Monday, August 31, 2009

Sad news for Phoenix

A blog reader (thanks Biscuit) was in contact with the Humane Society of Durham Region about Phoenix and just got this e-mail reply back:

I just got back from Guelph. Things don't look good. The Oncologist saw him and he is still there for tests today but from what she has seen so far it looks like surgery is not an option and she feels he will not do well with other forms of treatment either. As he is still emaciated, radiation treatment is not an option because it burns the tongue and he would have to be sedated for 5 weeks of daily treatments with a feeding tube. At the end of this there is no guarantee it would work. She feels that he is terminal and as of right now he might have anywhere from a few weeks to a few months left. It was as we feared. If he was in better physical condition to start with he might have had a better prognosis but with him being already immune suppressed and emaciated things don't look good.

We are putting together a press release to let the public know. We are going to try and find someone who will foster him for whatever time he has left so that he can at least know love and comfort for the last of his life

We will continue to provide him with whatever he needs to make him comfortable until the end.

Anyone got a miracle they can spare?

Continued here.

Dear Kate Hammer,

I realize that you may very well not be looking for relationship advice right now but after having talked to you for like 2 minutes the other afternoon, I feel I know you well enough to give you some anyway.

You see, while I was reading The Globe and Mail this morning, I came across that article you wrote about the Toronto Humane Society blocking new members just so they can allegedly stop those wily sneaky sneaks from allegedly going to the alleged Annual General Meeting and voting out the alleged current board of alleged directors.

(Please excuse my new alleged writing style but I'm trying to stay within legal guidelines so I don't get sued. I know it appears to be quite trendy these days to be sued by the THS but some trends, like 1980's hair, are better avoided.)

In the article, you write about the recent spate of lawsuits initiated by the THS, THS' mounting legal bills, protests against the THS, membership denials, weirdness with proxy votes and the crappy timing of the AGM (on a Wednesday at 1:30 in the afternoon - who's going to be able to take time off work to go to that?).

You then tried to initiate dialogue with the THS like any responsible individual would do with another responsible individual to get their side of the story but what you got back from Ian McConachie, THS mouth, was this instead:

“I am writing to you today to inform you that the Toronto Humane Society will no longer deal with reporter Globe & Mailer [sic] Kate Hammer with respect to media requests"

Oh! My! God! To be so publicly rejected by such a poorly written letter!

It must be devastating and I feel for you but sometimes even in one's darkest moments, the light of truth shines through.

You gotta face it, Kate. The THS just isn't that into you.

My suggestion is to form a club. You can call it the "I was rejected by the Toronto Humane Society But I Survived Club". I understand there are at least seven other potential club members (who now may or may not be granted a THS membership by the THS divinity, but regardless, they were rejected once and that should give them enough cred to join your club).

With seven members in the club you can probably have a pretty good time with a backyard, a barbeque and a few bottles of wine and, better yet, you can probably also apply for charitable organization status if you call yourselves a "humane society". Now you might not consider your "humane society" to be eligible for charitable status but from what I hear, the bar is set pretty low these days.

Don't take it too hard, Kate. Many have tried but few have succeeded in getting inside the brain of fortress THS. It's a secretive, smelly place with little appreciation for throwing open its doors and letting fresh air in.

Yours sincerely,


P.S. You're welcome.

Update on Victor

From Victor's (now Quincy) new owner:

I just wanted to let you know Quincy is doing really well. We have
named him Quincy. Here are some pictures of Quincy.

More on Quincy/Victor here.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Best quote of the week

From Shit My Dad Says:

The dog don't like you planting stuff there. It's his backyard. If you're the only one who shits in something, you own it. Remember that.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Genius, utter genius

It's kind of hard to say if this business is the ultimate in cynicism or the ultimate in generosity. All I know is that if there are no animals in heaven, it ain't heaven.

From Eternal Earth-Bound Pets, USA:

You've committed your life to Jesus. You know you're saved. But when the Rapture comes what's to become of your loving pets who are left behind? Eternal Earth-Bound Pets takes that burden off your mind.

We are a group of dedicated animal lovers, and atheists. Each Eternal Earth-Bound Pet representative is a confirmed atheist, and as such will still be here on Earth after you've received your reward. Our network of animal activists are committed to step in when you step up to Jesus.

We are currently active in 20 states and growing. Our representatives have been screened to ensure that they are atheists, animal lovers, are moral / ethical with no criminal background, have the ability and desire to rescue your pet and the means to retrieve them and ensure their care for your pet's natural life.

From FAQ's:
Q: How do you ensure your representatives won't be Raptured.
A: Actually, we don't ensure it, they do. Each of our representatives has stated to us in writing that they are atheists, do not believe in God / Jesus, and that they have blasphemed in accordance with Mark 3:29, negating any chance of salvation.

From Terms and Conditions of Service:
If subscriber loses his/her faith and/or the Rapture occurs and subscriber is not Raptured (aka is "left behind") EE-BP disclaims any liability; no refund will be tendered.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Q: What's the sound of a THS board meeting?


Toronto Star, Threats, flip-flops at humane society:

Trow "must be suing a lot of people" if he is issuing threats over the statement "Tim Trow must go," De Melo said, adding that at a June protest "there were 200 people out in front of the Humane Society building chanting that.

"So I'm assuming every one of them got a letter, too?"

The THS has been beset by criticism since
news reports this spring suggested its animals were suffering because of what critics say are Trow's overly restrictive euthanasia policies, micromanagement and temper.

The THS denies the allegations. It has now
used lawsuits or the threat of lawsuits at least three times in an effort to defend its reputation.

Setting sun

I'm out with Stella and we pass by the usual bored bus stop waiters, junkies casing for unlocked car doors, schizophrenic homeless looking for their lost euphoria on the sidewalk, sin-free religious people all polished clean and neck-tied and God smiley, crack-hos with slippers hanging off their dirty feet, shirtless guy who for some strange reason is wearing a sports jacket today but still shirtless under that, baby stroller jogger plowing everyone off the sidewalk, stony faced cops on horses leaving huge piles of shit for cars to drive through and splash on pedestrians and ringing streetcars and hip hop boombox cars and honking taxis and pneumatic garbage trucks making up for lost time and then we turn off the busy street and everything is quiet.

We walk but it's a slow walk because Stella is sniffing every vertical thing coming out of the ground or she's grazing on the tips of a specific type of tall grass or she's glowering at squirrels, cats and wasps. We pass a big dragonfly on the sidewalk and I stop to look at it, see if it's still alive but it's not moving and I point to it and say, "Look Stella," and she looks and she sniffs it and for a moment I know she's thinking about how this thing might taste - somewhere between flies and bees perhaps? - but she decides against it, not that I would've let her anyway, and she backs up and looks at me, So what about it?

