Monday, November 30, 2009

Toronto Humane Society animals need supplies

A few urgently needed supplies as suggested by people who are presently volunteering at the THS:

- blankets, towels
- rodent cages

If you've got the stuff, or anything else you think might come in handy, and can part with it, please drop off items at the 11 River location.

For those who wish to continue supporting the THS animals (as opposed to the board and management) with donations, two options are suggested by people close to the THS reform group:

1. Donate items to the shelter, such as food, blankets and towels.

2. The OSPCA has set up a separate donation fund for the THS to be used for animal care NOT other issues such as legal defence for the board.
Call 1-888-668-7722 and go to extension 322. Phones are a bit busy right now, so please leave a message if you must. If you are a current monthly donor, you should be able to change your billing to go to this fund, at least until new administration is in place.

Toronto Humane Society legal bills

Over the weekend, interim president Bob Hambley told the Star that, under THS bylaws, the organization must cover the legal costs of directors, including Trow.

- from Toronto Star article, "Humane Society closed indefinitely".

It should come as no surprise that the same group of people who have consistently used THS funds to try to silence critics by attacking them with lawsuits now want to further deplete those funds by using them to pay for legal fees for their defence against the cruelty and obstruction of justice charges levied against them.

I've often wondered what it must be like to sit on the Toronto Humane Society's multi-miilion dollar jackpot to sue with as I please. I'd probably start by suing my neighbour who wears the colour red way too often. The colour red on his unflattering physique displeases me. Sometimes he will stand at my doorstep, asking to borrow a ladder and he will be wearing a red t-shirt. It's disgusting. I would sue him for that, for that personal affront. I would sue him for 1.5 million dollars. One million would be to cover my loss of income due to the amount of time and energy I would have to divert to pursuing the lawsuit in the first place. The additional half million would be for the threat of physical violence that the colour red is imbued with. No, he hasn't actually directly threatened me, but he has implied it simply by the colour of his shirt.

And basically, I just don't like him because he once criticized my gardening skills, saying that all the plants in my front yard are dying because I neglect them by not watering them often enough to which I say it's not my fault that it doesn't rain as often as it should.

I realize that my two dogs will suffer while I pursue my various lawsuits. They might go unfed for a few days. They might go unwatered as well - but they do have the toilets they can drink out of - after all, I'm not a cruel, neglectful owner. My only real concern is if they fall ill. I can only hope they will understand that because I am using my time to fight a greater cause for the general good, I must by necessity overlook their individual welfare.

As well as coming up with and funding lawsuit strategies against my many enemies, I would of course also be using a portion of my charity's funds to fight off those libellous charges which have been lobbed at me by ungreatful neighbours for opening a chemical dump in my backyard.

Their claims that their pets and children have been disappearing into the dump never to emerge again or that they've been experiencing large open oozing sores on their skin and that they bleed from their eyes, ears and noses whenever they approach my house are purely fictional, politically motivated statements meant to smear me in the press. I am innocent of those charges.

My army of supporters will never be swayed by such talk. My maids, for example, whom I imported from various countries with vaguely Oriental sounding names, stand by me unequivocally. They love me, as a matter of fact and - yes it's somewhat embarrassing - but they sort of view me as their saviour. They would never turn against me. They wouldn't dare.

... a source inside the shelter said the two issues are closely intertwined, and provided financial documents to The Globe that showed that the charity had spent $418,609 on lawyers so far this year, compared with $276,248 on emergency animal care.

-from Globe and Mail article, Ontario probes alleged employee theft, kickbacks at Humane Society

Every time the THS board pays their lawyers out of THS donations to issue another threat of lawsuit or any other legal bladdy bullshit bla, that much less money goes towards saving the life of an animal in distress. Timmy needs to justify to everyone who has ever donated to the THS the number of animal lives lost because $418,609 was wasted on lawyering instead of animal welfare.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Watch out, kids! The Toronto Humane Society is monitoring this blog

Well, of course they are and just to prove it, they sent one of the people speaking at the THS Protest in June this letter (click on image to enlarge):

That's pretty impressive. Instead of running the THS, perhaps Tim Trow et al. should be running CSIS.

(Please note that Ken Wood did not in any way speak on behalf of Toronto Cat Rescue).

I went back to the post mentioned in the letter and sure enough, someone named Ken Wood was indeed speaking in one of the videos - so, I deleted the link to the video which is posted on Youtube. The last thing Ken needs is more problems from me. Of course, the vid's still on Youtube but that's out of my hands.

