Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Cute New Cat Rescue Blog from Antigonish

I was reading the letters to the Editor this morning in the Chronicle Herald and I read:

Pet peeve

Alexandra Horowitz’s interesting April 25 article regarding pets having blogs illustrates how the computer age has changed the way we communicate with pets, as well as our fellow humans. Two thoughts occurred to me as I read this piece.

First, I realized that I miss Rick Conrad’s pet column, which promoted awareness of issues dealing with companion animals, and served to introduce to readers pets in need of homes. While the Horowitz story is informative, it originated from a U.S. news service and does not have a local connection.

My second thought was that computer-literate pets do not all live in the U.S., and that our provincial newspaper should perhaps be spreading the word about our local pets’ expertise in electronic communication.

Juno, an Antigonish SPCA cat, has been under my foster care since Feb. 21. In the middle of a very cold winter, the small, gentle cat had been abandoned – probably because she was pregnant. She wanted to tell me to tell her story, and we decided to publish her blog. The blog,, while telling Juno’s story in her "own words," also promotes responsible pet ownership, pet care, and the need for volunteer foster homes.

On St. Patrick’s Day, Juno produced four healthy kittens. Juno’s Diary chronicled their growth into active and beautiful kittens, and it has been viewed as far away as The Netherlands. With the assistance of the Internet, through Antigonish SPCA’s web page, its Facebook group and the blog, five felines have been saved, and all have been placed with caring families.

Lynda MacLellan, Antigonish

So I went to the blog tonight, and it is indeed very cute with pictures of the aforementioned kittens from a most tender age - and you cannot deny that young kittens are the sweetest thing in the world. The Antigonish SPCA is doing great things up there. No doubt about it.

Sowing Seeds of Humanity Education Workshop Deadline Slightly Extended

Sowing Seeds of Humanity Education Workshop Deadline Slightly Extended

I have gone to other workshops put on by the Nova Scotia Humane Society, and they are always VERY interesting, as a person who is anti-PETA. But no one can deny that the group is very sincere in their goals. No one who has ever tried to cook a tofu-turkey and have it turn out looking like an actual turkey could say that a person isn't committed to the cause. I have registered for this workshop, and I hope a lot of other people go to this as well - when I got my confirmation of registration last night though, the lady said she'd have to email back next week whether or not it was actually going to go on because there hadn't been enough interest yet to say that it was going to happen for sure. So I am putting the word out in as many spots as I can to make sure that people know about it. So I'm putting it here so that readers can make their own informed choice whether they'd like to go to Bridgewater on May 31st! Read on!

The Institute for Humane Education offers its acclaimed

Sowing Seeds Humane Education Workshop
Saturday, May 31, 2008 in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia

Learn exciting, new approaches for teaching about environmental preservation, human rights, animal protection, and consumerism, media and culture.

Sponsored by: Frederic A. McGrand Fund, Canadian Federation of Humane Societies Hosted by: The Nova Scotia Humane Society (NSHS), a member society of CFHS

Registration fee: $10.00
Registration includes a copy of The Power & Promise of Humane Education by Zoe Weil

Lunch: $5.00

Venue: Park View Education Centre, 1485 King Street, Bridgewater, Nova Scotia B4V 1C4

Workshop Description:
The Sowing Seeds Humane Education Workshop is an exciting,interactive workshop and will teach you how to offer empowering, effective, and transformative humane education programs and to communicate about important global issues in a positive and inspiring manner. Sowing Seeds is designed for educators, activists and advocates of social justice, environmental preservation, animal protection, and all those wishing to work for positive social change. Humane education examines the challenges facing our planet, from human oppression and animal exploitation to , materialism and ecological degradation. Workshop Facilitator:

Kim Korona joined The Institute for Humane Education as a Workshop

Facilitator shortly after she graduated from the M.Ed. program in 2006. After interning at Farm Sanctuary, her final project focused on Confined Animal Feeding Operations. Kim earned a B.A. at Goddard College in Vermont, where she studied social change and food politics. Kim currently works as a humane educator for the Michigan Humane Society, teaching students about the needs of both people and animals, and challenging students to consider the motivations behind violence and the means for creating a more peaceful society.

To Register: Please submit this completed form by April 21 with a cheque or money order payable to Nova Scotia Humane Society to: Box 574 Bridgewater, NS, Canada B4V 2X6

Your name:
School or organization affiliation:
Mailing address:
City, Province & zip :
Primary phone:
Primary email:
o $5.00 LUNCH (vegetarian and vegan lunch)

Registration includes a copy of Zoe Weil¹s book, The Power & Promise of Humane Education

Inquiries: Barry Crozier, , 902-543-2535
The Institute for Humane Education (IHE) ( is dedicated to creating a humane, peaceful and sustainable world through education. In addition to the Sowing Seeds workshop, IHE trains people to be humane educators through its distance-learning Master of Education program affiliated with Cambridge College, its Humane Education Certificate Program (HECP), and its website, , where visitors can find humane education books and other resources, download activities, and interact with other humane educators. As the national voice of humane societies and SPCAs, the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies ( works on national issues on behalf of its member animal welfare organizations across Canada. The CFHS has been the lead national animal welfare organization advocating for changes to the animal cruelty provisions of the Criminal Code since legislation on this issue was first introduced in 1999. CFHS continues to work with member societies, the public, government and other stakeholders to promote the importance of stronger legislation that will help reduce animal cruelty and community violence in Canada

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

News that was on CBC News at 6 tonight

There was some news on CBC News at 6 tonight that was a surprise to everyone - watch the video below. I didn't catch it on the original - so I had to catch this online later....

what does everyone think about this?

Charlie Loves Halifax News

A couple months ago I was contacted by a reporter asking me if she could interview me for a magazine called "Canadian Retailer" - she wanted to highlight my "Charlie loves Halifax" website to talk about how I'd made it my mission to make stores more dog dog friendly, and of course I had no problems at all talking her ears off.
I got my copy of the magazine in the mail yesterday, so I was very excited. It is pretty neat. It's 2 pages long and it's called "Going to the Dogs - One woman on a mission to promote dog friendly stores. Is it time to welcome the rovers and fidos of the world into your shop?"
The magazine is sent to members of the Retail Council of Canada - so it's the perfect demographic for owners of dog friendly stores - so we may see an explosion of dog friendly stores in the near future! Wouldn't that be super? haha!
In the same vein, I spent several hours today with Eastlink television - one of their producers had also found my website - and they wanted to do a story about dog friendliness in the HRM too - so me, Charlie and Buttercup went to Point Pleasant Park, Atlantic News, and Canadian Tire and talked about shopping, walking, being a good dog in today's society. In between coughing and sneezing of course.
And Barbara the producer got to wear a "Pet Pocket" and carry Buttercup around for a little while too! Barbara is a cat owner and not a dog owner - but I think she might be warming up to the idea now that she's met Buttercup!!! The 4 minute piece should be airing the week of May 12th - so we'll have to look for it then!

The World has Exploded around Us

I picked a bad time to get the flu I think. The world of dog politics in the HRM and Nova Scotia has positively gone absolutely insane. There are articles being written in every newspaper and it seems like everyone is noticing. The NS SPCA has even issued a press release and dared to call it "Press Release: SPCA commits to improve transparency".

The press release itself is a jumbled mess of sentences that seem to me to be a reactionary diatribe from a group of people who aren't quite sure what they're supposed to be doing. One thing is for sure, they're looking for a scapegoat - and I'm glad that I'm not the person in charge of the SPCA Education Committee right now, because they've pinned all their "transparency" on that one person. Are they now going to say - "if you want any information you're going to have to find it in our newsletter?

Oh, I've got so much to talk about here, I don't know where to start.... so maybe I'll start at the AGM. But here's the section on the chatty Cathy's bit:

Mr. Degen was trying to divert attention away from the fact that someone in the crowd had brought up the wonderful 2005 report that the HRM had commissioned to look into the SPCA having the Animal Control and Animal Sheltering Contract with the City, and:

Someone brings up the report – "What about the report – "Restoring Harmony in the Nova Scotia SPCA Board of Directors"

And Terry says – "No, listen – if you want to be an advocate, let's deal with what we have – we have a whole room of "Chatty Cathy's". But at the end of the day, Look, what we need to do… Look, believe me, every time I go to a meeting with the Board I go back against the wall cause I'd like to neuter everybody. So, let's get on with it.

Heather M says – "I think you should be removed" – amid a melee of voices in the crowd.

So that's how the "Chatty Cathy's" and "neutering" came up.