At the parkette, which is a small patch of ratty grass with some sandy bits and some muddy bits and a swing set and some plastic climbing apparatus which I've only ever seen teens draped over with piles of cigarette butts growing around their feet, there are no dogs and Stella is disappointed not so much because she's looking for friends but more because she's looking for new dogs to grumble her royal displeasure at so instead she spends three minutes investigating the well dowsed trunk of an old maple tree. She's like a sommelier, poring over every inch, taking deep breathes, exhaling, taking another deep breathe over the same spot, letting the scent settle in, exhaling, move over an inch, repeat. Seriously, I don't get it. I'm more understanding of Rocky: sniff and piss, sniff and piss. Maybe it's a male thing.

At the end of the street, there is an old man, must be in his eighties, with his old terrier in a faded harness on the sidewalk ahead of us walking towards us. The old man is walking slow but his dog is walking slower, every step slower, like it's winding down, head lowered, just slightly swaying.

The man sees Stella and me and frowns. He turns around and waits for his dog to reorient. I cross the street with Stella. Stella would be fine with his dog, too small and too old to pose any challenge to her authority, but I don't want to give the old man a heart attack, or his dog. I remember how Barclay was when he got that old, when he couldn't hear or see very well and how he'd startle when dogs came up from behind him and how he'd lose his balance and topple over like a cartoon drunk except there was no laughter in it, just a sense of fading.

We're on the other side of the road and I look over and I see the old dog still confused about the turn in direction and then the old man bends over slowly at the hips and a bit at the knees and puts his hand on the back of his dog and just holds it there for maybe five seconds and the dog leans into that touch and looks up at the old man looking back down at him and that look they share and that feeling which binds them and gives them ease, that partnership they have which saves them from the world, buffers them against the unending aches and pains of old bodies, against the knowledge of the inevitable, it seems so, it is so good and beautiful.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Abby was a neglected Rottweiler who arrived at Toronto Animal Services with multiple, serious health problems and it didn't look like she had much life left. Emily heard about her, though, and couldn't bare the thought that this dog would never know love and comfort in its life and so, in early December 2008, she brought Abby home.

This was not a regular adoption. This was a compassion hold where someone takes home a critically unwell dog. The intention is always to give the dog care and comfort with the hope of nursing it back to health. There is, however, the understanding that the animal might still get sicker or die but knowing that at least the animal will not spend its last few days alone in a cold, hard cage.

Emily fought hard to keep Abby going, tackling each ailment as priorities demanded. And Abby fought hard too, her spirit always uplifting and increasingly joyful as illnesses were overcome one by one. Abby couldn't be happier with her new life. She was Emily's shadow. She had finally found a home in Emily and was surely going to keep her close.

It seemed like the road ahead was finally getting easier but on August 25, while coming out of surgery for the removal of a tumor, Abby's heart failed.

Abby was a good dog. She was an affectionate dog. She endured. She smiled. She was grateful. She learned to enjoy and to play. She was a sunflower coming to bloom and for Emily and everyone else who ever met her, Abby was a dear heart.

Emily, braver than most I know, Abby is gone but her love always remains.

I am so devastated. I knew it was coming sooner or later but you never really can prepare yourself for it.

I just wish she had more time. More time feeling comfortable. More time to hug her when she would give me her goofy smile and lean right into me. More time to continue investigating dog bones, treats and toys. When she first came home with me, she had no idea what to do with a toy or a roasted bone. It took her a while to develop an interest, but she worked at it and grew to love to work on them an hour at a time, here and there and then had to rest. I still have the most recent bone she started working on this past Sunday.

Although she was very uncomfortable and in pain in the time leading up to the surgery, she smiled so much the night before. It took me by surprise because I knew she was very sore. I took a picture of her smiling that night and will send it to you. Although it has been a very challenging 9 months with her due to her health issues, she was the very best dog I could have had. Anyone who met her was always so taken aback at how gentle she was and would just tilt her head and lean in for a snuggle no matter how little or long she had known the person or how much in pain she was. The clinic staff who have treated her grew very attached to her and really made her last conscious moments comfortable and loving and for that I am very grateful.

However painful this is now, I am so grateful for the privilege to have known and cared for Abby. I hope others can find it in themselves to take in the less healthy and more fragile dogs who need homes as this has been, by far, the most rewarding and fulfilling experience I have ever had with dogs. I will love her and miss her forever and know that there will always be an empty part in my heart from the loss of her not being with me everyday. For now, her beds sits empty but still smells of her - my Big Bear.

I will send you that picture tonight when I get home. I wish I had one of the 2 of us together - but even without one, I won't ever forget her or our morning, evening and bedtime cuddles and the smacking sounds she would make with her mouth the whole time we hugged and cuddled.


Forever may you run.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Good news for Phoenix (new pics)

Phoenix's tongue cancer is apparently treatable as is his skin condition.

From The Star:

Medical tests conducted on Phoenix, a severely neglected male chow discovered last Sunday night in Courtice, show that the dog has treatable cancer.

... and ...

Phoenix's skin condition has since been diagnosed and doctors believe it should respond well to medical treatment.

Update pic Aug.26 from Humane Society of Durham Region. Lovely colouring:

Continued here.

Nazis, emos and bitches

It's supposed to be quite trendy to be reading The Economist these days. I guess with Bush out and Obama in, it's suddenly dawned upon the purveyors of first world hip that it's suddenly cooler to be seen to be smart than to be seen to be stupid. So, I'm putting away my copies of Guns n Ammo and Jugs and accessorizing with copies of The Economist, The New Yorker and The Walrus as my public transit carry-on reading material or I carry them around with me in my hemp man purse and lay them out conspicuously at my table at Starbucks.

From The Economist (h/t borderjack), Shoot the puppy!, a proposal from a Danish member of Parliament:

Flemming Moller, a veterinarian who took over the parliamentary seat vacated when the former prime minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, went off to run NATO, proposed a logical, if drastic, solution: kill all mongrels. Mr Moller claims this is the only way to eliminate aggressive traits from the doggy gene pool. Only dogs registered in the national stud book have a record of their parentage and genetic traits. Other puppies, he says, could be the products of anything from joyful encounters in leafy suburbs to deliberate breeding by thugs. With some 40,000 mongrels born in Denmark every year, a mass cull of mutts would reach alarming proportions. Mr Moller is prepared for the backlash: “We will surely see lots of press photos of sweet little puppies being put down but we must be determined,” he says unflinchingly.

And this guy's a vet? I wonder what sort of laws he'd try to get passed if he were a people doctor.

From The Walrus, It's a Dog's Life, an article about writing about dogs:

If Grenier suggests that the experience of loving a dog is life-affirming, he means it in the very Gallic sense that life is lived more keenly in the knowledge of death. Dogs help with this, in short, because they generally predecease their owners: “Because dogs inflict the suffering of loss upon us, the French sometimes call them ’beasts of sorrow,’ bĂȘtes de chagrin”

There's some pretty heady titles mentioned in that article - not the usual puppy luv, Lassie come home stuff. Good brain food for while you're scratching the ears of that drooling monster in yer lap.

And finally, from The New Yorker, Rich Bitch, in which writer Toobin uses Leona Helmsley's well-intentioned but poorly executed charitable trust for dogs (not so much anymore) as a vehicle for writing about the changing face of animals' rights under human law.

