Rushing in where angels fear to tread ….

It is trying hard to snow tonight …. so with any luck we’ll have enough down by morning to be able to actually see the tracks along the trail that keep all the noses so busy!   
Happily, I can always depend on my earlydog detection system!   Are there coyotes circling around?  Bears down drinking at the river?   Miss Ruby will dig in her heels and refuse to rush in where ‘angels fear to tread’!
Anyone interested enough in the whole ‘board that wouldn’t go home’ saga that is playing out in Sydney can follow the timeline quite clearly on the society website.   The facts are laid out in crystal clear fashion … from the steps taken by the provincial board to the sordid shelter audit (scroll down to read) … right through to the Letter of Demand that has been sent to the legal counsel for the dismissed board and shelter manager.
For every bit of not so fine whine that Ms Montgomery seems inspired to keep sharing in the Cape Breton Post (see below for the latest episode) there are (many more than six ) volunteers eager to clarify the facts!
For instance, Tammy Williams has told me that Mel Neville has told her that there is absolutely nothing wrong with using the gas chamber.  A comment left on my last blog post described the song and dance routine a volunteer received when she offered to foster Thumper!
If one prefers of course, even if the statistics are fudged, they still paint a grim picture.    The woman who claims that the shelter is a cause that she believes in, habitually asked for permission to keep her gas chamber so that she could keep up with the volume of killing! 
All the CTV photo ops showing her petting a dog and smiling are not going to change the fact that if Patsy Rose had a looney for every cat she has killed over the years … for every puppy who has died of parvo … for every time that direction from Provincial has been deliberately ignored .. why then she would be a woman of wealth!
Which begs the very interesting question as to where the money for the lawyer engaged by the former branch board and shelter director has come from.   Even more interesting … who is paying for the security guard at the locked front gate?
Of course, the shelter audit has shown that the branch hasn’t been ‘squandering’ money ‘foolishly’ by providing proper vet care for the animals in its charge.  Nor has it been devoting any of it’s funds to altering their adoptables or buying proper cleaning supplies!   Clearly no one has been ‘wasting’ any resources on any of the physical improvements necessary for proper shelter protocols!
No sir!  So there very likely is lots of money in the kitty for legal fees to defy the provincial board!
What time is it?   It is time to remember that had there been true concern for the animals’ welfare, there would never have been a gas chamber!   That proper shelter protocols would have been in place all along!  That there would be no need now to lock the doors and be ‘occupying the Cape Breton SPCA’!Ethics is nothing else than reverence for life.     Albert Schweitzer

From tonight’s Cape Breton Post
Provincial SPCA issues letter of demand for local SPCA board to vacate
Published on November 18, 2011
By Sharon Montgomery-Dupe Cape Breton Post
SYDNEY — The provincial SPCA issued a demand letter to its Cape Breton branch Friday requesting that the care and control of the local facility be handed over to provincial staff.
Kristin Williams, executive director of the Nova Scotia SPCA, said the letter was presented to the branch’s lawyer and if the local branch does not comply, other action will be considered.

