Friday, 11 March 2016

Translocation: a good first step away from deer-killing



by Barry Kent MacKay, Director
 
Late in February Liz White and I travelled to Kimberley, British Columbia, population 7600 (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kimberley,_British_Columbia).  Liz and I were there to monitor a mule deer relocation project,  thanks to support from Born Free USA, Zoocheck and Animal Alliance of Canada.  Animal Alliance had contributed $10,000 to a project that involved moving mule deer out of town to carefully chosen distant habitats.  Those locations were chosen to maximize the chances the deer would have to survive.   The money Animal Alliance donated to the project bought collars equipped with radio-telemetry devices that report the location of the deer via a transmission to a satellite every 13 hours.  They are designed to eventually fall off but would provide enough information to allow the scientists to determine how successful the process was in terms of survival of the deer.

Mule deer in BC
Lest you think it odd that animal protection organizations such as ours would have even minimal involvement in such a thing let me assure you it was to provide part of an alternative to the current deer culling where deer are captured in “clover traps” and killed by a bolt gun.  Earlier this year someone captured this process during a secretly conducted cull in the nearby town of Cranbrook.  The BC Deer Protection society, (http://www.bcdeer.org/), of which both Liz and I are directors, posted the footage online.

Mule deer inhabit various towns and small cities that are built in close proximity to vast forests and the animals make use of both urban and wilderness habitats.  So they are more likely to come into direct contact with residents and given that mule deer are not as inclined to flee humans as are many other larger wildlife species, conflicts arise.  Often these conflicts involve dogs, many of whom are off-leash.  In the spring does will defend their fawns, occasionally escalating the conflict.  Other complaints include impacts on flower gardens, deer feces on the ground and the threat of deer being hit by cars or other vehicles. 

A handsome animal, yes, but one that “does not belong” in town, as we have so often heard. 

We heard that town life for deer is fraught with difficulty.  They have to navigate fences and traffic and avoid people who don’t like them.  Of course those who advocate this point of view fail to acknowledge, or understate that, in the wild deer are hunted in the fall.  They have to avoid predators.  They are in constant search for food, particularly through difficult winters and droughts.  But we also heard such people, apparently unaware of their own contradictions, that the in-town deer were fat and healthy and bore more young than their wilderness counterparts.  All the deer that we saw in Kimberley certainly looked healthy, fat and sleek and since they are nowhere far from wooded forests they obviously chose to be there.

In fact, residents who closely observed them assured us that the deer move freely from what we’d think of as classic deer habitat, the mountain forests and fields that border and penetrate the town borders, and the residential areas.  Furthermore many folks love to have them around.  Certainly the tourists enjoy seeing such magnificent wildlife up close.

Mule deer in KimberleyAnd so a team was assembled and with consummate skill managed to catch some twenty deer in Kimberley and nearby Marysville, mostly at the edge of residential areas, with a shooter firing darts into them, and then following the animal until, minutes later, they became drowsy, and then fell into a deep sleep.  Once unconscious the deer were examined for health, ticks, age, and sex (does were preferentially selected, and if they were with last year’s young an effort was made to get both, although the odd buck without antlers was also captured) and placed in a trailer, awakened with an antidote and given a calming tranquilizer.  Eventually the deer were driven to a carefully chosen release site far away from town sites.  Only one out of this original twenty died during this process, probably asphyxiating from recently ingested food.  The risk of that happening is why doctors, and veterinarians, order fasting for patients planning to have a general anaesthetic.  At least she was unconscious when she died and did not suffer.  If it had been the usual lethal cull all 20 animals would have died a brutally applied death.  

After we left the team moved north to another town, and as I write this, another deer was found killed by a cougar.  Remember, though, that most animals were not radio-collared so results are very preliminary.

But we saw what we were hoping to achieve, at least for now.  Both lethal culling and translocation (and I’d add fertility control) are unlikely to do much, if anything, to ultimately resolve concerns of people not wanting the deer in town, but they serve a political function by showing complainers (the only ones politicians heed) that “something is being done”.  When the relocation project for Kimberley was completed, Liz and I, later joined by a local friend who knew the area well, drove to the various sites where deer had been taken and there seemed to be as many as always.   More deer move in to take the places of those removed.   Reduced competition for resources means enhanced survivability and fecundity for those who remain, in town and in adjoining woodlands, something called the “rebound effect” or “compensatory mortality”.  