“What the law is doing is catching up with the idea that people don’t consider their pets property, in the way a car or a chair is,” Hoffman told me. “I am not pumping for my cats to be able to vote for McCain or Obama. I’m not saying they could visit me at the hospital, though that’s probably a pretty good idea. The right category for pets is closer to children, who can’t vote, and can’t own property, but you can’t inflict pain on them, either. The law is catching up with societal beliefs.”

As long as my dogs can't sue me for more belly rubs, I'm okay with that.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Former Toronto Humane Society spokesman gets SLAPP'd

Here's what a SLAPP suit is.

And now, from The Toronto Star, "Humane society sues ex-employee":

The Toronto Humane Society is suing a man it holds partly responsible for a recent spate of bad publicity – the same man it once paid to obtain good publicity.

Lee Oliver was the society's chief spokesman from late 2006 to mid-2008, when his employment as "senior communicator" was terminated.

The lawsuit, seeking $1.5 million in damages, was filed July 21.

A million dollars of that is for loss of "charitable contributions, profit and goodwill". The other half mil is for punitive damages stemming from what The Star calls "sensational" allegations.

Suing for punitive damages backed up by sensational allegations. Thank you THS for once again showing your true colours. If there's a reason for loss of "charitable contributions, profit and goodwill", I suspect it's not because of Mr. Oliver.

No, Mr. Oliver is just the unlucky victim of big money lawyering. The message to him, and to all other critics of the THS, is shut up or we'll bankrupt you.

Notice too that they are going after a private individual as opposed to, say, The Globe and Mail which actually ran the series of articles detailing the troubles within the THS. I guess it's harder to sue someone your own size.

More here.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The next big thing in biological WMDs

From a recent trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake:

(click on image to enlarge)

You know what else causes cancer? Idiocy.

Being an idiot. Breeding with an idiot. Being the parents of an idiot. Being the child of an idiot. Hanging out with an idiot. Being sneezed on by an idiot. Sitting on a toilet seat after an idiot has used it. All these things cause cancer.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Spending time with Baby

Thursday morning I'm at Toronto Animal Services South and it'll be last time I go until the Ex is over and packed up. During the CNE, TAS South becomes inaccessible unless someone wants to the pay the CNE admissions charge and so because of this, they won't be taking in any new dogs for the duration.

I'm surprised, then, to see a new female Rottweiler mix in the glass-walled play room in the main foyer. There's a sign taped to the door which reads, "Do not enter. I'm just getting used to the place." Baby - I later find out her name is Baby - lowers her head when she sees me approach the room and she slunks under a plastic chair which someone had put in there.

I don't go into the room but instead crouch down beside the glass wall with my side towards Baby. She doesn't move from beneath the chair. I watch her out of the corner of my eye. I'm not even facing her and she's petrified.

I go walk some dogs, take some photos and when I'm done, I go back to the upstair's office at TAS and yak with one of the staff. While I'm sitting there, the woman who handled Baby's surrender comes in with the dog on a leash. Baby has that lowered head stare that is sometimes very hard to read. Is this a look that says, "I'm very nervous around you but I'll be okay" or a look that says, "If you try to touch me, I'll bite"?

"She's fine," her handler tells us.

Now if I were out on the sidewalk and a stranger told me that about her dog who was behaving in a similar fashion, you can bet I wouldn't completely believe it but this is coming from someone I know and trust.

"She's fine. She'll be fine," Baby's handler says again and she calls Baby and Baby turns around and nuzzles her.

She brings Baby over to the other staffer in the room and coaxes her over to give him a sniff. Baby lowers head and advances slowly and nervously then raises her head and sniffs and gives herself over to him cautiously and then suddenly it is fine. She's okay.

She does the same to me. One moment she's giving me the lowered head stare and then ten seconds later, it's okay and I'm scratching her ears.

"Her pup is way worse," the handler says.

"A pup?" I ask.

"Yeah, the guy brought them both in." The pup is a year old and is very difficult to deal with. Alone, it's also scared like its mother but it's anxiety manifests itself as severe aggression. Around it's mother, it's not as frightened but gets aggressive whenever anyone approaches his mother. He protects her.

"The guy said he's moving into a condo. Can't have dogs," the handler says.

Here's the politically correct thing to do with a guy like that in this situation: Smile and say thank you so much for bringing your dogs in here instead of dumping them out the back alley or tying them up and throwing them in the trash bin or taking a hammer to their heads. You've done a wonderful thing. You're so considerate. Now here's some interesting literature for you to read about how to socialize the next dog you get and please give some thought to spaying and neutering your pets in the future. Bye and have a nice day!

Here's the unPC thing to do: Take the dogs from the guy without smiling and say thank you asshole for dumping your dogs after you've totally fucked them up. Now we're going to put them in a cage where they're going to be scared shitless for who knows how long until we can assess them and there's a chance we'll be injecting both of them with poison to stop their hearts and it would be really good of you to come by and watch, if and when we do that, just so you know what kind of misery you're putting them through but of course you won't because you're probably a lazy coward. On the other hand, even if we do keep them and go through the work of trying to get them better socialized, they'll still be scared shitless for a very long time and meanwhile all those resources could go to saving dozens of other dogs. Either way you're a lowlife prick and I know this isn't going to stop you from going out and getting another dog from some other loser and most likely fucking that one up as well but at least I didn't have to smile and kiss your ass.

I have hope for Baby but I don't know about Baby's baby. I don't think I want to know.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Small update on Phoenix

Phoenix, the Chow found east of Oshawa last week, is only four years old. He's staying at a vet clinic and after several days of intensive care, his condition hasn't improved much. He can still only take a few steps before whatever pain he is experiencing grinds him to a halt. He's been bathed to hopefully help soothe his ravaged skin. He's being fed soft food to ease the difficulties of eating with a cancer diseased tongue. His nails are slowly being trimmed back so they no longer stab the pads of his feet. His matted coat, what remains of it, is being slowly cut back. And his nose - I can't even guess what happened to his nose. And that's of course, just what's on the surface. Tests should be coming back early next week which will tell us more about his chances for survival.

Phoenix is four years old and I'm guessing it's been four years of hell. A dog doesn't get into this condition overnight. What type of person would allow a dog to get to this point and not do anything about it other than dump it on the street? Can you imagine keeping an animal in this condition in your backyard or your home? The person would see it day after day, dirty, sick, possibly dying and do nothing. It's staring the person in the face with its sloughed off nose and its bloody, oozing skin and the person does nothing except maybe have another beer and turn on the TV. It can barely walk even a few steps because of how ingrown its nails have become and the person does nothing except think about where to dump the dog. Day after day, week after week, month after month, this dog lives in this horror, in this person's presence. Can you imagine the type of person who could do this?

The Humane Society of Durham Region, a small, wholly run by donations shelter, which late last year suffered a devastating fire, is doing everything they can for Phoenix. Let's hope their good intentions can undo the bad.

