Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare

The "Five freedoms of animal welfare" is something that I've been thinking about lately.

They were developed in 1965 from a UK report on livestock and have been used by then by groups and government around the world as a standard of how to treat animals - domestic and factory - properly, and with compassion.

The Five Freedoms are -

1. Freedom from hunger or thirst by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigour
2. Freedom from discomfort by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area
3. Freedom from pain, injury or disease by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment
4. Freedom to express (most) normal behaviour by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal's own kind
5. Freedom from fear and distress by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering

When we think about our own companion animals - our dogs, it is an interesting list, and it wouldn't seem to be too difficult to follow all the things that it asks of us.

For number one - all we have to do is to properly feed our dogs and give them access to potable water at all times - which is something that we all do as responsible dog owners.

Number two is a given - anyone who reads this blog keeps their dogs inside with them, and lets them sleep wherever they like - on our beds, on the couch - wherever they want to sleep or hang out - no problem

Number three - we all take our dogs to the vet at the slightest hint that something may be wrong - I know that I totally micro-manage the health of all of my dogs - my vet's receptionists know my voice whenever I call them - I don't even have to say - "this is Joan calling" - they know exactly who I am whenever I say hello - that's how often I call them!

Number four is where it starts to get tricky though. What is normal behaviour? Would that be something like barking? Growling? Humping other dogs? Humping the cat? Running up into the woods behind your house and going for a bit of a walk-about? What is normal behaviour?

And how much normal behaviour does a 6 pound yorkie get to express when he has more clothing than a typical factory worker?

And then there's freedom number five - "freedom from fear and distress - by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering" - that is a whole can of worms that a lot of dog owners who really believe that they love their dogs - really would rather not think about that - and that relates to controlling that so-called "normal behaviour" that our dogs like to express - like barking too much, and not wanting to come to us the second we call them to us, and growling at other dogs - and a whole host of inappropriate things that our dogs can get up to.

We as dog loving people, and responsible dog owners - really have to think of our dogs first - and what is best for them - and not - what is easiest for us - when it comes to making it easy to live with the canine life companions that we have chosen for ourselves.

We have chosen them to live with us - not the other way around - and I don't think that we should use things that cause fear and intimidation in order to make them obey and immediately bow down to us.

That's not the kind of relationship I want to have with my dogs - I don't need them to turn on a dime, and when I'm out with them - the only time I ask them to come is when I actually need them to come to me - and guess what - they usually do. And I'm happy with that. And so are they.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Pat Lee and Tristan Flynn weigh in on the subject of shock collars

Local dog trainer Tristan Flynn talked about shock collars on his radio show K9 Connection today on 95.7

Here is some of what Tristan said in his podcast - you can listen to it in it's entirety here:


Tristan said his opinion on shock collars is that he's never met a dog in the 8 or so years he's been training dogs he's never met an animal that he thought that putting a shock collar on them would improve his relationship with that animal - it comes down to your ethics - if you think it's okay to smack your child, then it's the same thing with shock collars - it can come down to the ethics of the country and what's legal in that country - shock collars are illegal in many countries - and is also illegal in Quebec - it's legal to sell shock collars, but illegal to use them in Quebec.

There's no doubt that shock collars work to change behaviour - but do we think that it's ethically okay to do that - if you put a shock collar on your 2 year old child, you'd be thrown in jail because ethically that's unacceptable but we're still at a point where it's ethically acceptable for dogs and one of the reasons is we're not legislated to do good proper training so when people run into problems, they don't know how to fix it so they look for an immediate fix, because that's what you want... and using that tool can get you the immediate results that some people are looking for because proper training, and really listening to the animal and building a relationship takes time and it takes a lot of expertise - so if you can't find a good trainer, a lot of people are turning to these tools because they want the quick fix.

So many organizations are against these that he doesn't know how an average person could not agree with the overwhelming amount of professionals who are against these devices -
- Canadian Veterinary Medical Society says the use of shock collars is associated with short term, long term negative consequences including fear and anxiety. Training methods including pain, fear, distress or anxiety including the violent use of shock collars are to be condemned
- American Humane Society
- American Society of Veterinary Behaviourists
- UK Kennel Club

Tristan said that he has never seen anyone with any credentials argue for the use of these tools - these are just people who consider themselves experts, or consider themselves good dog trainers but no one who is an actual veterinarian professional or an actual PhD behaviourist is arguing to use these tools.