Here is some more verbatim conversation from Saturday's meeting - and then I'm going to give you my commentary on it at the end of it:

Heather M stands up and says "this is an internal study for animal control in HRM – Pam says "in 2005? (Heather reads the blurb that talks about how Pam doing 3 jobs) - "We were unable to obtain an Organizational Chart for the NS SPCA, but through discussions we learned that both the Animal Control Project Manager and the SPCA Shelter Manager report to the NS Shelter Director. However, we understand that the Shelter Director (who was not present during either of our visits to the SPCA) is a Volunteer Member of the NS SPCA Board of Directors, who is only available on a part-time basis, outside regular employment hours. This clearly is not an acceptable
arrangement. Considering the size of the SPCA operation and the differerent agency responsibilities, it is essential to have a full-time CEO or Executive Director on-site with the appropriate background and experience to provide supervision, expertise, backup and support to staff."

(Pam K breaks in and says) "We don't have a Director for the Provincial Society – that costs about $60,000 or so which we never approved, part of that responsibility was we've operated for the last 4 or 5 years or so without a CEO to save costs so that the monies raised could go directly towards helping the animals which ultimately is what we're all here for."

Terry D says,"no, with all due respect – that is a report, that is a paid for report by HRM - a strategic move to allow them to take over Animal Control. I was fully involved in ….inaudible… and what was actually going on in HRM was to create a new branch within the HRM of paid employees and that's why that report was created". (Someone tries to interject and Terry says: ) "No, no, I'm not going to read the
report in here, and " Someone brings up the report – "What about the report – "Restoring Harmony in the Nova Scotia SPCA Board of Directors" And Terry says – "No, listen – if you want to be an advocate, let's deal with what we have – we have a whole room of "Chatty Cathy's". But at the end of the day, Look, what we need to do… Look, believe me, every time I go to a meeting with the Board I go back against the wall cause I'd like to neuter everybody. So, let's get on with it. Heather Morrison says – "I think you should be removed" – amid a melee of voices in the crowd.

So that's also the CONTEXT of the chatty Cathy comment too.

So what is my commentary on these items? Well #1 - the NS SPCA has left key positions unfilled for the last several years and they acknowledge that they've done this because they say they want to save money so that they can spend the money directly on the animals. But I would like to submit that sometimes you have to SPEND money to MAKE money. Throughout the whole meeting on Saturday (and I've listened to just about the whole tape now, Pam Keddy kept going on about how everything takes so long to do, that's there's no time to DO anything. Well maybe because that's because there's not enough PEOPLE to do it? If they invested in the manpower that they need, then they would have the resources to get the work done, then they would make more money - then they would help the animals. In my job for instance. I do billings that pay for my job. And then some. It's pretty simple. It's not rocket science. You generate revenue by having more people so that you can have more people. It's pretty basic business practice. I really don't know why someone hasn't pointed this out to the NS SPCA before. Especially since there seems to be business people on the board. If you want to run a shitty corporation you're
going to have a shitty corporation.

So that's what I get when I hear things like they haven't filled a CEO's position.

When you look at successful shelters - and you see that they have nice buildings, and successful looking staff members, and paid employees - it's probably because they enjoy their jobs and people can treat those jobs like careers and be taken seriously and it doesn't have to be a volunteer position - then you'll get some committed individuals.

Another comment here is that Mr. Degen is saying about this report is that - it's a biased report bought by the HRM so that they can take over Animal Control all to themselves. That's what he told this audience so that they'd shut up. It's my understanding that this was an unbiased outside consultants report, was it not? So why was Mr. Degen telling this audience something else? He actually said - "that
is a report, that is a paid for report by HRM - a strategic move to allow them to take over Animal Control". Why would he tell 130 or so members of the NS SPCA that? So that we could feel better about the HRM taking the contract away from the SPCA? They were going to do it anyway? I don't know. But that's what he said.


Here's another section of the meeting when the vote of "confidence" was held:

"It's a motion of support for the board." "Correct." "Confidence in the Board." "Everybody stood up at the beginning of the meeting and let themselves be known."

A person in the audience says – "I'd like clarification please, I'm not sure what we're voting on – are we voting that we don't have confidence in the board, and if so that we don't have confidence in the board and if so, does that mean that we vote on a new board?"
Terry says" No, you know the irony of this? According to Roberts Rules of Order, you can say you have no confidence in the Board and they stay! They stay because it's their problem to deal with! They'll have to decide if they want to resign or not. So, you need an election year to have a coup, okay?. So that's what you needed. Robert's Rules. Love it. I love dissent. So you'll have learned a lot today, that you never would have had in any other forum, You did more creatively today than any blog."

Someone asks – "can you abstain from the vote?" And Terry says – "oh sure, that's why we're having a standing vote – you can just sit." And the lady asks – "you're not going to vote, are you?" and Terry says – "Oh God no – I'm not a member – you need someone who isn't a member, so they won't be biased" (everybody in the crowd guffawed and whistled at that statement).

So here's my commentary on that - the vote was won by a vote of 81 to 47 or something like that. How do we know how many of those 81 people were actually people abstaining, and now actually voting for confidence? Doesn't that mean anything to anyone?

And if it was a members only meeting - why WAS Mr. Degen allowed in?

That's enough for now, I'm sure no one's read down this far anyway! But if you have, here's the press release from the NS SPCA today:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: The Nova Scotia SPCA Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Saturday April 26, 2008 had a motion of confidence in its current board approved by a decisive majority vote.

The NS SPCA Executive belie ves that criticism or dissension is in effect beneficial as it expresses the differing opinions that some members might hold and reflects a need for the SPCA to better communicate the objectives and work of the SPCA. However, given that the SPCA deals with confidential details involving investigations and other information, some information is not available to the general public. The SPCA has to comply with the same Privacy Legislation as
that of other Canadian organizations. This has caused concern from our members who simply want to know more details of our on-going activities.

While the SPCA is not able to provide confidential information, the SPCA has recently formed a Provincial education committee who will soon be publishing an online newsletter. Upon review and reflection from the Board, this newsletter will act as the avenue with which to update all our members and the Nova Scotia public to the extent that is possible. To this effect, several initiatives will be put in place
to improve communications, increase transparency and create positive changes within the organization. The SPCA has always been focused on helping animals but so too needs to focus on satisfying our members at large.

In addition to the Board's commitment to improve transparency, conversations between the Board and representatives from the Department of Agriculture offer hope of assistance in alleviating some of the communication problems of late. These discussions have led the SPCA to believe that the Department of Agriculture will be able to provide increased support in the future.

The SPCA differs from most other Societies in that it was incorporated by an Act of Legislature to enforce the Nova Scotia Animal Cruel Prevention Act, and in such, does not register as a Society under the Registry of Joint Stock Companies. According to the current president, Pamela Keddy, "The mandate of the SPCA is the prevention and investigation of cruelty towards domesticated animals. The SPCA is not
a protest or lobby group. The main premise is, and continues to be, animal cruelty and, with its limited resources, all its efforts are put forth to fulfilling that requirement and ultimately to help the animals on Nova Scotia. But in doing, so we will strive to provide updates to our members where we can."

Keddy states: "In 2007, 942 cruelty cases and 13 agricultural complaints were investigated, a number that is on par with the previous and which proves the continued need for the work of the Society. In addition, the total number of animals assisted via the SPCA increased last year from approximately 7000 in 2006 to over 7500 (based upon animal statistics provided by 7 of the 11 branches) in 2007. It is obvious by these numbers that the SPCA is doing its work of assisting animals." All these animals were assisted through the combined efforts of the volunteer Board, limited paid staff of the Provincial office and shelter, and the many volunteers province wide that assist as Special Constables, fundraisers, and with direct animal
care and assistance.

Further evidence of recent SPCA success, was seen in the financial statements presented at the annual general meeting. Two years ago the Society operated at a $180,000 loss, one year ago at $120,000 and last year, with the combined efforts of both Provincial and Metro Shelter it almost broke even. For a charity to increase its financial position by this much in such a short amount of time is an amazing feat.

The Society has 11 objects listed in its Constitution, all of which are undertaken in varying degrees based upon the resources at hand. At the AGM, Keddy stated that given the very limited size of the NS SPCA and its available resources as compared to larger richer SPCAs such as Ontario and BC that the Nova Scotia operation has been very successful in helping animals province wide. The NS SPCA is operated by public donation and a $3000 grant from the Department of Agriculture.

The NS SPCA regrets that the negative comments expressed by individuals who are not supportive of the current Board may affect the wonderful efforts of the volunteer fundraisers and the donation stream. However, the Board is hopeful that by working to make positive changes for the SPCA members that the Board and all its staff and
volunteers can return to doing what they do best in helping and saving animals.