More here.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Toronto Animal Services Friday review, Aug 21

This German Shepherd pup is super smart and also very high energy. He knows his "sit" command well enough but sitting still is definitely not what he wants to be doing right now.

Major's already been in a shelter for 4 months in Montreal. He's a relaxed older dog and hopefully won't be spending much more time in his kennel at Toronto Animal Services.

Update: Not even one day in adoption and Major's already been adopted! Hurray for Major.

Isis is a very friendly but submissive (to other dogs) Jack Russel Terrier. Outdoors, she's a doll, but unfortunately, she barks like a banshee in her kennel when she's trying to get someone's attention so she may not be suitable for an apartment.

Isabelle, a Beagle mix, is becoming more secure in her new environment. She was a bit shell shocked when she arrived at TAS after her previous owner died.

Farley is a very playful and affectionate young Border Collie mix. He needs some serious exercise, ideally off-leash and with other dogs. He was trying to get Isis to play with him but she found him a bit too big and energetic.

This pup Corgi, Ruddy, was a stray. His 7 day holding period is up so now he's up for adoption. Blink and he'll be gone.

Update: He's gone.

For adoption information on these and other dogs (and cats and other animals), please visit Toronto Animal Services.

One step ahead

The other day I suggested that the Toronto Humane Society could save some time with their rejecting of new member applications by printing off pre-emptive rejection coupons. That way they don't have to write personal rejection letters to everyone they don't like.

I still think that's a good idea. The only better idea would be to not accept any new members whatsoever. I mean why risk it, right? New members might rock the casbah a bit too much. No new members means there would be a much better chance at maintaining the status quo of power.

The really audacious thing to do would be to deny new memberships to everyone then call an Annual General Meeting and hold elections for the board. The existing board could send out notices to all the old membership, hoping that the majority of the members haven't been reading any of this anti-THS trashtalk in the newspapers recently and ask them to hand over their proxy votes to, say, oh I don't know, Tim Trow perhaps? who would gladly vote on their behalf because it's such a hassle to come all the way downtown and vote in person.

Then all the existing board and the management team can coast into another 3 year or 5 year or 10 year or life long term having garnered the needed support through this amazing process we like to call democracy.

Of course being a respectable organization, the rulers of the THS would never pull anything so obvious. It would be like stealing lollipops from babies in broad daylight with their moms standing right behind them.

No, they would never do such a ...

(click on image to enlarge)

... thing.


I gotta hand it to those guys. That's sassy.

One day after the Toronto Star accused THS officials of appearing "to be adopting a bunker mentality", those same THS officials are like giving The Star a stern middle finger and saying, You want bunker? We'll show you bunker! Bunker this!

Aah, if only the THS board would use their superpowers for good - what a fantastic humane society that would be.

More info here.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

2 out of 4 papers agree

At the risk of seeming like I'm just blogging on what The Toronto Star is writing about these last couple days, I have to mention one of its editorials posted up early this morning. With Don't muzzle pet critics, there is now strong acknowledgment by two out of four of Toronto's main newspapers that there is something very wrong with the Toronto Humane Society management under prez Tim Trow (I'm not sure where The National Post stands in all of this and as for The Sun, well, I'm guessing they'll keep on backing Trow regardless of what he's guilty of as long as Trow's got pal Worthington in the editor's seat there).

In the wake of the recent THS rejection letter muck-up, The Star has this to say:

Only members are allowed to speak, and vote, at the society's annual meeting, where the agency's governing board is elected. The organization's bylaws allow disqualification of anyone whose interests are deemed in conflict with those of the humane society; but the current effort to keep critics out suggests president Tim Trow is attempting to retain power by silencing his opposition.

That's exactly what critics of the THS have been saying for a very very long time - like years - but it sure has a lot more impact coming from the big booming voice of a newspaper with a circulation of over half a million.

So, first of all, thanks Toronto Star and, secondly, what took you so long?

One important thing the editorial brings up is the responsibility of Ontario's Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee whose mandate is to oversee the correct running of charitable status organizations. You know, to make sure charities don't abuse their status by, say, interfering with proper voting procedures in electing their board of directors or not being able to account for missing donation receipts - that kind of thing, the exact sort of things for which THS management has been accused.

THS critics held a demonstration outside OPGT offices a couple of weeks ago to try and light a fire under their combined asses and managed to get some chit chat time with a security guard and an office clerk but the main guy they needed to speak to ran home sick - allegedly when he heard about the demonstration. Nice job with facing your public, OPGT. For an enforcement agency, that's awfully passive aggressive I'd say.

So, what then has the OPGT done about the THS situation? Ummm ... nada? Or maybe they're working on the case right now. Or maybe not. Or maybe they're thinking about doing something about it. Maybe they're thinking about if they want those pink pickles in their falafels at lunch. Ach .... bureaucrats.

Now there's an article The Toronto Star could do: What exactly are we paying the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee for?

More here.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Phoenix video

Warning: graphic

From The Toronto Star:

I'm not religious but this makes me want to pray.

Phoenix is still currently under watch at the Humane Society of Durham Region.

(h/t Borderjack) Reward now at $3700 for information leading to the conviction of Phoenix's ex-owner.

Update: Reward now at $5050.

More here.

The pre-emptive rejection coupon

After receiving several membership applications from people who didn't fit the Toronto Humane Society board's profile of who an ideal member should be and then having to send out rejection letters to those pesky applicants, someone at the THS must've thought it would be good idea - because they'll do whatever it takes - to proactively turn down people who might want to apply for membership but haven't yet actually done so (see this post here and Toronto Star article here).

Now to most of us who aren't as savvy about what it takes to maintain a stranglehold on power in a charitable status organization, this might seem to be indicative of a mentality that is fraught with paranoia and suspicion but as it turns out, it's actually good PR. You see, by rejecting new members outright even before they go to the trouble of filling out a form and stuffing it in an envelope and putting a stamp on it and dropping it in a mailbox, the new members rejection committee at the THS is saying, Whoa, there, young lassie. You don't need to go to all that effort because we don't wantcha anyway.

That's right. They're actually saving people time, effort and money and who doesn't want to save time, effort and money especially in today's cruddy economic climate? Sometimes I'm amazed at how thoughtful the THS can be.

Still, it must be tedious to have to "research" potential rejectees and find their contact info and type out individual letters and make up excuses for why they've been turned down. I think it would be much easier to just make some coupons and hand them out to anyone who isn't 100% enamored of THS prez Tim Trow and his hive of heroes.

(click on image to enlarge)

Someone criticizes the THS for not properly treating sick animals. Give 'em a coupon.

Someone criticizes the THS for letting animals languish in cages for too long. Give 'em a coupon.

Someone criticizes the THS for not spaying and neutering before adopting out an animal. Give 'em a coupon.

One little coupon. So many uses.

You're welcome.

More here.

Chow neglect in Clarington

From The Toronto Star, Neglected dog "worst ever seen":

Animal cruelty investigators aren't sure if a shockingly neglected dog found in Clarington, east of Oshawa, will survive and are offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of its owner.

