Friday, 21 September 2012

Toronto Animal Services takes pet microchipping on the road

Chip TruckNews Release
September 20, 2012

Toronto Animal Services takes pet microchipping on the road

Identifying pets is one of the most important ways a pet owner can ensure a pet is returned home if it ever strays from sight. Toronto Animal Services wants to ensure that as many pets as possible get identified.

To promote pet identification, Toronto Animal Services presents The Chip Truck - A mobile licence and microchip clinic for your pet.

Toronto residents can visit the Chip Truck to purchase a City of Toronto licence and a microchip for only $20 for cats and $30 for dogs. If a pet already has a City of Toronto license, it can be microchipped for only $5 (with proof of a current City of Toronto pet licence).

The Chip Truck will be at the following locations on these dates, and it's open for everyone:

Saturday, September 22: Trinity Bellwoods Park (Queen Street West and Strachan Avenue) at the Canadian Kennel Club's Responsible Dog Ownership event from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Saturday, September 29: Allan Gardens Park (Carlton Street and Homewood Avenue) from 1 to 4 p.m.

Sunday, September 30: Jane/Finch Mall parking lot (Jane Street and Finch Avenue) from 1 to 4 p.m.

No appointment is necessary. All dogs must be on a leash and all cats must be properly contained in a carrier. Pet owners are asked to bring a piece of photo identification with address.

A microchip is an identifying integrated circuit placed under the skin of a dog or cat, usually on the back of the neck between the shoulder blades. The chip is about the size of a large grain of rice, and uses passive RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology.

Animal shelters, animal care and control officers and veterinarians routinely look for microchips to return lost pets quickly to their owners. Toronto Animal Services places chips in all animals adopted through its shelters.

Animals being microchipped at the Chip Truck will be microchipped by a Toronto Animal Services veterinarian. After checking that the animal does not already have a chip, the vet will inject the chip with a syringe and record the chip's unique identification. No anaesthetic is required, and a test scan will ensure the chip is operating correctly.

Toronto Animal Services will register all microchips with 24 Pet Watch. Pet owners are responsible for maintaining up to date contact information with 24 Pet Watch throughout the life of the pet, including owner contact information, pet name and description, veterinarian contact information, and an alternate emergency contact. 24 Pet Watch provides 24-hour, toll-free telephone and online service for the life of the pet.

The owner receives a registration certificate directly from 24 Pet Watch with the chip identification and recovery service contact information. The certificate serves as proof of ownership and is transferred with the animal if and when the animal goes to a new owner.

Authorities and shelters examine strays for chips, providing the recovery service with the identification number, description and location so they may notify the owner or contact. An owner can also report a missing pet to the recovery service, as vets look for chips in new animals and check with the recovery service to see if it has been reported lost or stolen.

Information is available at

Toronto is Canada's largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.7 million people. Toronto's government is dedicated to delivering customer service excellence, creating a transparent and accountable government, reducing the size and cost of government and building a transportation city. For information on non-emergency City services and programs, Toronto residents, businesses and visitors can dial 311, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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Media contact: Bruce Hawkins, Senior Communications Coordinator, 416-392-3496,

Monday, 17 September 2012

In Memory of Heidi

Linda, one of our wonderful supporters, from Quebec, emailed me about a month ago.  She said "Last Tuesday, I had my beloved Heidi euthanized. She was a weimaraner and 13.5 years old, suffering from arthritis. She was much loved and cared for and I miss her terribly. I want to honor her memory by continuing helping other dogs so  please increase my monthly donation."

I asked Linda if she would be so kind as to share Heidi's story with us.

Animals touch our lives in so many ways.  Sharing our home is perhaps one of the most intimate experiences we will ever have.  What a privilege.

Thank you, Linda, for sharing Heidi's story, for giving her a loving home and a peaceful, dignified passing, your final gift to her.

Our deepest condolences,
Lia, Liz and everyone at Animal Alliance


Here is my story.

Heidi was adopted when she was 8 weeks old. Being a weimaraner, she was bursting with energy and mischief but my older dog, Pumpkin, properly taught her how to behave! She was the most sensitive and intelligent dog to be my companion: almost human-like in her behavior, she always would find a way to make me laugh. She was the most beautiful dog and on each outing, people would stop me to admire Heidi and want to pet her. She was kind to all, especially children and would show respect at all times. Heidi taught me patience, humility and compassion.