Media from SPCA AGM on April 26, 2008

Here are the news stories from Saturday's AGM:

As well - here are the news stories:

Curbing cat fights

Tue. Apr 29 - 4:46 AM

THE FUR was flying at the weekend meeting of the SPCA, forcing the province to impose a legislative muzzle on the agency responsible for preventing cruelty to animals.

It wasn’t the animals causing a ruckus Saturday at a Halifax hotel; it was the people responsible for protecting cats and dogs being cruel to each other. The three-hour, closed-door meeting produced a confidence motion against the executive, with those in charge surviving. But the discord left over from the handling of 100 animals at a Strait area shelter spilled out in the hallways. The chairman faced name-calling and yelling and a Chronicle Herald reporter was shoved out of the room.

The unruly behaviour made headlines, but also ruffled the feathers of Tory lawmakers. After receiving "a lot of feedback" and a staff report about the meeting, Agriculture Minister Brooke Taylor says he’ll fast-track new legislation to curb squabbling inside SPAC ranks. While the animal welfare agency has its own bylaws, it falls under the Animal Cruelty Prevention Act, enabling Mr. Taylor to intervene.

Too bad an agency responsible for preventing cruelty to helpless animals can’t manage its affairs. Hopefully cooler heads will prevail, and the SPCA will find ways to settle its internal problems. The ability of the agency to protect animals is being undermined by constant cat fights among humans.

Lawyer defends SPCA talk
Degen dismisses criticism of ‘Chatty Cathys’ comment
By CHRIS LAMBIE Staff Reporter
Tue. Apr 29 - 5:43 AM

A Dartmouth lawyer who came under fire for controversial statements he made at a closed-door meeting of the province’s animal welfare agency says he’s not a sexist.

Terry Degen chaired the SPCA’s annual general meeting in Clayton Park on Saturday.

"Let’s deal with what we have," Mr. Degen told about 120 society members 2 1/2 hours into the sometimes raucous three-hour session.

"We have a whole room full of Chatty Cathys."

A recording of the meeting obtained by The Chronicle Herald shows some people were clearly offended by that comment.

"Excuse me?" one woman said.

"You’re in a room with a lot of women," said another.

"I know that," Mr. Degen replied.

"Every time I go to a meeting with the board, I go back against the wall because I’d like to neuter everyone." In an interview Monday, he said his comments should not be construed as sexist.

"I have five sisters and I’ve been married for about 30, God, a lot of years," Mr. Degen said. "Those people know what I’m like."

He noted one of his former secretaries was at Saturday’s meeting. "They know I’m not sexist. That’s my personal twist on it."

Asked why he believes his comments are still headline fodder, Mr. Degen said: "It’s a fairly combative group of people all trying different ways to do the same thing."

Several people who were at the meeting noted the "Chatty Cathys" comment. They also reported that Mr. Degen said there was so much "estrogen in the room I wanted to neuter myself."

But Mr. Degen said he does not think he mentioned the word estrogen during the meeting, and it is not audible on the recording.

"I don’t think it was reported correctly," he said.

On the recording, Mr. Degen can be heard several times trying to hurry the meeting along. At one point, he shouts out, "Pitter-patter, let’s get at ’er." At another, he tells the crowd he wants the meeting to wrap up by 4 p.m.

"The real notion is that if every person was allowed to speak for as long as they wanted to speak, we would still be there," he said Monday. "And they wouldn’t have dealt with the issue of why they were speaking, which was whether or not they had confidence in the board."

During the meeting, the SPCA board, which has faced public criticism by members and former members for its handling of an alleged animal cruelty case in Cape Breton, survived a confidence motion. The vote was 81-47 in favour of the board.

Saturday’s meeting was closed to the public so "everybody could say what they’d like to say," Mr. Degen said.

"It was meant to be a free flow of comments. So there were lots of things that lots of people were saying that I don’t think that they would want in the open."

Mr. Degen, 55, ran twice unsuccessfully for the Dartmouth East seat in the provincial legislature as a Progressive Conservative. On Monday, he said he has no plans to try again.

"I think I’m content doing what I’m doing," he said.

If he changes his mind and decides to run again for public office, the "Chatty Cathys" comment is likely to resurface.

"Before someone becomes a candidate, they have to pass a fairly invasive scrutiny of their background," said Scott Armstrong, provincial Tory party president.

"Any comments anybody would make would be something we’d strongly look at before we consider them as a candidate."

HRM report slams SPCA
Burnside shelter, bylaw enforcement take hits
Tue. Apr 29 - 5:43 AM

Halifax regional council has had issues with how the Nova Scotia SPCA has provided animal control services in the metro area since 2005, a declassified HRM report says.

The report, discussed at an in camera meeting in July 2005 and recently released to the public, says staffing problems and woefully outdated shelter facilities have stood in the way of the SPCA fulfilling its contract with the city.

"There is no doubt in our mind that the current facility (at 5 Scarfe Court) makes efficient and effective shelter operation and animal handling difficult," the report states.

It lists a number of problems with the Burnside shelter, including poor drainage and ventilation, and a lack of corridors to separate the rooms where animals are housed.

The report also identifies problems with the SPCA’s ability to carry out animal bylaw enforcement and suggests the city take back this responsibility.

SPCA president Pam Keddy said she’s well aware of the report, which she helped work on in 2005.

"We knew full well going into this that the reason for the report was that the city wanted to take back enforcement services," Ms. Keddy said after an almost three-hour meeting of the SPCA board of directors Monday night.

"We knew at that time that our building is a dated building, so we knew that there were deficiencies in that."

Ms. Keddy said the SPCA has since complied with all the city’s recommendations for improvement.

"We are the SPCA and our main premise always has been helping and saving animals and that’s what we continue to do daily, even in light of negativity and bad comment," she said.

Ms. Keddy confirmed that Monday’s meeting, held at the SPCA’s provincial office in Bedford, was to discuss ways to counteract the negative attention the organization has recently received.

The SPCA has been publicly criticized by members and former members for its handling of an alleged animal cruelty case in Cape Breton earlier this year.

More recently, its three-person executive came under fire but managed to survive a confidence motion this past weekend.

The vote was 81-47 in favour of the board.

"There were some positive things already in the works and those will continue on," Ms. Keddy said Monday night. "I’m sure that will be of benefit and help with the whole transparency and everything that the members had been saying were concerns."

When pressed for details, Ms. Keddy said one of the organization’s first actions will be to improve its online newsletter. She said the SPCA wants to provide more information to the public more quickly.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

A couple of articles covering yesterday's SPCA meeting

I'll add some comments to the post tonight - I woke up with the worst cold this morning. I am just sick as the proverbial dog this morning. I don't think I've had a cold in 10 years. I don't know how people who regularly get colds can handle it. I feel like death warmed over it's so gross.

from the Canadian Press:

Nova Scotia SPCA board unchanged after confidence motionMelanie Patten, THE CANADIAN PRESS

The Canadian Press

April 26, 2008

- The embattled board of the Nova Scotia SPCA, which has been
chastised for its handling of an alleged animal cruelty case in Cape
Breton, remained intact Saturday after a confidence motion was passed
at a private meeting.

The vote was 81 to 47 in favour of the board, capping the closed-door
meeting at a Halifax hotel that some of those who attended described
as tense and acrimonious.

Some former and current members have openly criticized the
animal-welfare group's administration for not acting sooner to rescue
more than 100 animals from a Port Hawkesbury shelter in February.

A handful of former members of the non-profit agency have also raised
concerns about accountability within the society, and say their
memberships were revoked after they spoke out against the

"It's supposed to be a democracy, it's supposed to be transparent,"
said Maureen Tate, a former member who was not permitted inside the
members-only meeting.

"They have an obligation to the public because it's the public who
supports (the SPCA) with donations and volunteers."

Tate, whose membership was recently rescinded, stood in the hotel's
lobby and handed out pamphlets detailing reasons the three-person
executive should be replaced, arguing the society hasn't taken a clear
stance on animal bylaws in Halifax and has failed to fill two vacant
executive positions.

Several former and current members gathered in a hallway outside the
meeting and complained loudly as two security guards looked on.

Some criticized the method of voting, saying paid shelter staff likely
did not feel comfortable voting against the confidence motion while
their employers were in the same room.

"This is probably our last AGM, we will probably be
severelydisciplined for saying these things," Peggy Cameron,
vice-president of the society's Antigonish branch, said after the

"It's very dysfunctional."