Other considered titles for this post:

Why we are doomed

Someone needs their kumquats ripped off

I'll throw in another $100 for the tar and feathers

Lynch mob sign up here

Sometimes it's hard not to let the anger boil over, but really, what's important is saving the dog. Everything else is secondary.

Update: Looks like the reward's been upped to $1500.

"He's in horrific condition and in a lot of pain. It's pretty bad," animal cruelty investigator, Debby Houghton, said.

"We see a lot of terrible things ... I've been doing this a long time and this particular case is quite disturbing."

Update 2: (h/t Biscuit) Reward is now at $2500. Please note that there are some pretty graphic photos if you click on the link.

Update 3: Reward at $2600. Video and update here.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Bach's shots

(Previous here.)

Bach got his second heartworm shot today so he wasn't feeling too well when I saw him this afternoon. The staff let him stay in the supervisor's office where it's quieter and a bit cooler. He lifted his head up when I came in the room but that's a far cry from the usual butt wagging greets he likes to give people.

The next few days will be critical and he'll have to be kept very calm, going out for only washroom breaks and then after that, for another four weeks, he'll still have to be kept on minimal exercise. At the end of the four weeks, Bach will get another two shots and then it's another two weeks of no exertion and then finally, if he survives all this, he'll get to go home - and, yup, it looks like he'll have a home to go to.

By the time this is all done, Bach will have been at TAS for almost 5 months. That's a long time to be locked up. It's a good thing Bach's got such an easy-going personality because a lot of other dogs would be kind of screwed up by all that confinement time. While the TAS facilities are pretty good when it comes to animal shelters, it's not that nice to be spending 5 months there. Ideally, there would be a well run, well facilitated humane organization in the city working in partnership with TAS who could take in longer term dogs like Bach and give them a more comfortable environment in which to convalesce.

Let's see how long it takes us to get there. In the meanwhile, Bach's going to be chillin'.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Pit Bull rally and Canine Good Neighbours

I had wanted to go to this rally at Queen's Park but was out of town. Looks like they had a decent turnout.

From Wag The Dog!:

To help the Dog Legislation Council of Canada continue its work in trying to overturn BSL in Ontario, they are holding a Canine Good Neighbour Certification test:


The Dog Legislation Council of Canada is offering a Canine

Good Neighbor Day at the Beeton Fair September 19th, 2009.

Canadian Kennel Club certificate test - conducted by a CKC CGN Evaluator.

Fee for CGN is $35.00 per dog.

Saturday, September 19th 2009 - testing will be held on the grounds at the Beeton Fair.

This test is available to purebred and non-pure bred dogs. There will be an entrance fee to gain access to the Fairgrounds. Please keep your dogs leashed to comply with municipal bylaws at all times.

For more information about the CGN testing criteria please contact Lori Gray

The Town of New Tecumseth offers a half price reduction to dog tag costs for dogs with a Canine Good Neighbour Certificate.


From Hwy 400, go north to exit hwy 88 to Bond Head. Go west to Bond Head to stoplight at hwy 27th. Turn north to 8th line 1.5 km. Turn left or west toward Beeton 8.8km. You will now be on the Main St of Beeton. At 2nd St N in Beeton, turn right or north to Prospect St. You will be at the fairgrounds in Community Park.

Pre-book CGN testing by contacting:

Dogs must be 6 months of age or older

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Musical dog missing

From Kijiji:

Address: Toronto, ON
Date Listed: 15-Aug-09

My black and white Collie/ Sheppard disappeared on July 28, 09. He is 15 and can't walk on his own. Has perfect sense of rhythm and used to sing to harmonica, sometimes right to pitch. I'm Lukasz, a pianist, and both he and I are musical partners. Kazan was most likely forced out of the backyard, or he barely made it to the front of our house and was picked up by someone. Kazan has no means of identification and up to this point none of the shelters, vets or neighbours have any information to where he vanished. I checked all the bushes around our area, put up signs, left flyers in three to four thousand neighbouring homes and put him into the Brampton Guardian and Mississauga News. I even convinced Rogers to air on First Local News and broadcasted through the Polish radio. This dog is my inspiration to composing unrivaled piano music, as I have for the past 12 years. But now, I feel like a player without a mascot, like a cop without a bullet-proof vest. I NEED YOUR HELP! -- If you or anyone you know have any links or connections with any T.V. or Radio broadcast stations, please inform me at 905-874-7032. (ask for Lukasz) Thanks

I think I'll just crawl under a rock now

You can get more info here.

I'd watch more news if it was all this good

(h/t to Evil Shannanigans for this priceless clip)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Missed these two yesterday

There were a whole lot of kids from vet camp visiting Toronto Animal Services South on Friday. First of all, what's with vet camp? How come I didn't have vet camp when I was a kid. All I had was go out into the woods and get bit by mosquitoes camp. Later I had sneak out with the "councilors" and drink and barf camp but never do I remember having vet camp.

Anyway, the kids spent a lot of their time hanging out with Joy, a young German Shepherd/Husky mix, who really was a good sport to be entertaining those couple of dozen really enthusiastic youngsters. I think they all wanted to save the world, or at least the animal world. Good for them. We need more people like that.

It was a very hot day for Squirt, a Shih Tzu, even with his matted locks all shaved off. I don't think he spent as much time with the kids given their many hands and his smaller stature. This guy would be happy with just one welcoming lap and some AC:

For adoption information on these and other dogs (and cats and other animals), please visit Toronto Animal Services.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Toronto Animal Services Friday review, August 14

Miniature Pinschers can sometimes be a little snippy but Victor's a real love bug:

Magnum's a Doberman crossed with mystery dog - maybe Lab? - and he's a bit underweight but I suspect when he's well nourished and up to a proper weight, he's going to be one strong boy. Lucky, he's fairly good on a leash, knows some basic commands and is an all round happy dog:

Jessie's a Beagle who loves to talk. She says hello to everyone she passes - no joke. She's very social so I hope whoever gets her, appreciates a chatterbox:

For adoption information on these and other dogs (and cats and other animals), please visit Toronto Animal Services.

Update on Victor here.

Rescue Ink

Part WWF, part COPS, lots of dogs. The producers at National Geographic channel sure know how to pull in the dog viewing audience.

Very cool New York Times article about them here (h/t to GoodDog):

They meant no harm. Clad in leather, inked to the hilt in skulls and dragons, with images of bloodied barbed wire looped about their necks, they shared something else — a peculiar tenderness for animals, and the intensity needed to act on the animals’ behalf when people abuse them.

And, also check out Rescue Ink's MySpace page loaded with some excellent photos.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Paws R Us is the largest commercial dog breeder in Canada

And they're proud of it.

From, a press release on behalf of Paws R Us Kennel:


Counsel for the Plaintiffs, Luc Barrick, is pleased to announce that the Plaintiffs, James, Charlene and Nicole Labombard, carrying on business as Paws "R" Us Kennel, were successful in their Small Claims Court Action against the Defendant Lorie Dixon, a.k.a. Lorie Gordon.