Towards the end of her life, I had to help her up when her hind legs would no longer support her. Help her when she had to relieve herself, feeding herself and go up and down the stairs. To help her in such a way taught me compassion  and humility. To other people, I was just that crazy lady who was carrying her dog but I feel a sense such a loving connection with her that I was glad to do this for her. Each time, I would tell her ‘ Mommy is her and will help you’’ . I could see the loving eyes thanking me and this was my reward. One day, I told her: Mommy loves you very much but knows that your life is very difficult, please give me a sign that you are ready to go to the Rainbow bridge and Mommy will help. The morning after, Heidi could no longer get up.

The vet came to my house and the whole family and the dog walker was there: she passed peacefully in my arms, surrounded by all who dearly loved her.

She will always be Mommy’s girl. 

Friday, 14 September 2012

For anyone in BC who would like to join Stop UBC Animal Research:

Stop UBC Animal Research remains committed to exposing the grim realities of the animal experiments occurring at UBC.  We hope you will continue to show your support and compassion as the new school year gets under way.

Please join us at two important outreach opportunities in the coming week.

On Monday, September 17th, the UBC Alumni AGM is being held at the Four Seasons Hotel, 791 West Georgia Street  - we will be meeting outside at 4:15pm and holding a silent vigil for the more than 211,000 animals UBC uses each year in its laboratories.  Please wear your Stop UBC t-shirt. Signs will be provided.  We will be there as the alumni arrive and wait until they leave (by 7pm) so that they are made aware of our concerns and hopefully will feel moved to press their university turn to the many cutting-edge, scientifically viable and ethical alternatives.

On Saturday, September 22nd, the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences holds an Open House at their new building at 2405 Wesbrook Mall.  We will be meeting there at 12:30 to greet the many alumni, students and community members who will be coming to tour the building and take part in opening events.  There is a large portion of the building where research on animals will be taking place.  Please wear your Stop UBC t-shirt and if anyone has an animal mask, that would be ideal as well.

Please contact me if you can come to either event.  Phone number is 604-787-7315

Hope you can join us!


Monday, 10 September 2012

Check it out!

Just a quick note to say if you haven't already, you may want to check out the Saving Dinah blog:


We manage this blog as well, posting different material than our Animal Alliance and Animal Alliance / Environment Voters blogs.


Tuesday, 4 September 2012



Bill Peters
National Director
Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums
Suite 400, 280 Metcalfe Street
Ottawa, ON K2P 1R7

Dear Mr. Peters,

Last week I wrote an open letter to you, expressing my amazement that CAZA was unaware, after years of reports, demonstrations, news stories, and even a deputation from Zoocheck-Canada, of any "complaint" about Marineland, the facility in Niagara Falls again documented to have a sorry record of animal abuse. You replied: "Your complaint is acknowledged. All such reports are thoroughly investigated and appropriate actions are taken as justified."  I can't recall any zoo losing accreditation from CAZA, not even the one that uses its last, lonely elephant for circus stunts, but perhaps you can enlighten me.

You continue, "The accreditation program of the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which regulates the operations of Marineland and all other CAZA accredited members is based on a comprehensive set of demanding standards designed to ensure that all animals kept by our members receive the best of care in modern, appropriate facilities. We conduct regular inspections to verify that our standards are adhered to at all times, and our Accreditation Commission is empowered to investigate any complaints that are brought to our attention. The Commission can order corrective measures or in very serious cases can remove the institution’s accreditation.

"CAZA has not previously received complaints about the treatment of animals at Marineland. CAZA will now thoroughly investigate the allegations with respect to Marineland in an objective manner and will determine what actions need to be taken in light of the facts. We will carry out this inspection in conjunction with the OSPCA."

Clearly, whatever CAZA does to assure compliance to its standards, it doesn't work to protect animals.  Marineland is accredited, and yet articles in The Toronto Star outlined a horrific record of abusive situations, as have previous reports submitted to you by Zoocheck-Canada (which you apparently didn't recognize as being complaints).

One of the CAZA standards used to dictate that when a zoo had fewer than three elephants, it would either have to get more elephants (the idea being that elephants are social animals) or move the one it had.   As amended March 23, 2005, CAZA's Visiting Committee Handbook stated "Elephant management facilities should make every effort to maintain elephants in social groupings.  It is inappropriate to keep highly social female elephants singly.  Elephant care staff should be aware of each animal's social compatibility and the dominance hierarchies of the herd."

