The problem with the easy road ……

from this morning’s Herald

Veterinarians find deficiencies at Sydney shelter

November 24, 2011 – 4:38am By CLARE MELLOR Staff Reporter Small cat kennels, lack of drug documentation cited
Poor infection control, bad record keeping and overcrowding are just a few deficiencies found Monday during veterinarians’ inspection of the controversial Sydney SPCA animal shelter.
Cape Breton Regional Municipality hired two independent veterinarians — Leanna White and Rebecca Korven — to inspect the East Broadway Road Shelter in response to a public dispute that erupted last week between the shelter and the SPCA provincial executive.
“The majority of cat kennels are too small and overcrowded. This needs to be corrected immediately,” Korven and White say in the report, released Wednesday.
“Each cat needs to have its own kennel that meets minimum animal welfare standards.”


“Animals that were treated with medications did not have their own medical chart. There was no documentation of drugs given, amount, times, health of animal, or observations as to how the animal was responding,” they said.
The veterinarians said they also found that, on occasion, shelter staff administered euthanasia drugs and a potent veterinary antibiotic without any monitoring by a veterinarian. The antibiotic can potentially harm humans who come into direct contact with it.
The SPCA’s provincial executive fired Sydney shelter manager Patsy Rose last Wednesday, citing “significant deficiencies” in the care of the shelter’s animals.
The organization, which said it had also received formal complaints from volunteers, also moved to dismantle the eight-member Cape Breton board.
However, on Monday, Rose, who has managed the facility for over 30 years, and her staff refused to leave the facility and turn it over to the provincial organization.
Rose told CBC news that the shelter had removed the SPCA name from the premises.
Wednesday evening, the shelter’s voicemail recording announced callers had reached the Cape Breton Humane Society.
Mel Neville, chairman of the board of the Sydney SPCA, had not yet seen the report when contacted Wednesday. He said that he informally spoke to the veterinarians following their inspection and said he was told there were no concerns about any animals at the shelter.
He said the shelter is continuing its operations.
“We never missed a heartbeat. We are just continuing on the same way that we continued on for 35 years. The only thing we cannot do is go to a cruelty call.”
He concedes the shelter needs to improve its record keeping.
“It is not hurting the animals. All you have to do is look at them to see that they are well looked after.”
Kristin Williams, executive director of the provincial SPCA, said that the veterinarians’ report identifies many problems that the provincial SPCA had also found.
“We found great concern with those deficiencies, as have those veterinarians,” she said Wednesday.
She said the provincial SPCA is launching a “legal challenge” in the case against the Sydney shelter but was unable to elaborate Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the provincial SPCA is setting up a new foster-based branch of the SPCA in Sydney.
“It is a response to the public desire to continue to have animal welfare addressed by the SPCA in Cape Breton,” she said.
“We are recruiting for the board of directors currently.”
While the veterinarians’ report doesn’t show that animals at the shelter are in any immediate danger, Mayor John Morgan said he is concerned about the findings. The municipality plans to discuss the concerns with the provincial government, which is the regulatory authority for animal welfare. Council also met Wednesday afternoon to discuss the findings of the inspection.
Cape Breton Regional Municipality provides the bulk of funding to the shelter through its animal control bylaw contract, Morgan said.
“The next step for us really is to determine a process to get each of those deficiencies corrected as promptly as possible,” he said
Brett Loney, a spokesman for the Agriculture Department, said Wednesday that department officials are in the early stages of reviewing the report.
“There does appear to be changes needed in the long-term operation of the Cape Breton shelter but the other thing is, from looking at the report, there doesn’t appear to be any animals that are in distress at this time.”
With files from Davene Jeffrey
By CLARE MELLA Staff Reporter
Well then.  I am a middle aged grandmother, not a starry eyed seventeen year old, so sadly I am not surprised to see politicians taking the easy road.    Do you remember when the horrific footage at the Celtic Pets Seizure surfaced on the news?   It was then, and only then, that the Mayor of Port Hawkesbury cancelled their Animal Control Contract.  
After the seizure,  media reports had a heyday with the information that complaints from area residents about Celtic Pets had repeatedly fallen on deaf municipal ears. 
Why were these complaints dismissed?   Was it easier to ignore them?  Was it cheaper? 
Of course it was!   Yesterday, the CBRM Mayor and Council chose to circle the wagons and protect the disbanded branch board of directors and the dismissed shelter manager.   In spite of overwhelming evidence in the audit that the council had commissioned …. in defiance of legal steps taken by the only body legislated in this province to protect the animals … the Mayor and Council picked the easy road.
Claims that there are no other options out there are absolutely ridiculous!  Had the dismissed shelter manager and the disbanded board not been protected by the CBRM Mayor, Council and Police Department, the society would already be started on the road to renovating and improving the shelter.
One wonders if the Mayor and Council will be so quick to protect the dismissed shelter manager and the disbanded board should there be another horrific video on Live at Five.  Unlike Mayor McLean, they will not be able to take refuge in the fact that none of their AC animals were actually housed at the shelter, eh?  
When politicians pick the easy path,  does that mean that kind hearted individuals are powerless?  Of course not!
One of the virtues of living in a democracy is that we elect our politicians.  What does that mean in realspeak?  Why of course that they never, ever forget that we ‘hired’ them … and we can ‘fire’ them.
If you are incensed about yesterday’s decision, you can email your MLA.  If you live in the CBRM boundaries, I would encourage you to contact your Councillors and Mayor.
And that is how I see it, on Thursday, November 24th …. the EIGHTH day since the dismissed shelter manager and the disbanded branch board created the renegade shelter.

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