Category Archives: Reigning Cats and Dogs

About the Archive

Why the archive?    That answer is simple!     The short answer is that after years are blogging, there are just too many posts for my current hosting package.    This is the original, and free, site where I brought my google blog over to wordpress.   What better place to put the archived posts so that they are still available?

Thank you .. as always .. for your interest in animals.


A little chat about responsibility

There has been a LOT of buzz on Facebook this weekend about George.   For those folks, not on Facebook, PLEASE CLICK HERE for the story that the Chronicle Herald did on the subject.

The short version of the story is that on Wednesday, Dec 9th, Tyler Singer and his friend found an emaciated boxer in Georgefield.   Tyler brought the dog home and named him George.   The next day, Dec 10th, Tyler posted horrifically heartbreaking pictures of this poor dog on Facebook.   Naturally there was an immediate outpouring of compassion and these pictures quickly grew legs and galloped all around Facebook.

Before the keyboards catch on fire, this is not going be a post asking why this emaciated dog which was found on Wednesday did not see a veterinarian until the weekend.   Nor it is going to be a debate about which should come first for a rescue, the fundraising or the essential vet care.

I am a middle aged grandmother, not an SPCA cruelty investigator.   It is for the SPCA to pursue their investigation of what is so clearly a case of animal abuse.   And while they may never discover who was responsible for such suffering, the bottom line is that IT IS THEIR LEGALLY MANDATED JOB to investigate animal cruelty in this province.

So what ARE we supposed to do in Nova Scotia if we find a dog or a cat?    Under normal circumstances, finders have a legal obligation to contact animal control.   After all, that is one of the first places that the distraught owners will go to look, eh?

In addition, while I cannot swear for every vet clinic in this province, I do know that when my vet clinic is called about a found pet, they also call animal control.  Why?   Because they are obligated by law!

Now I will be the first to admit there is a natural reticence to calling animal control.   Lets face it, in many instances in the past and even sometimes today , not every impounded pet makes it out alive.    Nor is there any assurance that ill or mistreated pets will receive the immediate medical care that they need.

Even so .. not every foundling is a stray.     Here in Nova Scotia we are also lucky to have the fabulous resource of The Nova Scotia Lost Dog Network.   And while  the Lost and Found Cats in Nova Scotia is not as of this writing a public group, there are plenty of local lost and found facebook pages available too.

What about the SPCA?   Are they not mandated by law to enforce animal cruelty?   Of course they are!   Are we not supposed to report animal abuse cases to their cruelty line?   Now THAT is where it gets a little fuzzy.

Under the new law, veterinarians are legally obliged to report cases of animal abuse.   That part is pretty straight up.   What about private folks?  You?  Me?   What about animal rescues?   THAT is where the ball drops.

The short answer is that technically none of us are obligated by law to report animal abuse.   Straight, sweet and simple!    So why should we as individuals stick out necks out?

That answer is so simple even a stump could understand!   How can the SPCA ever hope to properly investigate animal cruelty cases if they are kept out of the loop?    After all, there is not one single rescue in this province that has a legal mandate to investigate animal abuse, eh?  Not one!

Just imagine if someone found a child in distress in the woods.    Would anyone take that child home and feed him and keep him warm?   Post pictures on facebook?   Of course not?   They would call 911 immediately!   Police would not have to haunt social media to find the child.  Nor would any social services department have waited to provide medical care for the child.

But I am wandering a bit afield as I am wont to do in my meandering way.   The point I am trying to make today is that if we expect the society to protect pets in this province, then we have to give them the tools to do the job.

Should it be mandatory for individuals and rescues to report animal abuse?    Here in the real world, it can upon occasion be problematic and even dangerous for individuals to report on their neighbours.     It is however, a completely different kettle of fish for animal rescues.

Organizations that are devoted to providing better outcomes for animals in need should be obligated by law to report animal abuse cases.   For today, lets leave the testy topic of the need to regulate animal rescue groups as a sticky subject for a future post, eh?