In 2007, the Edmonton Valley Zoo was clearly in violation of that standard, and the General Exhibit Standards within the Government of Alberta Standards for Zoos, which state "All animals must be maintained in numbers sufficient to meet their social and behavioural needs" when it was down to its last elephant, Lucy.

On October 25th of that year, R.D. Hale, chair of CAZA's "ethics committee" wrote "After viewing all of the circumstances, the Ethics Committee is satisfied that the decisions made by the Valley Zoo are in the best interest of the animals at this time."

And then, the very next year, CAZA came out with an "Elephant Care Manual" that after still noting that it was "inappropriate" to keep "highly social female elephant's (sic) long term" it added "It is recognized that some socially aberrant adult females currently exist and these elephants can be managed singly if the institution has made every effort to introduce them to a social group and CAZA agrees that the anti-social behavior is not correctable. it's all Lucy's fault that she's alone, apparently being "socially aberrant", although I can't help but wonder how "every effort" could have been made to introduce her to a "social group" when she's the only elephant in Alberta.

If you, or your colleagues at CAZA, can't see the absurdity of all this, so be it, but I don't think you can blame me and a growing number of others if we fail to take CAZA seriously.   The thing that saddens me is that some still do.

The one time I have heard of CAZA seriously threatening to remove accreditation was when Toronto City Council and the Toronto Zoo Board decided to move its remaining three elephants to a sanctuary because the city couldn't afford maintaining and upgrading their quarters.  CAZA's concern was that the sanctuary was not accredited as a zoo.  It is not accredited as a zoo because it is not a zoo.  It's a sanctuary, with much higher standards for animal husbandry than are required by CAZA or the American equivalent, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.  It is accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries.

But this is about complaints pertaining to Marineland, and apparently anything less than a formal complaint does not register with you as a complaint.   When I received your reply I called some activists who have spent years complaining about Marineland.   Did any of them complain directly to CAZA?  The answers I have received so far confirm your statement, but the reason they can't remember complaining to you directly can pretty well be summed up by what one told me on the phone:  "Why would I?  They must have known, and yet did nothing.  No one takes them seriously."

And yes, I know that I previously never have complained to CAZA, and for the same reason.  I have spent my life in the animal protection business and have seen firsthand how low the animal husbandry standards for CAZA accreditation can be.  Therefore I also do not take CAZA accreditation seriously as a measure of the quality of the facility.  If Marineland can get accreditation, such accreditation is of no value in determining animal welfare.

But a few people less involved with animals, including legislators and media, sometimes do take CAZA seriously, and I would urge you to try to maintain that faith.   I do this not because I care about CAZA, I don't, but because I know that in the long run the only way CAZA can be taken seriously is to act with an effectiveness so far absent, and start seriously supporting its own stated goal to "promote the welfare of animals by encouraging the advancement of conservation, education, and science."  Those are features I would support, along with, as you said in your letter, animals receiving the "best" care.  In fact, I'd settle for them even receiving reasonably good care.

It seems to me that zoos are at a crossroads.  No one can disagree that they are entertaining and amuse children.   But claims that they serve effectively to actually teach those children, or anyone else, anything about wildlife are not supported by such research as exists.   Such education is at any rate increasingly available through other sources; it's not necessary to put a rhinoceros in a pen to teach a nine-year old what a rhino eats or where it is native.

Captive breeding and release can contribute to conservation, but the 99 percent of a zoo's public infrastructure is rarely, if ever, seriously part of such endeavour.  Endlessly catching beluga whales and putting them in concrete ponds in no way conserves them.  There are certainly some discoveries to be made about animals held captive that are of interest to scientists, but few, and most such information is not easily applicable to the conservation of wild animals.

There are some zoos that are genuinely engaged in these endeavours, and do put the welfare of the animals first, do contribute to conservation and education, and CAZA does them no service by claiming zoos like Marineland are part of these worthy endeavours, or by calling Lucy aberrant. If zoos are to survive, they will have to adapt, and do so on ways that benefit the animals in their care, the species they are involved in, or that provide real education.  And they will have to recognize that in this age of electronic communication, you can fool only a decreasing number of people with bland assurances detached from such horrific realities as those documented at Marineland.

Barry Kent MacKay
Animal Alliance of Canada