“I don’t want to reveal those at this time,” she said. “I am still very hopeful the outgoing board will recognize it is not in the best interest of the animals and of the branch to continue with this action.
“They really need to recognize their folly here and turn over the facility to our care and control so we can address the animals’ needs.”
The provincial board of directors voted Monday to dissolve the local board of directors and fire manager Patsy Rose. The local board says the Cape Breton SPCA raised the money for the land and building themselves and the provincial board does not have jurisdiction to take action and has since barred them from the premises.
Williams said the Animal Protection Act gives the provincial society direct control over its 10 branches and provincial shelter in Dartmouth.
She said even though the property deed is in the name of the Cape Breton SPCA, the land and building belong to the community of Cape Breton.
“The money was raised to support the SPCA’s mandate.”
She said the plan is to have the provincial body take over the existing facility.
“We would continue to offer the services, obviously at a higher level of care,” she said. “We would have provincial staff go in and directly supervise animal care. We would work with the shelter staff — minus the manager, of course — to see if they could perform better under new leadership.”
A big concern now is the health of the animals, she said.
“That is a big unknown for me, because we don’t have access. I don’t understand the veil of secrecy — I don’t understand what they are trying to hide.”
The provincial board released a six-page 2011 audit of the shelter Friday, which detailed issues such as public complaints, staff not properly trained on disease control, deficiencies in the facility design and environment, improper population management on monthly intakes and outcomes, sanitation issues, medical health and well-being concerns of animals at the shelter, lack of procedures to address disease control problem post adoptions, and a lack of evaluation and temperament testing of animals prior to adoption.
Mel Neville, chairman of the Cape Breton SPCA board, said as far as he knows, an audit was not done at the shelter.
“They did come down to do one, but after a massive disruption of everything by some of the volunteers, the audit was not done,” he said.
“They (provincial board members) headed back to Halifax and told Patsy they would be back to do the audit.”
He said the audit which the provincial body released contains a lot of “untruths and half-truths.”
When asked about the demand letter, Neville said the local SPCA board has consulted its lawyers and is not going anywhere.
“They can come with machetes swinging, we are not going anywhere.”
He said if the provincial officials come into the shelter and try to take over, the police will be called.
“It is our building, we own the building and we are the board of directors of that building — they are not.”
Neville said security is being maintained at the shelter.
“We are an operating shelter with all our employees still gainfully employed, along with our manager, and we are open for business during business hours,” he said.
“If they want to come in and blockade us and barge their way in, we will call the police and have them evicted.”
Neville said shelter manager Patsy Rose has not been fired. He said she has been with shelter 30 years and she has the board’s complete confidence.
“The provincial board might have fired her but her employers didn’t fire her — the people who are paying her.”
Brett Loney, spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture, said according to provincial legislation under the Animal Protection Act Section 10, each branch of the SPCA is subject to the control and direction of the provincial society.
“The branch may be dissolved by the society or suspended by the society or its executive members.”
When asked if the province would step in if the situation is not resolved, Loney said it is an internal SPCA matter.
“Our expectation is both the parties involved in this appreciate the importance of animal welfare and they will find a solution.”
Loney confirmed his department does has a representative on the provincial board.
Patsy Rose said she has put 30 years into the shelter as it is a cause in which she believes. She said she is tired and frustrated with the inaccurate accusations made by the provincial board.
She said comments by provincial officials that the Cape Breton branch would not let them move eight dogs and 10 cats to other shelters Thursday because of the overcrowding, are not true.
“They never asked us at all — that is a full-out lie.”
Rose said it was business as usual at the shelter Friday.
“We had three dogs adopted and a mother and kittens taken into a foster home,” she said.
She said people are calling offering support.

From the Eagle 103.5 news site:

November 17

2011 Shelter Audit
Cape Breton Shelter

As part of the SPCA’s commitment to our No Kill Strategy, there are many other important components that are vital to running a healthy and sustainable Shelter program. As all of our branches rely on donations, and therefore it is imperative that all of our branches conduct themselves in an open, professional and transparent manner. A high level of customer service and robust Volunteer programs are a part of each Shelter’s success or failure if implemented poorly.
The number of people that have adopted a sick animal, or have had a negative experience either as a member of the public or a volunteer at the Cape Breton branch is alarming and completely unacceptable.  The public’s perception of the shelter is for the most part, extremely negative. Complaints are frequent, but usually not addressed to the satisfaction of an individual. Greater stewardship of all of these relationships would foster a stronger and more financially stable shelter. Adoptions and revenue would increase and with positive change, the ability to provide greater standards of animal care would be implemented.

Management and Record Keeping:

The shelter does not have any clear policies or procedures outlined in regards to Animal care, intake, treatment or euthanasia.
Staff is not properly trained on disease control. They have little to no basic animal husbandry training or experience and are not even able to perform routine medical care such as administering SubQ fluids on a dehydrated animal.
Staff also does not have the basic training or understanding to recognize common shelter diseases such as calicivirus and herpes in felines, and as such, provide no medical care in regards to these conditions.

Facility Design and Environment:In regards to this significant issue, there are really too many deficiencies to mention. One of the most significant concerns is the use of substandard kennels in their intake area (far too small for kittens, let alone adult cats) and their lack of a proper isolation room for both cats and dogs.
Many of their primary dog enclosures need to have either their kennel doors repaired or replaced.
The inside of their guillotine doors are made of untreated lumber, which would provide absolutely no ability to disinfect properly. For a shelter with a high rate of parvo this is not acceptable and should be treated with an epoxy product immediately.
Outdoor runs up until very recently were not being cleaned properly with moldy feces being left in outdoor runs for days and/or weeks at a time (pictures to support).
They do not have proper ventilation installed in their upstairs free roaming cat room which keeps the room stuffy and traps odor. As well, all of the cats currently in this room are presenting with URI, so without the proper number of air exchanges per hour, disease continues to remain in the room and will be extremely difficult to eliminate.