In the THS letter, Romeo Bernardino, the signatory, takes offence at the statement, "they don't spay and neuter" in reference to the THS. Legally, I'd guess, the THS does spay and neuter sometimes, just not all the time.

For example, the THS didn't speuter this dog before putting it up for adoption (click on image to enlarge):

Or this one:

Or this one:

And they didn't speuter this cat:

Or this one:

Or this one:

Questions to ask: How many puppies and kittens will these unaltered animals produce? Even if there is a no-breeding contract associated with the adoption, what assurances will there be that the contract is followed? What are the enforcement mechanisms? What if the animal is given to another owner? What if the owners move or otherwise "disappears"? How will the THS enforce a no-breed contract then? Even if the the owner has good intentions, what happens if the adopted animal accidentally runs loose and becomes unsupervised?

The only sure way to guarantee that an animal will not reproduce, creating more unwanted animals, is to spay/neuter before the animal leaves the shelter. That's stuff you learn in kindergarten for the animal rescue community. The THS hasn't learned this or at least hasn't learned it well enough.

Nevertheless, the current speuter percentages are still better than the situation three months ago. Is this just due to chance or could this improvement have anything to do with all the bad publicity the THS has been getting from people like Ken Wood? If so, then at the very least, the recent constructive criticisms of the THS may have resulted in improvements with their facility. For now.

Now as for this legal threat being issued by the THS legal snipers, well, they've definitely proved themselves to be pretty good at using up their time and money information gathering and lawyering but they might want to consider hiring someone to help out with the PR stuff cuz that they ain't so good at.

I understand there's also a second letter in which the THS demands that Ken retract his statements and apologize in The Globe and Mail. Hey, I want to apologize to a friend I stole a stick of gum from when I was five but that doesn't mean The Globe will necessarily publish it. Also, the only thing an apology will do, if it does get published, is show how ridiculously heavy handed the THS is when it comes to dealing with its critics. You hold a gun or a lawsuit to someone's head and there's no telling what the person will say and no one will believe it anyway.

The other benefit from a Globe apology may be that tens of thousands of people are driven to this blog to check out what all the fuss is about. Fine, I'll take the free publicity but how's that supposed to help the THS?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Of dead cats and politics at the Toronto Humane Society

When I walk through the halls of the Toronto Humane Society, it reminds me of a high school the way the halls are laid out leading to various rooms, some glassed in, some behind closed doors except in each classroom there are animals instead of children and this school is crowded with cages spilling out and lining all the hallways and nooks.

My guide points up to the ceiling and I see a ceiling panel pushed aside and she says that's where they found the dessicated cat in the trap and I ask how did the OSPCA officer know to look up in that particular spot and she says because one of the THS staffers mentioned something about traps up in the ceiling and then because of the brown stains.

I look along the ceiling and see video cameras pointing in all directions. I wonder what it must be like to work under full time surveillance. I imagine someone in management, feet kicked up on a desk, eating a Kraft cheese slice sandwich, slurping grape juice through a bendy straw, watching the banks of monitors of all the cameras in the facility, making notes, jotting down pointed questions to later ask of the animal care worker talking to the new volunteer, of the vet spending too much with a cat.

I walk along the corridor of cats in their cages and many of them have padlocks on them. The padlocks are now open and hang loose on the latches but that was only done after the OSPCA came in and took over the operation of the place. Previous to that, the locks were locked. There's something surreal about that. Why padlock up cats in their cages? I look at my guide and she shrugs knowing what I'm about to ask.

We pass by one room and in it are cats on I.V. and some not looking too great. I hear a few of the cats, like maybe four or five, have been euthanized already. For the most part, the remaining cats don't look like they're in too terrible a shape and that's the opinion I get from some of the Toronto Animal Services staff who have been brought in to help out for the next few days. And that's as would be expected.

Accusations of animal cruelty levied by the OSPCA against the THS is not about every single animal in the facility suffering grotesque tortures at the hands of sicko animal psychopaths. It's about routine neglect, something that's not as easily apparent, not as shocking or easily identifiable as, say, someone shaking kittens to death and throwing them against a wall.

I suppose if you're a volunteer or a worker and the THS is the only place you've every held a position at, it might not seem strange that there are cameras in every hallway and padlocks on the cat cages. It might not seem strange, after a while, that some sick animals are left sick in their cages to be found dead in the morning. It might not seem strange that there is mewling coming from the ceiling and then no more mewling but a smell and then a spreading brown stain. It might even seem normal or comforting perhaps that all these little problems are swept under the rug, ignored and never mentioned by management. You smile at management; they smile back. Life goes on. Happy hunky dory at the Toronto Humane Society.