What time is it?   If we want a better world for the animals, it is time to move past what we have always done.    To paraphrase Albert Einstein, it is the only way we will get different results.

Being responsible sometimes means pissing people off.     Colin Powell

A Better Black Friday

Black Friday really sneaked up on us.    One moment it was something those wacky Americans were doing and in the next breath it was popping up in our own malls and stores.   It does not seem to matter that our own Thanksgiving was celebrated in October.   Nor does the  fact that our flagging dollar has dampened much of the enthusiasm for cross border shopping.   As the official kick off for the holiday shopping season, it sadly seems to be here to stay.

Personally, I think the best bit about Black Friday is the way several smart shelters south of the border have used it as a spring board to promote adopting black pets!    What a clever, clever Idea!

Who knows why black pets are harder to find homes for?   Is it because in days of yore some of our European tribal ancestors may have believed white cats to be holy?   That our cultural memories attach the opposite of holiness to black cats?    That we as a culture see black as a colour of mourning.   Is it because Hollywood has a long standing tradition of dressing its villains in black?

Who knows?    Yet if we look at it from a more pet savvy perspective, we would realize that many black cats have a fair bit of Burmese in their family tree.  This is an affectionate breed that is renowned for their loyalty and devotion to their humans.    From a personal perspective, in a house with five cats, it is my black cat Clive who is the most sociable and friendliest whenever visitors come calling

The three black beauties in the slideshow at the top of the page are all available for adoption at the Kings County SPCA.    They are all as big and as beautiful as they are going to get.   At the risk of sounding like a stuck record, it is always easier to find a kindred spirit in an adult cat who has already settled into their personality.

One of the loveliest big dogs that I have seen in all my time of promoting pet adoption is in the care of No chains ALL Love Nova Scotia.   Jax is a fairly young gentle giant who was tied out 24/7.   When he was rescued his muzzle was taped shut 😦   In the words of his foster Mom, he is just a baby.     Jax is so gentle that Joan has begun the process for him to become a St John’s Ambulance therapy dog.   It is possible that might be a non starter because is deaf, but it speaks volumes about his temperament that this is even on the table.

What time is it?    It is always time to remember that the season was never be about how many gadgets and toys are under the tree.   None of that matters without love.

Never, ever too old to be loved

I have never been a fan of daylight savings time.   As a shift worker, I often got the short end of the stick when we would ‘spring forward’.     To be perfectly honest, that extra hour of sleep in the fall has been at best a consolation prize for such foolishness.

What difference does an hour really make?   If I had my pick, this year I would have turned my clocks back a year.  Back to when we were still a four dog house.   Back to when we were blissfully unaware that we were readying for our last holiday season together.   Back.   Back.   Back.

Does that mean that I have changed my mind?   That I will start adopting younger dogs?   Dogs under ten instead of over?   Of course not!    At the risk of sounding like a stuck record, I still believe that senior pets bring a special  Zen to any space they inhabit.

Nor is it all humdrum and naps!     I would not have missed Rascal’s delight in discovering our woodland trails or Mandy’s barking, bouncing  infatuation with Miss Ruby.  Or Winnie’s joy in his new safe, snuggly life.   Or Tinker’s transformation from shaggy vagabond to elegant poodle.   Or Andy’s happiness in having soft cooked food that his toothless self could comfortably eat.

Yes, I will admit that I did not get to love any of them for fifteen or twenty years.    Does that mean that I am made out of steel?   That my heart does not shatter each and every time one goes over the bridge?    Of course not!

But here Is the thing ….. senior pets are funny and quirky and sweet.    In short .. they are exactly my cup of tea.   I like sleeping through the night.    It’s nice to be able to leave my slippers on the floor by my bed and my shoes by the door.     When I am all tuckered out from stacking wood or tilling, it is lovely to share space with  dogs that are just happy to hang out.    And when we do want to go do something interesting, there are lots of sweaters and snuggli’s and even a stroller so that everyone can come along comfortably.