But it is a step taken away from simply killing the animals. 

The issue is complex.  Kimberley is showing an extremely progressive attitude by implementing the kinds of actions that reduce the attractiveness of the town to deer.  These include volunteers picking up apples fallen from trees; leash laws enforced for dogs in conjunction with public education; no edible garbage made available overnight; encouraging deer fencing and planting of flowers, trees and shrubs less or not attractive to deer as food and a stop to feeding deer.  The decidedly lower number of deer in town is a testimony to the effectiveness of these methods, although detractors claim it was a major cull of about 100 deer some years ago that did the trick.  I beg to differ simply because other communities that implemented lethal culls but did not take the steps Kimberley has taken to keep deer numbers down actually saw more, not fewer, deer after the killing.

And we were pleased to encounter many local people who assured us that whatever their views on deer in town, they were happier that they were not being killed.    One of the biggest downsides to the lethal culling, in my opinion, was how divisive it is within the community.  Kimberley’s city council is, to its credit, open and transparent (in contrast to neighboring Cranbrook) and is actively seeking an intelligent and compassionate solution to human/deer interactions.

Friday, 19 February 2016

The case of the Chatham-Kent Dogfighting Survivor Dogs



Dogs forced to fight - against their will.

Now we must fight to save them. 

By Vicki Van Linden, Director

Twenty-one Pit bull dogs, victims of the brutal crime of dog-fighting, are in grave danger of being destroyed very soon.

The Ontario SPCA has given up on them and say that they cannot be saved. It is reported that on March 10th, 2016, they will seek the court’s permission to destroy the remaining dogs.

But, we know that there are organizations in the US that have successfully rehabilitated such dogs. Have those organizations been approached to provide their expertise? Has every effort been made to transfer these dogs outside of Ontario, placing them in the hands of those trained to work with survivor-dogs?
As dogs abused in fight rings they deserve specialized assessment from those with particular expertise. We need to be sure that every effort has been made to explore all such organizations to obtain help for these dogs. We want to know that no stone has been left unturned.

Most of us have read about the survivor dogs of the Michael Vick dogfighting ring, known as the Vicktory Dogs. Heather Gutshall adopted one of those survivors, a dog named Handsome Dan. Heather not only lives with this survivor in her home, she has evaluated and rehabilitated many other survivors. She is experienced at evaluating such dogs and is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer and Behavior Consultant, holding credentials; CPDT-KA
 (Certified Professional Dog Trainer - Knowledge Assessed) and ACDBS (Associate Certified Dog Behavior Consultant.)

Ms. Gutshall, who lives in Rhode Island, has offered to travel to Ontario to evaluate the Chatham-Kent dogs, free of charge.

If there are viable offers of assistance available, why is the OSPCA seemingly determined to go it alone, even if this results in all of the dogs being killed?

Many people are concerned about the dogs and deserve to know that these poor animals have been given every consideration.

Having them assessed by those who have had success rehabilitating dogfighting survivors would meet that criteria.

Why do these dogs matter?  Because they were victims of extreme cruelty.  They should have the very best chance at recovery.

Why does this case matter?   Because we know that groups in the United States have rehabilitated former fighting dogs. These dogs deserve the same opportunity. 

If we cannot find the compassion to better protect these most abused and suffering of dogs, this will surely be a testament to the inadequate state of animal protection in our province.

Ontario could embrace these dogs as inspiration for a new beginning for improved animal welfare in Ontario. A more forward-thinking approach could set our province on a new path.

The lives of the Chatham-Kent fight survivor-dogs matter.
And the future of animal protection in Ontario matters too.

For anyone in Ontario who wants our provincial leaders to dig deep and do better, now is the time to let them know.