After being approached by reporters following the meeting, Judith
Gass, a board member and past president, declined to be interviewed
and swung open a door to the room, striking a reporter.

When asked to explain what happened with the door, Gass apologized.

"I'm not usually like that, I'm just under a lot of pressure probably
today," she said.

Gass later said infighting is not uncommon in the society because
members are passionate about their work and animals.

"It pops up every few years, and the board does try to deal with it at
the time," she said.

Gass would not discuss why certain memberships were revoked, but she
insisted the society and its volunteers are doing a good job,
especially given the high number of animal abuse complaints received
each month.

The SPCA has come under fire since early February, when critics of the
society alleged it did not move quickly enough to remove more than 100
cats and dogs from Celtic Pets Rescue in Port Hawkesbury following a

The society also took two dozen dogs, believed to be an overflow from
the shelter, after executing a warrant at the home of Alice MacIsaac,
a former special constable with the society.

Several cats had to be euthanized and critics said the society took
too long to respond.

MacIsaac, vice-president of Celtic Pets Rescue, and Zonda Lee
MacIsaac, the owner of the shelter, each face two charges under the
Criminal Code and two charges under the Animal Cruelty Act.

Both are due in court May 21.

Sean Kelly, a society member who voted against the confidence motion,
said he presented 300 letters from Nova Scotians he said are "looking
for change within the society."

"I think there are a lot of problems with our public perception right
now, and I really hope the board listens to the people who are
dissenting and are going to make immediate changes," said Kelly, a
special constable with the society.

"A little revolution every now and then is a good thing. I'm hoping we
can grow from here."


SPCA meeting unruly
Media banned, reporter bumped, yelling carried over into lobby
By JUDY MYRDEN Staff Reporter
Sun. Apr 27 - 7:08 AM

The annual meeting of the provincial SPCA descended into bizarre behaviour Saturday morning at a Halifax hotel.

The three-hour closed-door session, attended by about 120 members, was followed by name-calling and yelling at the meeting’s chairman in the hotel lobby. As well, the past president of the society bumped a Chronicle Herald reporter with a door, and an unidentified member shoved the reporter out of the meeting room.

Inside that room, the SPCA board of directors survived a confidence motion proposed by a group of members upset with the direction that the executive of the society has taken in recent months regarding the mistreatment of 100 animals at a Port Hawkesbury animal shelter.

Members of the animal welfare group voted 81-47 to support the current leadership of the society, a charitable organization under the Animal Cruelty Prevention Act.

After the meeting, board member Judith Gass, past president of the SPCA, refused to talk to reporters and then banged a door against The Chronicle Herald reporter.

Ms. Gass then returned to the meeting room, where she agreed to talk to reporters.

Jean-Albert Maire, a TV reporter for Radio-Canada Halifax, said to her: "You said the media is welcome; you need the media: Why did you swing that door right into the media lady who was talking to you so kindly five minutes ago? What’s wrong?"

Ms. Gass answered: "I just felt blocked at that time, and for that I do apologize. That was wrong. You know. . . . That was wrong and I’m not usually like that, but I’m under a lot of pressure probably today."

Later, at suppertime, Ms. Gass sent an e-mail to The Chronicle Herald reporter. She wrote: "The motion was a vote of confidence in the board of directors, specifically stating that they were doing a good job, moved by Kirsteen Thompson from Amherst and seconded by Teresa MacDonald of Dartmouth. . . . Further, to be fair, the reason you were bumped by the door was because you were trying to block my exit. In fact, when I attempted to open the door to leave, you banged the door shut with your hand in an attempt to stop me from doing so."

The meeting itself was a matter of concern for three SPCA members, who told reporters they were upset with comments made by the chairman, Dartmouth lawyer Terry Degen. They said he referred to the women at the meeting as "Chatty Cathys" and that he said there was so much "estrogen in the room I want to neuter myself."

Mr. Degen refused to respond and quickly left the hotel as some of the women heckled him in the lobby.

SPCA member Al Murray of Prospect said he was furious with Mr. Degen’s comments, calling them "sexist," and added he will oppose hiring him again as chairman.

But Ms. Gass defended him.

"I think with a group like this, it is important to have a strong chair," she told reporters. "I don’t think he was targeting women; he was just using a typical Nova Scotia expression, and I think that’s all he meant by it."

Sean Kelly, a volunteer special constable with the SPCA who investigated the case involving Celtic Pets in Port Hawkesbury, said he wants to see change in the way the society operates.

"I believe that we need a lot more changes within the society," he said. "We need to become more accountable to the people; we need to become accountable to the membership. I feel we’re not fulfilling that role, as people who are supposed to be speaking for the animals, when the board isn’t really speaking for the membership."

Mr. Kelly, who spoke at the meeting, presented more than 300 letters from people across Nova Scotia asking for a change in the leadership of the society.

Ms. Gass dismissed the criticism, saying the society has always had internal feuds because people are "passionate" about animals and because people in the "animal world" have never got along particularly well.

"This is a problem the SPCA has always had," Ms. Gass told reporters. "There have been, on several occasions, cases where we’ve brought in consultants to help the board get along with its members and help the board get along with one another. It has not been uncommon for that to occur."

She said the society has promptly responded to all complaints of animal cruelty. "I have a problem when people, without cause, start name-calling me."

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Today was the 131st Annual General Meeting of the Nova Scotia SPCA

So what can I say, the NS SPCA AGM is over. The much anticipated vote of "non-confidence" was held - and lost. Judith Gass wants it to be known that it was actually a vote of "confidence" - and the vote was won, by a vote of 81 to 47. To say that it was an interesting day is an understatement. To say that anything that I might say is anti-climatic would be telling the truth.
This cartoon was what we all woke up to this morning - it was in the Chronicle Herald today. It was the editorial cartoon for today. Pretty funny, eh? We learned a couple years ago when we were picketing Pet's Unlimited that in order to have an editorial cartoon done on a subject that your cause had to be important enough to be known within the general public and also known province wide - so this cartoon is pretty important as a gauge of how much in the public eye this topic currently is - which is BIG. Whether the current Executive wants it that way or not.
This is how I saw the meeting today - through a peep hole, which is pretty good, considering I was banned from the meeting - I could have been relegated to outside the building. They had 2 security guards there - but they were pretty friendly guys there - only making $9 per hour, so they sat down as much as possible - which was good for me. I didn't have too much time to stand right outside the room though, because we people who were banned from the meeting spent most of the morning talking to press.
Here's a couple shots I very quickly shot when the door opened.
Definitely on the outside looking, in - eh?
Here is one of my friends Netta refusing to look into the eyes of the enemy! haha!
Here are some of us malcontents talking to the press.
Here is Janet holding up something - I can't remember what - but we made up nametags for our cause - and hung muzzles from then - of course symbolic because of the fact that we've been muzzled. Heavy, yes - but it gets the point across. We certainly didn't mind sticking out.
Here's a shot showing the scary Security guards - in case some of the malcontents decided to get physical I guess. It turns out the only one who got physical was Judith Gass - with a reporter from the Chronicle Herald after the meeting - see below for the article. We talked with her during the meeting, and she was a very nice gentle lady - and no bigger than a minute. She's actually the person standing in front of the Security Guard in this shot.
Here's a photo of 2 ladies who had their memberships revoked who tried to get in the meeting and were quickly booted out - as they were escorted out - they did get a couple words in - they are former Board members and were once very highlly esteemed in the SPCA community and the NS SPCA has been the recipient of many positive changes because of these 2 individuals.
Even French CBC was there to do interviews with people after the meeting. Luckily there were bilingual members present.

So how did the meeting go? I'm not quite sure yet - but I had a friend take in a recording device for me, and I'm going to listen to the tape and transcribe all the juicy bits, and will be posting the good stuff soon. There will be accurate transcriptions of the meeting available online in a short time. So that's good news.

One thing I did hear through the door was Terry Degen saying "you have to have a voting year for a coup". I have to tell Mr. Degen - the people hoping to effect positive change within the NS SPCA are not hoping for a coup. They are hoping for transparency, effective administration, qualified employees, filled positions, accountability to the membership, engagement with the membership, and above all - effective investigations and convictions for animal protection and cruelty in the province of Nova Scotia. The people and members of the NS SPCA who are unhappy don't have petty whims - they have serious concern that aren't going to die with today's AGM.

Mr. Degen did say that we have to wait until the election in 2009 - and I guess maybe we will. But the day will come. Rodney MacDonald said about the Celtic Pets situation, and about animal cruelty -

"this is a situation which is unacceptable. Be it in a shelter, be it on a farm, bet it in a household - they deserve to be respected, they deserve to ensured that their safety, their health is looked after and maintained - and as province - we'll make sure that happens."