Does this mean that I am going to run right out and adopt another senior dog or two?   Not yet.   After losing two in less than six months, I am nowhere near ready to start ‘looking’.   But then, after such a great loss, it is possible that I may never be really be ‘over it’.   The best I can promise is that I still believe that the most meaningful way to honour the life of a good dog is to save a life by adopting another.

Maybe not today.  Or this week.   Or this month … although November IS Adopt a Senior Pet Month!     But I can promise that when I do adopt another dog, he will be over ten …. because I know first hand that older dogs really ARE more experienced at love.


If only they could bark

It would have been utterly impossible to have missed the story of this weekend’s SPCANS seizure.     Even if one was unwilling or unable to sample what wares social media had to offer, the tale quickly grew legs and galloped around mainstream media outlets of all stripes.

Is that a bad thing?   Of course not!   In my not so humble opinion, it is always a good thing to shine the spotlight on animal welfare.   There is always the possibility that such stories can be both food for thought and fodder for coffee break chat.

But .. and yes is there not always, always a but … where are the tales of the pussycats in distress?    Animal abandonment is acknowledged by all parties as animal cruelty.   At the eleventh hour, Nova Scotia’s “new” regulations for the Animal Protection Act were even expanded to specifically include cats.

Now it is not as if there are no stories on the subject.     There is not one single week when cat rescuers around the province are not struggling to fundraise for cats.     Each and every week, there are abandoned mother cats with their wee ones.   Each and every week there are Feral cats to fix and feed.    And each and every week there are calls about strays showing up looking for safe harbor.

Each and every week this is happening!    So where are all the stories in the news about that?    When twenty-five dogs and puppies were in distress,  the society pulled out all the stops … even closing the shelter for a bit until the dogs and puppies could get sorted out and situated.

To be perfectly fair, I have yet to hear of vehicular attacks on society inspectors .. or anyone for that matter .. .trying to bring twenty odd cats out of harms way.   Nor would the shelter close down to make room for sudden influxes of cats.    The plain unvarnished truth is that cats in distress are not seen as critical enough to shut down any society shelter in this province.

Where are all the news releases for the cats?     Where are all the sound bites?    Newspaper articles?    It IS possible to position a cat story in the media.   A couple of years ago in Kings County,  an animal advocate used a FOI request to obtain the appalling Animal Control statistics.   There was a great flurry for a week or two.   It even inspired the society to successfully  lobby for the Animal Control contract.

Did that make anything better?   Who knows!   The society has slipped out of the habit of transparency.  Those bright and shiny days when their statistics were proudly displayed every quarter are a dream that once was.     Are they taking all the cats in need?    Who knows?    What is their live release rate these days?   Who knows that either.

( As a sidebar note to that, the testy topic of how Kings County is either unwilling or unable to invest further funding for cats to well-known and well-respected, long-term cat rescuers is a sticky subject that will get a post of its own one of these days, eh? )

But I am wandering afield .. as I am often wont to do in my meandering way.   Lets face it .. the difference between cats and dogs is sadly still so much more than anatomical.   Nor, to be perfectly fair, is the society alone on the Good Ship Speciesism.    Politicians when pressed kick the can down the road for someone else.     I have been told that pet store satellite adoption centers still give preferential treatment to dogs and leave cats playing second fiddle with the lower traffic times.

Nor is there any righteous public indignation when garbage bags .. or green bins … of cats and kittens keep popping up.    No one runs to the media when bags of cats are tossed out vehicles, eh?

Why?     The plain unvarnished truth is even at the grassroots level, beautiful and brilliant cats are often second class kittizens.   Many owned cats live their whole lives without seeing a vet.   Even worse, It is simply accepted as a fact of life that cats and kittens will be dumped.    Saddest if all of course is that unwanted cats who survive the natural predators, can still fall prey to the “varmint hunters’ … hired by humans who see them only as pests.