But if you're not that type of person, the type that tries so desperately hard to fit in, to make a good impression on the powers that be, then what do you do? You learn to bite your tongue and raise the corners of your mouth when management walks by. You learn how to raise your walls, make them impenetrable so you can continue to look after the animals as best you can. You learn how to work on your own, not saying too much to the person beside you because you might let slip something, and that person beside you, who knows where their allegiances lie. Who knows what they might report.

Or you quit and hope for a better day. God knows that what I would've done.

And how confusing it was for the public too, so trained to expect the big reveal before they'll pay any attention to anything, how confusing and difficult it must have been for them to figure all this out, all this politicking and brinkmanship. Until this afternoon, until that dead dried disgusting remnant of a poor poor cat was found in the ceiling and shown to the gasping journalists with their cameras and microphones, until then, for most people and for most media, this was still just about bad politics between the OSPCA and the THS.

The whole spew about how this is all politics and bad blood between the OSPCA and THS or how The Globe and Mail is just out on a witch hunt is of course only coming from the THS heads. The only real political thing about this is that most agencies, regulatory or otherwise, have been afraid, that's chicken shit afraid, to touch the THS because it's seen as a sacred cow charitable organization and it would be a no win political move to go after them, even if animals are dying. I mean, so what, they're only animals, right? Political careers are way more important than animals, right? The fact that the situation is considered political has only protected the THS crew from in-depth scrutiny and public exposure up until now. If this whole thing was only political and there was no substantive evidence to go forward with the charges, you can bet there's no way the attorney general or the police would have involved themselves in bagging this blistering hot shit covered potato.

That Kate MacDonald, CEO of the OSPCA, and Kate Hammer, reporter for The Globe and Mail, had dared to finally confront the management of the THS only goes to show just how much bravery and tenacity these two women and their respective organizations have above and beyond any of their peers.

Politics? Hell, no. For the OSPCA, for the animal welfare community in Toronto, for the informed and concerned pet owner, it's not about the politics. It's about the animals. It's about that cat stuck in a cage up in the ceiling slowly dying of thirst and starvation while the management of a supposed animal welfare organization spend their time spying on their workers and volunteers, fretting over who's talking to who, who's cute and not cute, who's going to be fired and who's going to be invited to the party van.

Tim Trow says he's innocent of cruelty charges and his followers continue to refute allegations of animal abuse at the Toronto Humane Society.

I know at least one cat who would disagree and even Tim Trow and his lackey board can't sue a dead cat.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Poor housekeeping at Toronto Humane Society

Looks like someone forgot to clean the dead cats out of the ceiling again.

A media tour of the Toronto Humane Society was held up today by the discovery of a dead cat inside a dropped ceiling at the Queen St. facility.

More at The Star, "Mummified cat found at Humane Society."

Meanwhile, those with their heads firmly in the sand remain firmly in the sand:

Toronto Animal Services Friday review, Nov. 27

Here's Rudy, the fourth Doberman pup sibling, all brave now and looking for belly rubs.

Kipper is a knock you down friendly, young Doberman Pinscher. He needs some training but only because he's got too much luvin to give.

Golden Retriever, Cocasse, already adopted by one of TAS' volunteer dog walkers.

Fan Fan, a serious little fellow has got stuff to do.

Way too skinny for a Labrador. He spent most of his time outside, nose to the ground trying to eat anything that resembled food.

Yes, Shao the sock dog, is as smart as he looks.

And last but not least, a German Shepherd pup who's got ants in his pants and smart as a whip.

More on Fan Fan here.

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

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The charges

From the Toronto Star, "Cruelty charges at Toronto Humane Society":

Tim Trow, THS President, charged with Conspiracy to Commit an Indictable Offence (2 counts), Cruelty to Animals (2 counts), and Obstruction of a Peace Officer (3 counts).

Gary McCracken, THS General Manager, charged with Conspiracy to Commit an Indictable Offence (2 counts), Cruelty to Animals, and Obstruction of a Peace Officer (3 counts).

Dr. Steve Sheridan, THS Head Veterinarian, charged with Conspiracy to Commit an Indictable Offence and Cruelty to Animals.

Andy Bechtel charged with Conspiracy to Commit an Indictable Offence (2 counts), Cruelty to Animals, and Obstruction of a Peace Officer (3 counts).