I would like to submit that the NS SPCA is supposed to take part in some of that committment, and there are currently some people in Nova Scotia who think that they are falling short of that committment. They're trying very hard to seek answers to their questions, that's it Mr. Degen.

One thing we did today was pass out a flyer to members going into the meeting - you can find it - here - I downloaded it to my server if you want to read it. I'm sure there'll be more posts about the NS SPCA coming up in the future - and stay tuned for the transcripts from today's proceedings.

Here's the Chronicle Herald article that came out this afternoon from this morning's meeting:

N.S. SPCA meeting descends into chaos
Top official bangs reporter with door after initially refusing to answer questions
By JUDY MYRDEN Staff Reporter
Sat. Apr 26 - 3:57 PM

The annual meeting of the Nova Scotia SPCA descended into bizarre behaviour Saturday morning at a Halifax hotel.

After a contentious three-hour secret meeting attended by about 120 members, there were name calling and yelling at the meeting chairman in the hotel lobby. And the past president of the society, Judith Gass, smashed a Chronicle Herald reporter with a door after another member of the society shoved the reporter from the meeting.

Reporters were told Ms. Gass would talk to reporters after the closed-door meeting and when approached she refused to answer any questions.

When she left the meeting room she swung open the wooden door and hit the reporter.

Ms. Gass quickly returned to the room where she agreed to talk to reporters and apologized for her actions at least three times admitting what she had done was wrong.

“You said the media is welcome, you need the media, why did you swing that door right into the media lady who was talking to you so kindly five minutes ago? What’s wrong?” asked a Radio Canada reporter.

“I just felt blocked at that time and for that I do apologize. That was wrong. You know, … that was wrong and I’m not usually like that but I’m under a lot of pressure probably today,” Ms. Gass explained to reporters.

Ms. Gass and the SPCA board of directors successfully defeated a motion of non-confidence put forth by a group of members upset with the direction that the executive of the society has taken in recent months regarding a cruelty situation at Celtic Pets Rescue in Port Hawkesbury.

Members voted 81 to 47 in favour of supporting the current leadership of the society.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Tomorrow is the NS SPCA AGM

So tomorrow is finally the NS SPCA AGM at the Future Inn out in Bayer's Lake in Halifax. I am so glad that it's finally here, so that it can finally be over. I will be SO glad to be able to get back to writing posts about fun things going on relating to dogs in the HRM and my daily adventures with my own dogs - and not all this nasty business that's been going on the last month.

The problem is - that unfortunately, hopefully - this is only the beginning with what is going to be happening with the Executive of the NS SPCA. Hopefully there is going to be an implosion - a huge forest fire, so to speak - so that there can be a complete rebirth and beautiful things can happen in the sheltering world in Nova Scotia. I hope, I hope. I hope that beauracacy does not take over/kill whatever it is that comes after the AGM. Because it's a long road to hoe in the months to come for whoever it is that's going to be at the top of the NS SPCA.

The Cape Breton Post today published an article saying that the President of the Cape Breton SPCA is going to support the current Executive. I guess he doesn't want to change his 75% euthanasia rate, or his use of the gas chamber at his branch. That's too bad. I feel bad for the animals of Cape Breton. They don't have very much protection down there if the SPCA is feeling like they're doing a pretty good job in animal sheltering down there currently.

Yesterday there was an article in the Chronicle Herald - called "SPCA's Critics: We have been Muzzled" - it's very interesting that Pam Keddy and Judith Gass have been unavailable for comment all this week - they're saying that they'll have a statement AFTER the AGM. Interesting.

SPCA’s critics: We have been muzzled

By LAURA FRASER Cape Breton Bureau
Thu. Apr 24 - 5:05 AM

Two ousted members of the provincial SPCA allege that the society’s executive has been silencing its critics by turfing them.

"Things are seriously wrong at the SPCA," Janet Chernin said in a recent interview. "If somebody is critical, they’re gone. If somebody wants change, they’re gone."

Ms. Chernin and Joan Murray are also questioning why the public has been barred from the annual general meeting on April 26.

The pair are prohibited from attending.

Holding the upcoming meeting behind closed doors implies the society has something to hide, Ms. Chernin said. "And that doesn’t sit well with me because a not-for-profit organization . . . should be 100 per cent transparent to the public."

The Nova Scotia SPCA is a charitable society under the Animal Cruelty Prevention Act.

The act is governed by the provincial Agriculture Department. But a department spokeswoman said Wednesday that there is nothing in the legislation that affects the way the society runs its meetings.

The provincial SPCA has its own set of bylaws and form of governance, Celeste Sulliman said.

A Canada Revenue Agency spokesman said there’s nothing in his department that would regulate the accountability of the society.

SPCA president Pamela Keddy could not be reached Wednesday to explain the decision to hold a closed-door meeting.

But Ms. Keddy said in a recent interview memberships had been revoked because public criticism can threaten the confidence of society donors.

There’s an appropriate procedure for criticism, which wasn’t followed, she said.

Ms. Chernin said her concerns are about more than having her membership pulled.

It was revoked April 11, about a month after she and Ms. Murray sent a letter to the board of directors calling for the resignations of Ms. Keddy and executive member Judith Gass.

Ms. Chernin and Ms. Murray had asked that a non-confidence vote be tabled at the annual general meeting if the executives would not step down. The board of directors dismissed that request at its last monthly meeting.

Ms. Chernin and her group, N.S. Rescue Crusade, believe that the SPCA took too long before seizing animals from a Cape Breton shelter that was allegedly mistreating cats and dogs.

They are also concerned about what they perceive as the society not taking enough of a stance on Halifax Regional Municipality’s animal bylaws.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Accountability Part 3

This is my 3rd and final post about Accountability and the NS SPCA. This post is not just about the NS SPCA's accountability though - it's also about the HRM City Council's accountability to public and the animals owners and lost and abused animals of Nova Scotia.

It has to do with a recently declassified report that was presented to HRM City Council and released to the public in early April - a report called "Internal Animal
Control Services" report from James Bandow and Associates from 2005 regarding the development of an internal animal control service - it's the report that made the HRM take away the Animal Control Contract from the SPCA.

For many years the NS SPCA held the Contract in the HRM for both Animal Control AND sheltering services, but the HRM felt that the NS SPCA wasn't doing a very good job of it and got an outside Consultant in - at a cost of about $25,000 - and this is the report they came up with. It is SUCH interesting reading. If you're so inclined, you can go down to City Hall and request a copy from the Municipal Clerk's Office, which is what I did. The whole report is almost an inch thick, but it's worth it.

There's stuff in there that makes me believe that there's no way that the HRM City Councillors have read it - because there's enlightened articles in there about how the City should move forward on cat licencing, BSL, and their Municipal Pound.

Pages 14 - 19 are absolutely specifically are particularly awesome - they talk about "the need for enlighted animal care and control programs and regulations" - they make me believe that no HRM Councillor could have read this report because it talks about how animal service agences across North America have moved from being "dog catchers" - departments that just catch dogs, take them to the pound and them euthanize the dogs - to Agencies that have undertaken initiatives to integrate animals into the community, re-unite animals with their owners INSTEAD of impounding them and focus on returning animals back to their homes by focusing on licencing legislation and rewarding owners for doing the right thing (giving animals a free ride home) rather than penalizing owners for doing the "wrong thing" (impounding their dogs and killing them/charging them huge fees to get them back).

On page 38, when the report starts to talk about the Dartmouth shelter in particular, and it's inner workings - and you're NOT going to believe this, it says:

"We were unable to obtain an Organizational Chart for the NS SPCA, but through discussions we learned that both the Animal Control Project Manager and the SPCA Shelter Manager report to the NS Shelter Director. However, we understand that the Shelter Director (who was not present during either of our visits to the SPCA) is a Volunteer Member of the NS SPCA Board of Directors, who is only available on a part-time basis, outside regular employment hours. This clearly is not an acceptable arrangement. Considering the size of the SPCA operation and the differerent agency responsibilities, it is essential to have a full-time CEO or Executive Director on-site with the appropriate background and experience to provide supervision, expertise, backup and support to staff."

So in other words - back in 2005 - an unbiased, outside agency - told both the HRM, and the SPCA board of Directors - that the person who held the position of the NS Shelter Director, President of the NS SPCA, member of the NS SPCA Board of Directors - was doing all of these positions on a part time basis ONLY - and it was CLEARLY NOT acceptable. It was ESSENTIAL to have a FULL TIME CEO or Executive Director ON SITE with the APPROPRIATE back ground and experience.

