details the very sad life that the dog led - the fact that he was muzzled all of the time because his owner didn't trust that he wouldn't attack whoever he came in contact with, and when he was found by the police who ultimately killed him - he had a muzzle dangling around his neck that was lying loose.  There was also a cage in his backyard where he lived a lot of his life alone and spent many many hours while his owner - a single man was away - so he was unsocialized and lonely - as well there was dog feces and chewed up water bottles everywhere - so when the dog was outside the cage he wasn't properly taken care of.

The report also noted that the fence between Ms. Vadnais and her neighbour was not secure - there were holes in it - the neighbour had said he would get it fixed and Ms. Vadnais had agreed that she'd pay half to have it fixed but no one had gotten around to doing anything about it.

The report details the life of a dog who wasn't taken care of, who had a lot of anxiety, who had previous aggressive negative interactions with humans, and who had access to his neighbour who would not be able to fight back against a dog that was above a certain weight.  It was a disaster waiting to happen.

There were several things that could have prevented it - a fence that was secure - if the dog would have been kept inside the home and not in a cage outside that he could escape from, if the city would have acted on the previous aggressive encounters and seized from the owner - but none of those things happened - and so on June 8, 2016 Ms Vadnais was killed by a dog in Montreal.  It was all so unavoidable.  So tragic.

And the fallout from it has already caused the deaths of hundreds if not thousands of dogs - it has definitely caused the displacement of thousands of dogs.

Canada witnessed the enactment of breed specific legislation in Ontario in 2005 and now we are watching it happen again in Quebec - 61% of the population of Canada lives in those 2 provinces according to a 2011 census so more than half of the country will live under BSL if all of Quebec goes under BSL - for a death that was caused by a mixed breed dog.

At almost the same time - on June 4th, 2016 - so 2 days before Ms Vadnais died - a 4 year old child was killed in Chesterfield Inlet NU. when she approached a neighbour’s chained dog.  No one even noticed.  Where was the outrage over that?  And since then - May 13 2017, in Little Grand Rapids First Nation MB a woman aged 30 - an Unknown Mix (northern dogs) - she was Found dead at a water treatment plant surrounded by 30 dogs.  What newscast was that on?

None.  Because it wasn't reported as a pit bull type dog.  No one cares unless it's a type of dog like that. Which is awful because it doesn't give this 30 year old woman or that 4 year old child any justice - it doesn't give people who are injured by dogs other than pit bull type dogs any kind of justice - and it also unfairly targets bully type dogs who are lovely dogs and perfect pets and tears them away from their families.

Breed neutral laws gives these people justice and keeps good dogs in their homes.  It's the only way to go and I hope some day the people in power will realize this - we have to keep fighting for our good dogs - and we have to not stop until this happens.

You can read the coroners report in english on the Justice for Bullies blog - thank you to them for providing the translation

Monday, October 9, 2017

Leptospirosis outbreak is all through the HRM

Be careful about taking your dog out in public right now - there is a leptospirosis outbreak going on right now - it's been going on for awhile and it probably started at the Mainlands Commons Dog Park in Halifax - probably some dog got it from a raccoon or rat because that's where the virus comes from - from the urine of a raccoon or rat - and then it's spread by the urine or saliva of infected dogs.

The Metro Animal Emergency Clinic in Dartmouth says that the common thread of the dogs that they've seen is the Mainlands Common Dog Park - according to the latest report from CTV news at least 50 dogs have been seen by the Emergency Department - and a quarter of those dogs have died - so this is a very serious thing.

I wrote about this virus back in 2008 when a dog in Cowie Hill died from it - his name was Benson and he was undiagnosed when he died.

Back then we had a problem with raccoons in this neighbourhood - now we don't have so much of a problem with raccoons in this neighbourhood but the problem has migrated over to rats - which also carry the disease - last week one of my dogs caught three rats in my backyard which is worrisome - there's a lot of construction going on down the street from me which I'm sure has dislodged the rats from them living happily in the woods and has moved them into the backyards on the street in my neighbourhood.

There is a vaccination for leptospirosis - but the veterinarians say that the cooler weather will kill the virus - so we just have to wait another month or so and the illness will calm down on it's own.

I'm sure it's going to reappear next spring though - so you may want to vaccinate now and be safe for when the virus pops up again in the spring - be safe and forewarned - since this is a disease that can kill a healthy dog - there's no use in fooling around - if you take your dog out in public - this should be a vaccine that you get just like parvo and distemper and bordatella - why risk a preventable death that is a horrible suffering death as well?

Here is the CTV News piece - and below is the Chronicle Herald piece:
N.S. clinic sees spike in dogs suffering from rare, sometimes fatal infection

Some veterinarians in Nova Scotia are warning dog owners to be on the lookout if their pet is acting strange -- it could be a rare infection.

The bacteria is known as “Lepto” or Leptospirosis, which infects the liver or kidneys and can be fatal for animals if it progresses. Symptoms of Lepto include vomiting, increased drinking, diarrhea and jaundice.

