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.

Monday, July 24, 2017

What does the Animal Cruelty Appeal Board Have to Hide?

Back in 2008 the animal welfare world in Nova Scotia was in shambles.  The Nova Scotia SPCA at the top was completely corrupt - there was collusion within management to protect people within their ranks and within the rescue community who had been hoarding and abusing animals for years and in that year everything collapsed and it all came out in what came to be called the "Celtic Pets fiasco".

After that everything changed - there was a coup at the NS SPCA and a bright new shiny management took over, animals stopped dying, and the Department of Agriculture changed legislation so that hopefully the absolutely horrific things that had happened would never happen again.

One of those things was the institution of an "Animal Cruelty Appeal Board" - a place where a person could apply to when they'd had an interaction with the NS SPCA and had their animals seized - and they thought that it had been done unjustly.  It took several years to happen - it didn't happen until 2011. You can read the Adjudicative Board Selection Criteria here.

At the time people in the Animal Advocate community thought it was a good idea because we were still pretty burned out on the NS SPCA - we had seen how corrupt the organization could be and we thought it was good that there was an extra layer of accountability.

Since 2008 the NS SPCA has done nothing but improve until we've come to today when it is probably one of the best animal protection organizations in Canada - it has a zero tolerance policy for animal cruelty and "sets the example for animal care in the province of Nova Scotia".

It's shelters in Dartmouth and Cape Breton are open admission which is absolutely amazing - they have been able to do this while at the same time maintaining a no kill status - keeping a live release status of more than 90% of the animals that come into their care - when I first started in rescue the SPCA in Nova Scotia was killing more than 50% of the animals in Dartmouth and 80% of the animals in Cape Breton - to have moved to where they are now is nothing short of a miracle.

On the animal protection side - the enforcement of the Animal Cruelty Act in the province - it was only a few years ago that they only brought a few charges a year because they only charged people that they had 100% chance of winning because they felt that they didn't have the funds to actually bring charges on cases they didn't have 100% chance of winning - but that isn't the case anymore.

With their zero tolerance policy - if cruelty is happening - the NS SPCA will lay charges and will seize animals - and the animals of Nova Scotia are benefiting from these changes - the NS SPCA is truly a friend to the companion animals of Nova Scotia.  And we should be thanking them for that.

You would think that the members of the Animal Cruelty Appeal Board would agree with everything that I have just said.

Today I tried to attend a hearing of the Animal Cruelty Appeal Board in Windsor - and was turned away.

It was for a hearing of the 6 dogs that were seized a couple weeks ago - those dogs that were in the news - you might remember them - they were all over the news here locally.  The breeder was charged with cruelty to animals this past Friday.

I was turned around by the head of the appeal board - Veterinarian Trevor Lawson because he said the public was not allowed to attend these hearings because they are "semi-judicial".

When I search the internet though - I came upon a file called "GUIDELINES RE: MEDIA AND PUBLIC ACCESS TO THE COURTS OF NOVA SCOTIA" and it says the following:

"the general rule in Canada is that trials are open to the public and may be reported in full. By enabling the public to attend court proceedings and allowing access to court documents relating to trials, we educate our citizens about the law and enhance their confidence in the fairness of the legal system and the way it operates."

That sounds pretty counter to what Dr. Lawson said to me when he put me out of the Appeal Board hearing today - so I have no idea what he didn't want me to hear at the hearing.  What did they have to hide?

I was told by a member of the NS SPCA that I would be allowed at the hearing.  They were very worried that the results of this hearing were going to result in the return of this man's dogs to him.

I asked Chief Inspector Joanne Landsburg for a comment on me being put out at the hearing and she replied:

"I was shocked that they asked you to leave the hearing. It was my understanding as our lawyers that the hearing was a public hearing and therefore open to anyone who wanted to sit in.

When we had the appeal for the dogs seized from North Preston there was a large audience in attendance. It is my opinion that these hearings have a huge public interest and should be open to the public.

The SPCA must be held accountable for their actions and therefore an appeal board is necessary to uphold their accountability. It is also important for the public to know the challenges the SPCA face when it comes to seizing animals and allowing the public access to a hearing as such is fair in my opinion. "

I have also contacted the Department of Agriculture - Minister Keith Colwell's office - for direction from his office - as to why I was not allowed to sit in on the Appeal Board's hearing today.

