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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Selling dogs to Reserves

I would strongly advise AGAINST doing that. I think you already suspect that selling your dog to a reserve is not a good idea or you would not be asking for an opinion. What is the history of this reserve as far as how they treat dogs? What is the history of the person who wants to adopt? Have they had dogs before? If so, what sort of treatment did these animals receive? I would always reserve the right to check on any puppies I adopted out to see if they are being treated well. That said, in this case I would say no.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Oh yes, we need tougher animal cruelty laws in Canada!

February, 2009 (See also Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS) to vote on whether government should put more money toward animal welfare - obviously, we need to).

Stronger federal animal cruelty legislation demanded after dogs hammered

A New Brunswick woman is urging that federal animal cruelty laws be revised after a man accused of killing five small dogs with a hammer was acquitted of any charges earlier this month.

The woman, a volunteer at the Oromocto and Area SPCA and a pet owner herself, was outraged after the man was found not guilty when he appeared in court. He had been charged under five counts of cruelty after SPCA officers visited his kennel. The man then struck and killed the Pomeranians before the officials seized the animals. Reports indicate that only one survived.

According to a recent article, the man was found guilty on one count under the Criminal Code, for injuring a dog. He was also found guilty under the provincial act of three counts of failing to provide adequate water for the animals. In the same article, NB SPCA Chief Animal Protection Officer Paul Melanson indicates they “rarely pursue charges under Section 446 of the Criminal Code because it is too hard to prove.”

Federal and provincial politicians in New Brunswick, as well as municipal Councillors have spoken out about the need for tougher animal cruelty legislation under the Criminal Code as well as in the New Brunswick SPCA Act.

Source: “N.B. woman urges change to animal cruelty laws after hammering of dogs,” Canadian Press, February 4, 2009.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Animal education and tougher animal cruelty laws needed

"Dog shooting days" are a common occurrence on many Canadian First Nation Reserves.

It is a blood sport, because shooting dogs obviously does not control their populations, or shooting them would not have to be repeated year after year. First Nations people on some Reserves who shoot the dogs receive a bounty -money- for each dog tail brought in- thus, it becomes a game. One possible alternative to shooting could be that Bands use the money paid to the 'shooters' to educate the children and spay, neuter and vaccinate these dogs.

Many First Nations choose to spend their money elsewhere, rather than spay, neuter, vaccinate or educate their people about basic dog care. Yet, they continue to acquire dogs. Dogs and puppies freeze to death, or starve-- the ones who are not shot first. Many dogs are chained for their entire lives, and left outside in subzero weather. Another beautiful four month old pup (see link below photo of puppy w/brace or Big Heart Rescue link) was left on the side of the road on the Reserve after being hit by a car. She, sadly, did not make it through her ordeal, even after extensive veterinary care paid for by volunteers outside of the Reserve. This is all too common. Many rescue organizations are full of dogs from Reserves. Many of these dogs have multiple injuries: sticks poked in their eyes, limbs amputated, legs broken, and general abuse and neglect.

ALL animals, especially humankind's 'best friend', have the right to without fear and abuse. Humans domesticated the dog thousands of years ago. Dogs are dependent upon humans for care. They return that care with loyalty rarely found in human beings. Dogs risk their lives for humans from natural catastrophes such as avalanches and fires. They help blind people 'see', and wheelchair-bound people to live nearly normal lives. They enrich our lives in so many ways. Many First Nations used to depend upon dogs. Now the dogs have been replaced by ATV's skidoos, pickup trucks and shotguns.

One of the common problems seems to be that puppies are brought onto Reserves, but once they lose the 'cute' puppy look, they are kicked out to fend for themselves. They join with packs of other starving dogs. Some children on Reserves throw rocks at these dogs, or kick them. Is it any wonder that these dogs then turn on them? Violence begets violence, and so the cycle continues. Unwanted puppies are born every year because some First Nations people do not believe in spaying or neutering for 'spiritual' reasons.

I would like to ask First Nations if shooting these defenceless dogs is more 'spiritual' than spaying and neutering them?

