Sunday, February 28, 2010

Jasper - Lost dog notification

(Click on image to enlarge)

Jasper Lost Facebook page is here.

You can keep pretending you're working as you listen to this

Some excellent podcasts from Chat Month at PetHobbyist.

Nathan Winograd is one of the most passionate and controversial voices in animal welfare today. As part of this year's Chat Month focus on "Ending Pet Homelessness," he'll be speaking about the role the law can play in saving animal lives, and how legislation and litigation can help create a No Kill nation. I'm not sure how much the legal talk will apply to us up here in Canada but there's some good history of the no-kill movement from Winograd in the segment.

Last fall, the Ad Council launched the first animal welfare campaign of its more than 60 year history, the Shelter Pet Project. Based on new information developed during the one-year period leading up to the three-year, multi-media campaign, the Shelter Pet Project uses humor and a positive approach to get its message across.

Find out how the Shelter Pet Project came to be, the research behind its television, radio and print public service ads, how it is designed to end the killing of healthy and treatable dogs and cats in the nation's shelters, and why that's not a fantasy but a very achievable goal. Joining us will be representatives from the sponsors of the campaign: Ad Council campaign manager Cece Wedel, Maddie's Fund president Rich Avanzino and Betsy McFarland, senior director, companion animals at the Humane Society of the United States.

An interview with Bonney Brown, director of the Nevada Humane Society. Christie Keith will be asking her to answer a simple question: With shelter intakes in excess of 15,000 in the Reno area that you serve, the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression and sky-high foreclosure rates, how come you're smiling?

If you're an animal lover, shelter or rescue volunteer, or work in the shelter industry and are struggling with feelings of being overwhelmed, underfunded, and burnt out, come join one of America's most successful shelter directors and learn how Washoe County saved 90 percent of its homeless animals last year, and how your community can do the same, without bitterness, burnout or bankruptcy.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Friday review, Feb. 26

Mirko's puppy mill cage buddy was adopted almost immediately after arriving at Toronto Animal Services South so let's hope Mirko finds himself home soon as well.

Mirko, puppy mill survivor

This guy is one of two brown Labradors that came in. The other one, Simba, the more rambunctious one, is already adopted, again pretty well as soon as he hit the adoption room. I'm pretty sure this guy will be gone pronto.

Super nice brown Labrador

When Bill first came into TAS South from a puppy mill with his two Golden Retriever siblings, he was the shyest of the three, staying flattened out at the back of his kennel, not daring to look up. Now, three weeks later, he's eager to meet people and loves going outside though of course he's still adjusting to life outside of a cage. Bentley, Bill's brother is also still awaiting adoption at TAS but the third sibling has already been homed.

Bill, one of three siblings from puppy mill

Simba, already adopted

This skinny guy has one of those irresistible faces that several people cooing over him. One of those people took him home.

GSD mix, already adopted

This sad faced, gentle Mastiff will be available for adoption as soon as he gets snipped.
Mastiff found as stray

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

Friday, February 26, 2010

Hamilton Burlington SPCA board resigns

(h/t Julie)

And they weren't even charged with animal cruelty or anything.

If you want to read about it, it's here.

Rumblings of trouble at the HBSPCA started a few months ago when their board did some weird thing involving partnering with The Equestrian Association for the Disabled, a group which brings disabled people together with horses. I should probably write a bit more about this but if I do, this is going to turn into a blog more about the fu'd politics behind too many animal welfare organizations than about dog rescue. There's already enough drama here in Toronto surrounding our own Humane Society.

As always, I hope the people get their shit together so they can start spending more time taking more care of the animals instead of arguing amongst themselves.

Dano returned to Animal Rescue League

(h/t Selkie)

I don't have a lot of info at the moment but Dano, the Toronto Humane Society Pit Bull who had gone missing from his new shelter at Saint John Animal Rescue League, has been found and returned. Apparently, someone in a car saw him wandering the streets and the person opened the car door and Dano jumped in. Saint John Animal Rescue League was contacted and now Dano's back at the shelter.

The people at ARL are pretty sure that Dano was dognapped but that with all the publicity surrounding his disappearance, the perps decided to release the dog. You'd think that if whoever had him for the last few days actually cared about the guy, they could've at least tied him to a post in a public location and phoned in his whereabouts to ARL.

Dano was rescued from Ontario by Animal Rescue League and brought out to New Brunswick along with another Pit Bull, Livingston.

Livingston at THS, photo by Melanie

Livingston has already been placed in a foster home. From the Telegraph_Journal, here's a photo of Livingston with his new person:

Jeff Ducharme/Telegraph-Journal

Both Livingston and Dano are wonderful dogs and it's so good to hear they are now safe and while the final papers aren't yet signed, it's looking like both dogs already have new permanent homes.

And now that they are safe, it's back to the question, what kind of assholes here in Ontario demand that these dogs be killed or forced out of province?

Here's another dog, Caleigh in Kingston, who is facing execution for doing nothing wrong. Brindle Stick has some excellent commentary.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Pit Bull from Toronto Humane Society missing from New Brunswick shelter

Some unfortunate news arrived yesterday about Dano, one of the Pit Bulls pulled from the Toronto Humane Society and sent to the Saint John Animal Rescue League in New Brunswick.