But instead, what happened? NOTHING. To this day - 3 years later, the same person is in the same position. I think at the time, given the unbiased report that was bought and paid for - it would have BEHOOVED the person in that position to have voluntarily stepped down - IF ONLY for the animals.

It seems to me that to continue in that position, knowing that they were doing all these jobs only on a part time basis, and KNOWING they were required to be done by someone on a full-time basis - they were doing nothing but HARMING ANIMALS.

And here we are 3 years later and the NS SPCA is imploding. Could there have been any other ending for an organization that had a report like this written and released three years previous?

I don't know, I'm just asking.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Physiotherapy, New Blog, & "I Can't Believe she Said That!"

So Buttercup started her regime of post surgery phsiotherapy today with Shelley from Pawsitive Action Physiotherapy - Shelley has become very familiar to everyone in our dog family now that everyone in the house is getting old and rickety and everyone's bones are falling apart. I asked Shelley if she thought that Buttercup could get back to her old "Buttercup self" and she said that "yes she thought she could" - so that was very good news for me. So Shelley will be coming every week for the next many weeks to get Buttercup back in top shape. Wouldn't it be nice if our human physiotherapists came to our home? That would be awesome.
As you can also tell from the top photo - Jack was very interested in everything Shelley was doing. Jack is only the 3rd dog that has bitten Shelley - and Shelley has worked on a LOT of dogs! Jack is so SPECIAL! That's why everyone loves him. You never know what he's going to do next.

I've had a blog on my listing to the right for a while - but I wanted to point it out in a blog post - because the owner, Janet - has been making a lot of great posts about the NS SPCA - so I wanted to let everyone know that I'm not the only local person who's talking about this stuff - and she's making a lot of great points! Her blog is at - and I think it makes for great reading! I am SO happy that there's other people writing about this stuff - and she's also writing about other stuff that's also great too!

And in the category of "I can't believe she said that" - I was talking to another person who does rescue locally - and we were talking about the fact that after the seizure of the Celtic Pets animals a radio station down in Port Hawksbury - "the Hawk 101" did an amazing thing and raised $11,000 in one day to help the NS SPCA with the seized animals. That is truly amazing - that they were able to do that. That really shows that Nova Scotians and Cape Bretoners - really do love their companion animals. You know, we really do. But I think it also begs a couple of obvious questions. And you aren't going to believe I'm asking these questions - but what if Zonda MacIsaac would have had that $11,000 a couple years ago so that she could have done proper renovations to the kennels that she bought so that the animals in her care could have been properly housed and she had started things out properly - maybe none of this craziness would have happened - maybe it WAS all to do with things getting out of control - and some help from outsiders at the beginning would have made all the difference - there, I told you you wouldn't believe I was asking the question, but there it is. And I think it's a valid question.

Another question I'm asking is - what if that $11,000 was given to the Cape Breton SPCA instead of the NS SPCA - who has a 75% euthanization rate - imagine what could be done to that shelter.

I read an article a couple weeks ago about a group down in Columbus, Ohio called "Habitat for Dogmanity" - built on the same premise as "Habitat for Humanity" - and they go to animal shelters and help with renovations or build outdoor enclosures, or do whatever's needed with as little money and as much volunteer help as they can muster. It's an awesome idea - and one that I think could work here. But imagine how far $11,000 would go for something like that. Just a question. I'm asking.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Some Humpin' and some Wrestlin'

Buttercup is on the mend and feeling better - she's running around and using all 4 of her legs - she's feeling good enough that today she tried to join in on Charlie and Daisy's wrestling match.

I think these shots are cute because at the top is Jack just walking around completely unaware of all the high powered fun that's going on. He still doesn't know how to play - although when Buttercup is trying to initiate play with him he has started to wag his tail a little bit now, so there is hope.

And I swear, there is nothing cuter in this world than a happy rottweiller playing with a stuffed toy. Nothing cuter.

In Home Doggy Day Care Legislation Fight Is Busy!

There are 2 upcoming sessions with the Planning division for 2 separate in home doggy day cares coming up that those of us/you in the interested dog world might want to take note of -
Wendy Gillespie at Pampered Paws out in Hammond's Plains has been going through the same process that Janet Chernin has - she has also been deemed to be operating an illegal in home doggy day care - just like many many other people are doing throughout the HRM currently, so she's also going through the development agreement process - and on April 23rd, they're having a public meeting to go through the process with the public. Below is the proposal fact sheet.

May 8th, 2008 is the next step for Janet Chernin's Canine Casbah - another public hearing. This one is at City Hall, sounds auspicious. This is only I think - the 3rd of 4th public hearing for this process - I think they will have given pretty much the whole of the HRM time to give their opinion by the time this thing is over.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Follow up to my post about the Coast's Best Pet Store in the CIty

I've had a few comments left on my letter to the Editor at the Coast about why I think Willows Pet Store is one of the worst pet stores in the city - 2 of which are by the actual owner of the store. I don't want this topic to continue on too long on my blog because I don't want to become too associated with either the Coast or this particular pet store - but I feel like I've got to say what I believe to be the truth - based on emails I've received in the past - by the owner of Willows Pet Place herself, and by her former customers of Paws and Play Doggie Day care. I think it's actually quite fantabulous that one of her comments includes portions of an email she sent to me - because I'm going to include other portions of that same email - which I'm sure she's going to be quite unhappy about!

First of all though I want to say - Joe - don't say it's so! I thought I was building myself an army of people who believed in everything I said! In your comment to my post you said that on a regular basis you don't agree with a lot of the things I say! I am aghast! At least we both share the fact that our neighbours hate our dogs. Maybe I should buy a house next door to you and then we'll both have no problems. I love beagles.

But on to more serious stuff.

For those of you who don't read comments - the comments that I am talking about have been left - here - if you want to go read them. I'm note quite sure where to start, really.

Maybe we'll start at the spot that I always think is the most important when it comes to a store - which is whether or not Willows is actually pet friendly. And yes, I do admit that I have only been to Willows once, and it was only for a minute, and I didn't have any of my dogs with me. I just sort of breezed on through because I was too worried about a confrontation. And yes, I did see a crate there. Kyra says in her most recent comment to my post though that the crates are now gone. She also however says that the store has been dog friendly since the day she opened. But I am going to quote from an email I received from her - and the same email that she's quoted from that I received from her in 2005:

Almost daily we are still getting people come in who just say thank you for finally opening a store here. It's so much easier for them (especially those without cars) then busing all the way out to Bayers Lake or Burnside or Clayton Park to get what they need. So yes it sucks, I couldn't agree more, but it is something we will continue to persue and hopefully change, but for now it is not legal for us to allow animals inside the building period. Having said that a lot of professionals in this industry, including B & R Pet supplies and Carnegy who have both had to stop letting pets inside, have said it is too hard to have people bring their pets inside. Joan just stop and think from the perspective of a small business owners of how you would be able to handle a situation where every day you risk losing (and some days do lose) hundreds of dollars worth of merchandise to damage caused by dogs. People who are busy looking at the products and don't see their dog lift their leg all over a display. Venus at B & R said she lost over $200.oo in product in one second because a dog lifted his leg and peed all through a basket display on the floor. The owner refused to pay for the damage and as a result that money came out of their pockets. And she said every other day something like that would happen at their shop. So now they say no dogs. And as someone on a very small budget here who really wants to give a raise soon to the staff, and maybe even get a better phone so we can here the ringer more easily (ours sucks) I can see how these business have decided not to let pets in any longer. I mean are you willing to have your pay check docked every day for damage caused by someone else at the hospital? Of course you cannot. It's just too hard. So getting back to us here at Willow's. We first had a giant size vari kennel outside the front door and asked people to leave their dogs in the crate outside while they came in and shopped. We had fresh bowls, and bottles of water for the dogs along with a variety of cookies for them. Then after me and I'm sure the other staff here breaking the rules every time and just inviting the dogs inside (it looked way too cold and we felt way to badly for the dogs) we finally called the owners of the building and said it's just not going to work. It's too hard to not let the dogs inside. They spoke with us and we reached a compromise that meant we could move the crate inside the shop at the front right by the door and the dogs could come in the store, but had to stay inside the crate. So that is what we are working with now.

So this is the actual email I received from the owner of Willows Pet Place. I doesn't say that their store is dog friendly - it says that dogs must be put in a crate while their owners are shopping in their store, and this to me is not a dog friendly store. Hence my labelling of their store as a non dog-friendly store - and she also gives the very tired diatribe of losing product to dogs peeing on everything - to which I always say - my dog doesn't pee on my stuff at home - so why would they pee on stuff at your store, obviously the store doesn't have good housekeeping skills.