Romeo Bernadino charged with Conspiracy to Commit and Indictable Offence (2 counts), Cruelty to Animals, and Obstruction of a Peace Officer (3 counts).

All of the above, as well as the THS Board of Directors, are also charged with five counts of animal cruelty, a provincial offence under the Ontario SPCA Act.

They should count themselves lucky that's all they got charged with.

Video from the Toronto Sun here.

Tim Trow of the Toronto Humane Society arrested - updated 9:47 p.m.

It's done.

Police are about to arrest the Toronto Humane Society's president, chief veterinarian and three other senior staff members and charge them with animal cruelty, six months after a Globe and Mail investigation revealed widespread troubles at the shelter.


Following the Globe's investigation, the OSPCA suspended the THS's affiliate status and sent inspectors to the River Street facility. Insiders later told the Globe that they were instructed by management to hide some ailing cats from the OSPCA investigators.

Their animal cruelty investigation has continued for six months, during which the current board of directors passed a motion to renew their support for Mr. Trow, and Mr. Trow effectively re-elected himself as president by carrying more than 700 proxy votes signed over to him by members.


All of the above, as well as the Society's board of directors, are also being charged with five counts of animal cruelty, a provincial offence under the Ontario SPCA Act (as opposed to criminal charges).

From The Globe and Mail, "Toronto Humane Society officials to be arrested, charged with cruelty to animals".

We can finally stop holding our collective breathes.

Updates coming soon.

Update 3:30 p.m.:

Everything's live right now on channel CP24.

Update 4:15 p.m.:

Not much official coming out of the THS right now. I guess that's because everyone's in handcuffs.

Ian McConachie, ex-THS mouthpiece was intercepted by a reporter outside the THS building and he told her that "everything that happens with the THS and the OSPCA is political."

I suggest to Mr. McConachie that he start pulling that foot out of his mouth before it emerges from his ass. He's not going to be able to sell a lot of used cars with that large appendage sticking out the seat of his pants.

From CTV.

Update 9:47 p.m.:

All animals in the THS facility are now being health checked by vets including Hanna and John. Both THS locations, at River and at victoria Park will be closed to the public for the next 3 days while this goes on.

The OSPCA will be looking after the day to day running of the shelter for the near future.

Currently, the positions of the present board members are uncertain. They have all been charged with animal cruelty so, hopefully, they'll just quietly fade away in shame and disgrace.

The facility is closed to the public but the animals within are still going to be looked after with the help of cleared staff and volunteers.

The reality of the situation is that there is going to be turmoil at the THS, no doubt, and in all likelihood many extremely sick, overly aggressive, unadoptable animals who have been imprisoned in their cages for months, if not longer, will be euthanized but many many more will see better treatment, a healthier environment and most importantly, a much greater chance at finding homes.

People will be celebrating Trow's arrest tonight because that is the immediate news, but more than that, they will be celebrating renewal.

Update on Sable

Sable was a big hit at the last Petsmart Adopt-a-thon in September and I didn't get a chance to take her photo before she was adopted out but here's her update nonetheless:

I'm writing to update you on Sable, who we now call Mabel. We adopted her from the PetSmart Adoptathon in September. Several weeks before we had inquired about her when she was with Georgina Animal Control, but by the time we wrote them she had been adopted. Then we went to the adoptathon, met this beautiful and sweet dog and suddenly realized she was the same dog! Needless to say we think she was fated to be ours!

She's settling in beautifully and our Vet suspects that she's actually a Husky/Norwegian Elkhound cross and not Shepherd. Apparently her curled tail is making them lean in that direction. She's great with our kids and any other kids that come through our house (which happens often!). Our other dog Molly is playing the role of Mentor to Mabel and everything is running smoothly. She's going to grow into an amazing dog and we are thrilled to have her as part of our family.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

December in the desert

Well, guess where I'm going next week.

First to Las Vegas for an evening and then here.

Yep, finally. I figure it's about time I visited one of the the world's most successful dog sanctuaries. Some people probably think going on vacation to a place to walk dogs is a sign of an unstable mind and they might be right but I'm hoping to get a bit more out of it than just bagging more poop (Do they even do that out there? I mean, it is the desert). I'd like to see if I can find out what makes them tick and not just in their dedication to animals but also in other aspects of their organization like PR and fundraising - maybe get some pointers on best practices.