From the Telegraph-Journal Pit bull missing from shelter:

The dog has been missing since Sunday afternoon, when two women who appeared interested in adopting the animal took him for a walk.

"Their story is the dog saw a cat and took off," said Janet Foster, executive director of the shelter on Taylor Avenue.

At first the shelter staff thought the dog had been stolen and they called police.

"The staff were driving for hours looking for the dog," she said. "It's like it's disappeared off the face of the Earth."

Only registered volunteers with the rescue league are permitted to walk dogs, but a junior employee allowed the women to take the dog, named Dano, into the parking lot, Foster said.


Dano was one of two gentle pit bull-mix dogs brought in from the Toronto Humane Society, Foster said. It was clear they had been well-trained by good families.

"This is a very gentle dog. He's wonderful," she said

And now that Dano's story has made the news, someone's called into the shelter saying he's seen the dog but wants a reward before he'll pass on any information.

Can you say scumbag?

From the Telegraph-Journal:

Someone has spotted Dano the pit bull, but they want a reward, says the executive director of the Animal Rescue League.

"I just feel so upset and frustrated," Janet Foster said Wednesday, three days after the dog went missing from the north end animal shelter. "I feel so helpless right now."

The individual, a male, called the shelter to say he had seen the dog, which was brought in last week from Ontario, where pit bulls born after 2005 are euthanized.

The dog was seen on MacLaren Boulevard being walked at 8 p.m. Tuesday night and 5 a.m. Wednesday morning, Foster said.

"But they wouldn't leave their last name and they wanted a reward. So we're no further ahead," she said because the animal shelter won't pay a reward.

If one person has seen the dog then someone else will surely see the dog as well. There's been some great success stories in Toronto recently with lost dogs being found in large part through postings on social media sites and feet on the streets. Let's hope the people looking for Dano persevere and get him back.

photo by Melanie

Terry the teranoma

Terry the teranoma grows on Barkley's eyeball. At first, Toronto Animal Services thought the eye was unsalvageable with all the hair growing out of it and they were going to remove the whole eyeball, but one of the vets suggested that it might not be too difficult to extract Terry and maybe preserve some sight.

So, they asked me to take some close-ups to send to the ophthalmologist.

I hadn't taken that close a look at the eye before and now all I can say is ewww. I half expect Terry teranoma to start squirming around.

Terry reminds me of one of those underdeveloped bodies that grows out the back of someone's neck except it's not really even a body but just three fingers, a patch of hair, a nose and a big tongue all mashed together into a blobulous glob.

Ok, perhaps I'm exaggerating. Compared to a tongue glob, Terry teranoma isn't bad at all. He's just like a little fuzzy caterpillar.

Nice Terry. We shouldn't be so hard on teratomas. They're like pets that grow out of your armpit.

More on Barkley here.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Doppleganger from hell

I'd read about this when it was first reported last year but never paid much attention to it in part because of what was happening at our own Humane Society but now revisiting what went on in Memphis, I'm amazed by the parallels in the two investigations.

Last October, the City of Memphis Animal Shelter was raided by the sheriff's department after reports of animal cruelty.

From The Commercial Appeal:

Starving, thirsty and sometimes ailing, more than 200 dogs and cats were in the care of volunteers Tuesday after law enforcement officers raided the City of Memphis Animal Shelter.

Shelby County Sheriff’s Deputies executed a search warrant at the shelter, 3456 Tchulahoma, after a tipster complained about abuse and cruelty to the Shelby County District Attorney General’s Office.

“From what we’ve seen this morning, it’s evident there’s been some neglect,” said Shelby County Sheriff Mark Luttrell, who said he’d been told of deficiencies in staff training.


Animal-rights advocate Jackie Johns, who was recently appointed to the shelter’s advisory board, said she’d heard complaints about dirty conditions, malnourished animals and rude employees.

“There’s been issues for several years now,” she said. “Hopefully they can clean it up, and it can be something that’s good for the city.”

If this is sounding familiar, it might be because it is. Here's part of the press release from the OSPCA after they first did a "surprise" inspection on the THS:

The Ontario SPCA conducted an inspection at the Toronto Humane Society yesterday in response to numerous complaints regarding allegations of the unnecessary suffering of animals in care at the Toronto Humane Society. Ontario SPCA Orders regarding the Standards of Care for four animals were issued.

The Ontario SPCA is required to respond by legislation to any credible allegation of neglect, abuse or cruelty as mandated by the Ontario SPCA Act.

"The investigation is ongoing and we are limited as to the information we can provide at this time. We can disclose that we found animals in distress requiring immediate intervention and as a result, Orders have been issued," says Ontario SPCA Senior Inspector Mindy Hall who is the lead investigator on the case.

Since the Globe articles were released, the Ontario SPCA has received dozens of additional, credible complaints outlining serious concerns that point to a pattern of poor care over the course of many years.

Although initial reports about the reasons for the Memphis raid were pretty generalized and I'm sure if someone wanted to make a stink about it, one could've said that it was politically motivated, but then about a week later this came out in the papers:

Both are photos of the same pup, Puppy No. 199287, taken about 3 weeks apart. No. 199287 died from starvation while under the "care" of the shelter.

The photo of this poor pup reminds me of this photo from the National Post article, Mummified cat found in ceiling at Toronto Humane Society:

The above cat was a cat caught in a live trap set in the ceiling at the THS and left to starve and die.