He then goes on to explain how a shock collar actually works - explaining how a shock collar is used to teach how a dog is trained to learn how to "sit" - and it's very interesting to listen to - I would recommend that you do listen to the entire podcast.

As well, in Monday's Chronicle Herald - Pat Lee covered the topic in her weekly "Pat Lee Pet Corner" column - "E-collars put to the Test" - you can read her column below - she took me up on my challenge and got herself shocked, and didn't like the feeling very much.

So the word about shock collars is getting out there - there are a lot of people out there who have negative opinions about shock collars in Nova Scotia - I'd say that pro-shock collar people are in the minority.  And that's a good thing - it's just that the pro-shock collar people are very loud and aggressive - just like the dogs that they think they are trying to control.

A fun event took place Saturday in central Halifax with people and dogs mingling under beautiful sunny skies.

But unbeknownst to probably most attending the annual Pet Valu-organized doggie event held in Victoria Park, warring factions on the use of electronic training collars were warily eying each other from their respective information booths.

My friend Joan Sinden, who has been a vocal opponent of the collars for years, and never one to approach an issue related to animals with subtlety, had a table at the event that invited people to try out one of the collars on themselves.

And just down the way was dog trainer Guy Lapierre of Unleashed Potential, a proponent of using the device.

Mixed in there as well was a rep for Invisible Fence, which works on the same principle as the collars, but she seemed to stay out of the fray.
The world of dog training is an interesting one where there are many camps and battlegrounds, with trainers — some well trained themselves and others not — having differing and sometimes diametrically opposed views on how to handle woman’s best friend.

Use treats or not? Alpha roll your dog or not? Clickers? Prong collars? Head halters? You name it and there are varying views on techniques and tools to use.

Enter the e-collar, as proponents call them, or shock collars for those opposed, which can be found online or in many pet stores.

The collars are used to deter barking or remotely give corrections or get the dog’s attention by sending an electronic zap — my word — from the handheld controller through to the collar.

The level of the electronic tap is set by the person with the remote. I’m told the collars used by trainers are much more nuanced and can be set very low while the ones in pet stores don’t offer the same choices.

I took Sinden up on her offer and placed a collar, the type used by trainers, on my wrist to see what it felt like. I started off at 10 (out of 100) and didn’t feel much and slowly worked my way to 30 where it wasn’t unbearable but it also wasn’t pleasant.

I was told later that trainers would never dial it up to 30, which then begs the question why do the gizmos go up to level 100 or higher?

Opponents like Sinden believe the tool is cruel at any level, especially in the hands of an inexperienced dog owner.

Lapierre, on the other hand, says used properly the collars are not painful for your pet.

“I think it’s a wonderful tool that’s really misunderstood because most people think it’s a punishment tool, but that’s not how we use it,” he said Saturday.

Lapierre says the collar is instead meant to be a “tap on the shoulder, saying ‘hey, pay attention to me.’

“They’re taught, ’when you feel this sensation, come to me.’ I don’t actually teach with the e-collar. They learn all their obedience through positive re-enforcement.”

While Sinden and Lapierre disagree on the use of the collars, one thing they do agree on is that they should not be sold in pet stores.

Along with stores selling an inferior product, the trainer said the collars should not be in the hands of folks who don’t know what they’re doing.

Like journalists inclined to crank it to 30.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Halifax Magazine features article on dog friendliness in the HRM

I was really happy to see that "Halifax Magazine" currently has a cover story about dog friendliness in the HRM.

I remember the author interviewing me for the story, but I didn't think it was going to be a cover story - I am really happy that they put such a priority on the subject matter - it shows how important the topic has become here locally.

As to my shutting down the Charlie Loves Halifax website, I'm thinking it might be a temporary thing - I was at a dog function this past Saturday with Tia - and it turns out she's hugely dog friendly and had a great time there - so I may have a new "going out to town" dog in her - she may be my new Charlie.  I thought those days were long past - but I may be able to go places with her - and that is a very good thing!

Here is the article from Halifax Magazine -

Pet projects

Halifax now has its first 24-hour veterinarian clinic, part of a wave of businesses and municipal services focusing more on pet owners

By Jon Tattrie | June 12, 2015
Halifax now has its first 24-hour veterinarian clinic, part of a wave of businesses and municipal services focusing more on the city’s pet owners.