The links provided on this page are all excellent resources for information on how to control the strays without shooting them. Many of these links provide resources for schools to use to teach children how to avoid being bitten, and basic animal care and ethics.

Are you aware that Canada has not updated its Animal Cruelty Laws since 1892?! These laws were enacted in the horse and buggy days and are obviously out-of-date and inadequate. Are you also aware that in spite of the fact that over 85% of Canadians WANT tougher laws for animals, the Senate has defeated Bills for the last four years aimed at tougher Animal Cruelty laws? This bill has been approved in the House of Commons by Members of Parliment- elected by the public. One of the amendments the Senate continued to demand would give special treatment to Aboriginals, virtually exempting them from the Criminal Code. This is inappropriate and unnecessary since Aboriginals already have specific protection in the Constitution which allows them to continue their cultural and traditional practices. These 'practices' do not include the 'dog shooting days', however.

Even the Assembly of First Nations acknowledges that Aboriginals are already protected. In a letter to the Senate, AFN National Chief, Phil Fontaine, says, "To this point, we certainly AGREE that Aboriginal harvesting falls within the category of legitimate activity and is therefore protected by this proposed legislation". When the largest Aboriginal group in Canada realizes that the Senate's amendment is unnecessary, why, then, does the Senate continue to stand in the way of the Bill?

Tougher animal cruelty laws would definitely make people think before harming an innocent animal. Currently, a maximum of six months in jail (usually waived) and a few hundred dollars is the only punishment for horrible abuse crimes against animals. Exempting First Nations from jail or fines for animal abuse is just wrong. The crimes remain unreported, and Reserves are off limits to non-natives. This is perpetrating cruelty to animals, which definitely transfers to humans. Everyone should be accountable for animal abuse.

It is imperative to email Bloc MP's and Liberal MP's and urge them to support Bill C-373. The Bloc has said it will support both S-213 AND C-373. The Liberal caucus is split on the issue. It is important to know that S-213 does NOTHING substantial to reform the existing criminal codes that govern animal cruelty offences. Bill C-373 will NOT adversely affect farmers, rachers, medical scientists, furriers, hunters, and others who use animals for their livelihood and thus there is NO need to fear Bill C-373.

In addition to urging the Bloc and Liberal caucus MP's to support Bill C-373, I urge you to write to the contacts in the 'links' section on this page. Tell them you want tougher Animal Cruelty laws. Let them know what is happening on many Reserves throughout Canada. Let them know, as well, that animal education should be mandated on Reserves to stop the 'shooting days' as well as to stop the mauling of children. There is a very real connection between abuse of people and abuse of animals. The Humane Society of the United States "First Strike" program acknowledges this connection. Violence on every level must be stopped on many Reserves. With education easily available, there is absolutely NO excuse for inhumane treatment of animals!

Tougher animal cruelty laws-for EVERYONE, educate, vaccinate, spay and neuter - that is our goal. I hope you add your voice to this endeavor and speak for those who cannot speak; the animals. Get involved now! These sweet puppies and dogs can't wait any longer.

The Chronicle Journal, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, posted this letter April 20, 2007:
I though you might be interested to see an article that appeared in The Chronicle Journal, a newspaper serving Thunder Bay, Ontario.

There have been several responses (via letters to the editor):

Death is merciful for the thousands and thousands of northern dogs born each year across Canada . Life is starvation; lonely and cruel with dog on dog aggression and on too many occasions, human abuse. Death is merciful for these dogs. Dog shoots, the only method currently available to many small towns and northern reserves. But what the hell, through out history culling has been "acceptable" to control animal populations has it not? Elephants, bears?? ….. i'm no expert, but doesn't the list go on? So what about hanging? Is this ok too? What about drowning, does this work for you? What about slowly starving to death? Then no ones hands get dirty.