In both investigations, it wasn't until several weeks after the raids that the directors were arrested.

From The Commercial Appeal, Former Memphis animal-shelter director Alexander arrested in New Mexico

Former Memphis Animal Shelter director Ernest Alexander was arrested on animal-cruelty charges at his Albuquerque apartment Friday night.

He had been reported to be on the lam most of the day following his indictment the previous day.

Police in New Mexico found Alexander at about 6:45 p.m. Central time after the Shelby County Sheriff's Office tracked him to his native state, said sheriff's office spokesman Steve Shular.

Shular said it was unclear whether the former director was in hiding, but he "was not surprised. He knew officers were looking for him, and he confirmed that when he was arrested."

Shular added that Alexander came peacefully.


Also indicted Thursday on multiple charges of aggravated animal cruelty were former shelter supervisor Tina Quattlebaum and veterinarian Angela Middleton. Both women turned themselves in Thursday evening and were released on $25,000 bonds.

Each of the three former shelter supervisors has been indicted on six counts of aggravated animal cruelty stemming from the deaths of three terriers.

They face a standard sentencing range of one to two years in prison if convicted, but could be eligible for diversion.

Here's the Globe and Mail article, Toronto Humane Society officials arrested, face animal-cruelty charges, reporting on the arrest of THS heads:

The Toronto Humane Society’s president and chief veterinarian are facing criminal charges of animal cruelty for running a dysfunctional shelter where animals were allegedly denied food and water and left to die suffering in their cages.

The charges against volunteer president Tim Trow, veterinarian Steve Sheridan and three other senior officials came six months after a Globe and Mail investigation uncovered widespread allegations of problems at the River Street facility.


If convicted, Mr. Trow, Dr. Sheridan, general manager Gary McCracken and senior staff members Romeo Bernadino and Andy Bechtel all face a maximum of five years in prison and tens of thousands of dollars in fines.

And perhaps most interesting, is that in both cases, the search warrants have been made public and are available online. These relate the detailed allegations against the respective agencies which convinced judges to issue search warrants.

The one for the Memphis Animal Shelter is here. Be warned that it contains some graphic photos.

The one for the Toronto Humane Society is here. Be warned that it contains many graphic descriptions.

Funny how the Memphis police only required a few pages worth of allegations to get their warrant whereas the OSPCA provided almost a hundred pages and dozens of witness testimonies to get their warrant.

It'll be interesting to compare the progress of the two cases as they wind their way through their respective courts. Regardless of the final legal judgments, let's hope the animals are the winners in both cases.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Cutting through the heartworm BS

This was a post written a few months back but got shelved when the Toronto Humane Society arrests happened (Under the sort of new management, I don't know what their policy is now towards Katrina dogs). After watching Mine on PBS last night, I figured maybe it's time to resurrect it.

The Toronto Humane Society and its propaganda arm, the Toronto Sun, have both got their knives out taking jabs at the OSPCA for rescuing dogs from the United States because some of those dogs have tested heartworm positive. Usually, my faith in either outlet providing any animal welfare information which even remotely approaches the objective truth is about nil. They are both so steeped in vilification politics it makes me sick. Like dealing with attention seeking, little boys who cry wolf, I tend to believe the opposite of everything they write or at best just ignore their pronouncements about how everyone else sucks.

This heartworm affair only began to seriously catch my attention when I heard that both the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association and the Hamilton Academy of Veterinarians have put out notices warning the public about the rise of heartworm cases in Southern Ontario blaming it, in part, on the import of Katrina/Louisiana dogs into the region.

From HAV:
Veterinarians are extremely concerned about a 10-fold increase in the number of “seen and treated” cases of heartworm disease in Hamilton and the surrounding area in 2008. This dramatic increase was particularly evident in dogs that had been imported into Canada from heartworm-endemic areas of the United States, specifically but not limited to Louisiana.

Kinda scary.

But it goes on:
In 2009, veterinarians are seeing the same type of dramatic increase in heartworm disease in dogs born and raised in Canada. It is believed that these dogs were infected by mosquitoes that had come into contact with imported dogs carrying the disease.

Really? It's "believed"? I want to see some numbers to back up this belief. I want to see some information about where and when.

Here's another excerpt from a recent publication from the University of Guelph, one which has actually been peer reviewed:

Between 1998 and 2005, the number of canine sera samples submitted to the Animal Health Laboratory at the University of Guelph for leptospirosis serologic testing increased from 42 to 1136. In 2005, 251 samples (22%) were positive for leptospirosis and 404 (36%) were "suspicious."6 There has been no change in laboratory diagnostic procedures over this time, so the increases in cases may reflect increased awareness and, more concerningly, a true increase in the incidence and level of disease activity in Ontario. There has been a similar trend Quebec, where the number of positive canine serodiagnoses rose from 5 in 1998 to 56 in 2006. The number of canine cases has also increased in New Brunswick (Dr James Goltz, New Brunswick Ministry of Agriculture and Aquaculture, personal communication, 2005).

Holy shit! That's like a 10-fold increase in reported cases of lepto. And what's the suspected reason for this increase? It must be because of all those bleeding heart animal rescue groups bringing sick shelter dogs up from Louisiana instead of letting them rot and die down there in their cages, right Mr. Trow and Mr. Worthington? Wrong.