Paws "R" Kennel is a commercial dog breeder, operating in Shawville, Quebec and run by the Labombard family. They take great pride in their puppies, as well as taking great care of them.Countless visitors and clients of the Kennel have complemented the Kennel for its size and cleanliness, the dogs for their friendliness and social skills, and the family for their sincere concern and care for the dogs. Paws "R" Us is the largest commercial dog breeder open to the public in Canada.

Lorie Dixon is a past client of the Kennel, who wrongfully alleged that the Kennel was a puppy milland proceeded to defame the Kennel on various Internet discussion boards.

In making his decision, which is attached to this Press Release, Deputy Judge M. Galligan, of theSuperior Court of Justice (Small Claims Court) at Ottawa, made the following findings:

• It is common ground that the term "puppy mill" used in this sense is derogatory.
• Having reviewed all of the evidence led by the parties, he found that Paws "R" Us is not a"puppy mill" within the definitions which have been used for purposes of description, and that Paws "R" Us is wrongly described in that respect.
• Not only has the Defendant defamed the Plaintiffs, but the defamation is worsened by the use of the internet, which is said to be not only different, but more serious for purposes of damages than defamation in other media.
• The Defendant's action is particularly malicious in that her purpose was to close the business of the Plaintiffs', notwithstanding that she knew it to be the source of income and support for a family of some eleven persons.
• In view of all of the circumstances, there will be Judgment for the Plaintiffs for damages in defamation, for interference with economic interests, and for interference with contractual relations in the amount of $10,000, plus costs.
• He found no liability on the part of the Plaintiffs in respect of the Defendant's dog's care and the Defendant's Claim is dismissed without costs.
• The Plaintiffs shall have costs of this action against the Defendant consisting of a counsel fee of $3,000, plus $1,000 on account of disbursements and post judgment interest at the court rate from the date from which this judgment is issued.

Any further inquiries can be directed to Luc Barrick, Counsel for the Plaintiffs, by email at or on his cell phone at (613) 282-3553.

We all know this is a travesty.

Lorie Gordon needs to appeal this. She needs to appeal not only for herself but also for the future pups who are going to be born into that place. She needs to appeal in order to stand up for our right to express opinions on-line which are counter to business interests who can afford lawyers to shut people down whenever they so choose.


An appeal date has been set for May 18 2011. A Toronto firm will be representing Ms. Gordon pro bono.

(For coverage of the Sept. 17, 2011 seizures at Paws R Us, please go here. For post on November 24 court decision against Paws R Us regarding HSI raid, go here.)

Fifteen Legs

From Fifteen Legs, a documentary soon to be airing on PBS stations.

At about the 40 second mark, the woman who is talking about the highly neglected dog she is holding is about to say that she rescued it from a ... then pauses and says "breeder".


Given the recent news about how messed up the Toronto Humane Society has become under the "leadership" of Tim Trow, it's no wonder that concerned citizens are trying to change things in the facility to improve the lives of the animals caught in its grasp. The first step to change is to get heard and the only way to get heard by the seemingly untouchable board of directors who run the THS is to become a member of the THS. After all, you can't play with the big boys if you don't join the club.

You'd think that any organization which relies heavily on volunteers to maintain the well-being of the animals under its roof would welcome new members with their donations of money, time and energy. And you'd think that any healthy, transparent, volunteer based organization would happily be open to suggestions and critiques especially when there is so much to answer for in the public's eye. You'd think that an organization whose main concern is supposedly for animal welfare would eagerly accept whatever help it could get when animals lay sick and dying in their cages, when medical supplies no longer meet the need, when other animal rescue organizations will have nothing to do with the place, when donation receipts allegedly go missing on a regular basis, when tens of thousands of dollars, possibly more, are spent on frivolous lawsuits, when decent food is not available, when ... anyway, you get the picture.

You'd think the THS would want more members to help out.


Paranoia is their co-pilot.

Here's a sampling of what many people have been receiving back in the mail after recently attempting to join the THS. The big boys don't want them.

(double click on images to enlarge)

Yup. That's Fortress THS hard at work keeping the hordes at bay. Spy on people much?



You are not wanted.

More info here.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Puppies behind bars

Four in, four out

The adoption gods must've been whispering in people's ears over the course of the strike because on Monday all four dogs who were just listed for adoption on Friday found new homes. I kinda wanted to see that big-headed Chihuahua again but, oh well ... much better that he be permanently at home than temporarily with me.

Smokey is going to be put into rescue, partially because of his infected ear which is going to take some time to figure out what's wrong and partially because he'll do better in rescue. The kennel environment is just too stressful for him.

Bach's saga continues. There weren't enough drugs for his heartworm treatment so more had to be ordered. It's finally come in but now the vet is on vacation until next week so it looks like it's going to be Monday or Tuesday. This treatment protocol sounds like it's going to be quite tough on him. Someone's going to have to watch him immediately after the shot to make sure he doesn't move much at all to lessen the chance of a stroke. I'm glad he doesn't know what's in store.

More Bach here.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Pitbull massacre, pitbull hero

(h/t to KC Dog Blog and YesBiscuit! for these)

People continue to kill them. They continue to serve. Who's the real monster? That question's for you, Honourable Chris Bentley, Ontario's Attorney General. Who's the real monster?

From Wag the Dog:

"We passed a ban on pit bulls to respond to the concerns of Ontarians about their personal safety, and we proudly stand behind that law."
- Chris Bentley, Attorney General for Ontario

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Friday, August 7, 2009

Toronto Animal Services Friday review, August 7

Carmel is a six year old, heavyset Lab. His previous owners had never bothered to teach him even the most basic of commands so it's a good thing he's so laid back and friendly. He likes to sit leaning against your leg and has no problems accepting as much ear scratching as you can dole out. With his type of personality, training will be a piece of cake.

Levi is more energetic, maybe because of his youth. His friendliness is more demonstratively displayed with kisses and paws up for attention. I doubt either of these Labs will last long in adoption.

Barney is a skinny puppy and just slightly unsure about the world but he's got an explorer's attitude so he just needs constant and consistent exposure to the outdoors and he'll figure it out how to have fun again.

When I first came upon this unnamed Chihuahua, he was like this ...

... and it looked like he wasn't going to be too pleased if I tried to remove him from the security of his padded crate. I checked with one of the staff and they assured me he was fine to be taken out ... and they were right, of course.

I pulled him out of the crate by his padding and he just stared at me with his huge eyes, hoping I wasn't going to eat him or anything.

Once we got outside, though, it was all good.

Yep, people are going to be fighting over this guy.

For adoption information on these and other dogs (and cats and other animals), please visit Toronto Animal Services.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Scenes from a dog park - 6

Stella's standing in the middle of the empty baseball diamond, just standing there. She's been doing more of that these days. She could stand there for twenty or thirty minutes or maybe even longer if I don't go over and give her ass a shove. It's almost like she's in a trance or something. For all I know, she could be telepathically communicating with space aliens, telling them to hurry up and send the mothership to come pick her up and take her home.