One clinic in Dartmouth told CTV Atlantic it usually sees about 10 cases each summer, but has recently seen 40 to 50. Veterinarians are putting the blame on unseasonably warm weather.

“Get (your pet) checked,” Katie Doucette, whose dog Diesel has been in the hospital for five days with a bout of Lepto, told CTV Atlantic Friday.

“I can't stress it enough. I wish I didn't wait the extra day.”

Diesel’s vet bill is up to about $3,500 so far, Doucette says.

Humans should be careful around their best friends if it looks like their pets might be infected. Lepto is zoonotic, meaning it can spread from animals to humans.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, humans infected with Lepto can experience two phases of symptoms. During the first phase, humans typically experience fever, vomiting and diarrhea and during the second, more severe phase, the patient can experience kidney or liver failure.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Justice system in Nova Scotia says Yorkie and German Shepherd are equals when it comes to a dog fight

So this happened this week - in a small claims court here in Nova Scotia - a judge dismissed the claims of a grieving yorkie owner who watched her dog be torn up by a german shepherd in the hallway outside her apartment because the yorkie dared to bark at the german shepherd before the shepherd bit down and caused the injuries that killed the smaller dog.

It didn't matter that the yorkie was 5 pounds - and the german shepherd was - I don't know how many pounds a german shepherd weighs - but it was WAY more than 5 pounds.  It doesn't matter that when HRM's Animal Control department became involved they have deemed this german shepherd a dangerous dog and he now has to be muzzled in public for the rest of his life.  It doesn't matter that the other resident's of this apartment building are terrified of this dog.

All that mattered to this judge is that this - 5 pound yorkie - barked at the german shepherd - so I guess that the german shepherd was allowed to have this ONE BITE - and the small claims case against his owner was dismissed.

The yorkie's owner - Tammy Nickerson was asking for $2,100 in damages - $1,800 to replace the dog, $100 for suffering and $200 for costs.  When her little dog Twigg was killed she didn't have the funds to deal with the damage that the german shepherd had caused - so she had to sign her over to a vet tech at the clinic she had taken her to and Twigg was ultimately euthanized because of her injuries.  Initially the german shepherd Bella's owner - Ms. Van Norden had agreed to pay the vet bills, but later reneged on that - which is really unfortunate.

I don't know why the Animal Control designation didn't come out more at the Small Claims hearing - or if the judge just didn't seem to take that really into consideration - the fact that Bella is now a dangerous dog - the news articles all state that at the time of the attack that Bella wasn't considered dangerous - "There was no evidence at the hearing that the defendants knew or ought to have known that Bella was vicious, or that their dog had or might have any propensity to attack a person or another dog, let alone Twigg."

But the facts remain that both dogs were on leash, and that both owners - including Bella the german shepherds owner - should have had control of their dogs - and that means that even if both dogs were barking - neither dog should have attacked the other - leashes exist so that dogs don't need to have contact with each other - and if one dog dies and the other one doesn't - the dog who doesn't die must be held accountable.

Animal Control realized this - why a Judge wouldn't realize this is really - quite unbelievable.

This is just one more example of how the Justice system in Nova Scotia is failing the animals of Nova Scotia.

I talked about this last week - for this to come out as well - how much is this happening and we have no idea that it is happening?

When will the Justice System in Nova Scotia come into the 21st century?

Bella's owners need to be held accountable for the actions of their dog.

Luckily for Twigg's owners - the Van Norden's have moved out of the apartment building that they were living in - so the Nickerson's don't have to continue to face them everyday - but they are now living somewhere else in the Halifax Regional Municipality.

I hope that they are muzzling Bella whenever they are outside of the apartment or house that they are living in.  I hope that they are complying with the conditions that Animal Control has set upon them, and not dealing with the situation as cavalarly as the Justice System has dealt with them.

Here is the article that was in the Chronicle Herald:

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Gail Benoit is showing us that there's something wrong with the justice system in Nova Scotia

You didn't know it - but Gail Benoit was in court last week. You wouldn't know because no media was there to cover it.

It was because she had broken her prohibition order (5 years) regarding not being able to own any animals when she was convicted earlier this year when she sold kittens without a health certificate.

A couple months ago SPCA Special Constables visited her home and found she wasn't in compliance with her prohibition order when they saw she owned a fish - and last week she was in court to deal with breaking that prohibition order.

Both the Crown and Defence agreed on a $250 fine but the Judge dismissed that and instead fined Ms. Benoit a paltry $25 and gave her a year - $2 a month to pay it back.

What kind of deterrence are we showing her - and other people convicted of animal cruelty in this province if the Justice system is treating people who have been convicted of crimes and then we deal with them so lightly?

It brings to mind the classic case in 2009 when a woman by the name of Susan Keizer drowned a litter of kittens in the Valley and was convicted of animal cruelty - and fined $5 for doing it - the crown prosecutor in the case - William Ferguson - empathized with her plight - he had problems with stray cats on his own property so he understood where she was coming from when she drowned the kittens.

