A sign of the times.

from The Cape Breton Post
CBRM will get animal shelter update today
Chris Shannon

Published on December 18, 2011
SYDNEY — The registrar of the Nova Scotia Veterinarian Medical Association will deliver a report to Cape Breton regional council this morning on whether the Cape Breton Humane Society has been properly addressing deficiencies at its animal shelter in Whitney Pier.The Cape Breton Regional Municipality sought out the assistance of Frank Richardson following the report presented to council on Nov. 23 by two Sydney veterinarians.

Veterinarians Leanna White and Rebecca Korven found problems ranging from the way the health of animals is assessed when they are admitted, to the potential spread of diseases among cats and dogs, and overcrowding in some areas of the shelter.
Some of the problems, having to do with the building’s size, indicate that construction of a new shelter may be required.
With 27 recommendations in all, council will want to see if immediate improvements were made to a number of the more urgent problems, while addressing issues such as ventilation within the building over a period of time, CBRM Mayor John Morgan said.
“We’re hoping many of the (deficiencies) will already have been corrected or at least steps are being taken to address the ones that are long-term in nature,” he said Sunday.
Unlike the first meeting with the veterinarians, which was held in-camera, the session at 10 a.m. in council chambers is open to the public. Representatives from the humane society will also be present so they can respond to Richardson’s report.
On Sunday, Cape Breton Humane Society chair Mike Mombourquette said the board has completed 16 of the report’s recommendations and the remainder are currently being addressed by the board.
“The ones that are not completed are all ongoing. (We’re) trying to complete them as quickly and as safely as we can,” he said.
Mombourquette said some of the recommendations such as removing carpet from the cat room, the addition of more litter boxes, and testing dogs that show signs of the parvo virus, were implemented immediately.
Nova Scotia SPCA used its authority under the Animal Protection Act to dissolve the local board on Nov. 21 — five days after it attempted to take control of the shelter due to accusations of poor animal care, abnormally high rates of disease transmission and bad bookkeeping.
At the request of the SPCA, the shelter took down all signs and logos indicating it was a branch of the organization before it renamed itself the Cape Breton Humane Society.
The SPCA will ask a Supreme Court justice to grant an interim injunction giving the provincial body access to the humane society’s property as it has the authority in Nova Scotia to enforce the Animal Protection Act. The hearing is tentatively scheduled for Jan. 4-5 in Sydney.
The shelter’s three-year contract to enforce the CBRM’s dog bylaw, worth $249,000 a year, is set to expire in March. With only one shelter in Sydney, Morgan said it’s “highly likely” the group that controls the shelter will be most able to deliver the service for the CBRM.
But there are several variables at play, he added.
“We don’t have certainty right now that if SPCA Nova Scotia gains control of the facility that they will necessarily continue with the contract. That’s something that is an unknown right now.”
Council will also hear from the group, the Friends of the SPCA, which hasn’t been permitted inside the shelter since the dispute erupted, and hasn’t been able to publicly present its concerns to the CBRM until today.
I have always loved studying history!    Perhaps it stems from being a schoolmarm’s daughter.   Maybe it is an acquired taste picked up during postings across Canada and Europe.
Deep down, I suspect it is simply that curiosity always gets the better of me.   Even allowing for the fact that history is written by the winners, it is just so darned interesting to find out how people lived!
I am always amazed at how often politicians seem to ignore the lessons lurking in the history books and public records.   
In 2010, when Homeward Bound City Pound won the contract for animal sheltering services for HRM, nobody was more surprised than the society!   It was beyond their imagining that anyone outside of The Metro Shelter would be able to offer the expertise or the facility to successfully bid on the contract.
There is a lesson here to be learned, if only the good Mayor and Council of CBRM would choose to put the tender out for their Animal Control Services … that being of course that they just might be surprised at the options that wind up on the table!
Did Homeward Bound City Pound have a facility when they placed their bid?   Of course not!   The bid included their proposed plan to renovate existing available space to create a short term sheltering facility.
On the other hand, NOT putting the contract out for tender does more than limit the Council’s choices.   Whether intentional or not,  the absence of a tender only reinforces the public perception that the Mayor and Council are protecting their pals!
On the other hand ….  if the existing arrangement is a permanent affair , why go through the charade of even calling it a contracted service?   Is it because CBRM does not want the obligation of more full time staff?  The responsibility of building maintenance and repair?  
Or is it simply to avoid public airing of any dirty laundry with that darned  freedom to access public information?   Until the society started publicly posting its statistics, the taxpayers of CBRM had no idea what was happening at the shelter.
The testy topic of how inaccurate those statistics actually were at the (then) Cape Breton SPCA shelter is sadly only one of the action items in the 2011 Shelter Audit, eh?
Five years ago, who would have dared to dream that the society would have changed its tack?   That Pets Unlimited and PJ’s Pets would stop selling puppies and kittens?  
That the (then) Cape Breton SPCA would have been ordered by the Provincial Board to stop using the horrible home made gas chamber?  
What time is it?    When the  CBRM Mayor and Council could not find one single practicing veterinarian in the province willing to inspect the renegade shelter, that it might just be a sign of the times!
And that is how I see it on Monday, December 19th, the THIRTY – THIRD day since the dismissed shelter manager and the disbanded board created the renegade shelter.

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