On the need in front of our nose

I love this time of year.    Really, what is not to love?      The horseflies have had their hey day.    The nights are so cool and lovely for open window sleeping.  Even better of course is that the garden is running at such full throttle that every day is a picking and preserving and pickling bonanza.

Best of all of course is that these late summer pleasures provide badly needed comfort and relief for anyone who has followed federal and global politics for the last couple of years.   To be perfectly honest, the key to happiness on many days has become NOT checking the news.

The testy topic of how we Canadians really have no grounds to feel one single bit smug about what is happening south of the border since June is a sticky subject for a blog with a different focus than this one, eh?

It would be easy in the midst of all this to forget just how much power our local municipal and county councils have over our everyday lives.

Take the Great Garbage Dispute that Annapolis County is having with Valley Waste.    Why should I care about that?   Kings County paid their bill so none of US had to worry about our garbage collection.    Nobody came and took our green carts.    Nor will we have to worry about what taxpayers will wind up paying in legal costs resulting from the expropriation of the waste facility in Lawrencetown.

No .. why should I worry about any of that indeed?    Well .. here is the thing.    Nova Scotia is such a small province that local issues tend to ripple around the province.    You can guarantee that all municipal and county councils pay very, very close attention to what their counterparts are doing around the province.    Not to be mean, but like the proverbial schoolyard full of kids, what one doesn’t think of the others will.

That is why I am so very concerned about what is happening in Colchester County.    Why should I care what they are doing up there?    Because this is not the first time that politicians have sought to make political hay by riding roughshod over dog owners.    Nor, I sadly suspect, will it be the last.

Wot you say?   Wot?   Wot?    How did I find out about this down here in Kings County?    Social media is happily good for more than getting reality tv show hosts elected.    Here in this province, concerned animal lovers pay attention to what is going on.

The short version is that this week I was stunned to see that the Colchester County Council had cobbled together a little nugget they are calling “The Kennel Development By-Law”  

(If the above link does not work, scroll down to read)

This was apparently created at the last Council meeting without any public consultation.   Even worse, without any taxpayer input, this little nugget passed first reading at the very same meeting.     Worst of all of course is that Council still intends to have the second of this “draft” bylaw at their next council meeting on the 30th of August  

Why do I believe this is such a problem?   Am I planning on opening a kennel?   Of course not.    But any dog owner should find the the purpose of the draft disturbing.   It clearly states that  “This By-law is intended to prohibit any kinds of Kennels for the boarding of dogs in the Municipality of Colchester. ”   Wow!

Furthermore, in with all the gabblespeak, there is a nasty little bit about enforcement.  I am a middle aged grandmother not a lawyer but the idea that a bylaw officer can come in without a warrant and seize property seems at best a bit dodgy.   And before the keyboards catch on fire, the only exceptions to this draconian measure are the county pound, education institutes, SPCANS facilities, vet clinics and private homes where there are no more that four dogs

Yes you read right.   Bylaw enforcement officers which, since Elsie De Bay’s tragic passing now include the SPCANS with their nifty bullet proof vests, can enter any home they suspect of housing more than four dogs.   Even worse, if one doesn’t let them in there will be additional charges and fines.

Think about that.     In addition to proving gawd knows what point to the local business community, this by law will directly affect any animal rescues with foster homes in Colchester County.   Including SPCANS, but it is a safe bet they will not  be raiding their own foster homes.

Think about it .    Anyone whose kids move back home with their pets could be in violation.   Anyone who takes in an elderly parent with pets could become a criminal. Newlywed blended families should save up for the fines.

Then think about the idea that the very people who are being paid by your tax dollars are trying to tell you how many dogs you can have.   Or that they will not countenance boarding facilities for the convenience of pet owners in the county.

What time is it?    It is all very fine and well for us to wring our hands about what is happening south of the border.     But right here, right now…. no matter where you live in this province …  it is time to be concerned enough to contact the Colchester County Mayor and the Colchester County Council

And of course, if you are a pet owner who lives in Colchester County, attending that Council meeting at 7 pm on Thursday, August 30th should assuredly be on your to do list.

Skywalker, still looking to the horizon. Never here, now, hmm? The need in front of your nose.