But what about the shortage of public garbage cans to dump your dog’s poop in? And, even worse, what about those few trashcans we have overflowing with neatly tied stink bombs sweltering on hot summer days?

First, to the new round-the-clock clinic. It’s called 4 Paws 24-Hour Veterinary Hospital and it’s located on Lady Hammond Road in Halifax’s North End. As owner Dr. Emma Slater points out, it’s actually the first and only such clinic in all of Nova Scotia.

“I’ve been a vet in the city for about 10 years and I’ve dealt with client frustrations over the limited options for overnight care for pets that we had before we opened,” she says. “I’ve dealt with being the one who did the surgery at nine o’clock at night, and then the pet has to be moved right after the surgery practice over to the emergency hospital in Burnside.”

That would be the Metro Animal Emergency Clinic, which opened in 1997. It improved options for pet owners, as they didn’t have to take their pets home overnight. It’s run by a group of vets and offers round-the-clock emergency pet care when your regular vet is closed. The downside is that pets get shuttled back and forth from their regular vet clinic to the emergency facility.

Slater’s 4 Paws treats the hurting animals and keeps them in the same facility during recovery. “It’s a service that’s available in most of the other major cities in Canada,” she says. “We just didn’t have one here. I thought there was a real need for it.”

Slater also does house calls, like many other vets. She delivers home care daily in a customized minivan stocked with equipment.
“I think frustrations with the existing system have been there the whole 10 years I’ve been practicing in the city,” she says. After 10 years, she’d built up a client base and reputation that she hopes will sustain the new venture.

Slater owns three dogs, one cat, five chickens, a gecko and a well-populated fish tank. An animal lover herself, she’s seen a cultural change from her professional and personal perspective.

“There’s definitely been a shift in the last 15, 20 years in how we perceive pets,” she says. “A lot of us consider pets to be family members now and so the demand is there for better and more accessible pet care. We put a lot more thought into how our pets are feeling and how their lives could be improved compared to what was normal 30 years ago.”

If you’ve searched online for pet-friendly places in Halifax over the last decade, you’ve probably landed on the treasure chest of resources that is CharlieLovesHalifax.ca. It shared information on what shops catered to what pets, connected you to pet groups in your part of the city, and listed pet-friendly parks.

The website has drawn more than one million hits since its 2002 launch, but then it went dark this spring. Joan Sinden ran the whole thing for fun. In the disclaimer at the bottom of pages, she notes that it’s “the opinion and beliefs of one person. If you believe them to be anything more than that, you have been misinformed and given me an importance anyone would lust after, but I certainly do not covet.”

It’s a reflection of how big the site became; people assumed it was created by an official organization of some kind. But it was the work of one woman, dedicated to her dog, Charlie, and their mutual love of Halifax.

Charlie died in 2011. Sinden’s five new dogs are all rescues and aren’t friendly with other dogs. “I can’t really go on adventures with them,” she says. “It made it difficult to keep the site up to date.”

So after 12 years, she let it go. Sort of. The old site still lives online, offering many resources for searching pet owners.

She’s seen the city become more pet friendly over the years. “We have legislation in place now that helps dogs a lot more and people in general are more pet friendly,” she says. “There’s really a niche community that caters to dogs. There are a lot more doggy daycares and groomers, things like that.”

More stores invite dogs inside and leave bowls of water out for passing pets. Sinden says that’s smart for business, because pets bring owners eager to spend. Many storeowners sought her out to spread the word that they were pet friendly.

She’s seen Facebook pages take on some of the work of sharing pet-friendly tips in the city, but they tend to be fragmented communities. Plus, Facebook doesn’t turn up much in online searches, so you have to know which groups to join. She’s seen other websites start up, try to make a profit, and then flop. Her hobby outlasted them all.

Sinden still runs Dogkisser.blogspot.ca, updating people on legal changes, plans for pet-friendly parks, and warning people about bad pet dealers selling animals online.

Halifax looked headed for a classic Dog People vs. The Others showdown in late 2014, as the decades-long battle over Seaview Park (now Africville Park) snarled to a conclusion. The park got a replica Africville church, and school groups and visitors were often heading into one of the city’s best-loved off-leash dog parks. The site’s dual identity as an important cultural location clashed with its identity as a beautiful and popular off-leash park.

Get Haligonians talking about race and dogs, and conflict seems inevitable.