I have also asked for copies of previous Appeal Board decisions - I want to know how many animals that have been returned to owners because of their decisions - and why they were returned.  I have a lot of faith in the Nova Scotia SPCA and the reasons that they seize animals - and I want to know how many animals have been returned to their owners because of this Appeal Board.

I believe like all Court Decisions in Nova Scotia - these decisions are public documents and they should be made available to the public.  If animals are being made to suffer because of the decisions of this Appeal Board - and the work of the Nova Scotia SPCA is being undermined - then the public needs to know that - and the Department of Agriculture needs to do something about it.

Just like in 2008 when things changed drastically - we may be at another crossroads in the work of the Department of Agriculture and the work they are doing to help the animals of the province of Nova Scotia - and it is through public knowledge - just like in 2008 that it's going to happen.

ps - this is a picture I took of the room just after all the members of the committee realized that I was in the room - I had given the Administrative Assistant my card asking her for previous case decisions - and I think the committee did a collective "holy shit" perhaps realizing that perhaps their previous decisions might be called into question - at this point they were all in the hallway outside have a confab - previous to me giving the Admin my card they had no problem with me being in the room

And one last thing - who does this board report to?  If they return animals to a person who is actually causing distress to a dog and the dog is being abused - and the NS SPCA was correct in seizing the dog - what redress does the NS SPCA have?

If the animals are returned - the NS SPCA can't charge the person with causing distress to the dog - no court is going to convict the person - the Animal Cruelty Appeal Board has deemed the person fit to have their dog(s) returned to them - so they can't really have been causing distress to the animal -so there's really no use in laying charges - it's lose lose for the NS SPCA.

If you look at it this way - the Animal Cruelty Appeal Board has too much power - they have more power than the NS SPCA, they have more power than the court system - I don't know if they thought this out when they created the Board but something needs to be done.

Next Posts in this series

Accountability Post #1

Accountability Post #2

Monday, June 12, 2017

A life of service

I was at a dinner for the alumni association for my alma mater and a speaker was talking about something - I can't remember what - it was very compelling while I was listening to it, the man was very entertaining and I enjoyed the speech but I don't remember what he talked about - but there was one line that he said that stuck to me and I've been thinking about since and the line he said was "a life of service".

What does that mean? What does it mean to you? What it means to me is the act of volunteerism and how important it is to a healthy society - I don't think we could exist without it.

How much of your life is dedicated to something that is done without pay? That you do simply because you feel called to it, because no one else is willing to do it, because you want to make yourself look good, because you are bored in your life - really there are a million reasons why someone volunteers their time.

There are some of us who's lives are completely dedicated to a cause - a lot of animal people who live and breathe animal rescue, who do it 24 hours a day 7 days a week - that is the world I know and have lived for the past 15 years.

Some people dedicate their lives to a religious calling - that's the fabulous thing about this world - there are billions of people on it and we all have our different interests - I am obsessed with animals and there are other people out there obsessed with helping suffering children - we don't all have to save everything - I'm sure animals are happy I'm interested in them.

Living a life of service is a noble cause - and I don't think that people who live their lives that way are given the credit they deserve - there are a lot of people here in Nova Scotia who live this life that I know - they don't get days off - emails have to be answered 365 days a year, the problems of the animals under their care never go away, facebook posts have to be written, events have to be organized and attended, funds have to raised, causes have to be promoted, animals have to be taken care of - the things to do are endless.

I'm sure a lot of people who are doing this don't even realize they are living a life of service - they think they are just living their life - but really - what they are doing and how they are living their lives is very noble - they are changing the world.

Volunteerism as an altruistic activity is one of the most satisfying things in life and is an awesome way to live - it's difficult at times, exhausting - but at the end of the day there's no better way to live than to know you are making a difference - no matter how small that difference has been.