I've often wondered why there are so few places like BFAS when there are so many millions of pets and pet owners in North America. Sure we've got humane societies and SPCAs but they're not sanctuaries and too often those organizations are infested with politics and ego, and they become more about selling the shallow appearance of altruism to their membership and supporters than they are about the actual hard work of helping animals. What is it about BFAS that makes it special and why is that specialness not the norm for more animal welfare agencies?

BFAS also offer free daily classes in the afternoons. I have no idea what they're going to be about but can't wait to find out.

Then there are the amazing sites in the area - Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, Bryce, etc. - and suddenly it seems like a week is hardly enough time.

I'm leaving on Saturday and should have internet access most of the time so I should be able to keep posting. Now I've got to start thinking about what to pack for near winter weather. Another sign of an unstable mind is going vacationing somewhere where it's actually colder than here in Toronto.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

We found him

Just before the owners dumped their English Springer Spaniel, someone saw them take off his ID tags and then claim he was a stray they'd found and couldn't keep.

The dog is friendly and affectionate and has a gentle manner about him. He's quiet and well behaved. But, he has some sort of skin disease which you can see around his eyes and his lower body fur is discoloured from lying in urine for who knows how long. His general health is not great and so he's not going into adoption. Toronto Animal Services will try to find him a rescue to go to but otherwise the prognosis for this guy isn't good.

When will the selfish and cowardly learn that dumping their sick old dogs on the city is about the worst thing they can do to their faithful companions? If this guy is euthanized, he will have spent his last days existing in the confines of a cold, strange kennel, scared and wondering what he did wrong to be so deserted.

Monday, November 23, 2009

American Pit Bull on Youtube

I'm not sure how legit it is to have the whole documentary uploaded onto Youtube but it's still up for now so if you haven't seen this yet, here it is. It's a fascinating film which gives good insight into how various people and agencies think about and treat America's foremost dog.

And after getting a comment from FrogDogz, I realized I should probably have prefaced this a little better in that some, if not a lot of the "information" in this doc is highly subjective - as it is meant to be - and some of it is downright fictitious like the opinion from the Humane Society rep saying that previous fight dog Pit Bulls can't be rehabbed well enough to rehome. That's obviously untrue based on the huge successes groups like Best Friends Animal Sanctuary and Bad Rap have had with rehoming fight dogs.

The 3000 (or 2000 or 10 billion) pound jaw pressure comment is also about as fact based as Scientology and its devil alien Xenu. For me, the main thing I took away from this doc is that while so many different groups want to fit the Pit Bull into whatever belief system they live by, the dog itself is still just a dog. It loves its owner and will be abused or loved and molded by its owner into whatever demon or angel the owner demands.

The mythology around the breed is stupefying and even some supporters sometimes imbue the Pit Bull with almost supernatural powers for good or bad. Whether or not the opinions in the doc contain mostly truth or mostly fiction, these are the realities many Pit Bulls face when they emerge into the world. I think the pliability of the Pit Bull to do what its owner wants, to fit into whatever mold the owner forces it into, only accentuates the fact that it's the deed not the breed. The dog itself only controls its destiny insofar as it gives itself over so completely to its owner - who in the end must be the one held accountable.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sick and worried sick

Monday last week I get home from work and Stella and Rocky rush downstairs and do their usual greeting dance which is them grabbing their respective balls of rope and wagging their tails and walking circles around me. I spend about a minute saying hello to them and then I turn away to hang up my jacket. When I turn back around, I see Stella already lying in her bed with her head on her paws. I say something like, "Lazy much?" but immediately realize something's not right. She doesn't want to move.

She really doesn't want to move but I make her get up anyway because I want to see what's wrong with her if anything. Part of me is still not sure she's not just being extra slothful at the moment.

She gets up slowly and her belly is all tucked in and the her tail is curled right up between her legs. She just stands there, doesn't move. I immediately think it's bloat because that's the fall back illness for most Great Dane owners when they see their dog experiencing some kind of unexplained stomache related pain. Bloat can kill a dog in 20 minutes so it's not like there's any pressure or anything. Plus it's extremely painful: stomache twisting, trapping the gas inside, gas expands. It's like the stomache becomes a balloon and it gets bigger and bigger.

I take her outside to see if it's not something like a cramp, something that can be walked off but she's still in discomfort after a few minutes. So there's nothing I can do but drive her to the Veterinary Emergency Clinic.

We get there and after another quick walk and still no change, we go inside the clinic. I'm not going to go into the details but basically I pick up Stella the next morning, because they wanted her there overnight, and I'm $1200 thinner. They've run bloodwork and multiple X-rays and they've found nothing. And now Stella's traumatized from having to spend the night at the clinic with an IV stuck in her and she's still in pain so they've also added some pain killers to the bill - although now I'm thinking the pain killers are for me.