On to problem #2 - unpaid former business clients - and on to another email I received, coincidentally almost at exactly the same time that Kyra and I were exchanging those emails that she and I have just quoted from. The only parts I am going to share are here:

"I was wondering if you have any idea as to what happened to PawsandPlay daycare. I spent over $300 there on a daycare package and membership a few days before they started their move to Robie Street and that's the last I have heard from them. Kyra is not returning phone calls or emails. I have lost my money, and Kyra has never updated her website. Any clue?"

So this is how I've come to believe the things that I said in my letter to the Editor at the Coast. I was not blowing smoke out of my ass. When push comes to shove, I have the paperwork to back up what I was saying. I would like nothing more than to have another high quality pet store in this city that's centrally located that I can go to that sells local products that I can take Buttercup in with me and I can spend liberal amounts of money at who I know is also supporting local rescue efforts and I see has donated stuff to almost every event I go to - which is what places like Global Pets and Naughty Dog and Glamour Puss and Metro Dog Wash DO do. But that hasn't been the case with the store that these 2 posts have been about.

And as I mentioned in my letter to the Editor - the owner also takes part in an illegal activity as currently defined in the Land Use Bylaws - a legal debacle that she herself set in motion that has cost Janet Chernin more than $20,000 of her own dollars to date. I don't see Kyra Foster chipping in any of that money to help out even though when the activity is legalized - it will be people like Kyra Foster who will benefit. Sometimes the world isn't very fair.

So that is my rant. I'm gong to end it here, and I don't see myself writing about it anymore because I don't think it's that important - I thought about taking Charlie down to Willows yesterday and seeing if I could walk in, take some pictures and buy something without being kicked out because I had a dog in there with me - but then I thought - I really don't CARE that much about this topic to take that much time out of my important Saturday to do something like that. Typing out this post took long enough out of my weekend, if you know what I mean. So I consider this whole thing tied up in a neat little bow. I've said everything I need to say.

I will write a foot note to this post though - my Dad asked me if I thought these posts were going to hurt this lady's business - and I thought about it for a minute, and I said - "no, I don't think so" - and I said it's because the people who shop in her store and read the Coast magazine are obviously not the same people who read my blog and go to my website - because the the people who go to my website probably believe the same things I do - that their dogs should be able to go shopping with them, and if Willows is not dog friendly - they probably don't shop there anyway. So she is not losing any money or customers - we are 2 entirely different markets, obviously.

NB: I have had emails about Willow's Pet Place telling me that the store is in fact now pet friendly, which I can fully believe that it is. I will never know seeing as how I've been "banned from the property" and the owner has threatened to "double-sue" me seeing as how she's an individual and also a corporate entity - I'm not too worried about being sued - because you can't be successfully sued if you're saying things that are true. It is true however that Willows Pet Place spent a long time when it was not pet friendly, and the owner has chosen to deny that which is rather inexplicable. I'll let her words speak for themself in these posts:

Why Willows Pet Place is one of the WORST Pet Stores in the CIty

In my letter to the Editor at the Coast I laid out WHY I believe Willows Pet Place is one of the Worst Pet Stores in the City, but they chose to leave that section out of my letter - so I will post my letter in it's entirety here, and you can choose to make your own decisions on your own. Here is my letter to the Coast:

"Okay, maybe the world is all right, and I'm all wrong - but as far as
I'm concerned - WIllows Pet Place is one of the WORST pet stores in
the CIty. How did she get voted in as the BEST pet store in the city?
It must be because she's purchased ad space with you? Is that it?
How DOES someone get voted in your polls? Is it really voted in by
the public? Exactly how many votes did Willows Pet Place get? This
category throws a shadow over every other category in your newspaper
in my opinion - because, as I said - Willows Pet Place - actually IS -
one of the WORST Pet stores in the whole of the Halifax Regional
Municipality - and as a PET OWNER - I'm going to tell you why.

NUMBER ONE - Kyra Foster's (Willows Pet Place owner) store is NOT DOG
FRIENDLY. You cannot take your dog with you into her pet store. That
to me is the number one criteria for having a good pet store. And
WIllows Pet Place does not meet that criteria. I can rhyme off a
myriad of other pet stores in the HRM that ARE dog friendly. Willows
is NOT.

NUMBER TWO - Kyra Foster is breaking land use bylaws by offering in
home boarding for dogs as part of her business - in 2005 she started a
war between herself and the most successful in home doggy day care
owner in the HRM - Janet Chernin of the Canine Casbah - by putting in
a complaint against her business - and started a bylaw enforcement
query which led to the discovery that in home boarding is illegal. At
the same time - Kyra Foster was carrying on in home boarding
HERSELF!!!! And to this day she continues to do it! And she even
advertises that she does it! What kind of balls does that take! And
she doesn't even own her property - she rents the apartment she lives

NUMBER THREE - she previously ran a doggy day care and closed the
business literally overnight - leaving clients with money's owed. And
money is still owed to this day. How can she be such a good
upstanding pet store owner and have stiffed previous clients in a
previous business?

And what is up with this title of zoologist? If she's a zoologist -
I'm a freaking ph. d. animal behaviourist with a side order of
doctorate in archaeology.

I say all of this with some knowledge of the dog community - for the
last 5 years I've had a very successful dog website called "Charlie
loves Halifax" - at and a dog blog at - that have had hundreds of thousands
of hits - and I get emails from dog lovers daily about different pet
stores and have had emails from people about Willows Pet Place and
Kyra Foster and her dealings with her customers.

I think what is happening here is that your newspaper remains so
absolutely OUT OF TOUCH with dog owners that they have totally been
blind-sided. You need to either completely drop these kinds of
categories or get people on your staff who actually know about these
kinds of things. Do you even have anybody at the Coast who actually
own any dogs? I don't think you do. I do not believe that anyone
down at the Coast actually can own any dogs. I don't believe it.

You need some dog education. Everytime I read your paper, actually I
always read things that are factually wrong whenever you attempt to
write anything that has to do with dogs. So I really shouldn't be
surprised that you chose Willows Pet Place as your pet store of
choice. I shouldn't have been surprised that the blond hair and high
pitched giggle fooled you.

Really, the whole thing is quite pathetic. If Willows Pet Place
really IS the most popular pet store in Halifax - we dog owners really
ARE doomed, and people like me had best just move out of the HRM toute

Joan Sinden

I can't believe that a magazine that purports itself to be a professional journalistic organization would so heavily edit a letter so that all meaning and tone is taken out of a letter. I am absolutely disgusted. I shouldn't be surprised. I said in my letter that I think the Coast is pathetic, and my opinion of them hasn't changed.

Here's the portion of the letter that they DID publish - I think you can understand why I'm so pissed off:

A bone to pick

To the editor,

OK, maybe the world is all right and I'm all wrong, but as far as I'm concerned, Willow's Pet Place is one of the WORST pet stores in the city. How did it get voted in as the BEST pet store? It must be because the store purchased ad space with you. Is that it? How DOES someone get voted in, in your polls? Is it really voted in by the public? Exactly how many votes did Willow's Pet Place get? This category throws a shadow over every other category in your newspaper, in my opinion.

For the last five years I've had a very successful dog website called and a dog blog at, which have had hundreds of thousands of hits. I get emails from dog-lovers daily about different pet stores and it's hardly unanimous that Willow's Pet Place is the "Best in Halifax." I think your newspaper remains so absolutely OUT OF TOUCH with dog owners that you have totally been blindsided. You need to either completely drop these kinds of categories or get people on your staff who actually know about these kinds of things. Do you even have anybody at The Coast who actually owns any dogs? I don't think you do.

You need some dog education. Every

time I read your paper, I read things that are factually wrong whenever you attempt to write anything that has to do with dogs. Really, the whole thing is quite pathetic. If Willow's Pet Place really IS the most popular pet store in Halifax, we dog owners really ARE doomed and people like me had best just move out of HRM tout de suite.

Editor's Note: The Coast's annual Best of Halifax survey is a readers' poll. The votes for the personalities, businesses and activities come to us every year directly from the public. Votes are carefully tabulated and we take readers' choices as sacrosanct, without editorial or advertising input.

Joan Sinden

NB: I have had emails about Willow's Pet Place telling me that the store is in fact now pet friendly, which I can fully believe that it is. I will never know seeing as how I've been "banned from the property" and the owner has threatened to "double-sue" me seeing as how she's an individual and also a corporate entity - I'm not too worried about being sued - because you can't be successfully sued if you're saying things that are true. It is true however that Willows Pet Place spent a long time when it was not pet friendly, and the owner has chosen to deny that which is rather inexplicable. I'll let her words speak for themself in these posts:

The reason I shut down comments on a previous post

Someone left a comment on the post previous to this one:

"what happened to the comment section in the truth as i see it article? i saw post come up and then you removed them?"