Emails can be sent to:
 

The Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services
Minister Yasir Naqvi
ynaqvi.mpp@liberal.ola.org

OSPCA:
Anne Buonaiuto, Executive Assistant:
abuonaiuto@ospca.on.ca
and  
Brad Dewar, Inspector:
bdewar@ospca.on.ca


Join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter:  #SaveDogfightingSurvivors

You can read more about Heather Gutshall’s rescue group called Handsome Dan’s Rescue and learn more about two special dogfighting survivors, Handsome Dan and Tillie at:
http://www.handsomedansrescue.org/

Read about a rescue group called Bad Rap, who rehabilitated some of the Vick dogs and were instrumental in giving them their chance at life.
http://www.badrap.org/vick-dogs

Read about Best Friends Sanctuary, where some of the Vick dogs received their first experiences in rehabilitation.
http://bestfriends.org/sanctuary/explore-sanctuary/dogtown/vicktory-dogs

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Undercover footage shows the cruelty of Cranbrook's secret deer cull



IMMEDIATE RELEASE

BRITISH COLUMBIA, January 12, 2016:  In mid-December 2015, Cranbrook began to cull deer without notification to area residents.  The only public notification came from the BC Deer Protection Society and Animal Alliance of Canada in an ad that ran in the Cranbrook Townsman prior to the start of the cull.

On Friday, January 8, 2016, the BC Deer Protection Society lodged a formal complaint to the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations about incidents involving fawns in Clover traps.  The incidents which show the cruelty of the cull, were captured through photographs and video footage.

Two incidents in particular reveal violations of the terms of the cull permit issued by the Minister.

Footage for one incident shows a fawn captured in a trap (unedited video documents the fawn pacing for over two hours).  The cull contactors arrive, collapsing the trap on the animal and applying the bolt gun.  The cull contractors stand and the fawn moves.  They apply the bolt gun a second time.  The fawn moves again as the contractors try to erect the trap.  They drop it and observe the fawn.   One contractor starts to reach for the bolt gun but stops.  They proceed again to erect the trap and drag the fawn away by the hind leg.  In both cases the fawn is seen moving.  The cull contractor returns immediately leaving the fawn still alive and unattended.  A total of six minutes passed between the arrival of the contractors and the removal of the deer.  (bcdeer.org)

Photographs from a second incident show two fawns entangled in a trap that has collapsed on them.  They remain entangled and compressed for at least two hours prior to the arrival of the cull contractors.  It is not known at this time whether the fawns’ struggle was so violent as to dislodge the mechanism holding the trap upright or whether the mechanism was faulty.  Regardless, no-one checked the trap during that two hour period to end the suffering of these two animals. (bcdeer.org)

In the letter to the Minister, we urge him in the strongest possible terms to end the cull, conduct a full investigation of the violations of the permit and lay charges where appropriate.  In addition, we ask that the permit for the current contractor be revoked until the investigation is complete.

- 30 -

Contact:          Devin Kazakoff: devin.kazakoff@gmail.com
Liz White: 1-416-462-9541 (23), 416-809-4371 (cell) or liz@animalalliance.ca
Barry MacKay, 1-905-472-9731 or mimus@sympatico.ca 
Sherry Adams, 250-432-5238 (cell) or shezza_ca@yahoo.com

Friday, 18 December 2015

Home for the Holidays?

   
Project Jessie needs YOUR help!
Every creature taken in by Project Jessie is cared for in a foster home. This lets us get to know them as individuals - what they need, what their personality is like, what they prefer.

We love them and care for them - for a short while or for a longer while - but eventually, each of them need and deserve a permanent home. 

These particular Project Jessie friends have been in care - but we would really love to have them in homes before the holidays. 

Please help us by considering adoption, or spreading their info to friends and family who are thinking of adding a new companion to their family.

Anyone interested, can email shelly@projectjessie.ca or call 519-940-4712

Thank you! And have a wonderful holiday!

Shelly
ProjectJessie.ca
AnimalAlliance.ca
Willow
This gentle soul is Willow - young, friendly and fabulous with everyone she has met. She is quiet and unassuming, very people oriented and a joy to be around.




Izzy
Five years ago, Izzy and her kittens were adopted to a family. This fall, they all came back to us because the family was having some troubles. Poor Izzy! Her kittens were adopted together by a new family, but she is still waiting for a second chance. She is 6 years young, good with other animals and loves to cuddle. 




Cooper
This handsome fellow would love to have an active family to love. Perhaps with some kids to play and romp with? Cooper is a young handsome boy with lots to offer. Great with other dogs, he would love to have a canine friend as well. 