Yoda fr The Last Jedi


Municipality of the County of Colchester
Kennel Development By-law
1. Title and Scope
1.1 This By-law is enacted pursuant to Section 172 of the Municipal Government Act, SNS 1998, and c 18 and shall be known and may be cited as the “Kennel Development By-law” of the Municipality of Colchester and shall apply to all lands within the Municipality.
1.2 This By-law does not exempt any person from complying with the requirements of other by-laws or regulations in force within the Municipality of Colchester and from obtaining any licence, permission, permit, authority or approval as otherwise required by the Municipality, the Province of Nova Scotia, and/or the Government of Canada.
1.3 This By-law shall apply to all Kennels including those existing prior to the effective date of this By-law.
1.4 This By-law shall not apply to:
1.4.1 an animal shelter operated by or on behalf of the Municipality, or a public authority;
1.4.2 a publicly-funded educational institute;
1.4.3 an animal shelter operated by a branch or affiliate of the Nova Scotia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals;
1.4.4 a veterinary hospital, clinic, office or veterinary service lawfully operated and supervised by a veterinarian licenced to practice in Nova Scotia;
1.4.5 a facility in which animals are placed for care pursuant to the Animal Protection Act, SNS 2008, c 33;
1.4.6 a location or premises in the Municipality where the dog(s) at that location are individually licensed with a dog tag and owned by a person residing at the property, only where the number of dogs kept is not more than four (4).
2. Purpose
2.1 This By-law is intended to prohibit any kinds of Kennels for the boarding of dogs in the Municipality of Colchester.
3. Definitions
For the purposes of this By-law:
3.1 “ACCESSORY BUILDING” means a subordinate building on the same lot as the main building devoted exclusively to an accessory use but does not include a building attached by means of any common wall to the main building;
3.2 “BOARDING” means the taking of custody of a dog for the keeping, accommodation, care, training, feeding, grooming, and may include for a fee, reward, or compensation at a property other than the place of residence of the dog(s);
3.3 “COUNCIL” means the Council of the Municipality of the County of Colchester;
3.4 “DEVELOPMENT OFFICER” means the person appointed by Council under the authority of the Municipal Government Act to administer the provisions of the Land Use Bylaw;
3.5 “DOG” means a male or female canine of any breed of domesticated dog, or cross breed domesticated dog;
3.6 “KENNEL” means all of the following:
3.6.1 “BOARDING KENNEL” means any premises or part thereof where more than three (3) dogs over the age of twenty (20) weeks are boarded, raised or trained, for any period of time that includes day-care services and/or an overnight stay, for remuneration;
3.6.2 “IN-HOME BREEDING KENNEL” means any premises or part thereof where more than three (3) and less than eleven (11) dogs over the age of twenty (20) weeks, or more than three (3) dogs over the age of twenty (20) weeks where the primary housing for the dogs is in an accessory building or structure on the property, are owned and being bred and raised;
3.6.3 “RECREATIONAL KENNEL” means any premises or part thereof where more than three (3) dogs and less than eleven (11) dogs over the age of twenty (20) weeks, or more than three (3) dogs over the age of twenty (20) weeks where the primary housing for the dogs is in an accessory building(s) or structure(s) on the property, are owned and
raised for non-commercial recreational purposes, but are not bred for sale.
4. Kennels Prohibited
4.1 No person shall be permitted to establish or operate any type of Kennel within Colchester County.
5. Existing Kennels
5.1 Any Kennel that was in lawful existence prior to the effective date of this by-law shall be deemed to comply with this by-law and may be maintained or repaired to the same location, height and dimensions as previously existed.
6. Enforcement
6.1 Right of Inspection
6.1.1 The Development Officer may, for the purpose of ensuring compliance with this By-law, enter in or upon any land or premises at any reasonable time upon reasonable notice where any type of Kennel is being operated or where there are reasonable grounds to believe a Kennel is being operated.
6.1.2 For the purposes of an inspection, an officer may:
(a) require the production for inspection of any document or things relevant to the inspection;
(b) inspect and remove documents or things relevant to the inspection for the purpose of making copies or extracts;
(c) require information from any person concerning a matter related to the inspection; and
(d) alone or in conjunction with a person possessing special or expert knowledge, make examination or take photographs necessary for the purposes of the inspection.
6.1.3 No person shall withhold, destroy, conceal or refuse to furnish any information or thing required by an officer for the purposes of an inspection.
6.1.4 No person shall prevent, hinder or interfere or attempt to prevent, hinder or interfere with an inspection undertaken by an officer.
6.1.5 If any individual or organization attempts to interfere or interferes with the Development Officer in the exercise of a power pursuant to this By-law, the Development Officer may apply to a judge of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia for an order to allow the Development Officer to enter in or upon the premises for the purpose of ensuring compliance with this By-law and for an order restraining the individual or organization from future interference.
7. Offences and Penalties
7.1 It shall be an offence to:
7.1.1 contravene any provision of this By-law;
7.1.2 contravene any condition in a Licence issue or renewed pursuant to this By-law; or
7.1.3 fail to comply with any representations contained within an application upon which a Licence was issued or renewed pursuant to this By-law.
7.2 Notwithstanding any other By-law of the Municipality, any individual or organization who contravenes any provision of this By-law is punishable on summary conviction as follows:
7.2.1 for a first offence, by a fine of not less than $1,000 and not more than $5,000 and in default of payment to imprisonment of not more than two (2) months;
7.2.2 for a second offence, by a fine of not less than $2,000 and not more than $10,000 and in default of payment to imprisonment of not more than two (2) months;
7.2.3 for a third and subsequent offence, by a fine of not less than $5,000 and not more than $20,000 and in default of payment to imprisonment of not more than two (2) months.
8. Severability
8.1 Each and every of the foregoing clauses of this By-law is severable and if any provision of this By-law should for any reason be declared invalid by any
court, it is the intention and desire of the Council of the Municipality that each and every of the then remaining provisions hereof should remain in full force and effect.