To live a life of service to others - no matter what species that "others" is - means that your time on this earth has made an imprint on something other than your couch - go out and volunteer for something that is meaningful to you - whether it's little kids at your child's school or animals at the SPCA or a private rescue and you won't be disappointed - I can guarantee it :) - and if you see someone volunteering - thank them for their service.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Sandra Tomalin - animal abuser in at least 3 provinces

I wanted to write a post about Sandra Tomalin - who has been convicted of animal abuse in New Brunswick and Ontario and has just finished up a court case in PEI for animal cruelty - she may move to Nova Scotia next - and without a national registry for animal abusers - if she moves to Nova Scotia next I want her name out there so no one gives her any animals - in Ontario she was given a lifetime prohibition for abusing 100 dogs - in New Brunswick she was given a 10 year prohibition for abusing 38 horses and in PEI she was on trial for abusing a cat so she has abused just about every type of animal - as well - in 2005 they had 16 dogs removed from their property because of neglect, but no charges were ever filed.  I'm including an article below that details conditions found when they removed the 100 dogs because it really shows the level that these ladies will allow animals to suffer.

In 2010 Ms Tomalin was handed a lifetime ban on the owning or caring for dogs after 100 dogs were seized from her property in 2009.

In 2011 she was handed a 10 year prohibition with her sister Beverley after moving to New Brunswick after abusing 38 horses - according to the judgment rendered by the judge the Tomalin's failed the horses in every way imaginable - the horses were full of parasites, they were starved, they didn't have proper shelter - the horses were absolutely dying.  I can only imagine in what shape those poor 100 dogs were going through in Ontario in order to get a lifetime prohibition.

Currently in PEI the cat that they are currently in court for had to be euthanized he was suffering so much - so for these ladies to get their hands on any more animals will be a huge crime if they just up and move to another province.

If they do come to Nova Scotia it behooves us to not let them to have any more cats dogs horses or even mice or rats or fish.

Deal bans sisters from owning dogs
Sun Times, Owen Sound
April 12, 2010

Two elderly sisters who had 100 dogs removed from their rural Meaford home in late 2008 have been banned from owning dogs for the rest of their lives.

Beverley Tomalin, 71, and Sandra Tomalin, 68, pleaded guilty Monday morning to one count each of failing to provide care for their dogs, under the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. The Crown and defence agreed to the resolution and all criminal charges against the sisters were dropped. The Tomalins had both been charged with one count of wilful neglect of dogs and 11 counts of causing unnecessary suffering by failing to provide adequate medical attention for the animals in their care. They were scheduled to go to trial on the charges later this month.

The sisters have both been banned for life from owning, having custody or care of, or living with any dog. Both women agreed to allow OSPCA inspectors to enter buildings on the property to ensure compliance with the order.

In an interview outside court, defence lawyer Clayton Conlan said the Tomalins are disappointed about not being able to own dogs for the rest of their lives, but are committed to complying with the order. Conlan said the Tomalins no longer have any dogs in their possession.

"They have accepted the fact that the order is a reasonable one," said Conlan, adding that the Tomalins are looking at the resolution as a chance to get on with their lives.

Conlan said a trial would have been difficult for the defence, particularly given the health of Beverley Tomalin, who suffered a stroke in 2008. She suffers from vascular dementia, hypertension and other symptoms from a left cerebral stroke that has significantly affected her mobility on her right side. Dr. Cam Tweedie of the Owen Sound Family Health Team provided an opinion last month that Beverley Tomalin would have been medically unable to take part in a trial.

Both sisters have limited education, leaving high school before completing Grade 10. They are both retired farmers and live on the farm. Neither is married or have children.

Conlan said the resolution will hopefully put the Tomalins in a position on their farm where they will have far fewer animals to care for, enabling them to focus their attention on the animals they still have.

"Any time there is a resolution it is a bit of a compromise on both sides," said Conlan. "This is not ideally what the Tomalins wanted, but they accept that it is a reasonable resolution.

"In the end this is a good result for Beverley and Sandra, given that all of the criminal charges against each have been withdrawn."

OSPCA Bruce-Grey branch investigator Jennifer Bluhm called the resolution a good one.

"It should hopefully ensure we are not back dealing with a similar issue on the same property," said Bluhm. "I am quite happy a resolution was able to be reached."

Bluhm said there will be unannounced visits to ensure compliance with the orders.

The investigation at the Tomalin farm began on Nov. 20, 2008 after the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Bruce-Grey branch received a complaint, according to the agreed facts read by assistant Crown attorney Andrew Shatto.

On Nov. 30, 2008 a warrant was obtained and on the morning of Dec. 1 OSPCA investigators, along with a veterinarian and OPP officers, attended the Tomalin property on Irish Block Rd. in Meaford.