Thumbelina
This petite lady has a sad tale to tell. Abandonned outside, she had several litters of kittens behind a strip plaza, where the people helped by rehoming some of her kids - but no one helped her. Now she is in from the cold, and loving it! But she is still looking for a permanent place to call home.
Unfortunately, she has tested positive for FIV. What does this mean? It means that now that she is spayed, with good food and a low stress environment, she will probably have a long and healthy life. She is a very sweet little lady. Would you like to be her new friend?




Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Environmental Commissioner of Ontario’s new report levels stinging criticism of the spring bear hunt pilot



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

TORONTO, November 3, 2015:  Animal Alliance of Canada and Zoocheck Canada praise the Environmental Commissioner for her criticism of the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry’s decision to re-introduce the spring bear hunt.

In her 2014/2015 Annual Report, Small things Matter (http://eco.on.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/2014_2015-AR.pdf) Ellen Schwartzel, Environmental Commissioner of Ontario states “In implementing the pilot project, the MNRF: made a bear management decision with incomplete information on the annual harvest; ignored ministry research that calls into question the utility of the pilot project; and disregarded the advice of the committee the ministry struck to review the nuisance bear issues.” 

“The Commissioner also points out that the Ministry cut back on its Bear Wise programme” said Barry MacKay, Director, Zoocheck Canada.  “In fact, the Bear Wise programme has largely disappeared in reality and the Wynne government has downloaded responsibility for human bear interactions on local communities.”

“We feel vindicated by the comments of the Environmental Commissioner about the Ministry’s pilot hunt.  These are exactly the issues we raised in our court case and in our EBR submission to the Minister in response to the announced pilot in 2014”, said Liz White, Director, Animal Alliance.

“You have to ask – why would the Premier and Minister disregard their own scientists and advisors and make a decision to expand the hunt so substantially?” White asks.

Despite the ECO’s concerns, Minister Bill Mauro intends to expand the spring hunt to Americans and other non-residents in all applicable wildlife management units.  The decision is posted on the Environmental Registry for comment until the end of November.
- 30 -
Liz White:  416-462-9541 ex: 23 / liz@animalalliance.ca
Barry MacKay:  905-472-9731 / mimus@sympatico.ca

Friday, 9 October 2015

Helping Outdoor Dogs. Getting Them Off the Chain!

by Vicki Van Linden
Director, Animal Alliance of Canada


They are lonely dogs.
They bark and cry in distress.

Their boredom and misery remain a constant.

Many live their entire lives chained or penned in kennels as a regular way of life. They suffer social isolation, lack of exercise and extreme loneliness. It is a miserable existence that no social animal should be forced to endure.

Neighbours are disturbed by the barking and suffering, and their own feeling of helplessness.

Such animal-keeping practices allow intolerable suffering, divides communities, and places enormous stress on animal service agencies and humane societies. Yet many municipalities have very few tools to assist residents who witness the suffering, and to provide their own staff with the necessary tools to intervene.

Chaining is the worst of the practices inflicted on outdoor dogs. Dogs have even died from strangulation when they attempted to jump over a fence while chained at the neck. Penning or kennelling is less harmful than being chained but is equally cruel because of the lack of exercise, attention, and companionship.

Animal cruelty laws are usually not detailed enough to assist these dogs. A Humane Officer might recognize that a dog is suffering emotionally and in distress, but if the animal is in an acceptable physical condition anti-cruelty laws may not give the officer enough tools to help the dog.

The good news is that there are specific municipal laws that regulate how outdoor dogs must be kept and provide an effective way to assist these suffering dogs and the neighbours who have been made to live near them.

In jurisdictions across North American communities have passed laws that mandate how long a dog can be made to live outside during a 24 hour period.

Windsor, Mississauga and several communities in British Columbia have already passed bylaws. More than one hundred communities in the U.S have also passed such laws.

The province of Nova Scotia passed a province-wide law that regulates tethering/chaining in 2014.

The province of New Brunswick also passed a law that states: “Dog tethering is not permitted for more than 30 minutes between 11:00 pm and 6:00 am unless the owner or person responsible is outside and within 25 metres of the dog.”

The City of Windsor, Ontario does not allow a dog to be chained or tethered for longer than 4 hours in a 24 hour period. Mississauga has a similar regulation making 4 hours the maximum time that a dog can be chained.

Some communities have also passed regulations that can be used to assist penned dogs.

In Markham, Ontario their bylaw states: “Animals in Markham must be provided with a clean, sanitary environment and adequate care that meets the physical and behavioural needs of the animal, such as food, water, shelter, warmth, physical exercise, attention and veterinary care.”