A little chat about alternative facts

I have always enjoyed the precision of carpentry.    How many other things in life are so simple?    Success is a surefire thing if one measures carefully, cuts the correct angles, and uses the right fasteners while keeping everything plumb and square along the way.

Real life of course is much more complicated..   Take animal welfare for instance.    On the surface it should be so simple.   People with kind hearts want to save lives.   What could be easier than that?

Of course , here in the real world the waters are often muddied by misconceptions that gain legs and gallop around Facebook.    At best they cause hard feelings.   At worst, they polarize the very people who should be working together if we are ever to get to No Kill Nova Scotia.

Fallacy #1 –  All branches of the Nova Scotia SPCA are open admission.   And before the keyboards catch on fire, yes I know they are ever so much better than they were nine years ago.   But they are not Open Admission anywhere … yet.     How did the idea that they are all open admission take root?    The short version is that in March of this year, the Dartmouth shelter did an open admission trial run.

How did that work out?   Very well as a matter of fact … so much so that “The director said this approach to intake could expand to other times of the year depending on the demands of breeding season and to their other shelters as well.”      Personally, I think that is a wonderful step forward in the right direction.

But I am wandering afield as I am wont to do in my meandering way.   This little “alternative fact” is often used to justify importing homeless dogs into this province.   Not to be mean, but as of this writing, any group using that to justify bringing dogs in from away is living in a dream world.

Fallacy #2.    Nova Scotia is already at No Kill.    And before the keyboards catch on fire, yes Virginia I know that we have No Kill rescue organizations here in Nova Scotia.    But here is the thing.   This is Canada and we have a completely different system of doing things than the States.

What does that mean in realspeak?    Simply that rescue and shelter statistics only paint a small part of the picture.     Why would I say that?     Because there are not enough rescue slots for all of the pets in need in this province.  

So there is no possible way to determine how many treatable and adoptable pets are killed in this province.    Why?   For starters, no animal clinic in this province is ever going publicly publish the number of treatable and adoptable pets that get the short end of the long needle.   Nor can anyone track how many abandoned pets become road kill or part of the food chain.   Saddest of all of course is that there is no registry for the unwanted ones that are drowned or shot 🙁

What does this mean in realspeak?    Simply that this is just another ‘alternative fact’ that is used to justify importing homeless dogs into this province.    At best, rescues spreading this misinformation have not done their due diligence.   At worst, those importing dogs have simply placed the lives of homeless Nova Scotia dogs at the bottom of their priority list.

Fallacy #3.   It is commonly believed that all pets imported into Canada meet the same health standards required of  locally adopted or sold pets in Nova Scotia.      Actually, the only thing that imported pets require is proof of a rabies vaccine.   Any other possible inspections are usually sidestepped by claiming the dogs are personal pets.

The whole problem is summed up very nicely in this report by a working group of Canadian Veterinarians.

Does this mean that kind hearts who are moved by the plight of southern dogs in high kill shelters cannot do anything to help?   Of course not.   Even though Canadians cannot claim donations to American rescues on their taxes, cash donations to supporting rescues there would always be helpful.

There is of course the dodgy issue that there is no way to determine how helpful importing dogs actually is.    Lets face it .. there is a fine line between helping and enabling, eh?   Without meaningful measures such as low cost spay neuter at the source, pulling dogs out of high kill shelters simply creates a vacuum that will quickly be filled.

What is the bottom line?   As far as I am concerned, it is really quite simple.  It is not my job to think for everybody else.   Who am I to scold a rescue for the choices they make?

That being said, any group that takes donations from the public has an obligation to be transparent with donors and supporters.

Of course, it would be slim pickings for any group with enough balls to admit that the lives of homeless dogs here in Nova Scotia don’t really matter to them.   Or that they were not experienced enough to understand the implications of importing more homeless dogs into a little province like this.     Very slim pickings indeed.