Wouldn't I look the fool then, having doubted her.

The English Bull Terrier pup doesn't care about any of that. He charges at Stella. He lurves her. Well he lurves her when she's the only other dog in the park to lurve and right now, that would be the case.

The pup runs right into Stella's leg and bumps her back a bit but she tries to ignore him. She's still busy with the UFO. So, the pup jumps up at her face and knocks into her jaw with with football shaped head. This she doesn't like and she growls at him.

The pup takes this as an invitation and butts her again. And Stella growls again, this time louder and more insistent. The pup jumps up again and tries to nip her jowls and then drops low and nips her front ankle. Stella barks at it and backs up a step. The pup keeps nipping at ankles and batting at her face with his paws. Stella is getting really fierce now, growling, baring teeth, giving warning snaps. The pup rams its head into Stella's face again and quickly pulls back as she snaps at him. The pup runs around back and nips at her hind ankles and Stella spins around and snarls and snaps at the pup but they're still all warning snaps. Nothing makes contact. The pup continues its assault even as Stella gets angrier and angrier and starts to walk away from him. He stumbles after her, hoping for a chase and he gets it. She starts running from him, occasionally turning around and snarling and snapping the air in his general direction. She's running from him and he's really having fun - now that the chase is on.

It doesn't last. Stella stops and spins around and I think she's finally going to lay into him. She barks three short sharp barks and gives him her biggest snarl snap yet but he just spins around with joy and when she is through, he bounds into her and nips and paws her and head butts her. Stella gives up. She just stands there, suffering this greatest of all indignities and looks at me.

"Why the fuck are you putting me through this?" she says.

I look over at the owner of the pup and I say, "Well, I guess that didn't work out."

"No, I better go get him," he says. He runs over and spends a couple of minutes catching his pup and putting the leash on him and dragging him away from Stella.

"I don't know," he says. "I don't think Cato's ever going to learn his lesson unless some dog actually beats him up."

"Yeah, he's cute but not too smart," someone else offers.

I walk over to Stella who is cautiously optimistic that her ordeal is over. I pat her on the head and tell her what a good dog she is for putting up with all that puppy madness and she just looks at me and then returns to her spot in the middle of the baseball diamond.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The disease and the cure



From NBC Los Angeles, "Let This Be a Lesson to Shady Pet Stores".

A $4.8 million default judgment awarded to former customers of a now-closed Bel Air pet store should help deter similar businesses from selling sick animals from puppy mills, a lawyer for the plaintiffs said Tuesday.

This is the type of lawyering we need here. It's time for large scale commercial dog breeders (in Canada it's politically incorrect and pretty damn near illegal to use the term "puppy mill" in case someone's feelings get hurt) to be thinking hard about what they're doing.

Now I'd like to think that this is some kind of knock out victory but we all know that's not the case. There are still lots and lots of commercial dog breeders out there pushing their product through pet stores, private home breeder fronts and direct sales. And there's still lots and lots of them getting away with it too, even with passing grades from our esteemed Canadian justices (check this one out - just make sure you're near a bucket in case your last meal wants to make a quick exit).

No, this Bel Air lawsuit is a good step in the right direction but it's just a step. Some people have got their hearts in the right place and enough bulk in their wallets to push this lawsuit through. Oh yeah, it's still all about the money flow only this time it's flowing straight and true.

Spin and counterspin

You be the judge. What's the real story?

From Tim Trow on the Toronto Humane Society website:

Our success in helping lost and abandoned animals ought to shame the critics who have been beating up on The Toronto Humane Society of late. The reason we had hundreds of wonderful animals up for adoption this past weekend was because we give animals superlative care, because of our hospital, because of innovative programs, and because of our desire to save the lives of unfortunate animals.

That's why our euthanasia rate is so low, why we are so proud of what we do, and why we are steadfast with our Whatever it Takes commitment to the animals.

From the Help the Toronto Humane Society website:

Here is a letter from a former staff member that we received. Any information that could be used to identify this person as been removed [to help avert a SLAPP suit]:

While I worked at the Toronto Humane Society I witnessed many unusual and cruel behaviours by upper management toward employees, volunteers, and animals. It was a combination of these behaviours, which led me to resign my position at the THS. I simply could not stand the mismanagement, cruelty, and atmosphere of fear and intimidation any longer.

• I have witnessed many dogs living in their own filth for entire days, cornered by their feces, urine and vomit. Many dogs seem to be only walked once a day (sometimes not even once), particularly “white level” dogs who can only be walked by very experienced staff members and also “new arrivals” (including very young puppies) who are often not assessed for several days.

• I have consistently witnessed dozens of potential adopters in the dog adoption hallway waiting for hours to find out about a particular dog. This lack of staffing prevents many adoptions from being made and leaves clients feeling frustrated with the THS due to lack of respect and service.

• While working at the Toronto Humane Society people were fired on a very regular basis. There was a period of two weeks when approximately eleven people were fired, which left all employees feeling frightened and suspicious, and increased the stressful nature of the environment.

Read the rest here.

If you don't know what this is about, start here.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

How the great wars start

(All names and breeds, except for Stella's, have been changed)

At the dog park, Ian, with his dog Travis, tells me that Jerry's dog, Dutchie, attacked Travis and broke Travis' leg. When I first heard the story from Jerry, Jerry had told me it was an accident, that Dutchie and Travis were roughhousing and Dutchie landed on Travis too hard and broke the leg. Jerry said that he and Ian had talked about it and at first Ian was pretty understanding, especially since Jerry had volunteered to pay the vet bills, but then after a few weeks, Ian started getting angrier about the whole thing and they haven't spoken since.

Nicola, tells me that Thomas' dog, Toby started a fight with her dog, Elmer, and Elmer got bit and had to go to the vet for stitches. Nicola tells me that she almost got bit as well trying to stop the dog fight. A few days later, Thomas tells me that what really happened was that Nicola's dog, Elmer, had taken one of Toby's toys and when Toby tried to get it back, the two dogs got into a fight and then Nicola kicked Toby.

A neighbour of mine asks me if I know the guy up the street who owns the two Boston Terriers. He says the owner never picks up after his dogs and there's always crap from them on the sidewalk in front of his house. He says if he finds out where the guy lives, he's going to gather up all the shit he can find and dump it on the guy's doorstep. Next time I see the Boston Terrier owner, he tells me that the neighbour I spoke to has got a huge dog that always barks and growls through the flimsy screen door at his Terriers whenever they walk by and so he's thinking about calling animal services because he's pretty sure one day that dog is going to bust through the screen door and attack.

Scotty the German Shepherd and Darling the Chihuahua are standing in front of Sandra. Neither of them are Sandra's dogs but they are standing in front of her because she's feeding them snacks. Sandra holds out a snack to Darling and Scotty snaps at Darling. Darling yelps and jumps back. Sheila, Darling's owner, runs to her dog and picks her up and sees there's a bit of blood on Darling's ear. Sheila starts crying and yelling at Gerry, Scotty's owner, for not controlling his dog. Gerry starts yelling and pointing at Sandra for bringing out dog snacks at the dog park. Sandra continues to feed the other dogs more snacks.