Ignorance is bliss. Ask Grand Chief Stan Beardy. Ask governmental policy makers. Ask Lt. Governor James Bartleman, who refuses to respond to my requests to at least acknowledge and possibly endorse the need to address this problem on a national level. On the other hand, let's ask the front line teachers and nurses that work in many of these remote locations and are traumatized by witnessing the starvation and abuse. Lets ask the locals what they feel. Heaven forbid, lets ask people like me that rescue these animals. How about this. I had to have a six week old pup that was rescued from up north put down the day after it was flown out. Its legs were crippled and deformed and it was disembowelled. Yes, you heard right. Its bowels were hanging out. Abuse? Inbreeding? Who knows. Oh, it smiled and licked me on the way to the vet. Wait, I have a another story to share. It's about a starving dog that traumatized a young northern girl as she watched it run into her home, grab her kitten and swallow it in one bite. Oops, maybe I should not have told that one. Lance Ribbonlet of the North Tallcree reserve in northern Alberta, dead at 5 years of age by dog attack.... Let me take this opportunity to say thanks to the Chronicle Journal for proudly displaying that article on the front page entitled "Humane Society takes in dogs threatened by cull"….to bad the writer, Chen Chekki forgot to print the rest of the story. I know I gave it to him. As it stood, it lacked depth. It just stirred the pot. How about this. Health Canada, First Nations and Inuit Health Division, memorandum dated December 1, 2006, states any nurse caught feeding or housing or rescuing dogs on northern Ontario reserves will be immediately dismissed. In northern communities where there have been military evacuations b/c of flooding or mold, army planes going in empty, refusing to take dog food up, leaving the communities animals to starve, not even acknowledging the existence of the problem. Check this out, its excerpts of an email from a teacher on a remote reserve "All our dogs are gone. They have killed 12 dogs; they went dog hunting yesterday. Cherry was one of them and only 1 ½ years old….she was the one we were trying to get out…she loved everyone and would have made a wonderful pet. She would come to my classroom window, put her paws up and look in as if to say "I'm here, where is my food"…. don't send up another cage right now…. we need to heal. I keep hoping it's a nightmare and I will wake up and see them all again….". Lack of access and skyrocketing costs plague many northern communities across Canada. I know that in the grand scheme of things animal welfare is low on the totem pole. People first. But we can not spend the next century pretending that this problem does not exist. The suffering of Canada 's dogs and cats and the potential dangers that they pose on various levels of a community, particularly our youth, necessitate a coordinated action that can only improve the overall mental and physical health of community members. Study after study has shown the psychological affects of exposure to neglect/abuse and animal suffering as perpetuating the cycle of despair, hopelessness and violence which thrives in environments of social stress and isolation. With the high suicide rates of Youth on reserves, this is yet one more emotional contributing factor that is within our power to address. We need a government strategy that can establish priorities and targets with community based groups, a strategy that will be sustainable over time. Mahatma Gandhi, "I hold that, the more helpless a creature is, the more it is entitle to protection by man from the cruelty of man" (thanks Hugh MacDonald)….whether cruelty is intentional or a by product of neglect and ignorance. Or just plain political. On the upside, the World Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is organizing the first ever 2007 Northern Dog Conference in the Fall, as a starting point for finding solutions. Lets see if any of the various levels of government that are going to be invited attend. I personally will make sure Stan Beardy gets an invitation. Also, as the northern dog lady, I have rescued/relocated over 400 dogs in the past four years. My goal has been to facilitate access to spay/neuter programs on northern Ontario resources. A daunting task let me tell you. I do it in my spare time. I have a real job. Anyways, fantastic news, the Canadian Animal Assistance Team , is a registered charity animal welfare organization out of Vancouver, comprised of Vet professionals across Canada dedicated to the care of needy animals world wide. They heard about my rescue work and contacted me as they would like to start up an Ontario branch, and work together on offering their first remote spay/neuter/immunization program on a fly in reserve. Nibinamik (Summer Beaver) is thrilled to be the involved in this project. We will draw on the experience of those who spearheaded a similar project in Cat Lake a couple of years ago. I hope that a foundation can be laid for future initiatives on other reserves, eventually with governmental funding. On a final note, Thunder Bay does not even have affordable spay and neturing programs. I would like to challange local vets and organizations like the Keri Chase Foundation to look into cleaning up our own backyard.

