Thursday, 12 May 2016

Our New Website

We've launched our new website and new blog!

Please visit us at

If you have any questions or concerns or some feedback, we'd love to hear from you!

Thank you and enjoy.

For the animals,
The AAC crew

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,_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, (, 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

Anne Buonaiuto, Executive Assistant:
Brad Dewar, Inspector:

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:

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.

Read about Best Friends Sanctuary, where some of the Vick dogs received their first experiences in rehabilitation.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

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


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.  (

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. (

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.

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Contact:          Devin Kazakoff:
Liz White: 1-416-462-9541 (23), 416-809-4371 (cell) or
Barry MacKay, 1-905-472-9731 or 
Sherry Adams, 250-432-5238 (cell) or