“There was a lot of concern about the impact of the potential closure on the part of dog owners,” says Jennifer Watts, the Councillor whose District 8 includes the park. “The motion [to close it] that came forward at Council clearly signalled that this was important for the African Nova Scotian community.”

Instead of conflict, most people were reasonable and Halifax found a solution that improved life for most people concerned about the park’s future. Watts says the dog owner community and the Africville community got together, explained their concerns to each other, and sought a common way forward. Council voted to make Africville a leashed park, but to first open a new park in a more suitable location.

On January 1, Africville became a leashed park, and a spiffy new off-leash space opened at the Halifax Mainland Common in Clayton Park. The city plans to add wooded trails to the new site.

Watts thinks she knows how we avoided a painful confrontation over the park. “One, there was clear affirmation and direction from Council about the decommissioning [of Africville Park],” she says. “Two, people spoke with one another and talked about what they wanted and what they hoped would happen. I think that really helped the communities. It wasn’t us versus them. We can understand one another’s positions.”

Watts says Halifax hasn’t historically supported off-leash dog parks, but plans to now. First up is finding a new home for the small fenced-in park used by service dogs for visually impaired people. The North Park-Cogswell Street dog run must move to make way for the roundabout, and the city is looking for a new location.

Anyone who’s tried to figure out when and where they can walk their dog off leash at Point Pleasant Park will be familiar with the tangled array of rules about park usage. Council knows this can be confusing, Watts says, and is seeking better sharing arrangements.

In general, the city is looking at having more “pocket parks” in the downtown area, complemented by bigger parks further out where land is available.

Oh, and about that shortage of public garbage cans for dumping dogs’ dumps? Watts says it’s about money. “For every can that goes up, it has to be serviced on a regular basis,” she says. “If people are using them to constantly drop off dog feces in the summer, they begin to smell.”

One of her constituents runs a convenience store, and people stuff the trashcan out front full of dog poop. “It’s been overflowing with dog feces on hot days, and we just cannot service that every day,” she says. “Take your dog feces home with you and dispose of it. That may not be popular, but I think people need to.”

If Halifax navigated dog lovers versus Africville, surely we can handle trashcans.

Lacking a central website or Facebook group, pet lovers in Halifax tend to congregate around pet businesses. Planetpaws.ca focuses on healthy pet food, and their Facebook group (Planet Paws Pet Essentials) regularly posts pet news.

The Canine Agility Association of Nova Scotia (CAANS.ca) deals in dog obedience, and connects its 80-plus members to the wider dog owner community.

Sublime Canine Services offers obedience, life skills and private training. Jollytails dog daycare (Jollytails.ca) runs a pet store, daycare, training, grooming and more, and regularly posts to its Facebook page.

The Greyhound Pets of Atlantic Canada boasts 1,400 members on its Facebook page and while obviously focusing on greyhounds, its members also update pet owners on local sales and events.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The history of dog advocacy in Nova Scotia

Sit back, this is going to be a long one.

Chandler and Piper - 2 superstars from Seaview Park - many years ago 

I'm going to talk about the history of dog advocacy here in Nova Scotia going back almost 20 years - where we started, and how we've come to where we are now - and where we hopefully are headed in the future.

Almost 20 years ago - prior to 2002 - the Nova Scotia SPCA was killing more than 50% of the animals they took in, and they did it in a very inhumane way - they used a gas chamber to kill the animals - which didn't kill animals quickly - it was a slow painful process that is not only awful for the animals, it's very hard for the staff to watch.

In 2002 a new management took over the at provincial level - and at the Dartmouth SPCA at least - the gas chamber was decommissioned and things began to change - we'll talk about the Cape Breton SPCA later. Adoption rates started to rise, and things began to look better - animal advocacy in Nova Scotia started to look up it seemed.

Daisy, a very special rottweiller

It was around this time that dog owners around the province - and generally everywhere across North America - started to become more savvy politically - more dog magazines like Bark Magazine started to spring up, and we started to talk with our tax dollars - the terms "breed specific legislation" and "dog friendly" started to become household terms - "puppy mills" and "puppy brokers" entered the vernacular and normal dog owners started to understand what all these terms meant - not just crazy dog people became involved in the dog friendly movement.

Spring ahead to 2004 - and New Brunswick's legislature talks about passing province wide breed specific legislation - luckily they don't pass it after much conversation with the province's population - but in 2005 - Ontario - much to the displeasure of everyone across the country and many experts - DOES pass BSL - that still exists to today.