I walk towards the guy I call Barney and say hello. His Dalmatian and my Great Dane Stella are giving each other the stink eye, which they always do because queen bitch Stella demands subservience and the Dalmatian, with his passive aggressive type personality, if that's even possible in a dog, likes to tell her to shove off but usually with a backwards glance while walking away or from behind the protection of his owner. I've been trying to get Stella to be civilized with this dog and haven't been successful yet. This time, I make Stella sit but they continue to stare at each other and then Stella snarls and the Dalmatian growls and Stella lunges at the Dalmatian. She's on leash so I pull her back but before I am able to pull her back completely, Barney, the Dalmatian's owner, jumps on Stella and tackles her to the ground. He's swearing at her and he's got her in a headlock. His Dalmatian, who is off-leash, watches from a few feet away. I'm angry at Stella for lunging but I'm angrier at Barney for jumping on her when I had her on leash. What if she had bit him? What if he had exacerbated her already wary opinion of strange men? Later, I see Barney talking to one of the grounds keepers of the park. They are looking at Stella and me, shaking their heads.

Monday, August 3, 2009

SLAPP happy

Any of you ever watch HBO's "The Wire"? It's all done now and it never made it big with audiences but it was the best damn cop drama I've ever seen. It took a couple of episodes to get into it. I almost gave up on it. Seemed too dry, too convoluted. Hell, I had to pay attention; think, even, when watching that show. If I'd dropped it after the second episode, that would've been my big loss because once I got into it, it was like crack. But in a good way.

One thing about the show was that it took no prisoners. Everyone was guilty of something: all the gang bangers were guilty of something, of course, and the mobsters, of course, but so were all cops, politicos, lawyers, union workers, teachers. Everyone had an angle, had some fucked-upness to deal with. No one was spit polished. Everyone was dirty, dented and real.

One message from the show that stands out loud is how corruption is at the core of pretty much any institutional human endeavour. People can pretend it's all above board, that working hard gets us ahead, that holding onto those high moral standards reaps rewards. But, no matter how pure and true we pretend our intentions are, there's a huge chunk of what we do that's all about grabbing as much power and money as we can get our hands on, especially when the other guy isn't looking, and when everyone's grabbing for stuff, there's bound to be fighting, big and small, private and public. And when everyone's grabbing for stuff, there's bound to be some who hardly get anything at all. That guy who holds true to principles, ethics, rules - that's usually the guy who gets hardly anything at all.

It's all chaos out there though, sometimes, by some almost superhuman effort and lots of good luck the good guys win, sort of, but usually it's the bad guys who end up with the trophy because bad is the natural order of things with us.

They could write the same story for any human endeavour. They could easily write the same story for the animal welfare community.

I get sick of the stuff I read, of the stuff I hear. All these people who say they care for animals and all they do is use animals to pad their bank accounts or inflate their power lusting, bloated egos and in almost all these cases there's nothing anyone can do to penetrate the bullshit because it's all so wrapped up in backdoor politics and cash filled envelopes and unenforceable, outdated legislation. And when anyone does try to speak up, the person gets accused of being malicious or slanderous or breaking confidentiality agreements. The person gets hit with a SLAPP suit.

SLAPPs are a beautiful thing for the well-moneyed who don't want their secrets getting out. SLAPPs or Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation are used by lawyers representing the ethically questionable but cash endowed to intimidate and silence opposition voices.

You upset and creating controversy with that multi-million dollar developer wanting to pave over that protected wetland with a parking lot? The developer just needs to throw a SLAPP suit at you to get you to shut up, not because what you say is untrue but because you can't afford the legal bills to show that it is true.

SLAPP suits are getting to be a common occurence in the environmental movement. Now, it seems, they're getting to be a common thing in the animal welfare movement.

Let's say you start making noise about a puppy mill, animal shelter, pig farm, circus, whatever, and you've got all sorts of witness testimonies, documents, photos to back up your claims and you think you're safe because you figure you've got the truth on your side. But then the noise you make reaches the ears of the group affected and suddenly you've got a SLAPP suit staring you in the face demanding ten thousand dollars or a million dollars or more. Suddenly, trying to get the truth out is getting awfully expensive. And imagine the personal toll that must take on a person. We're talking about a corporate entity with a six or seven figure warchest at its disposal for teams of lawyers to bear down on, usually, a private individual.

A good strategy for the SLAPP suitors is to prolong the legal process. They know that every extra day in court or additional legal paperwork or rescheduling of witnesses or delay in committee hearings is going to cost money and lots of it. Sure, it may cost both sides about the same amount of money but $50,000 or $100,000 may not be a lot for the corporate entity but it could very easily bankrupt the defendant. Bankruptcy or the threat of bankruptcy shuts most people up.

From Environmental Defence, "SLAPP-Suit Protection Needed in Ontario":

According to the Anti SLAPP Resource Center in Denver, Colorado, most SLAPPs lose in court. They are not intended to win: their “success” comes from silencing opposition in the public arena. Fending off a SLAPP requires an incredible investment of both money and time. Given the power imbalance between environmental and citizen groups and vested industrial interests, SLAPPs can engender such incredible anxiety in their targets that they effectively quell dissent.

What's the point of being right if you lose everything including your shirt to prove it?

SLAPP suits are the newest blunt force trauma weapons of the rich and corrupt Goliaths in their battle against the Davids who are armed with merely the truth and a loud voice. You'll be hearing a lot more about these in the days to come. I guarantee it.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Dog and hero

From Kentuckiana Pets:

A day after plummeting 80 feet from the Clark Memorial Bridge into the Ohio River, “Sunny” the pit bull showed no signs of distress Monday apart from a swollen belly.

“A person threw her over. I guess somebody used her to breed and didn't want to take care of her anymore.”

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Bach remembers me ...

... or maybe he's just being his usual lovely self with everyone he meets. He seems a bit thinner than before his trip up to TAS north for the duration of the city strike and he's blown his winter coat so he looks a little bit shaggier but otherwise, it looks like he's doing okay. Well, he's just as quick to flop down and ask for belly rubs anyway.

It turns out that while he was away, he was put on some kind of larvacide to kill off any heartworm larvae floating around in his bloodstream as well as some antibiotics to kill off associated bacteria that live off the heartworm. Or something like that. It's a little confusing and I'm not sure I have the facts straight but what it means it that he hasn't started his heartworm shots yet. That's going to be Wednesday.

I also didn't realize how much of a risk factor there is associated with this shot. I know he has to stay fairly immobilized for several weeks but it's the first day or so immediately afterward that is especially risky. If the drug kills too many worms all at once or if his heart is too weak, he could die as the worms die, detach themselves and clog up some artery.

TAS isn't going to send him out to anyone until he's survived his first shot at least (there are two more in six weeks). After all the time Bach's spent locked up, he'd better survive this.

More on Bach here.