The reason I shut down comments on that post is because I was receiving the most ridiculous comments to this true (really it is, believe me - I'm not making this up) story, and emails - like the one below - from Kyra Foster. Would you like to get an email like this?

That post was one out of eight-hundred and nine-teen posts - 1 out of 819 posts. I've had this blog for 3 years. Has anyone read anything but that one post? If you've only read that one post - then close this window now, there's no point in even being here - you know nothing about this blog. I am really not the crazy person here. I am a smidge tired of this - I wrote a letter to the editor of the Coast magazine outlining why I believed that Willows Pet Place is one of the worst pet stores in the city - and they absolutely demolished the letter and should not have published it in the format that they did - so I put my letter on MY blog in it's entirety - and I am REPUBLISHING that post here tonight - so that everyone knows what all the fuss is about. I am also leaving my 2nd post here.

I am also going to continue on bloggin here about ME AND MY DOGS - which is what this blog is ostensibly about - but this blog is ALSO about dog issues in the HRM - and what Kyra Foster did to Janet Chernin - and every other in home doggy day care operator in the HRM - is also a local dog issue. Period. And I am unapologetic. Just like what it says at the top of this blog. Sorry Kyra. I will not be stopped for telling the truth - and unfortunately all you people out there who think that I'M the crazy one? I am not.

toMe and my dogs ,

dateNov 30, 2007 8:32 PM
subjectRe: Fw: Willow

you silly cow. you know i actually kind of feel sorry for you. it must be
awful to go through life spitting such hate and venim everywhere you go. and
what's really funny is the fact that you think all those hits on your site
are people enjoying your bizarre and twisted outlook on life. really they
are mostly people going to point and laugh at you and you don't even realise
that. and no sarah was not a friend, just a nice customer, but we have plans
to get together for cocktails after all of this so i guess we're becoming
better friends. not sure if she posted her letter or the coast did, but who
cares you coudn't be more of a head case for pulling it down and harrassing
her. she probably did post it, but didn't want any further dealing with you
so denied it. i don't blame her one bit. i haven't called the police yet,
but really should. i'm not sure if suing you is enough or not. you have been
slandering me for years and seem to just be coming up with more new stories
in your head every year. so it clearly won't end with you just stopping on
your own. by the way the sherrif has 30 days from before the court date to
serve you so not sure when it lands in your lap but good luck with that. you
are a very confused and disturbed person if you think you really can say
anything on your blog and not be held accountable. so carry on please
because the more you post the more $$$ you're being sued for. did you know
I'm a separate legal entity then the incorporation and now you get to be
double sued for both? you really are so bizarre and messed up that i do feel
sorry for you. please do not contact me again and under the protection of
property act you are herby banned from my place of business at 1526 dresden
row, hfx, ns. so thanks for all the free advertising, our sales have more
than tripled the projections this week. oh and by the way, merry xmas.

toMe and my dogs ,

dateNov 30, 2007 8:32 PM

If the post is not removed in the next 5 minutes I will absolutely be calling the police! My lawyer is one her way over now for my signature! What is your problem?

NB: I have had emails about Willow's Pet Place telling me that the store is in fact now pet friendly, which I can fully believe that it is. I will never know seeing as how I've been "banned from the property" and the owner has threatened to "double-sue" me seeing as how she's an individual and also a corporate entity - I'm not too worried about being sued - because you can't be successfully sued if you're saying things that are true. It is true however that Willows Pet Place spent a long time when it was not pet friendly, and the owner has chosen to deny that which is rather inexplicable. I'll let her words speak for themself in these posts:

Animals not Forgotten

I wrote a letter to the Editor last night in reaction to the article earlier this week about the story "NS SPCA President won't resign" - there's a bunch of people who have written in letters - so I've added mine to the pile. Here's mine, I figure I've got nothing to lose at this point:

I have been closely following the debacle also known as the Celtic Pets seizure and the fall out from it with people from every corner demanding the resignation of the president of the NS SPCA as well as the past president and current spokesperson (myself included). Those 2 individuals will tell you and have tried to explain to the media that it is all to do with personality conflicts and nothing to do with their actions in their esteemed positions. Nothing they have done has harmed any animals - and in the end that's all anyone should care about. I have a "Celtic Pets" dog. He is a symbol for all the other dogs who came from Cape Breton the day of the seizure - that languished in cages in Dartmouth, day after day - and didn't go
immediately into foster like they should have. Because the 2 people at the top of the SPCA had different ideas in their mind. Is it about the animals, or about fund raising? Ask those dogs. Ask those 2 ladies. Ask the people who've had their memberships revoked, and WHY they were revoked. And you'll get the same answer. Guido and Doris Scharfenberg (the next door neighbours of Zonda MacIsaac) had a mantra that they used to get them through the terrible cries of the dogs in Celtic Pet's Kennels - it was "Animals Not Forgotten" - and that's what some of us are continuing to try and accomplish and see to the end. That's all.

Joan Sinden

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The True Story of Jack The Dog

Well I gues the NS SPCA has called my bluff. For some unknown reason - as one of the reason's that they're booting me out of the NS SPCA - they've said "Further you have in your possession a dog from a recent SPCA seizure which you gained unlawfully, without the foster forms being signed, placing the SPCA in a compromising situation".

The dog they are talking about is the little dog Jack who first appeared on this blog on February 11, 2008. And I can assure you that he was legally obtained by me - and that I also currently own him legally.
And yes - he is one of the dogs from the Celtic Pets fiasco - and maybe that's why I have been so vocal about the NS SPCA since that time. Why when the days kept going by - and I knew that the dogs from the seizure were continuing to languish in cages over at the shelter - 52, 53, 54, 55, 56 day - I was asking the question - what is happening to those dogs - why are they still in cages, how is this any different than what was happening down in Cape Breton except for the fact that except for being in clean cages - they're still in cages? Why haven't they gone out to foster - which I've heard that they now have, thankfully.

It was because of Jack that I was asking these questions. Jack was from Alice MacIsaac's house - not the seizure from Zonda MacIsaac's property. Jack came from Animal Rescue Coalition - he went up to Port Hawksbury last summer to be adopted by Alice MacIsaac because he had proved himself to be almost unadoptable - he had been in foster care since 2005 and had been adopted out 3 times and returned - so when Alice agreed to take him it seemed like a good idea - after all, she was highly regarded in the rescue community and a special constable - who wouldn't give a dog to someone like that? So up he went. No adoption papers were signed - he just went up there and stayed there until the day of the seizure and the SPCA transported him back down to Metro. The morning after the seizure - Animal Rescue Coalitions took ownership of him again and picked him up at the Metro Shelter - and he immediatlely went to a foster home. Because of his stalwart personality, that foster home didn't work out - and on February 11th - he came to live with me - and he's been here ever since. And on the 7th of March 2008 I legally adopted Jack from the Animal Rescue Coalition. So he is legally a piece of my property - just as much mine as the computer keyboard that I'm typing out this post on - bought and paid for. Gained lawfully from the Animal Rescue Coalition. Just because the NS SPCA has written that on my dismissal letter does NOT make it true.
And for the life of me, I can't figure out why they'd actually write that. Didn't they know that when they did that, I'd come here and tell his story? Up until now I've kept the whole thing private - but now you all know that Jack is a Celtic Pets dog. And it's because of the letter that I received from the NS SPCA. I wouldn't have said anything otherwise.

And let me tell you - I've had to fight to keep him here - you want to talk about personality conflicts? Pam Keddy has threatened to send her cruelty officers to my house to take away Jack - just so that he can sit in the Metro Shelter in a cage, rather than be happy in my house. How's that for loving animals. Back when I wrote my post about "dirty dirty politics" - that's what I was writing about - her threatening to take away Jack and stick him in a cage. Now THAT is dirty. Thank dog it didn't happen, instead she just kicked me off of everything she could - ie the Yahoo group and rescue association "Maritime Animal Rescue" that she owns. No big whup.

She said on yesterday's news - as I posted in the post - that "dog people are passionate" - dog people in POWER are certainly something, that's for sure!! That's why I've always stayed only a dog owner - I wouldn't want to become anything that power gives you. It's not pretty.

At least I get to spend lots of time with my great dogs - Charlie, Daisy, Buttercup, and JACK.