I make an appointment for Stella at her regular vet for noon that same day and after more X-rays there and more examinations and $300+ later, they find nothing wrong with her, although it's looking like it's more of a hip or leg issue than a stomache problem.

I bring her home. I put her on Metacam and the next morning she's pretty well back to normal. Two more days on Metacam then I take her off it, holding my breathe, hoping whatever it was that ailed her doesn't come back once the drug wears off.

It doesn't or at least it hasn't yet.

$1500 spent and nada. Even if I had used the cash as firestarter, it would have been more useful. I'm sure Stella would have gotten more enjoyment out of it if I had spent it on steak.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Super models

Sometimes I spend quite a while with a dog, taking several dozen shots of it and even then have a hard time choosing one image which I think portrays it clearly and in a good light. Then other times, for whatever reason, the dogs are like professional models and they shine through in every image.

Malachi, a Maltese Terrier, whom I had mistaken for a Chinese Crested when I first glanced at him, is one such dog. It's not just that he's got a rather outrageous hair cut, style and colour, especially for a Maltese, but his personality also has a natural star quality to it. This is one dog Paris Hilton would be lucky to get in her purse.

Parker's photo was already up in yesterday's post but I want to show you some of his other shots. This guy really doesn't stop smiling and it's a smile coming from a dog that means it. He's gregarious, has a big personality and is a real delight to hang out with.

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

Friday, November 20, 2009

Toronto Animal Services Friday review, Nov. 20

Parker is a big joyous Labrador Retriever who can't seem to stop smiling. What a great family dog this guy will be.

Here are three of the four Doberman pups who came in a couple of weeks ago. They've totally come out of their shells and now they're on the verge of being little hellions which is just about right for their age. I ran out of time so I'll have to get a photo of the fourth sibling next time I go in.

Update on Ryker here.

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

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A dog's life in Dhaka, Bangladesh

from Cathrine

Friends in the animal welfare movement have been horrified at our transfer from Beograd to Dhaka. They assume that, since life for humans is so much worse here than in Srbija, so, too it must be much worse for animals.

Yes, and no. The Bangladeshis are starvation poor, but many share what little they have with the dogs and cats on the street. It might take six bearers, sharing lunches, digging in garbage, and pooling their tea money, to feed one crippled old dog, but the miracle is that those six do share. There is little of the casual brutality that pervades much of Srbijan society.

In Srbija, people will feed bread to their dogs because they refuse to spend anything on dog food. In Bangladesh, people will feed rice to the neighbourhood dogs because rice is all they have to share.

That said, the result of poverty on this scale is malnutrition and hunger for humans and animals. Most puppies and kittens are born to die within days of disease or starvation. But sometimes, a miracle happens.

To go anywhere, we must pass a spot on the sidewalk by a very busy road that is home to a family of five. This family is at rock bottom: father was a rickshaw wallah who was crippled by a truck and can no longer work. He, his mother, his wife and his two sons have been reduced to beggary, quite literally. There is no safety net in Bangladesh.

Despite that, they have a dog. She is scrawny, but she loves her family as much as a dog can love, especially the old grandmother. If there is someone home, the dog is there, too, lying beside them, looking happy just to be there.

Four days ago, Ali and I saw a crowd gathered at the family spot: they were watching the dog and her four puppies dying. The family was off begging. The dog, unable to feed her hidden puppies, had carefully carried them 'home' to wait for help.

It took one police officer, Ali, Zia, our bearer, and two of our security guards to clear the crowd, get the dog and her pups into a box and to the Residence. The veterinarian came within the hour - despite being one of only two dog and cat veterinarians in a city of 16 million, he is not overworked. By this time, we had fed the mother, and she had immediately started turning the food into milk. The vet gave her a multivitamin shot and a deworming shot, and a saline infusion.

As you can see, she is alive, and so are her puppies. The vet said she had not more than a couple of hours left -- she, and her pups would have died long before the family returned. But they are healthy enough to survive if they get food and water.

Rani does not like being away from her old woman, and the old woman was terrified when she found out we had taken her: she thought she would never see the dog again. Fortunately, she knows Ali, and he was able to explain that the dog would be returned when the puppies were weaned, with meat on her bones, all the needed vaccinations, and sterilized, so that they would never again have to worry about how to feed her enough to support puppies, too.