According to the Canadian Animal Health Institute, there were an estimated 7.6 million dog owners in Canada in 2016.    Wow!    Seven point six million tax paying voters who care about the health and well being of their companions.    7.6 million people who are going to pretty darned upset if they wind up paying big vet bills for diseases that were actually imported into this country by starry eyed, well meaning rescuers.

What time is it?    Instead of advocating for regulations for rescue, perhaps it is time to focus on the need for stricter Federal rules for importing all dogs, including owned personal pets.    It would be a simple step that would protect the health and well being .. and financial security of 7.6 million dog owners.   What better win/ win for our Federal MP’s could there be than that?

A little drizzly day chat


I love going through my mother’s old photo albums.   What is not to love?    It is such a sentimental journey to revisit our family history.    Even better, the albums that were so carefully saved from her mother’s and grandmother’s day provide a real life window of those times.   Best of all of course is that those precious older pictures allow me to put faces to all those names on our family tree.

Really it is just frosting on the cake that there are pictures in there from the early nineties when I moved my mini home out here.    What a difference all those years of planting have made!

It has been nine years since the disgraceful AGM followed in the wake of the infamous Celtic Pets seizure.     There is no question that Celtic Pets was the catalyst that brought all the issues with the society bubbling up to the surface.    Yet in spite of a new board and the very best good intentions, it seemed that very little had changed.

Cruelty complaints were still being ignored.   Those who complained about the inaction were blackballed and discredited.   And of course, in spite of paying lip service to No Kill, one branch was still hauling dead animals out by the truck load.

It is a different world now to be sure.     Cruelty complaints are being investigated.   Charges are actually being laid.   And convictions are now regularly popping up in the news.

There are low cost spay neuter clinics.   TNR is actually supported in a practical way with a Mobile Spay Neuter Van!     And it is nice to see that after so much secrecy in recent years,  that the society is once again publishing the minutes of its Board meetings and its statistics online!

Really, it would just be nitpicking to complain about the fact that the society only has nine of their adoptable dogs and sixty-five of their adoptable cats province wide listed on their site.

No question about it, the society has done a pretty good job of rebranding itself since the new regulations to The Animal Protection Act came into force.   According to the ‘vision’ of their current Strategic Plan, The Nova Scotia SPCA is recognized as the leader in the areas of companion animal advocacy and protection. The Nova Scotia SPCA operates with a philosophy of zero tolerance for animal cruelty and sets the standard of animal care for the province of Nova Scotia.

I have always said that the society would be best served by fulfilling its mandate to prevent cruelty instead of trying to pretend it was a rescue.

The society is looking for five rescues to partner with them .. which I think is a fabulous idea.   (  Ever so much better than memorandums cautioning branches to be wary about transferring animals to a rescue, eh? )

In theory it is a wonderful idea.   I do have to wonder whether it is is a sneak preview or simply wishful thinking that qualified applicants must ” Have all appropriate licenses and registrations required by the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.”

Does that mean that the rescue regulations have already been written?   Should we be expecting a press release any day?   Perhaps not.    If one goes further and looks at the agreement, it is clear that rescue partners must be willing to have an inspection of all housing facilities by the SPCA.

Not to be mean, but it is hard enough to find fosters on a good day.    But of course, the society is only looking for five partners so perhaps that won’t have too big an impact on the rest of the rescue world.

Here’s the thing.    Anyone who has been rescuing in the past decade can well remember numerous instances where some society branches were providing shoddy, substandard care.

So this is what I think:

  • Of course the SPCA is well within their rights now to ask that their partners be willing and able to provide the proper standards of care, evaluation, treatment and placement for pets transferred into their care.
  •  And yes, the Society is definitely within their rights to insist on proof of spay or neuter for any intact animals that they transfer to a rescue partner

But …..

  • in a province where there is so much need …. particularly in light of the starry eyed souls who persist in dragging dogs up from the States as if this was some sort of magical fairy tale No Kill land with plenty of homes to spare,
  • and in a world where many cat rescuers are long on heart and so short on admin skills that some of the best ones never get around to applying for CRA charitable status,
  • and when finding fosters is a universal challenge for rescues,
  • and of course when accountable rescues both screen and monitor their own fosters

So ….

… the society is limiting its options by only asking for five applicants.   Even worse ….in the absence of any rescue regulations .. such partnerships will not address the difficulties caused by irresponsible rescuers.     Saddest of all of course is that this represents a missed opportunity for the type of bridge building that would restore confidence and provide a road map for the way forward.

What time is it?   It is always, always time to remember that trust is a two way street.

Nothing will ever be attempted, if all possible objections must be first overcome.    Samuel Johnson