In 2005, animal cruelty charges against the sisters were withdrawn in exchange for a peace bond and promises of future veterinary inspections at their farm. Those charges stemmed from a separate OSPCA raid on Jan. 16, 2004, when 16 dogs were seized.

On Dec. 1,2008, according to Shatto, the smell of ammonia in the house was overwhelming and the barking dogs were very loud making it difficult to communicate.

About 100 small breed dogs, including llasa apso, papillons and pekingese were found in every room in the house, including the upstairs bedroom and the basement.

"The dogs were living in very unsanitary and overcrowded conditions with most of the dogs extremely matted and many appeared to be urine-soaked and had feces matted into their fur," said Shatto.

Shatto described a home that was cluttered and in disrepair with holes in the floor, non-functioning plumbing and buckets of waste in the bedrooms, bathroom and on the front porch.

"The smell of ammonia was overwhelming and the investigators had to leave, despite wearing masks, to get their breath," Shatto said.

Little or no bedding was available to the dogs, most did not have water and many were found to be dehydrated and thin. Puppies were found in makeshift boxes with a buildup of feces and soiled paper. There was a dead puppy in a box in the dining room. Some of the dogs in the home had untreated medical conditions including ulcers of the eyes, dental disease, ear infections and tumours, Shatto said.

The veterinarian concluded the dogs were in distress in intolerable conditions and were not receiving adequate care and were removed from the property, Shatto said.

The dogs and one cat were taken to the provincial animal shelter in Newmarket where they were cleaned up and treated for their medical conditions. It took 20 staff and volunteers three days to bathe and groom the animals. The Animal Care Review Board found that the OSPCA was justified in removing the animals from the Tomalins and the animals were ultimately forfeited to the OSPCA in February 2009 as the costs for caring for the animals of $158,454 had not been paid.

Conlan said in court that while the Tomalins disputed some of the allegations, they admit the circumstances inside the house were crowded and that some of the dogs had untreated medical conditions.

"The Tomalins admit that some of the dogs had grooming deficiencies and in all of the circumstances, Beverley and Sandra Tomalin admit unequivocally that they failed to provide generally the standards of care generally for the dogs," Conlan said.

Shatto said in court that the Crown thinks the penalty agreed to under the resolution is a significant one.

Justice Julia Morneau said there seems to be overwhelming evidence care for the dogs was not being provided and found the sisters guilty of the charge.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

One last post about Gail Benoit

Gail Benoit was sentenced January 27, 2017 for failing to supply a health certificate when she sold 2 kittens in 2016 to someone who had never heard about her - she was sentenced to one year of probation and she's prohibited from possessing or having the care of any animals for the next 5 years except for the 3 personal dogs that she currently owns.

For her 3 personal dogs she must have them microchipped and take them into a vet within the next 30 days to make sure their health is documented - and the NS SPCA can come to her house unannounced anytime in the next five years to do a welfare check on them and make sure that no more than those 3 dogs are on her premises and her personal dogs have to go see a veterinarian on an annual basis.

So hopefully - if Benoit follows her prohibition - she won't be able to pursue her business of puppy flipping until January of 2022 - in her own name anyway - she does have 2 children that have helped her in her business in the past - hopefully that won't continue.

I wanted to write one last post about her so that people don't forget about her interactions with the law and start to feel sorry for her - and also to point out that there are people who are more than willing to pick up where she's left off - and I want to show them that it's really not a good idea to take up this business as a career because it's really hard to keep puppies alive when they've been taken away from their mother too soon - especially when you've taken puppies into your home with parvo - anymore puppies you take in will probably also come down with that disease because the parvo virus is very hard to get out of your home once you've brought it in - Ms. Benoit could probably talk to you quite a bit about this.

The earliest interaction that I could find when I started tracking Gail was from 2001- a Chronicle Herald article about Gail and Dana Bailey being charged with animal cruelty after  an adult female dog and at least one of two pups were found hypothermic and emaciated.  The vet at trial said the adult dog was so hypothermic that she would only have last another day or two and would have died - the puppies were full of hundred and hudreds of intestinal worms.

It is unfrortunate that even though they were convicted of cruelty for this case - it was overturned in 2002 because the SPCA Cruelty officers didn't follow procedural rules and seized the dogs while the Benoit's were not home - the first of many mistakes that the NS SPCA made over the years with the Benoit's.