I once asked a friend of mine involved in the media why stories about cats never made the front page.     Her take was that editors did not find such frequent stories to be newsworthy.  Ah then … does no one choose to see that the frequency IS the story?

What time is it?    If one cannot respect what wonderful companions cats are … then at least it is time to understand that it is just plain old-fashioned fiscal prudence to fix the cat overpopulation problem .   After all, it is only small children wishing away the monsters under the bed who believe they can close their eyes and make everything better!

Such a struggle to be polite sometimes

I have five cats.   To be perfectly honest, the only reason I do not have more is that the arrival of the fourth and fifth cats triggered the asthma that I hadn’t seen since I quit smoking twenty-two years ago.    That of course does not mean that the need has lessened in any way   😦

Every day since then, I have seen so many beautiful cats in need.   Every week since then my heart has tugged  for another lovely that has become collateral damage to  human selfishness.    And every year since then I am still saddened by the double standard that has allowed cats to be treated like second class pets.

Now before the keyboards cat(ch) on fire .. yes I do know that there are plenty of responsible pet owners who take fabulous care of their cats.    From first love to elderyears, these cats are cherished and protected in every possible way.    Lets face it .. if every cat owner in this province followed this path … cat rescuers would soon run out of work to do, eh?

What a wonderful world that would be, eh?   But here in the real world, responsible cat owners often seem to be the exception rather than the rule, eh?    Even worse, there is markedly less public enthusiasm for cat welfare.   Sadder still of course is a general reluctance to accept any municipal or provincial responsibility for addressing the unowned .. or community cat .. populations in any sustainable, humane way.

Saddest of all has been the culture created around Animal Control with respect to cats.    To be fair, some municipalities have tried to provide better outcomes for some of the cats in its care by partnering with rescues.   Others have helped by providing funding for local TNR groups.  And yes .. some society branches with animal control contracts do provide better outcomes for the cats they are able to bring into their care.

As helpful as that is … that still does not address the real bottom line.     All those abandoned cats who have managed to survive did not pack their bags and decide to leave home one day.     It was human disregard for their well-being that put them out on the street.

Now in this province, if a dog is dropped off on a back road, he or she will generally come under the umbrella of  animal control.    If one wades through the myriad different animal control arrangement to be found in this province, it quickly becomes clear that there are very few municipalities in this province who are even mandated by bylaws to assume responsibility for unowned cats.

Huh!      Now of course this is not new information for seasoned cat rescuers.   Good grief …  why do you think that cat rescuers have become accustomed to acting wherever and whenever they can to help cats?

Until that magic day when there is meaningful municipally sponsored low-cost spay / neuter for cats in this province, you may expect that any cat rescuer worth their salt is not going to leave an emaciated cat to struggle on the street!   Straight, sweet and simple!

The sticky subject of how dangerous it is to let pet cats go on walkabout is a testy topic for another day on this blog, eh?

Not to be mean, but it take a Kim Davis level of stupidity to go to the mainstream media and whine about a cat rescuer killing one’s pet cat.   Might be a different story if the cat had been well fed and well cared for.   Or if timely vet care had been provided by the owner for her aging cat.    If dental care had been provided for that poor little mouth.

But then … if all that had been done … the rescuer would have simply tucked the kitty into a foster corner, listed her on the Lost and Found Cat Networks and waited until the happy owner showed up .. full of gratitude and relief.    At the very worst, there would have been a gentle scolding about the dangers for senior cats out on the street, eh?

Of all the bits I saw in the media, my favourite quote was from the rescuer … She said she would not have taken the cat had she known he had an owner; instead, she would have called the SPCA. Regardless, she said she submitted a complaint about the cat’s conditions to the organization.

What time is it?    Hopefully it is time to see animal cruelty charges laid against the owner.  In a bigger picture kind of way … it is also time for all animal control contracts to include vet care for all impounds and provision for community low-cost spay neuter.

PS … it is also time to remember that indoor only cats can leave full and complete lives.   My Clive, for instance, at ten is happy and healthy and has not been hurt or injured or worse.