The increased number of cases observed in certain parts of Canada likely relates to a combination of increased infection among the large number of raccoons that inhabit urban and suburban settings, ecological conditions brought about by a warming climate that favours the survival of this fastidious organism and increased awareness of the infection by veterinarians.

So, that's:

1. wildlife carriers
2. warming climate
3. increased awareness by vets

No mention of Louisiana dogs. No jabs at rescue groups. No calls for investigating those animal welfare agencies who actually have a greater concern for animals than for scoring dirty political points.

Then on the other hand, there's the Toronto Humane Society:

The Toronto Humane Society has been striving, along with the veterinary profession and the media, to raise awareness and end the importation of dogs to Ontario from areas where heartworm is endemic.

If rescue groups here had actually followed this advice, hundreds of Katrina dogs and other dogs in desperate need would not have been brought to Ontario and saved and would likely now still be locked up in some god forsaken cage or dead. Isn't the THS supposed to be about rescuing dogs?

The THS "news" release continues, and here's where it gets all stabby:

It appears that the former Chair of the Ontario SPCA, and its newly appointed Chief Operating Officer, was aware of the concerns raised by veterinarians as early as April of this year. The HAVM brought the situation to his attention while in his role as President and CEO of the Hamilton SPCA. The HAVM was extremely concerned as it had seen a 10 fold increase in cases of heartworm in the Hamilton area, many of which were traced back to dogs imported by the Hamilton SPCA from the Southern United States.

Oh and by the way, the THS has been engaged in a lawsuit against the Hamilton SPCA for ages now. Funny they forgot to mention that. Of course that wouldn't have anything to do with the anti-HBSPCA swipe now would it?

You know what would be inexcusable? It would be inexcusable to promote one's own ego driven political agenda on the backs of abandoned animals.

And you know what really surprises me the most (though at this point I don't know why anything would surprise me when it comes to how low the THS will go to discredit others)? On THS' heartworm advisory page they've posted articles from the Ontario Landowner's Association. The OLA articles try really hard to discredit the OSPCA's actions with regards to rescuing southern dogs. Now I'm not sure why but it seems to me the OLA has a huge hate on for the OSPCA and possibly for most animal welfare agencies. Not surprising coming from a group that happily promotes something like this:

Here are two photos of habitat clearances to protect private property values from the Endangered Species Act that took place on May 7

In Glengarry county, a number of Glengarry Landowners members armed with chainsaws cut down brush and trees on a property to protect the market value of the property by removing the potential of a habitat for an endangered species being identified. This designation would have placed severe land use restrictions on the property that would have devalued the property. The protection of this property was completed. The day was a success. The day was attended as well by several municipal councillors and the local newspapers. There was good coverage in local newspapers.

That's right you endangered species. We don't give a shit if you go extinct. Just get the fuck off our land so it's property value doesn't go down.

Now is this the kind of attitude the THS wants to support? Has the THS gone so low as to hop into bed with the OLA just so they can take a mutual swipe at the OSPCA?

And even more ironically, the OLA even takes a kick at THS' fave hero, Tre Smith:

The OSPCA is a stand alone “charity” independent of government that receives very little funding from government. Hence the need to do fund raising to cover the $13000000. cost to run the organization. This creates a conflict of interest because fund raising is greatly enhanced by sensationalizing and glamorizing “so called incidents of abuse”. For example: in Toronto, enforcer Tre Smith hand cuffed dog owner Paul Soderholm to the steering wheel of his car and then encouraged a street gang to “teach him a lesson”. Paul Soderholm was taken to a hospital with severe injuries resulting from the beating. Two people were charged with assault and assault with a weapon.

Wow. Talk about misleading by failing to reveal the whole story. They don't mention that Tre Smith was an employee of the Toronto Humane Society not the OSPCA. Nor do they mention the most important part of the story which is that Soderholm had locked his dog in a car in the middle of summer so that it was basically boiling to death but I guess if you're willing to gleefully cut down habitat for endangered species what's another dead dog?

The OLA and the THS. Strange bedfellas. Who woulda thunk?

Um ... this post was about heartworm.

No one likes the idea of unknowingly bringing diseased dogs into Canada and letting them loose into the general public without ensuring that they can and will be properly treated. Our concern should be to make sure the public is educated about the disease and that the proper policies and regulations are in place to help prevent the spread of heartworm regardless of where it comes from because it will get here whether southern state dogs are rescued or not, just like lepto got here, just like West Nile got here, just like H1N1 got here.

We've already seen heartworm in Montreal dogs. If it's in Montreal, it'll get to Ottawa and if it gets to Ottawa, it'll get here. Maybe it's already here.

If heartworm is the concern, then deal with the heartworm. The problem with using something like heartworm as a political weapon is that we get fed truckloads of misinformation and anecdotal evidence and stories from unknown sources and then we all start to lose focus on trying to find a solution to the real problem which is the disease and the plight of the Katrina animals. Instead, we're directed to get embroiled in trying to find the guilty party, even if there may be no guilty party, and making someone pay.

An estimated 600,000 pets died or were left homeless because of Katrina. Is it more important for the THS to help some of these animals or is it more important to use the suffering of these animals as part of a political strategy for denigrating one's opponents?

But of course it's always easier to chuck stones at someone else to distract attention from one's own house when it's in complete disarray.