Zeus and Sandy from Guysborough

Also in 2004 - a fight was brewing in the municipality of the district of Guysborough - a pit bull by the name of Zeus, was under attack by the municipality - the warden, Lloyd Hines wanted him dead - and there was a 2 year fight - but in December 2006 - Justice Stroud deemed the BSL in Guysborough as being "vague and over-reaching" - and Zeus was able to live out his days in peace - much to the displeasure of Mr. Hines. Hines would later try to bring this same law to all of Nova Scotia.

That brings us to 2006 here in Nova Scotia - when a small article appears in the Chronicle Herald - "Municipalities ponder dog breed bans" - the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities had struck a committee to look at the issue of banning certain breeds of dogs province wide. In 2008 it started working it's way through the legislature and it ALMOST passed - it was called "Bill 138" - we almost had province wide breed specific legislation here in Nova Scotia - except that it was caught in time by the dog advocacy community here in the province and it never passed. We REALLY dodged a bullet here - all you people who currently own pit bulls here in the province - you are SO LUCKY, you have no idea.

We DO have BSL in several pockets though - Richmond County, the district of the Municipality of Guysborough, Digby, the municipality of the District of Antigonigh, and a couple of other places in the province - DO have BSL - and it is also written into our Municipal Government Act - so if any municipality or town in Nova Scotia wanted to very easily write it into their bylaws - they COULD. Anyplace in Nova Scotia, with very little discussion - could have BSL written into their bylaws very quickly. I hope everyone who owns a targetted breed realizes that.  This is a conversation we need to continue to be talking about.

I have talked on this blog over and over about this fact - that the BSL needs to be removed from the Municipal Government Act - but no one seems to listen to me about this. But anyway.

The history of dog advocacy in Nova Scotia can't be talked about without talking about the Celtic Pets scandal at the beginning of 2008 - it almost brought the end of the Nova Scotia SPCA because of the corruption that was happening at the very top of the organization.

Jack - mine and Netta Armitage's Celtic Pets dog

They allowed a corrupt rescue group to continue to abuse animals in their care for years and did nothing about it - Celtic Pets rescue in Cape Breton - the mother of the head of that rescue was a Special Constable with the Nova Scotia SPCA, and an animal hoarder herself and the people at the top of the NS SPCA turned a complete blind eye to everything that was going on because that was what was convenient for them.

 Zeus - who was abandoned in a cage for 3 years by Zonda MacIsaac - and then loved unconditionally by his Dad Blaine for the best years of his life

They were complicit in the abuse that was going on - and ultimately it led to the end of their involvement with the organization, the complete crash of the NS SPCA - and a rise from the ashes for the organization with a whole new group of people who were committed to bringing the once well respected SPCA back to where it once was - which is what they ultimately did.

The Nova Scotia SPCA today is a shadow of what it once was - in 2008 it was corrupt beyond belief, with a lot of it's donation dollars being paid to lawyers fees and vehicles for board members - today it is an organization that seems to truly being doing what it is mandated to do - protect the animals of Nova Scotia, and it has taken a lot of work by dedicated individuals along the way - all of them unpaid volunteers to make it the group it is today - one that Nova Scotia can finally be proud of.

It has made Nova Scotia a "no kill" province - not a moniker that many provinces in Canada can claim - and one that we should continue to work toward - insisting that all of our Animal Control departments across the province pick up this pledge as well - the Halifax Regional Municipality's Animal Control pound - Homeward Bound City Pound is "no kill" - so there's no reason why every other pound in the province can't be no kill as well.

It was in 2006 that Kjiji came to Canada - and dog activists immediately saw the danger of people being able to give away or sell animals online - we pled with the company that ran the service not to allow for the sale of animals on their website - but we were ignored - soon, we and everyone else saw how people like Gail Benoit used the service - and today, just about everyone in Nova Scotia knows the name "Gail Benoit" - and who she is and what she does.

And that's a good thing.

Ms Benoit at her best

And today, it's pretty hard to sell a diseased and dying dog on Kijiji anymore - you have to go through some pretty good hoops to sell a dog on Kijiji now, you have to use a credit card, and there's a paper trail - so for people like Gail Benoit - it's almost not worth it anymore - but for rescue's - Kijiji has become a pretty good platform - and that's a good thing too.