The goal of such bylaws is to ensure that no dogs are made to live entire lives as backyard dogs, but must be brought inside the home each and every day, as well as during extremes of weather - hot or cold.

Enough communities have passed such laws that there are now several examples for other communities to refer to.

We can end this practice if we have sufficient political will.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Lost Pets Used in Research

POUND SEIZURE

by Vicki Van Linden
Director, Animal Alliance of Canada


What if your dog or cat became lost?

What if you could not locate your animal family member, in spite of your best efforts?

What would your hopes be for your lost animal friend?

You would likely hope that a kind person would keep your friend until he or she was returned to you.

If fate is not so kind and your friend is never returned to you, you likely hope that your beloved companion would find another loving home. And, when companion animals like dogs and cats are lucky, that was what happens.

Not all dogs and cats are so lucky.

For some lost, stray or abandoned dogs and cats, a fate that violates all of our protective values is in store for them. Some of them will be purchased by research laboratories where they will be subjected to experimentation in ways that will cause them pain, fear and distress. This actually takes place all across Canada. It is referred to as pound seizure or pound release, the practice of taking lost, homeless and abandoned dogs and cats from animal control facilities or pounds for use in experimentation (research, teaching and testing).

Every province allows dogs and cats from municipally-funded or contracted animal pounds/shelters to be turned over to research facilities.  Ontario is sadly unique in that the practice is actually mandated under the ‘Animals for Research Act.’  This means that if a research facility choses to do so, they could actually demand that animals from a municipally-funded animal shelter/pound be turned over for their use, even if the shelter workers do not wish to comply.


The story of a dog named Royal, and the family who loved him, is a stark illustration of the horror of Pound Seizure.

Royal was a 13-year-old Golden Retriever who was much loved, and had lived with his guardian since he was a pup. One day Royal wandered away from his property. But Royal was found by people who wanted to help him so they brought him to the Arteeka Canine Control facility, the animal control pound/shelter contracted for that area. They liked Royal so much that they stated they would like to adopt him if his family did not claim him.

Royal was tattooed and wore a collar with his name embroidered on it, and his dog tags were attached.

In spite of all of this evidence that Royal was a loved family pet, and in spite of there being a ready adoptive home for him, Royal was quickly sold to the University of Guelph for use in research. The Arteeka Canine Control facility actually violated the Act by turning Royal over before the full 4 day holding period required by law had expired.

Royal was quickly deemed to be unsuitable for research, likely due to his age, and was killed at the University of Guelph.

Then, as a further indignity, the Ministry responsible for the University had to be forced to confirm to Royal’s loving guardian, Laurie Bishop, that the dog she had loved since he was a pup had been killed at their facility.

Royal died alone.  The pound keeper did not look out for Royal. Nor did the University of Guelph. Royal was nothing more than a potential test subject. And, Royal could be your dog.

There is good news from this sad story.  Today the vast majority of shelters in Ontario have stood against this practice so animals are not going to research from those facilities.  Still, there are pounds, especially in smaller communities, that still hand over animals for research. The dogs and cats that are desirable to researchers are those who are docile, in other words, are adoptable as pets. All lost, stray or abandoned pets deserve to have every effort made to find them a loving adoptive home – not sent to a life of suffering, fear and death in a laboratory. We believe that no lost dog or cat should ever be used as research subjects. This is the ultimate betrayal of a lost friend.

For these reasons, we ask all Ontarians to help us bring an end to POUND SEIZURE in Ontario – the ultimate betrayal of a lost dog or cat - by banning the use of lost pets in research.

We urge Ontario citizens to download and mail a sign-on letter addressed to Premier Kathleen Wynne by clicking here.  Or better yet, write a letter in your own words.

Ask the Premier of Ontario to amend the Animals for Research Act to:
1)  ban the release of lost, stray or abandoned dogs and cats from Ontario pounds for animal experimentation; and
2)  to ban the import of lost, stay or abandoned pets for experimentation from other provinces in Canada.

Canadian citizens in other provinces can also protect companion animals by contacting their own Premiers to ask that the surrender of lost, stray or abandoned dogs and cats from pounds and shelters be banned.

Research facilities in all provinces should also ban the importation of former pets from other jurisdictions.