Is it the best thing to do? No. There is no best thing here. But, if we want Rani to be calm and attend to her motherly duties, we have to walk her over to the family spot every afternoon to see the old woman. Once she has seen her, and they have had a half an hour or so just to enjoy each other's company, Rani is ready for another day of motherhood and the old woman is able to bear another night without her dog.

Perhaps readers will think this is a sad story. I prefer to think it is as happy as stories here can be: Rani loves and is loved. Her pups will survive, insh'allah, and she will not produce more who might die where no one can see them. The pups, now two weeks, are opening their eyes onto a world with enough to feed them, a blanket to cuddle on, in a safe space in a store room.

And two of the four are spoken for. Ali has wanted a dog of his own for some time, and he has more than earned the right to one of these pups. Our cook, who is pretty well paid as Bangladeshis go, wants one for her child, who lit up at the sight of puppies and held them gently. I have hopes of placing all of them, in a deal which gets them vaccinations, sterilizations and decent homes with good people.

Is it a happy ending? No. The happy ending would be one that encompassed the economic and educational development of Bangladesh to the point where there were no families living on the sidewalks, no deadly diseases slaughtering children of any species, no tainted water, no global exploitation of the impoverished to produce cheap clothing for the far away developed world.

But, that is my opinion, knowing what I do about the world outside Bangladesh. Rani and her old woman would probably disagree.

And who am I to say they are wrong?


note: There are no animal welfare groups here dealing with dogs and cats: the few concerned people are fighting the illegal poaching of endangered species, and the traffic in exotic pets. They are not doing well, because although there are laws against these things, no one can enforce them. If folk ask about helping, they should give their donations to proven development groups who are working to improve things for the people here. The people will share: it's what they do.

Continued here.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

100 Huskies in Quebec rescued from neglect

Thirsty, hungry, sick at the end of a chain for who knows how many weeks or months at a time. The victims of some uncaring fuck of a sled dog tour operator.

Most are now rescued but a few were not rescued soon enough.

All photos above are from Rue Frontenac, "Sauvetage d'une centaine de chiens de traƮneau dans les Laurentides" (Rescuing 100 sled dogs in the Laurentians).

CTV has got some news videos here.

It doesn't look like large scale dog abuse is going away anytime soon in la belle province.

Pit Bulls at Queen's Park

A lot of the people in the building behind me want me dead

That makes me sad but I'd probably still give them a kiss anyway ...

... because people don't always know what they're doing ...

... and I will always forgive them for their trespasses against me

I took an early lunch and went over to Queen's Park for the demo today only to discover that it had been moved an hour earlier and I'd missed everything. Oh well. Talked to some Pit Bull owners and met their dogs instead.

They told me maybe 50 - 75 people showed up for the morning event and that the speeches by Cheri DiNovo, Clayton Ruby and some other people, whose names I don't recall - sorry - were all well received. Someone videotaped the whole thing so when that comes out, I'll post a link to it.

The bill would've been presented in the legislature in the afternoon for first reading and it's most likely that it would've been passed. That doesn't mean it's law. It just means it's made it past first reading like almost every potential bill does. Sometime later, next fall, I think, it gets voted on for real.

Here's the clip from CTV which is rather uninformative really.

Yeah, nothing new there from McGuinty who kind of reminds me of a plastic shopping bag full of muddy water for some reason (something Freudian there probably but I'm not sure what). Does he even know what a Pit bull is? He acts like he kinda does but he could use the same phrasing to talk about large rocks or discarded banana peels or little children shooting elastic bands.

I would never advocate people not picking up after their dogs but if ever someone deserved to step in a soft pile of dog shit, I'm sure we could find that someone, a whole mess of someones, behind those big wooden doors of the legislature.

Here's a much more informed clip from a radio show on Talk1010 hosted by John Tory with guest Cheri DiNovo and Bill Bruce.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tie a yellow ribbon

(h/t to Susan for this)

Happiness is contagious so I hope this puts a smile on your face:

A whole bunch more videos of dogs greeting their soldier dads returning from Afghanistan can be found here.

Cheri DiNovo, Bill Bruce, John Tory on radio today about anti-Pit Bull law

Cheri DiNovo, MPP, and Bill Bruce, from Calgary Animal Services, will be guests on Live Drive with John Tory today at 5:30pm. It will be especially interesting to hear what Tory has to say about breed specific legislation since there's a chance he might be Toronto's next mayor.

Update: Listen to them online here.