Population Management:

Monthly intakes and outcomes are not being properly tracked or recorded. There is a concern that upwards to 50% of the intake may have possibly been erroneously reported.
A number of surfaces throughout the facility are broken down or defective, allowing disease to be
trapped in the cracks and hard to disinfect. There is little to no use of stainless steel tables to exam animals and to allow for proper disinfecting.
Please note the following observation:

Recently, a cat gave birth to two kittens in their upstairs free roaming cat room. Staff was aware of this but failed to act by separating the mother cat/kittens from the rest of the general population. A volunteer came in the next day to find the two kittens had been partially eaten. We were able to have this confirmed when it was admitted by a staff member that he failed to act in an appropriate manner.Sanitation:

Until assistance was provided by the Provincial Shelter, the CB Shelter did not have any documented or verbal protocols in regards to disease control or sanitation at their shelter.
On many occasions, shelter staff chose to use a disinfectant, not specifically designed for shelter use, called limonene 64 and comet to clean feces off the floor in the dog kennels.
Shelter staff does not routinely scrub the kennel doors and they do not use a degreaser on kennels before placing a new animal in a kennel.
Staff does not properly measure the disinfectants they use to ensure maximum effectiveness.
On many occasions, primary enclosures are not thoroughly sanitized before new animals enter.
Separate cleaning supplies are not designated for rooms properly.
Please note the following observations:

Disease control and cleaning protocols have been shared by Provincial for them to use to gain greater control after a recent parvo outbreak (approx. 7 dogs in the last month). Despite sending them new protocols to follow, staff confirmed that they were still very confused as to which protocols were to be used in certain situations and that management at the local level had not supported these new protocols.
In transfers of animals from the Cape Breton Branch to the Provincial Animal Shelter, questions have been raised by the Provincial Chief Veterinarian (CPV) on numerous occasions as to the reoccurrence of burns on the scrotum and pads on the feet of dogs that appeared to look like chemical burns. Concerns were raised with the shelter manager and direction provided as to how to eliminate such occurrences; however burns continue to be reported.Upon a recent visit, a Parvo outbreak was ongoing. A Parvo positive dog was removed from its kennel to be taken to the vet with direction from Provincial. In the dog’s absence, the staff did not disinfect, nor post warning signage on the door indicating a deadly disease was present. Due to this lack of oversight, an 8 week old puppy was placed into the vacated kennel and was directly exposed to parvo.Medical Health and Wellbeing:

Animals are not extensively examined on intake. They do not perform a physical examination of an animal on intake, nor does the branch record any information on the animal except what they put on their kennel cards. This lack of examination has led to nearly all animals not receiving the proper medical attention in regards to serious and/or chronic health problems and either being transferred to another branch or adopted out.
Staff is not trained in recognizing the change in behavior or health of an animal, especially in regards to Parvo or in the hydration of an animal. Usually, by the time the animal is diagnosed the prognosis for recovery is very poor and the animal is euthanized. In several instances, a Parvo suspected animal was euthanized without a parvo test being administered and was done based on observation only by shelter staff and management.
Staff is allowed, if an animal presents with clinical signs of URI, to administer medication without the direct supervision and support of a veterinarian. This constitutes practicing without a veterinarian license and is prohibited by the NSVMA Act.
When an animal is given medication, the dosage is not tracked for the individual animal separately and no medical log is kept.
The shelter does not log and record their medication inventory properly. The branch accepts donated medication prescribed to other animals without checking with a veterinarian.
The branch is suspected of performing euthanasia without sedating the animal first, which is contrary to policy and industry standards.
Once a feline presents with URI, the animal is not sequestered in an appropriate isolation area, as there is no isolation for feline or canine animals at their shelter, regardless of the severity or type of disease.
Staff does not perform Feline Leukemia testing on any of their cats prior to adoption.
Vaccine updates are performed ad hoc, sometimes not within the designated time required.
Staff does not perform daily rounds, nor do they record observations in a daily health check.
Weight is never monitored, even when an animal has been in their care for an extended period of time.
Staff is not sufficiently training to recognize pain or an animal emergency, nor do they provide prompt medical care in many cases, as observed by volunteers who frequent the building on a regular basis and by visiting staff members who have had to prompt medical care to be provided.
The shelter does not have an effective parasite control program. Animals do not normally receive fecals, even if their stool is loose and noticeably abnormal.

Please Note the following observations:

The Provincial Animal Shelter has routinely accepted animals from the branch that have chronic ear infections, coccidia, giardia and on occasion, parvo. These are animals that have never been seen by a veterinarian and have received no medical attention prior to arriving at the Provincial Animal Shelter. In every case, the branch has informed provincial that they were unaware of disease. If these animals had not come to the Provincial Animal Shelter and been seen by the CPV for treatment, they would have been adopted out to unsuspecting members of the public who would have either left the condition untreated themselves in ignorance, or would have had to accept the financial expense of treatment themselves.
A number of animals have arrived at the Provincial Animal Shelter with many types of health concerns or ailments such as benign and malignant growths, degenerative myelopathy and entropian eye repair.
Concerns have been voiced to the branch over the lack of medical care provided prior to arriving at the Provincial Animal Shelter. Medical concerns are not investigated by the branch and medical needs are not addressed.
Animals routinely arrive at the Provincial Animal Shelter with their coats in poor condition and/or underweight. When asked about the weight, the branch always indicate that the dog comes into their care in that condition; however it has been discovered that they do not weigh their animals on intake, nor do they go by the nutritional guidelines indicated on the food bag. Instead every animal gets mostly the same amount, a few cups in a medium sized bowl for the majority of dogs. They are only fed once a day, in the morning. If an animal’s food or water becomes contaminated it is often not replaced.At the present time, there is an entire room of cats that are currently presenting with URI, and they remain housed together free roaming. Because they are not being housed individually in isolation, there is no ability for staff to monitor the animal’s water or food intake. They are also not monitoring their temperature or weight (as no dog or cat scales exist in the building).
When provincial staff attended at the branch it was noticed that a few cats were open mouth breathing and another animal was extremely dehydrated. When inquiries were made as to whether they could administer SubQ fluids or know how to force feed if required (as it’s imperative that a cat does not stop eating for more then 2-3 days maximum) it was discovered that there are no staff in the building that are able to perform these functions, even though three of the staff have been working at the shelter for 10+ years.They have no written or verbal protocol for treatment of URI in felines or the knowledge or understanding of the severity and speed of decline and the need to monitor their health closely.
On many occasions, branch management has been offered the use of any number of standardized forms, protocols and procedures or anything else in regards to animal care that they may be interested in.
Additional training and mentorship has also been offered to staff, but it has been met with disinterest.
When instruction has been given to monitor animals more closely (performing an intake checklist and evaluation) management has agreed but never implemented the procedure fully.
At the last visit to the shelter, performance action was necessary to ensure that branch staff and management were adhering to published animal care policies. 4 weeks later, staff admitted that they still had not been presented with the policies by management see:

Response to Disease or Illness:The shelter currently has no dedicated cat isolation area anywhere in the building. They do have a small holding area (with approx. 3 dog kennels) for dogs, but considering the large number of dogs they accept, this is far from adequate to meet the 10% required by the Guideline standards.
The shelter has no known protocols to define or manage common illness, nor an adequate outbreak response for more serious disease outbreaks like Parvo.The shelter has no clear procedure to address disease control problems post adoption. Most individuals are either turned away or they are refused a refund.There is little professional supervision for the use of all prescription, controlled and off label drugs unless the animal was seen by a vet due to sickness or injury.
Protocols for the use of medications are not developed in consultation with a veterinarian.
Medical treatments are not documented for each individual animal.Behavioral Health and Mental Well-Being:Animals are never evaluated or temperament tested prior to adoption.
Staff is not trained to recognize, nor do they record and monitor their behavior. The shelter has no enrichment programs for any animals, including those who are exhibiting stress or who are housed long term at their shelter.
There are no behaviour modification strategies designed or implemented for any dogs, nor do they have the capacity, knowledge or training to perform these tasks, though volunteer services have been offered.
Puppies are not given proper socialization or positive interactions with humans.
Staff rarely interacts with an animal directly unless it is related to the cleaning of their kennel.There are no training programs available or offered to adopters based on positive reinforcement.
Alternatives to traditional kenneling are not offered for animals housed long term.
Enrichment is not provided for animals while in their enclosures.

Please note the following observations:

Because animals are not temperament tested, this has led to many dogs coming to the Provincial Animal Shelter with food and resource guarding issues. Although these behaviour issues are trainable and not a reason to euthanize, there is a concern for public safety and safeguards need to be put in place to ensure that the public is educated to the best of the ability of shelter staff prior to adoption. The staff when questioned by provincial or volunteers on many occasions did not even seem to know the names of most of the dogs in their care.
There is absolutely no enrichment for the animals besides what is currently being provided by the volunteers at the shelter. They are not given any toys or enough outside exercise. Dogs are only put outside once a day, unless volunteers are present to take them out in the afternoon which is a direct policy violation of the Society’s authored standards of care


Euthanasia is performed by staff who have only received limited compassion fatigue training and no support services.
Please note the following observation:
The ability to euthanize animals directly should be removed from the branch’s responsibility and should be instead placed directly into the control of a veterinarian. The animal should be sedated prior to euthanizing and the animal should be provided a greater measure of dignity in the process.

Spaying and Neutering:The shelter does not require its animals to be altered prior to adoption, and instead use a rebate to cover a portion of the costs.

Animal Transportation:
No issues noted.

Public Health:

The shelter does not have a current OH&S program and is not adhering to the provincial OH&S policy.
The shelter does not have enough hand sanitizer or hand washing stations in their building and do not have any hand washing stations in any of their animal rooms.They do not clearly mark cages with animals known to be aggressive or potentially aggressive and allow members of the public to enter their main dog kennel room without staff supervision.
The branch houses dogs from all components of their operations, including animal control in the same room while giving members of the public unsupervised access.Behavioural concerns are not documented, and in most cases they are unaware as they do not temperament test so they do not have the ability to discuss these concerns with potential adopters.

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