Throw Back Thursday

I love the little hummingbirds that flock to the flora around my yard!   Fun fact …, this is the first year in over a decade that I actually had to dust off my old feeder and put my thinking cap on to remember my nectar recipe.

Why?    Did I not like them last year?   Or all the years before that?   Of course I did!    Gosh …  give any gardener enough time and their yard will become a living bird feeder, eh?      But after the funny winter we just had, this is the first year that I can remember the hummingbirds arriving before anything was in bloom.

Climate is not the only thing that has been evolving in this province.     The rescue community has been changing too!   Is that a good thing?   Well that depends upon one’s perspective!

Once again the difference between cats and dogs is ever so much more than purely anatomical.    The good news is that cat rescues have been popping up like mushrooms over the last few years.    While it certainly doesn’t fix …. pardon the bad pun … the cat overpopulation problem, it has raised public consciousness over the necessity to do so.

Even better, each and every rescued / fixed cat or kitten that gets adopted becomes part of the solution instead of adding to the problem.   Best of all of course is that groups like Spay Day NS and the low cost SPCA Spay Neuter Clinics are helping to turn off the tap for owned cats.

Now here is where people are going to want to start throwing things at their computer screen!   What is the big difference between a cat rescue and a dog rescue?   Beside the fact that cats don’t bark?    That is so simple a stump could understand!     I have not seen any cat rescue in Nova Scotia bring in cats from away.     Nor I do ever expect to see people staying up late at night begging a cat rescue to take in Fluffy from a high kill pound south of the border or in La Belle Province.

Why!   Well … when the first big transport of dogs was brought up a couple of years ago from California, there were a few cats on board who were headed for Prince Edward Island.    Remember that?   If you do, then you will also recall what an uproar that caused!    Even though they were not coming here to Nova Scotia,  every cat rescue in the province was hissing and spitting.

Have we ever seen cats brought in from away since?    Of course not!    And THAT is the big fat difference!     Now don’t get me wrong.   If an adopter has his or her heart set on a specific breed that cannot readily be found in this province, then I say more power to you for adopting!    For instance, a few years ago a dear wolfie loving friend of mine adopted a beautiful blind wolfhound from out west,    Why?   Because that was the closest adoptable purebred wolfhound, eh?

There is a real chicken and egg aspect to this whole thing.     Are rescues bringing dogs in from away because there are none available here?    Because there is a wider variety available from away?   Or is there only a wider variety because there are not enough rescue slots made available for local dogs in need?

Yes .. I know I have talked about this before.   And yes I do admit that initially I had no grief with bringing in dogs from away.   Sheesh, I even fostered one of the California dogs for East Coast German Shepherd Rescue!    At the end of the day, I still believe that there is nothing wrong with the occasional one coming up.

So why do I have a bee in my bonnet about this?     That answer is simple too!     When it has become the rule rather than the exception, how is that helpful?    When the list of groups who only rescue local dogs keeps dwindling while the number of local dogs in need keeps rising, where is the logic in ‘importing’ rescues?

Yes I know that every life matters.    But at the risk of sounding like a stuck record… . that includes the lives of the dogs here at home.

Until that fabulous day when we actually get to No Kill Nova Scotia, bringing dogs in from away should be the exception rather than the rule.     Until the day when there are good outcomes for at least ninety percent of the impounded dogs in this province,  I personally believe it is at best misguided and at worst simply showboating to bring adoptables in from away.

And before the keyboards catch on fire … yes I do know that there are No Kill rescue groups in this province.   Even the SPCA does its darnedest these days.   But each and every one of them are like stand alone computers and do not by themselves make for No Kill Nova Scotia.

And at the risk of really pissing people off … it is important to remember that bringing dogs in from away is only a band aid solution for the real work  advocates from away should be doing to effect change.

What time is it?   It is always time to be kind.   It is always time to help.    But it is never ever time to pretend that there is no need here at home.