Also, from REPEALING BSL in Ontario's Dog Owner's Liability Act Facebook group:

Tomorrow is THE DAY Cheri will put forth her bill to remove all aspects of BSL from Ontario.

PLEASE, I know we are ALL busy, BUT this is HUGE and I implore YOU to show up at Queens Park between 9:30 and 10 am to SUPPORT her.

If YOU are coming please bring a piece of information with your name, address, phone and email and give it to one of the Organizers or Marshalls.

Dogs HAVE to be in Compliance with current laws.

T-Shirts, decals, etc will be available for purchase. This has to be outside of the Queens Park property. Ask the Organizers/Marshall's where and when.

Please bring signs etc. Please review the DO's and DON'T's on the EVENT page.

For those that cannot be with us on this HISTORIC day, we know your hearts, minds and prayers ARE with us. However, we ask that you check out the news reports later in the day and MAKE ONLINE COMMENTS on them. Please, be on the case as WE need YOU to state YOUR opinions.

Once again, thanks to EVERYONE who wrote letters and emails.

Now, let's all say a prayer that legalized discrimination and profiling will END in Ontario. Hold your MPP's accountable for their votes.

YOU ARE the only VOICE our fur friends have. USE IT.

Warmly and Respectfully,


Monday, November 16, 2009

Faces that must be squished

... but not too hard, please.

Why do some people, like myself, find weirdly frog faced dogs so appealing? Is it due to our drinking water? Is it from plastics leaching into all our foods? Is it from vaccinations or UFOs spraying hallucinogenic chemicals into our atmosphere? Out of all the purposeless research papers that have been written over the centuries, why has one not been done on this phenomenon?

Here are a couple of prime examples of what ails us.

These Pugs came in as a pair but I'm not sure if they're going to adopted out as a pair. I think there's still some nervousness after what happened with Angel and Butch. But really, if you want one, how can you resist taking both?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Successful weekend at Petsmart Adopt-a-thon

I only helped out on Saturday but judging from the few dogs remaining on the Toronto Animal Services adoption page, the Petsmart Adopt-a-thon this past weekend was a great success with most of the dogs brought up to the store getting adopted.

Here are some of them.

This Black Lab was spoken for before I even arrived at Petsmart on Saturday morning. I wanted to take a decent photo of him outside before he was brought to his new home but didn't get a chance so here's his prison photo:

I believe this Scottish Terrier was one of the next to get snatched up, this time by one of the store staff. I have to say, the staff were incredibly good with all the dogs, constantly coming around to hang out with them. The customers who came by to look at the dogs were also very good around them. And most of those interested in adoption seemed like they would provide excellent homes. Only a couple of impulse adopters showed up and they were politely discouraged.

Princess, a Chug (Chihuahua and Pug), still remains and that's surprising because most of the small, cute dogs get snatched up pretty quickly. Princess is a bit exuberant but even the toddler who came in and took an instant liking to her had no problems with her on a leash. Unfortunately, his older tweenage sister put up a fuss against dogs in general and the mother decided against the adoption. That's okay. Princess can do without the drama and someone else will come along soon enough.

I thought Bella, a Toodle (Poodle/Terrier?), would be the first dog to go and she had several people interested in her but her adoption didn't finalize until Sunday. Bella's got a demure manner about her that makes her quite adorable. Maybe her personality was drowned out in the noise and excitement at the store but some lucky person managed to get past the din and Bella should now be comfortable in her new bed.

A woman walked into the adoption area with her husband and was immediately attracted to the two Shih Tzus. She asked a bunch of questions about them and after about twenty minutes couldn't figure out which one she liked more so she decided to take one out for a walk. She picked it up out of its cage and brought it up to her face and kissed it. Then she squeezed it and kissed it again.

She was out with the dog for about thirty minutes and was really pleased with their walk and I figured that would be the one she was going to take but she still wanted to spend some time with the other Shih Tzu. Thirty minutes later she came back with the second Shih Tzu and had made up her mind to take them both.

On a side note, for those who expressed some concern about him, I heard that Rufus finally got adopted by a couple in Buffalo. They had seen his profile on Petfinder and had driven up all the way to Toronto to visit him. I'm very happy for him especially since it was getting to point where there was talk of sending him back to Montreal to see if he would do better there.

And speaking of giants, Tyra was at the Adopt-a-thon with her new owners who happened to be taking her the dog classes offered at the store. She's doing great and the owners, who were originally thinking about adopting a Lab when the went into TAS a couple of weeks ago, are overjoyed with her.