Karen Bester

Northern Dog Lady

Flashing before my eyes is a dog snarling at the end of a too short chain with no dry spot to stand. His home, rusted car metal laying around him. Another picture of a young adult his head resting on the desk. Hung over, tired, dirty with no place to call his own because there are only two bedrooms and 10 or more people. Young aduts setting up home in a bedroom with a baby at 16. Dogs yelping in pain as they are shot. My deep love and dedication to my students. To the deep sadness that will never leave me. Another picture of a young student smiling at me in hope. Dead a week later of suicide. Teachers working themselves past all hours working with the kids. Children having children. Seventy percent of the people here under thirty. How the dogs can't decide what they want more food or a pat. The gentleness of most of the dogs and the kids. The love I feel for both. Outhouses behind every door. Graves sprinkled around the houses by the lake in the yards by the back door. The garbage, the poverty, the despair. The low literacy level - teaching kids in grade 9 who only have a grade 3 literacy level. The exhaustion I feel every day trying to get through apathy and low motivation. Then there is the laughter of the kids and their gentleness. The corruption on the reserve. The incredibly high alcohol and sniffing population. The emblezlement of funds. The hiring and firing depending on political affliations. Reserves don't work for anyone animal or human.

Teacher who can not be identified


Before you read it, ask yourself if you see any true compassion for these starving, freezing dogs? The poem acknowledges that these dogs are 'seen on the side of the road' (looking for food) 'and another car load of Indians gets their smile for the day'??? What on earth is there to smile about? 'Romantic life'? What is romantic about being shot, or slowly starving? Or freezing? The jokes in the poem about dogs mating is not funny at all. This delibrate blindness to why there are so many dogs on the Reserve is the problem. There is no 'connect the dots' to an awareness that these animals need neutering and spaying, as well as regular food! WHY are they running loose? They are not happy and free, they are very needy animals who have been turned out into the elements to fend for themselves. Why do they 'cower'? Because they have been abused and ignored. Simple. They are not 'shy'. I notice no mention of dog shooting here. Are they ashamed? Most of these dogs don't make it past their third birthday. The person who wrote this poem seems to think it's all humourous and the dogs are there to amuse them; maybe win prizes for the most pathetic dog they can find for their contest. Yes, I hope the Creator is there when these people get to their final destination. It'll sure be interesting.

Ode To The Reserve Dog
by Obidiah

The reserve dog is a special breed who lives to roam the plain,
No fence or yard holds him in, the big sky is his domain.
Perchance a kindly hand to feed him or stroke his grizzled hide,
Is all he asks of fate, the rest he'll take in stride.

All manner of adventures beckon to he with imagination,
Some days it's hard to reckon, where he is on the reservation.
Scrunching up on the side of the road he lies in wait for prey,
And another car load of Indians get their big smile of the day.

His romantic life is busy there's no thought to pedigree,
His german shepard head graces many a wiener dog's bod-ee!
His charms have made a visit to the poodle down the lane,
And so little puffy dogs appeared sporting his big mane.

Maybe it's his swagger, or the fact that he loves pickles,
Or the way he sits on the steps to lick his test...icles.
Could be just the scent of him after rolling in another stool,
He stinks to high heaven but in the rez dog world "that's cool".

Brownie, Blackie and Maggie, are the names most often used,
All the good names being taken by the cats who sit bemused.
At the sight on the road when the mutts greet each other,
Sniffing each other's arses, as if looking for a long lost brother.

The rez dog lives on the margins, and means no hurt or hate,
She's happy to fill her belly and eat off her master's plate,
Her love for life is real and she's loyal beyond question,
She asks for nothing back, but maybe this one concession ...

Next time you see a mutt of mine tracking down the way,
Or cowering neath the doorstep, too shy to come out to play,
Remember he too is a traveler on life's uncertain ride,
Be kind and you may meet his Creator on the other side.