The Benoit's next negative interaction came with the Chronicle Herald in 2003 - with a news story about selling sick cocker spaniel puppies:

"I got taken big-time," Ms. Eye said Monday at her home in Steam Mill Village, Kings County. "I wanted for years to get a dog, and now I have all these problems."  
It all started when she saw an ad for cocker spaniel pups posted on a bulletin board in Coldbrook. Ms. Eye called the number and offered to visit the breeder at her home to see the pups.  
But the seller refused, offering to bring the animals to her.  
They met in a parking lot in Berwick. The woman had three pups she said were purebreds, and Ms. Eye bought one for $500.  
She received no registration papers, health guarantee, record of vaccinations or even confirmation of a visit to a veterinarian.  
"I thought it was strange," Ms. Eye said. "It didn't seem the kind of thing a reputable breeder would do." Within hours, she realized she had made a big mistake.  
"I learned a valuable lesson," she said. The pup was loaded with fleas, undernourished, hadn't been weaned properly and didn't know how to eat solid food. "He came with the worst smell, and I don't mean just a dog smell or a dirty smell. It was unreal."  
The dog had diarrhea and its feces were filled with worms. Ms. Eye took the pup to a vet, who treated him for worms.  
She phoned the dog seller, who hung up on her. Ms. Eye is now spending lots of money on vet bills. She doesn't know if the dog is a purebred. She doesn't even know its age. 
"I have no idea what I'm in for in the future," she said.  
Michelle Robichaud of Lower Sackville bought a cocker spaniel puppy from the same seller two weeks ago. She regrets not going to a reputable breeder, who would have given her registration papers, a health guarantee and a record of vaccination and deworming.  
"I kick myself, because I really screwed up," she said Monday. She had just returned from the vet, who told her the pup was severely malnourished. 
She's not sure if it will survive. 
Benoit didn't come under the news media's radar again until 2007 - The SPCA put put out a notice asking anyone in Nova Scotia who bought a puppy from a parking lot to contact their local shelter, following a seizure of 10 animals the group says were dirty and sick.

Gail Benoit was again charged with animal cruelty for these 10 puppies who were seized very sick - but luckily made a good comeback and were able to be adopted out.

She also received an additional charge during the seizure of the puppies from her home when she assaulted an SPCA cruelty officer - which funnily enough - when she was convicted of this charge - she received the only jail time she's ever had to suffer through.

The trial for those poor puppies was very interesting - on the stand Gail admitted that since she'd started her puppy flipping business she'd probably sold more than 30,000 dogs!  In a blog post I had figured out that:

In their testimony on November 3rd they both testified that they are on disability and living off the proceeds of CPP - yet they also testified that they have sold more than THIRTY THOUSAND PUPPIES in the 16 years they've been in the business of selling puppies. 
If you do the math of that 30,000 x a very modest $350 per puppy = $10,500,000.00(that is ten million, five hundred thousand dollars, people...) divided by 16 years = $656,250.00 per year for the last 16 years. (They are telling us that they have sold 1,875 puppies per year for the last 16 years - that's 156 puppies per months or 39 puppies a week).

That was in 2008 - I'm writing this post in 2017 - so she's had another 9 years to sell more puppies and cats - so you figure out the math of how much more money she's had to make in that time.

She was found guilty on all charges for these offences - sentenced to 21 days in jail for the assault on the cruelty officers and prohibited from owning or possessing animals for a term of 8 months - by the point she was sentenced on these charges she was facing new charges for selling more sick and dying puppies so the judge figured that the prohibition order didn't need to be too long - she'd have another one coming up for those puppies. Boy was he wrong.

It was in 2008 that all hell went loose in regards to Gail Benoit selling sick and dying puppies - she had done a deal with a kennel up in New Brunswick and bought a very large amount of puppies that were taken from their mother way too early - Gail thought she had hit the motherlode when it came to making sales - but it was the exact opposite - they were dying just way too fast on her - she was lucky to sell them before they died - and if they died rifht after people bought them - well then, that was just too bad.

You have to read the whole article from July 28 to make any semblance of what was going on at the time.