Some opinions on heartworm meds:

Also see Terrierman's The Billion Dollar Heartworm Scam.

As always, do your own research before putting your dog on any medication.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Second rally for Rambo and Brittany bigger than first

On Saturday, about 200 protesters showed up in front of Brampton City Hall to let their councillors know how they felt about the seizures of Rambo and Brittany, two dogs accused of being Pit Bulls even though their owners say they have paperwork which states they are not. The mayor and councillors are using the "it's before the courts" excuse for not issuing a public opinion on the matter even though that didn't stop city bureaucrats from issuing a statement a week ago.

A video of the rally is here.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Watch this

Channel 61 WNED
Sunday February 21 10:30 - 12:00 (Eastern Standard Time)

MINE is the powerful story about the essential bond between humans and animals told against the backdrop of one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history.

Trailer here.

Social media

photo by Nikki Audet

Nico, a deaf and battered Dogo Argentino, was doomed to spend the last few days of his hard life in an L.A. shelter utterly without hope - that is until animal rescuer and photographer Nikki Audet took a photo of him and posted it online on a blog she runs with rescue partner Jf Pryor, The Mutt Scouts’ blog (Be sure to read through the rest of their blog as well. It'll break your heart one moment and send you over the moon the next).

The photo deeply affected many people who saw it and pretty soon it was being sent all over the internet. Connections were made, another rescuer got involved, a shelter on the other side of the country offered a spot for Nico, transports were arranged, and finally, after several weeks of working with Nico, a permanent home was found.

And Nico transformed into this dog:

photo by Deena Crouch of Humane Society for Hamilton County

You can read the details of Nico's cross country transport here and the full story up to Nico's adoption here and of course Nico has his own facebook page so if you want to know what he's up to now, you can go here. This is all truly inspirational.

I've been having some discussions recently about online social media and if and how it helps get animals saved. I don't have any hard numbers but I think we are all starting to realize that the more we are part of the wider community, the easier it will be to achieve no more homeless pets, and the internet helps turn the world into one big rescue community.

It certainly worked for Nico.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday review, Feb. 19

I'm not sure if trendy stars parading around their Puggles for all the paparazzi to shoot had anything to do with this guy's quick adoption but all I know is that I barely had time to take his photo and then, poof, he was gone.

Harley's ex-owner claims he's an English Mastiff but at six month old, he seems kind of small for an English Mastiff - not that he's a small dog, just perhaps not giant sized. He does however, have those big blubbery mastiff jowls that you kind of want to grab a hold of and flap up and down and make raspberry noises. Or maybe that's just me.


Since I had some extra time, I took some shots of a few cats. It's sad how many cats there are at the shelter although for adopters it does mean that there are some amazing choices. The first two are still up for adoption but I don't see the last one, the one-eyed kitten, on the TAS website so hopefully he's found a home.

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

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Rally for Rambo and Brittany outside Brampton city hall

Rambo and Brittany have been locked up for over a month now with no visitors allowed and only the word of some Brampton city mouthpiece that the dogs are in the good care of Brampton animal control, the very same animal control that wants the dogs dead. Maybe in their eyes, anything better than dead could legally be defined as "good care".

Saturday, February 20, 2010
12:00pm - 3:00pm
Brampton City Hall - 2 Wellington Street West, Brampton, ON

More on Facebook.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

No-kill: it can't be impossible if someone's already doing it

While we're still arguing up here in Toronto about whether or not no-kill is a fairy tale, some American cities are already doing it and now an article on MSNBC talks about the possibility of achieving a no-kill nation in 5 years.

Okay, I think that might be a bit of a stretch but, hey, I hope they prove me wrong. However, the article does bring up pertinent points about some of the steps needed to make no-kill possible. First and foremost is the concept that no-kill can really only be achieved as a community. It doesn't count if one shelter calls itself no-kill and stops its open admissions policy forcing all the other shelters and rescues to take in, and possibly euthanize, the remaining homeless animals. The killing still goes on. It's just being done by someone else. It may be good bragging rights for the self-labeled "no-kill" shelter but animals are still dying in equal numbers in the community so nothing's really been accomplished from the animals' perspective.

That doesn't mean no-kill isn't possible. It means no-kill must be done right and that means working with the community at large. This concept is discussed in a post on KC Blog, No Kill Communities vs No Kill Shelters -- and why confusing the two endangers the movement. If you go and read his post and the comments on his post, the rest of this post will hopefully make more sense.

While having some informal discussions recently about a vision for the Toronto Humane Society, it's come up a few time that some people are against the idea of no-kill - except I get the feeling they're not really and that maybe it's just misunderstandings about what no-kill really means.

I would urge anyone who thinks the no-kill philosophy is naive or idealistic or unattainable in our community to go read about it first. Read about what it really is and about where it has been achieved and what communities are successfully transitioning into it. Then, if there is still doubt or argument, at least we can all discuss it from the same page.

Some people would still prefer the term "low-kill". That's fine. Whether it's called no-kill or low-kill or no more homeless pets or silly chubby pets in every lap, as long as we can agree to work towards the goal of not euthanizing healthy, adoptable animals then we can all work together at creating a better Toronto Humane Society. However, if that isn't the goal, then I have to ask: why bother? It will be too much effort and work just to recreate another mediocre animal shelter whose long term vision is to pick off the low hanging fruit.