She had reached out to local rescues and the SPCA to try to find help with the mother of the kittens and no one would help her - and so felt like she had no choice but to make such an awful move with the kittens - it would seem that taking the kittens to a vet and humanely euthanizing the kittens never occurred to anyone in this situation - this story went viral worldwide at the time - you can read the whole story - here

Thee have been a few cases over the years where the Justice system in Nova Scotia has given really seemingly un-just convictions when it came to animal cruelty - when the conviction didn't seem to fit the crime - when the person who did the cruelty really seemed to get off way too lightly here in Nova Scotia.

Back in 2007 there was the very sad and very famous case of Dennis Perrault who cut the genitals of a kitten - he was sentenced to 3 months of house arrest which at the time was probably the most punitive of sentences that had ever been awarded for an animal cruelty cases in Nova Scotia - but the Crown had asked for 3 or 4 months of actual jail time.  The Judge Anne Derrick didn't agree with that though because Mr Perrault had PTSD and had been taking a lot of pain medication and said he didn't remember actually doing the medical procedure that he was convicted of performing.

More recently - in July of this year a woman was fined $500 for failing to provide her dog with medical attention when he was ill and he had to be killed by the NS SPCA because he was beyond medical intervention by the time he was seized by them.  The woman's name was Sunday Wallace and this is a picture of her dog when he was seized - you can pretty much tell that this dog was in dire need of medical intervention.

The first person to ever get a jail sentence for animal abuse happened in 2016 - a man had been hoarding cats in Lower Sackville and was convicted of animal cruelty because of them.  Michael Cairns was sentenced to 30 days intermittently in jail (whatever that means?) for hoarding 19 cats in "quite horrific conditions" and it was his second conviction - he had been previously convicted in 2013 and at that time he had received an 18 month prohibition.  Along with the 30 days in jail he was handed a lifetime prohibiton this time - so hopefully he will not be hoarding any more animals

One really sad case - and one that the NS SPCA was unhappy with the judge with was the case of a shih-tzu that had to be killed due to the neglect of the owner - after it was seized the SPCA had it groomed and one of the poor dog's legs actually FELL OFF!  The owner said she had no idea the dog was that sick - and the judge believed her - Charlene Lucas was fined $150 and given a 5 year prohibition - she said she didn't know there was anything wrong with the leg.  The problem is that she says she's on a list to get a therapy dog though - so what's going to happen when she comes to the top of the list?

One recent case that there was a good outcome is in New Brunswick - this week a man got an actual 3 month jail term for killing a cat - 3 months!  I don't know if we'll ever get that kind of sentence from a judge here in Nova Scotia but we can always hope - the Nova Scotia SPCA certainly asks for that kind of sentence - but whether our crown attorneys and judges are willing to award that - that is another thing.

So what can you do?  Contact your MLA and demand that animal cruelty be taken seriously by our court system.

The fact that Gail Benoit and people like her continue to be able to work the court system here in Nova Scotia is really quite unbelievable.  A $25 to pay off over a year is no deterrent to someone like her - giving her a prohibition on having animals and then not actually giving her any consequence for breaking her prohibition is rather ridiculous.

Ms. Benoit said under oath in a court of law that she would never stop selling puppies - I think if anything, we should believe what she says.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Animal Cruelty Appeal Board Accountability Post #3

I received a letter from Minister Keith Colwell a couple weeks ago and honestly I didn't really know what to do about it.

I was hoping when he did finally write back to me that he'd  say something positive, like give me some legal precedent - like that there were other "semi-judicial boards" that aren't open to the public so the Animal Cruelty Appeal Board wasn't open to the public either.

But all his letter says is "The Act allows the Board to use their own discretion to determine the appropriate process for the hearings".

There is only one thing in the whole Animal Protection Act that talks about this:

Section 31 (4) The Board may, subject to this Act and the regulations, make rules of procedure for the conduct and management of appeals.

I wish that my job description was that broad, that's for sure.

So tonight I wrote a letter to Minister Colwell:

Regarding your letter of August 28, 2017 - Animal Cruelty Appeal Board - Ref #M7-2017/18

Dear Minister Colwell:

Thank you for your letter of August 28, 2017 in response to my query to from July 27, 2017 regarding the Animal Cruelty Appeal Board hearing that I was unable to attend that was held on that day for a man by the name of Duncan Sinclair who had 6 dogs seized from his property by the NS SPCA and was appealing to the Board to have them returned to him.

I was questioning why I wasn't allowed to attend the hearing when the public had been allowed to attend past hearings, and I was also asking to have previous decisions of the board made available to me.

I had been given legal advice that the Animal Cruelty Appeal Board was a semi judicial board like other semi judicial boards and as such should be open to the public - and I had also read the Animal Protection Act regarding the Animal Cruelty Appeal Board and there was nothing in there about who can attend Board meetings.