In August 2008 the city was warning about a parvo outbreak - and it was all because of the puppies that Benoit had been selling - it had become just that bad.

It only got worse in August for the Benoits when ever more dogs and their owners came forward saying that they'd been sold sick dogs by them - there were almost too many to mention - it was a huge amount of puppies who were sold sick and most of them died unfortunatetly

There was a time during the summer of 2008 when the Benoit's were on the news almost every night - and because of all the sick and dying puppies that they sold that summer - they were once again charged with cruelty to animals.

As a very sad and awful side note to the summer of 2008 when the Benoit's were in the news for selling the sad puppies who were dying of parvo and being taken from their mother way too young - (The Chapmans sold 27 3 weeks old puppies to the Benoits) it brought a puppymill from New Brunswick into the news called "Chapman Kennels" - they were a kennel that had about 300 kennels so they were a very large scale breeder - registered, inspected and approved by the New Brunswick SPCA.

They sold their puppies to pet stores around New Brunswick but because of all the negative publicity around the Benoit scandal they lost a lot of business and decided to close their kennel.  They felt that no one would want any of their breeding dogs so they did what they thought was the proper thing - and SHOT 175 of them in the head to get rid of them.  What kind of a disconnect does a person have in their brain that they can go from kennel to kennel and shoot one dog after the other in the head.

And that story was only carried by a small newspaper in New Brunswick - that a kennel operator had shot 175 dogs in the head in order to close his puppy mill - all because Gail Benoit had bought 27 puppies from them at too young an age so most of them died shortly after she was able to unload them on unsuspecting customers. Unbelievable - but it's true.

It only came to light because Benoit sued the Chapmans - but Benoit lost the court case.

Benoit was charged with 4 counts of animal cruelty for 4 puppies that had died and the SPCA had necropies done.

The animal advocacy community was overjoyed that it would seem that the NS SPCA and the crown procecutors would have such a solid case of cruelty - Benoit was finally going to get what advocates were always hoping for - a prohibition on owning animals so that she couldn't continue on with her career of hurting animals.

And then in December of 2010 - what happened?  All charges were dropped and Benoit went free.

Why?  We in the public will never know.  The Crown and the NS SPCA never released any information except for the Crown Attorney presiding over the case saying it was a "point of sale issue" as opposed to a cruelty issue.

In 2009 there was a paradigm shift in the online presence of Gail Benoit when the website made its way onto the internet - it is an aggregator site for all things Gail Benoit and is a compilation of news stores about Gail, as well as blog posts that I've written about her over the years - there is nothing there that isn't factual and doesn't have a link to an external source - which is biggest reason I think she's never sued me :)

It also meant I bought the domain name - I wanted this blog to be at the top of anything or anytime people searched her name - and previous to the implemnation of this blog - her name did not come up in any meaningful way - and I wanted to change that - I wanted to have as much information available in one spot as I could - and that's what it's about - it's not confronting, or mean - it is simply de factor the truth and speaks to her history.

We didn't hear anything more about her until 2013 when she was outed for trying to take a litter of women's puppies that she had advertised as "free to a good home" - and then got them delivered to her for free as well.

EDIT - I wrote this post and published it - but then I remembered - the reason we didn't hear anything about her is because this is the time that there was an interaction between Gail and an elderly woman that she supposedly defrauded, took over her life and stole money from her.

There is a CBC news article about it at "Vulnerable aunt loses money in cautionary tale"

As well - in 2013 - Gail was accused of, and convicted of - stealing 2 dogs that she was told she would dog sit for a woman in New Bunswick - she brought them to Nova Scotia and immediately sold them.  They were found and returned to the owner.

Finally 2016 was her final fall-down - and it's because of enhanced regulations to legislation that was passed in 2014 that the SPCA and crown prosecutors were finally able to put her out of business - and kudo's to them for finally being able effect some resolution so that no animals will be harmed for the next five years.

From 2001 when the Benoit's were convicted of animal cruelty - but because of the way that the SPCA did their investigation - helping the dogs who were in obvious distress was the thing that got the cruelty case thrown out - to 2016 with the SPCA using our newly enhanced regulations to finally convicting Gail Benoit for not having required veterinary certificates when she sold a kitten - we've come a long way in Nova Scotia in regards to animal cruelty legislation - and it finally stopped Gail Benoit - and that's a good thing.