On the flip side, no-kill is not a switch that can just be turned on, no more than someone can just declare himself a brain surgeon and start cutting heads open. It's going to take more than waving placards and joining facebook groups. It's going to take much planning, work and commitment. In the end, that's what gets an animal saved: a lot of hard work and commitment, and you can call that whatever you want.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


In a shameless attempt at getting more of a spotlight on Toronto Animal Services South and shelter animals in general, I sent some photos of Loki's pups to Cute Overload and lo and behold they have been posted. For those who haven't heard of Cute Overload, it's the www's premier site for photos of critters that make you go awww and it's one of those sites that gets a bajillion hits daily.

There's no mention of the pups being shelter pups on Cute Overload but that's okay. Interested viewers click on the link back to this blog and it's pretty quickly apparent where the pups are from. I don't know how this will translate into getting more shelter animals adopted out but I figure it can't hurt.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Are the good guys starting to win over at the Toronto Humane Society?

Maybe. There's a lot of back and forth going on at the Toronto Humane Society and lots of gossip and lots of uncertainty so it's been kind of difficult to know whether the THS ship is sinking or sailing or just marooned.

It's obvious from the rumours that keep surfacing that there's still a lot of mistrust of the OSPCA's role at the Toronto Humane Society. The myth cultivated at the THS, and probably still believed by a few remaining hard line Trowphiles, was always that the OSPCA would go in and just slaughter everything willy nilly. There was that ridiculous one floating around a few weeks ago about 300 cats being on the euthanasia list. Over-active paranoid imagination on someone's part as it turned out.

However, suspicions are still there amongst the animal care workers and volunteers and a lot of it is now focused on certain vets being too euth happy. Vets making euthanasia decisions based on valid health reasons is sound policy but vets making euthanasia decisions due to behaviour is a slippery slope. More voices need to be at the table when dealing with animals with behavioural problems and those voices include people who are familiar with the adoption/fostering options, behaviourists, and the ACWs and volunteers who handle the animals more frequently.

The most recent rumour I heard was about the possibility of four Pit Bulls who were going to get euthanized last Friday and I have to admit, I believed it. A few weeks ago, some Pit Bull rescue groups were allowed to go into the THS to conduct assessments on the Pitties to see if they'd be able to go to foster homes. Eight of the Pitties passed their assessments but four did not. In other words, eight of those dogs had places to go but the remaining four were still faced with the dire prospect of living in cages for who knows how long.

A few days later, I heard that those four were going on the euth list. On top of that, there was also news that the fostering of the Pitties who had passed their assessments had stalled. It turned out that they needed to be temporarily housed in Ontario before being shipped out of province and the OSPCA was having none of that. The dogs had to go directly out of province or not at all. The OSPCA wasn't willing to risk an incident in province with any of these dogs that they would've been responsible for releasing (since the OSPCA is still in charge of the animals at the THS). Things were starting to look pretty grim for all the Pit Bulls.

Last Tuesday, some of us tried to get an extension for the four dogs on the Friday euth list, our argument being that they'd never really been given a chance at the THS in the past since the THS had only cared about warehousing them. The request was going to be brought up at an OSPCA/THS management meeting the following day but then next day came along and I was told that there was never any intention to euth the dogs at all and that the Friday deadline was just a deadline to come up with a plan for what to do with them.

I didn't know what the real story was. Maybe the dogs were on the list and then taken off. Maybe they were never on the list. Maybe there were different dogs on the list. Maybe there was no list. It was all pretty confusing but at least the Pitties were safe for a while longer.

(Before anyone starts to fret about why four dogs who did not pass their assessments are being saved from euthanasia, please understand that these assessments are very stringent. I wouldn't be surprised if the majority of dogs out in the general public couldn't pass these tests with flying colours. And I shouldn't say that the Pitties didn't "pass" their assessments but that they didn't get high enough scores to qualify them for the rescues involved. Because of pressures of BSL, most rescues only have room to take the best of the best.)

Ever since I've been back from Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, there's been communications with a couple of their outreach coordinators about the possibility of them taking some of the Pit Bulls from Toronto Humane Society. I was a little concerned at first about introducing the THS to BFAS knowing THS' history with rescues in general and with BFAS in particular (that's a whole other story) but as it turned out, everyone at the THS, everyone I heard from anyway, was thrilled with the idea.

After several e-mails, applications for two of the Pit Bulls were sent off to BFAS' admissions committee last week. Unfortunately, they were rejected. BFAS gets over 500 applications a week to take in dogs so getting a dog in there is like winning a lottery. However, the silver lining was that BFAS recommended a rescue in the States that the THS could try contacting ...

... which the THS did, along with several other rescues. In the end, the BFAS recommended rescue along with two others came through with admissions for the Pitties.

And now, it seems, all the Pit Bulls have got places to go - just got that terrific news today.

Many people at the THS put in time and energy to get these dogs out of the clutches of Bryant's draconian anti-Pit Bull laws and I'd very much like to list some of them but I'm worried about getting people in trouble. Why would anyone get in trouble for helping save the lives of animals is beyond me but such is life when we're forced to live by unjust laws. And I hear that some of the old guard at the THS are slowly realizing that all the bad rescues out there aren't so bad after all and that working with them instead of against them will help the animals. The Pit Bulls aren't anywhere near finding safe homes just yet but this a big first step.