As I'm sure you know - the Animal Cruelty Appeal Board was created as an extra layer of accountability for the Nova Scotia SPCA after the horrible events of 2008 when the SPCA was found to be corrupt at the top level of management - the Animal Protection Act was changed, farm animal cruelty was moved over to the Department of Agriculture, they had to start reporting to your department every year - many things changed for the better because of things that happened that year - the premier at the time - Rodney MacDonald - actually said about animal cruelty and what had happened regarding what had happened with Celtic Pets and with the NS SPCA - "this is a situation which is unacceptable. Be it in a shelter, be it on a farm, be it in a household - they deserve to be respected, they deserve to be ensured that their safety, their health is looked after and maintained - and as a province - we'll make sure that happens."

And one of the things that came out of the changes was the Animal Cruelty Appeal Board. It wasn't his government that did it - it was the NDP government in 2011 that it finally happened - but animal advocates were finally happy when it did happen. We thought it was a win for the animals - but I have to say we are not so sure anymore.

Now - in 2017 - the Nova Scotia SPCA is not the same organization it was in 2008. In 2008 the Nova Scotia SPCA killed animals for spite, they colluded with corrupt animal rescues, they spent more on lawyers fees then they did on saving animals, they doctored their elections - it was not a good organization.

Today they are no kill province wide, and their enforcement services are probably the best in Canada. As an animal advocate I have complete faith in them. And the Animal Protection Act says that they are the organization who enforces cruelty in our province.

I have serious questions with the Animal Cruelty Appeal Board's ability to enforce the Animal Protection Act - because that is what they appear to be doing.

What are their qualifications? The members names are publicly available and it appears as if it is populated by a breeder, lawyers and veterinarians. What special training do they have to be on the Board to be overseeing the work that specialized animal protection officers are doing - and to return the animals that SPCA enforcement officers have deemed to be in distress at the time they were seized?

I think that perhaps at the time the Animal Cruelty Appeal Board may have seemed like a good idea - but that the Nova Scotia SPCA has now moved to a place where this Board no longer needs to be in place - the animals of Nova Scotia are now safe in the hands of the enforcement officers and the Nova Scotia Prosecution Department.

I'm sure you also realize that when animals are returned to people by the Animal Cruelty Appeal Board that the Crown Attorneys who work with the NS SPCA are not willing to prosecute these people for animal cruelty charges - so this Appeal Board are de facto judge and jury - and I really do not think that any of these Board members are qualified for that.

As you said in your letter - I am completely dedicated to animal welfare issues - and this is an issue that I am going to continue to follow - whether or not I can attend these meetings or not.

I do not understand how this Board can operate with no transparency, no public access and answers to no one. That to me is not right - I do not want to go back to the days of 2008 - I worked very hard back in 2008 to get the NS SPCA changed to the organization that it is today - at great personal expense, and I believe that there is something wrong going on today with the Animal Cruelty Appeal Board.

These are the things that I think need to change with the Animal Cruelty Appeal Board:
1. The public should be able to attend these hearings;
2. Previous decisions of the Board should be available to the public (as other court hearings are also available to the public)
3. Animal advocates should be able to be members of the Board
4. When Animal Cruelty Appeal Board meetings are being held they should be advertised so that members of the public can attend.

Thank you for your ongoing dedication to the animals of Nova Scotia,

Joan Sinden
Dog Advocate

I have been told that there are hopefully some changes coming to the Animal Protection Act this Fall - with any luck there will also be changes to the Animal Cruelty Protection Act - we can hope anyway.

Previous posts relating to this blog post

What does the Animal Cruelty Appeal Board have to hide?
Animal Cruelty Appeal Board Accountability Post #1
Animal Cruelty Appeal Board Accountability Post #2

Monday, August 21, 2017

Introducing a new website - "You Would be Shocked"

There is a new advocacy website in Nova Scotia and it's called "You would be shocked" - it's to bring information to the dog owners of Nova Scotia about science based dog training - a group of dog rescues have joined together to spread the word about positive dog training because so many rescues are using "balanced trainers" and we want the dog owners of Nova Scotia to know that there are so many more options than what they are being offered.

So we have created this website as an information clearinghouse for people who are debating what kind of training modality to choose for their dog.  We believe that science based dog training should be the way that people should go and not the way of "balanced training".

In Nova Scotia - every "balanced trainer" uses shock - or what they call euphemistically "e-collars" - or even better - "electronic pulse training aids" - as well as prong collars - and there are a lot of people who don't agree with this training modality.

The shock collar trainers would have you believe that I am on a one person mission - but they are mistaken - I am the person who created this website - but I am not the only person behind it - there are several dog rescues who have joined together to create it, and we are hoping that others will join us.

We aren't looking to have them banned, we know that's not going to happen, but we are hoping to raise awareness about other options for training your dog that actually build a positive bond with your dog.

Today I have been called an "unknowing ranting village idiot" - I can handle that - I have been bullied un-mercifully in the past on this subject - I have written a lot of posts on this blog about this subject so I am used to how the people who use these devices on their dogs treat humans.

Someone posted that "dogs are not humans, stop humanizing them" - I have to disagree with that, and that's a big reason why I rail against these products.

I believe that dogs are sentient beings.  I believe that dogs are individuals.  I believe that dogs are just like us - they have feelings, that they have wishes for their lives - and above all - they want to be able to control their lives - and shock collars take that away - when a shock collar is around their neck they never know what is going to happen next - and that is wrong.

Dogs want to be happy - just like humans do - they don't want someone constantly "tapping on their shoulder" - they want to be our partner, our compatriot in life - the most important thing in our life, the things we live and die for - because they would live and die for us.

That is what I believe - and why I do what I do, and what I will continue to do, and what I will continue to fight for.

I'm not going away anytime soon - has just begun - the website as it is right now just has the bones of it - I'll be adding information to it as we go along and other people join the movement - because that's what it is - it is going to become a movement here in Nova Scotia - so stay tuned!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Dog dies because of Mainlands Commons Dog Park in Halifax - who is to blame?

This past weekend a bernese mountain dog named Bear fell into a sinkhole at the Mainlands Common Dog Park in Halifax - breaking his shoulder and he was euthanized because the vet he was taken to felt there was no way because of his age and the injury that he could recover from what had happened to him.  He was a much beloved regular visitor to the park with his owner Mike and Carol and everyone who goes to the park knew Bear and his sister Reese - Bear was probably the fluffiest and well maintained Bernese that you'd ever meet, so you couldn't miss him.  Looking through my photos I can't believe I didn't take a picture of him but I'm sad to say I didn't.

What happened to Bear on Saturday didn't have to happen.  This isn't the first injury that's happened because of the sink holes that are all along the fence line in one part of the park - CBC talked to a greyhound owner (who I've also met) who had their leg broken this past winter.  These are also regular users of the park - and I'd imagine if someone plunked themselves down at the picnic tables at the park they'd hear a lot of horror stories about the lack of maintenance at this dog park - and it is completely unacceptable.

For some reason - dog owners just don't speak up about these things and it needs to stop.  We pay our taxes just like every other citizen of this municipality.  If conditions like this existed at a park used by children - and there are hundreds of parks for children - unlike dog parks of which this is the ONLY ONE DEDICATED TO DOGS IN THE WHOLE MUNICIPALITY - and as of 2014 the population of the HRM was 414,219 - it would be on the news everynight - the premier of Nova Scotia would be involved, money would be dropping from the sky - the world would be over for the municipal politicians.  And that is the truth.

There is a sinkhole so deep - the one that Bear fell into - that is waist deep.  And there are many more like that.

There are also holes in the fence along the perimeter - of the fenced in dog park - that allow dogs to escape.

At one point earlier this summer the city shut down the park for a couple of days to do maintenance work - it would be interesting to know what they did, because it doesn't seem as if any of that maintenance work is improving the quality of the experience for the dogs and their owners.

There is a facebook group for dog owners who go to Mainlands Common Dog Park and someone had a good comment - we have been contacting the wrong people with our concerns obviously - we have been contacting our Councillors with our complaints - but it is city staff who are the ones with the power - as it has been all along.

I have been writing blog posts about off leash exercise in the Halifax Municipality for a long time - I've had this blog since 2003 - so that's a long time to be writing about the same things.  I went to all the Off Leash Implementation Strategy meetings that were held by City Staff.

I sat in the room when the head of the Off Leash Strategy Implementation Strategy - John Charles - actually said to a room full of dog owners “parks are for people, we’re not in the business of building dog parks”

He said that after the city closed down Robert Park field in Dartmouth - also a totally fenced in dog park - after the city received TWO COMPLAINTS from non-dog owners.

Over the years city staff's hatred towards dog owners has almost seemed to border on pathological - at least from the dog owner's point of view - and now that dogs are actually being injured and dying - it is all just too much.  Something has to be done - and it must not be shutting down the very space that dogs go to to enjoy off leash exercise.

Some people think that dog parks are a bad idea - but for those who enjoy it - it is a vital part of their dog's life - for dogs that can handle that kind of exercise - they should be allowed to have it.

Dogs deserve to have every flavour of life - and if your dog can handle playing with other dogs in a large field - you should be provided with that space by your city. Period.  Children are provided with literally hundreds of public outdoor spaces in the HRM - the dogs of Halifax should be given at least ONE SPACE, don't you think?

And dog owners shouldn't be afraid that their dog is going to die because it is so poorly maintained every time they take their dog to that space.  That is for damn sure.

This is the sign that's at the entrance to the Mainlands Common Dog Park - there is no where that it says you have to bring gravel and dirt to fill in the sink holes that God has created since the last time you were at the park.  At least I don't read that anywhere here.

Bear's owner has sent a letter to Mayor Mike Savage and City Councillors and I think as many people as possible should read it - here it is:

To the Major and City Counsellors

I am holding you all personally responsible for the pain and suffering and eventual death of my dog (his name was Bear) on Aug 12.

I took him to the city dog park where he fell into a sink hole breaking his shoulder bone.

Because of the amount damage and the painful, unguaranteed recovery, it was determined the most loving thing to do was to have him put down.

It was the council’s decision to move the park from Africville, it was council’s decision to accept city staff’s poor planning for this dog park and it was your responsibility to make sure city staff addressed the concerns that have been voiced over the conditions of this park. As a Director of Operations, I understand my responsibilities and know they are not negated because I choose not to follow up or direct the staff, or conveniently look the other way while allowing them to make choices; this would be called leadership/management 101.

As all of you ran for office, standing on a soap box claiming to have the LEADERSHIP skills the city needed and the management skills to make it work, it is now time to STAND UP and prove to the voters that you don’t belong to the past self-serving, distrustful, power driven individuals with personal agendas from past electoral mistakes. It appears that once a person gets elected to an office they all seek to find the LEGACY ISSUE that will define their time in office, something the masses will remember them for. How about being remembered for actually caring for and doing what your position requires you to do? Manage the city in the moment, actually hear and listen to the people’s needs, while looking to the future.

Instead of all the wonderful memories of Bear’s time in my life and a future that still includes him, I get to relive the last 3 hours of his life, hearing him wail, whine and cry like no animal should, carrying him to the car as he bit me, laying on the floor with Bear and crying into his fur while knowing all the work that the doctor was doing would be for not, but could not say NO to, just in case! I hold you all accountable for this.

Accidents and mistakes happen in life but refusing to acknowledge them or to correct the core issue so it does not occur again, makes the leader a dangerous fool. I am looking for three items that will at least give Bears death some meaning.

Fix the present issues in this park for the safety of all dogs and their owners.

Give the dogs and their owners a place to go that both the animals and owners can enjoy, a park that has the space for a dog to play or allows them to just walk, a park that is esthetically pleasing and SAFE. A park that is not a reclaimed swamp area!

Honestly, because of the anger I feel for the city and how it has let me down in such a dramatic way after over 50 years of supporting them, I want to be reimbursed for the money I spent trying to save my dog, through no fault of my own.

I also plan to explore legal definition of animal cruelty or animal endan
rment and determine if you can be listed on an animal cruelty complaint and hopefully charged and convicted.

Pet owners represent a large financial base that support local business which in turn pays property taxes to this city. If you can spend 2 million dollars on bike lanes which has a lower tax return to the city, then build a Dog Park that the dogs and their owners deserve.

Bear’s Owner
Mike Goneau

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Animal Cruelty Appeal Board Accountability Post #2

Tonight I'm going to talk about transparency.

Transparency is a very important word when it comes to animal protection.  When you are dealing with sometimes the most important thing in person's world - their pet - you had better get thing's right when you are an authoritarian organization coming into a person or family's life and threatening to take away that animal, or actually taking away that animal - or even just generally mucking about in your life.

And that being said - there needs to be transparency - and accountability - all through the process - from the first interaction to the final step - whether the human is charged with cruelty to animals and goes to trial and is convicted or whether there is an order to comply - or whatever the outcome is.

There needs to be accountability and transparency on both the animal owners side and the authoritarian organization's side.

And what is this all for?  It is to protect the humans? No.  I think we at least can all agree about this - it is for the protection of the animal - for the dog or cat or gerbil or even fish - as lately in the news, Gail Benoit has been in the news for having some fish seized from her in her prohibition order for harbouring fish that she was not allowed to own. (and kudos to the NS SPCA for doing that!)

The NS SPCA is the only organization in Nova Scotia who are empowered to enforce the Animal Protection Act, and they take that very seriously.  They have been given policing powers to do that. They don't have guns, but they do carry billy bats and wear flak jackets and I'm sure they probably need them on a regular basis because there's nothing that inflame people like animals - just try to say anything on facebook that is against someone's philosophy and you will soon learn how angry someone can get.  But I digress.

The Special Constables of the NS SPCA see a lot of horrible things on a regular basis as I'm sure you can imagine.  Sometimes it's hard to keep ourselves alive so keeping our pets in tip top condition can be a challenge at the best of time - and then there's cultural differences that can come into play - I know this from running a dog rescue that rescues dogs who have been chained out their whole lives - there are actually people out there who think that if you have a backyard that's where dogs are supposed to be - and even worse - that's where they enjoy being, especially if they are certain breeds of dog.

And if the dog isn't living inside with you on your couch, there are health conditions that creep in that you don't notice, their nails can start to get pretty long and gangly, things can just get out of control.  Epsecially when they've been outside for a few years.

So it would make sense that the SPCA constables would start to get a bit hardened by the pain that they see day in and day out - but somehow they don't - I think that in order to do this job it really is a calling - you can either do it or you can't.  And the animals of Nova Scotia are the better for it.

9.5 times out of 10 the Special Constables work with owners - providing educations, working with the owners, giving them notices of orders to comply - they do it for the love of the animals, and they understand that the owners want the best for their animals - but if they see that the animal is in dire distress - sometimes they do have to seize an animal - they will do it, and thank dog they are there to do that.

There is a lot of work that has to go into having an animal seized, gathering the information and documenting the condition of the animal so  that a case can be made for the charge of cruelty.

Some times it's pretty cut and dry - you'd think it would be, but lawyers are very funny people.  They question everything, and if there's the least question of anything - they will not proceed.  Especially Crown Prosecutors - they are the most busy government workers in this province - and when it comes to animals - the court system is not in the 21st century - I think we can all agree to that.

So if a Crown Prosecutor sees that an animal has been given back to a person at an Animal Cruelty Appeal Board Hearing - a person who has been charged with animal cruelty by the NS SPCA - do you think that they are going to proceed with the charge?  I will give you one chance to answer.

That's why we need transparency and accountability from the Animal Cruelty Appeal Board the same as we have with the Nova Scotia Court System - and also the same that we require from the NS SPCA.

Today in a CBC News article the Chief Inspector of the NS SPCA says that she's seeing a troubling trend of animals being returned to owners from the Animal Cruelty Appeal Board - and that is not good news - and we need to find out why that is happening.

There needs to be some transparency and accountability from this board - and find out why this is happening - we need to get the past decisions of the board to see why those animals were returned - maybe they were returned for good reasons - but right now we don't know why, and that's not good.

It would behoove the NS SPCA to step up their transparency as well - last week they announced the Animal Cruelty Appeal Board meeting this past Monday - that's how I knew to attend.  I think when these board meeetings are happening they should start announcing them.  I know I will start attending them - and if need be - be kicked out of every one of them.

Maybe we should go back to having a judge make these decisions and not have veterinarians and breeders make these decisions.  I don't know but there needs to be a light shone onto this - because I don't want animals to be suffering unnecessarily in this province - to be being put back into the hands of abusers if that is what is happening.

I do know for a fact that the court system in Nova Scotia needs to be changed when it comes to Animal Protection - but that's for another post.

But right now we'll just stick with trying to find out what's happening with this "quasi-judicial" board.

Here's the CBC News article:

'Concerning' pattern emerging in animal protection cases, says SPCA

N.S. SPCA seized 6 dogs, 2 returned to owner days later after appeal board ruling

Moira Donovan - CBC News

The SPCA's chief inspector says in roughly half a dozen cases, dogs have been returned to their owners by the appeal board after being seized by the SPCA

The chief inspector with the Nova Scotia SPCA says a troubling pattern is emerging where pets seized by the organization are being returned to their owners by the body in charge of hearing appeals of decisions made under the province's Animal Protection Act.

Jo-Anne Landsburg said the most recent case involved the return of two dogs to their owner, Duncan Sinclair of Falmouth, by the Animal Cruelty Appeal Board just days after they were seized by the SPCA.

"It's happened before," Landsburg told the CBC's Information Morning.

"We've seen animals that have been seized by the SPCA returned to owners by the board, and where we think it's more or less to suit the owner and not so much for the best welfare of the animal, so that's why this pattern that we're starting to see is becoming very concerning."

'Really in a bad state'

Sinclair had 19 dogs on his property when the SPCA received a complaint from the public. Landsburg said the majority of those dogs were in good condition but alleged that six were "really in a bad state."

"I mean severe matting, unable to walk ... pus kind of oozing from their face," she said.

The Animal Protection Act requires the SPCA to work with the owner to rectify the situation, but since Sinclair wasn't present at the time, Landsburg said the organization had no choice but to seize the dogs.

Sinclair has been charged with causing an animal to be in distress and failing to provide adequate medical attention to an animal in his care. He has declined requests for comment.

Financial considerations

Landsburg alleged Sinclair hasn't been able to afford basic vaccinations or deworming for any of his 19 dogs.

She also said Sinclair has claimed to be breeding dogs to pay for winter wood but she added the possible financial impact of the SPCA's seizure shouldn't be a factor in whether to return the animals.

Landsburg said she doesn't condemn someone for trying to make a living, "however, if you're going to do that, you need to take the animal's welfare into consideration."

Due in court in October

Sinclair is due in court in October to answer to the charges. Landsburg said while it is a concern the appeal board's decision could influence the court case, the charges laid relate to the condition of the dogs when they were found.

"We just have to prove that this situation happened at that time," she said.

'A very sad situation'

Of the four dogs remaining in the SPCA's care, Landsburg said three will be put up for adoption after "extensive surgeries," including procedures to treat cleft palates. The fourth has only one viable limb and will be euthanised.

"It's a very sad situation," said Landsburg.

Trevor Lawson, chair of the Animal Cruelty Appeal Board, did not respond to requests for comment.

With files from CBC's Information Morning

Previous posts in this series:

Accountability Post #1

What does the Animal Cruelty Board Have to Hide?

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Animal Cruelty Appeal Board Accountability Post #1

So I have been spending quite a bit of time on the internet. So I've had an interesting day.  The dogs have had a pretty boring day unfortunately but my day not so much.

I've been digging into all things legal in the province of Nova Scotia when it comes to the court system and access to it and whether or not the public should be allowed to know anything about it - and even though the Animal Cruelty Appeal Court thinks that what they are doing never should see the light of day - guess what - I am quite sure they are wrong.

And if people haven't learned anything - they should never come up against a crazy dog lady.

The corrupt SPCA learned that in 2008 - if you were around at that time - you will know that I did not give up and you will have a smile on your face thinking back to that time - and if you weren't around and involved at that time - and you are going to be affected by all of this - you are going to learn some lessons - hence why the title of this blog posts is entitled "post #1" - there will be more posts to come until the outcome is one that is positive to abused and injured animals of Nova Scotia.

For some reason the Animal Cruelty Appeals Board here in Nova Scotia does not want any of their decisions or board hearings to be made public at all - they don't want any information that happens there to get into the public at all.  It makes no sense.

When the NS SPCA seizes a companion animal - they do it for a reason - because an animal is in distress.  Not for any other reason.  They have a strict set of guidelines to go by - and most times they charge the person with cruelty to animals.

When they charge the person with cruelty to animals there is always a many months lapse between the charge and court date - for instance the breeder in the case from Monday - David Sinclair - doesn't have his court case - until October 3rd.  And when that court case happens - we will all be allowed to attend that hearing because it's open to the public - so we'll be able to hear all the gory details about he treated the six dogs that were seized.

Why can't we hear any of the gory details from Monday's hearings? What's so special about an appeal board hearing?

It operates under Provincial Legislation just like the Courts of Nova Scotia do - there is no difference even though it's not a judge presiding over the Appeal Board.

According to the Nova Scotia Government's website -

Adjudicative ABCs are quasi-judicial bodies that make decisions about the legal rights, liberty and security of individual Nova Scotians. Members of adjudicative ABCs consider evidence and apply legal rules in order to decide cases brought before them.

The Animal Cruelty Appeal Board is supposed to have 8 members and currently has 3 vacancies

This board pays $150 a day stipend and the chair (Trevor Lawson) makes $200 - this is TAX PAYER money - so we are paying these people to do their work completely behind closed doors.

The make up of the committee is:

1 Trevor Lawson (Halifax) Chair & Member Feb 24, 2015 - Feb 23, 2018 - veterinarian
2 Robert Pineo (Halifax)Member Feb 24, 2015 - Feb 23, 2018 - lawyer
3 Brooke Gray (Lunenburg)Member Jul 28, 2015 - Jul 27, 2020 - journalist
4 Brenda Mitchell (Halifax)Member Jul 28, 2015 - Jul 27, 2020 - unknown
5 E. Garry Mumford (Halifax)Member Jul 28, 2015 - Jul 27, 2019 - police officer
6 William B. Vye (Halifax)Member Jul 28, 2015 - Jul 27, 2019 - free mason
7 VacantMember
8 VacantMember
9 VacantMember
10 Noella Martin (Halifax)Vice-chair &; Member - Jul 28, 2015Jul 27, 2020 - lawyer

As I wrote in last night's blog post - the court's of Nova Scotia are supposed to free and open to the public.

When I was searching today I found some good quotes - one of which is -

"In the darkness of secrecy, sinister interest and evil in every shape have full swing. Only in proportion as publicity has place can any of the checks applicable to judicial injustice operate. where there is no publicity there is no justice. Publicity is the very soul of justice. It is the keenest spur to exertion and the surest of all guards against improbity. It keeps the judge himself while trying under trial."

That is so good.

It came from a paper on the British Columbia government's website that is just a treasure trove of good links and references - it gives a reference to a court case here in Nova Scotia - it says:

"In Attorney General of Nova Scotia v. Maclntyre, Dickson J. for the Supreme Court of Canada, held that there is a strong presumption at law that judicial hearings are to be open to public scrutiny." - so I looked up that court case - and it's when the journalist Linden Macintrye from the CBC tried to get a search warrant and he was denied access to it so he took the courts to trial - and guess what -- he won - because why?

Because "court records (are) available for examination by members of the general public."

"It was further held that . . curtailment of public accessibility can only be justified where there is present the need to protect values of super ordinate importance." For example, public accessibility may exceptionally be denied where the administration of justice would be rendered impracticable, or where the need to protect the innocent overrides the public access interest."

"It would seem therefore, that an administrative body exercising a quasi-iudicial function should be susceptible to the presumption put forward in Attorney General of Nova Scotia v, Macintyre, supra.

The last thing I'll quote from the BC Government's website document is this -

Dickson J. quoted the arguments of British philosopher Bentham to support this presumption:

"In the darkness of secrecy, sinister interest and evil in every shape have full swing. Only in proportion as publicity has place can any of the checks applicable to judicial injustice operate. where there is no publicity there is no justice.

Publicity is the very soul of justice. It is the keenest spur to exertion and the surest of all guards against improbity. It keeps the judge himself while trying under trial."

There is no legal reason why the Animal Cruelty Appeal Board is a secret government organization that has no transparency or accountability to the tax payers of Nova Scotia - they the people who have paid $257 to this board to have their seized animals to have them returned prior to their court cases rather than waiting until their court cases for their cruelty charges - is not a good enough reason for the total blackout.

It makes no sense at all and the tax paying animal loving people of Nova Scotia deserve accountability and transparency on this issue.