In 2010 The Nova Scotia Veterinary Medical Association got involved in a big way with the dog advocacy movement when they banned docking and cropping within their organization in Nova Scotia - totally pissing off the purebred dog community, but making the dog people who are into natural looking dogs very happy. They weren't the first Veterinary Medical Association in Canada to do this - and hopefully they won't be the last.

In response to the start of Kijiji - in 2006 "Advocates for Responsible Pet Ownership" was formed - a grass roots group of dog owners across the province dedicated towards attaining a dog friendly Nova Scotia and educating pet owners about the best places to acquire their pets - and lobbying government to end the sale of pets in pet stores.

I think the group achieved just about all the aims we set out to do because around 2011-2012 pet stores in Nova Scotia voluntarily stopped selling pets in their stores - it was a big win for the dog advocacy community - and it was long fought for - we had many protests in front of their stores and educated a lot of people in the process - and the pet stores listened to their customers.

Nobody can forget in 2010 when a guard dog froze to death in Cape Breton - and nothing was done to change things for chained dogs in this province - that was the start of a long road that has led to a paradigm shift for dogs today.

Since then, advocacy and dog politics has done nothing but continue to raise awareness in Nova Scotia - around 2010 the issue of chained dogs and tethering raised to the top of consciousness in our province - and with a lot of hard work, and with the cooperation of the government of Nova Scotia - because it is the right thing to do - in December of 2014 - legislation was passed that makes it illegal now to tether your dog for longer than 12 hours in Nova Scotia - and there are a host of regulations around letting your dog live outside now. Another huge win for dog politics in Nova Scotia.

Good things continue to happen for dogs in Nova Scotia.

It is also illegal to leave your dog in a hot (or cold) car, illegal to put them in the back of your open truck, and illegal to not get them groomed properly.

And talking about paradigm shifts - through the hard work of a couple of dedicated people - there are a lot less stray dogs in Nova Scotia now - through the work of the Nova Scotia Lost Dog Network - dogs are no longer considered stray - they are now considered lost - and literally thousands of dogs have found their way home because of that network, and their lives have been saved because of it.  This is something for our province to be hugely proud of - we are leading the continent in this movement.

As for the Nova Scotia SPCA - in Cape Breton - things are going fabulous down there - up until a couple years ago - the gas chamber was still being used there - it is no longer being used. 75% of their animals were still dying there - they are now no kill now - thanks to a transfer system that sees a lot of their animals coming to the HRM where animals are adopted quickly from here where they might languish in a cage down there. They have also recently opened a low cost spay and neuter clinic down there which will see unwanted litters diminish their overall animal population over time - things are looking great in Cape Breton thanks to the NS SPCA now. And for decades things looked very bleak there.

So what is next for dog advocacy in Nova Scotia? We have so many things that other parts of North America can only dream about - we don't have heart worm here, we don't have rabies - we are already no kill, our vets don't crop or dock our dogs, our pet stores don't sell puppies, our dogs are allowed at all parks on leash, and we don't have any public space bans in any of our towns - and we do have some BSL around the province - but we will continue to work at that - so things sound to be quite ideal, don't they?

There are some things we can continue to work at if we want to have only positive experiences for all dogs in Nova Scotia - and that is to lobby government to ban the use of punitive and aversive training devices like prong and shock collars - they have been banned in other countries like Wales - and in Quebec - so the time has come to start working on that here in Nova Scotia.

We have - as a group of committed, objective, loving - tax paying, dog owners - gotten so much done in the last 15 years for our dogs here in Nova Scotia - that this is the next natural step - to have these abusive devices removed from the collars of all dogs in Nova Scotia - it is diametrically opposed to everything that we as Nova Scotians stand for.

If you go to a pet store and see a display of shock collars there - talk to the people in the store and tell them you won't shop in their store anymore if they continue to stock these devices - it worked for puppies - they'll realize that they aren't making enough money from the collars to make up for what they're losing in sales from the rest of the store and stop selling them.

Don't seek out trainers who use shock collars as part of their "balanced training" of your dogs - there are SO MANY other dog trainers in our province who successfully train dogs with other methods. It's completely unneccesary today. These trainers say that dogs would be dead if it weren't for them - that is just not true - aggression can be treated positively, and if shock collars aren't used correctly - it makes aggressive dogs even worse.

I hope you will agree and work towards having shock collars banned here in Nova Scotia.