Congratulations THS for a job well done.

I also want to add that a couple of weeks ago I got an unexpected thank you e-mail from Garth Jerome, then acting head of the THS and now the newly appointed Executive Director, regarding the new dog adoption photos that were taken. It was a very gracious e-mail and an obvious surprise after the earlier one I'd received from McConachie, their communications guy. Suddenly, it was okay to take photos again. Since then, Melanie has taken pics of almost all of the remaining dogs and has also gotten permission from the THS and the OSPCA to shoot inside the facility when she starts on the cats and small domestics.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

I think I'll just change the name of this blog to "Neverending Pictures of Loki's Puppies"

It was too cold to bring the Cane Corso pups outside for their photos so instead I brought some lights to Toronto Animal Services South, set up a little studio, and shot them inside. I was going to do all twelve of Loki's pups but it turned out that four had been returned to TAS West, where they originally came from, for TAS West to adopt out. That's okay. The remaining eight pups kept me busy enough. Thankfully, I managed to talk a friend into helping out (thanks Rachel!) so we got through them all pretty quickly without me having to worry about pups falling off furniture or getting tangled in cables.

Pup 1

The personalities of the pups were just starting to come out and already we could tell the shy ones, the explorers, the laid back, the rambunctious. One trait they all shared, though, was that as soon as they were separated from the group, all except the most fearless, immediately lost any bravado they may have had and looked for comfort in our hands.

Pup 2

That was, of course, adorable but I have to say they were quite stinky. They've got a whole room to themselves at TAS South but puppies being puppies basically eat, drink, poop, piss and then run around in it gleefully. The staff don't have the time to pick up after the pups 24/7 and Mom tries to clean up but, well, that too is kind of gross and a seemingly impossible task.

Pup 3

I was using flash for the photo shoot and wasn't sure how the pups would react to the light but there was no need to worry. They were fairly oblivious to it. The only thing they did seem nervous about, other than being away from their mom and siblings, was the height of the stand they were on. They would peer down from the edge and look at the floor, which was about a foot away and become distressed. I read somewhere once that one of the innate fears we are born with, along with cold and hunger (and a few others), is height. I guess it's the same with dogs.

Pup 4

Rachel managed to keep them mostly corralled in the box. Only one managed to slip off the edge and then when it realized it wasn't such a big deal getting to the floor, it's sole purpose in life at that moment became to escape. That's Pup 6, the fearless one. You can tell just by looking at her that she's going to be a rascal.

Pup 5

These eight pups were brought to the Adopt-a-thon at Petsmart over the weekend. I hear that people were fighting over them. Six were adopted out on Saturday and I understand that two were held back for the Sunday crowd. I hope the adoptions are good ones. Sometimes, it's harder for the pups because people's emotions get the better of them and cuteness trumps reason and practicality.

Pup 6

These little tykes are going to grow up to be big, strong dogs. Their mum is a resource guarder when it comes to high value items (although I had no problems with her when I was hand feeding her doggie cookies) and she's already passed that on somewhat to some of the pups. That kind of bad behaviour maybe isn't difficult to overcome, especially in a pup, but the owners have to be aware of the behaviour and know how to nip it in the bud and hopefully in a positive way.

Pup 7

But never mind all that for now. For now, let's just celebrate the good fortune of these pups to have found their way into a shelter that has cared enough to give them a warm place to grow, kept them healthy, speutered them, and finally found them homes.

I'm really hoping that at least some of the owners will send in update photos as the pups get bigger. I'm hoping they will all become splendid creatures.

Pup 8

Boxed Sets:

Update on one of the pups here.

For adoption information on these (well, these guys might all be gone) and other dogs (and cats and other animals), please visit Toronto Animal Services.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The doggie in the window

(from Cathrine in Dhaka)

The Dhaka head of CIDA and his wife have spent two working lives in underdeveloped nations, doing what they could for humans and other animals. On their second Bangladesh posting, they have indulged in a timeshare in a river boat. Every so often, they take friends down one of the rivers that flow around and through Dhaka. I go, if I can: the chances for photography are worth the stench and the sight of illegal dredgers destroying habitat. Bangladesh is, after all, mostly made up of the Ganges Delta.

On the 29th of January, they had one of those river borne picnics. This is not about the cruise. It is about the landing.

As we were disembarking, where Ali waited with the car, Julie spotted four boys throwing stones at a small puppy. The puppy was trying to run, but she had twine around her neck that enabled them to chase her and drag her back, choking.

I hope those boys had a life-changing experience when they found themselves surrounded by two screaming bideshi women and one fluently profane Bangali man. Somehow I doubt it: after we confiscated the bleeding and terrified puppy, they actually demanded payment for their dog! Only after being subjected to another of Ali's harangues did they back off.

The puppy was paralyzed with fear: except for her bladder. She was also in my lap, so it was not the car that got soaked. We could not take her to The Residence, because Rani had only just been sterilized, and needed rest and quiet. So, she went to foster with the Beadles. The vet came and assessed her -- fortunately the wounds were superficial -- vaccinated and dewormed her. Ali, who has a predilection for giving royal names, called her Cleopatra.

The resilience of puppies is amazing. The Beadles have an older dog, rescued in Africa, and a granddaughter. Within days, Cleopatra had transformed from a filthy bundle of nerves to a happy, playful 2.5 month old puppy who kept both of them on their toes. To start the adoption process, I brought her to the compound for a photo shoot. Even there, she found a playmate: she spent the whole session running back and forth and exchanging play bows and barks with the puppy reflected in the windows!

Cleopatra will be smaller than the average Dhaka street dog, but just as muscular, and she is developing into a sweet little girl. All the better when it comes to finding her a home. In the meantime, she's helping to spread basic education about dogs into the Bangali population: the Beadles' house staff, who find 35 kilos of African dog intimidating, are all in love with Cleopatra.

She's a puppy: what's not to love?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Can you say BS L?

Excerpts from City of Brampton website, Open Letter to Residents:

Rambo and Brittany, the two dogs currently at the Animal Shelter were both born after November 2005 and are therefore, considered illegal pit bulls under the provincial law. As a result, both dogs were taken into care by the City on January 13th. Once in the care and custody of our Animal Services, the legislation is very clear about what can cannot be done with the dogs. Both the owners and the City are now faced with limited options about how to proceed. At the heart of this issue is whether the dogs are pit bulls.

At the heart of the issue is why these two families and their dogs were targeted by Brampton Animal Control in the first place. There is more than reasonable doubt as to the breed of the dogs. The dogs are innocent of any complaints against them. At the heart of the issue is why BAC feel they have to try to ruin the lives of two families.

The legislation allows the BAC to say, "Hey, we effed up. You've got paperwork from your vet saying these dogs aren't Pit Bulls so maybe these dogs are Pit Bulls. Here you go. You can have them back." But that would require losing face. Sure wouldn't want to lose face. Might be bad for the career track.

We stand behind our Animal Services staff - they provide an important and compassionate service in our city. Our team takes enormous pride in how we approach and interact with every family and their pet. This case has been no exception.

As Brampton Animal Services continues to imprison innocent dogs, refusing them family visits, refusing them third party vet checks, with the constant threat of banishment or death over their heads, does anyone believe this? Anyone at all?

Apparently not many. Check out the poll here by scrolling down to near bottom left side (may not be there long) and the comments here at bottom of page.

Also, Dog owners, city likely off to court.

Friday review, Feb. 12

Spartacus is such an excellent Rottweiler and he's already in an excellent home.


This skinny Poodle came in with some awful growths on his hips. They've been removed and the stitches are healing up nicely. Now he just needs to put on some winter fat to help keep him warm.

Unnamed Poodle

Not sure what breed this guy is. His beautiful colouring is like that of a Weimaraner and that's all I know.

Unnamed Weimaraner(?) pup

Dotty used to look like this. I think I prefer the pre-haircut version but I can understand why her locks, which were mostly dirty mattes, had to be trimmed off. They'll always grow back.


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

Update: Dotty's already been adopted and you can see pics of her with her new housemate here.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Just another day at work

I wonder if Bryant knows or even cares about the pain and suffering his anti-Pit Bull legislation causes. Is this law just the price the public has to pay for his career ambitions? What does he think or feel when he hears about the distress that his law puts dog owners through? Anything? Or does he just snort, take another quick glance in the sideview for any approaching bicycle couriers who might be getting too close and then step on the gas to his shiny new job.

Do you think the Brampton animal control officers who grabbed Rambo and Brittany think they did a good thing? An ethical thing? Do they see themselves as playing the heroes in a war against evil, monster dogs? Or is taking innocent, beloved family pets just another day on the job for them? What could have possibly compelled them to do this if there were no complaints against these dogs? Let's say Rambo and Brittany are actually Pit Bulls. Why bother them? Why not just leave them be? They did nothing wrong. They have homes. They are loved. Why go out of their way to ruin all that?

Do the bureaucrats at Brampton animal control think they are doing a public service by not allowing the owners of Rambo and Brittany to visit their own dogs? Are they protecting us, the public, by not letting an independent vet check out Rambo and Brittany? Who are they protecting really? What are they protecting?

From the top to the bottom, Rambo and Brittany are being abused by the laws and the law keepers of this province and it's hard to figure out why. It's hard to understand the driving force behind all this unnecessary pain to both dogs and owners. I hesitate to say it's vindictiveness because I don't think there's even that much emotion or thought behind it.

Maybe it's just evil.

From The Banality of Evil:

The concept of the banality of evil came into prominence following the publication of Hannah Arendt's 1963 book Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, which was based on the trial of Adolph Eichmann in Jerusalem. Arendt's thesis was that people who carry out unspeakable crimes, like Eichmann, a top administrator in the machinery of the Nazi death camps, may not be crazy fanatics at all, but rather ordinary individuals who simply accept the premises of their state and participate in any ongoing enterprise with the energy of good bureaucrats.

(H/t KC Dog Blog) From Brampton Guardian, Dogs refused medical visit:

The City of Brampton has refused to allow the Branco family’s veterinarian to check on the well-being of their dog being held by the city for close to a month.

“They don’t have a city vet (on staff),” Branco pointed out. “It’s probably a staffer that will, of course, say the dogs are fine.”

He said he is worried about the dogs’ health because they have been confined to cages for 23 1/2 hours a day every day since they were seized Jan. 13. With little to no human contact, and being isolated from their families, there is concern about how the dogs are coping.

From Saturday's protest: