Saturday, June 23, 2012

and BRAVO THS ... who STEPPED UP...

Once upon a time, a man named John Kelso asked "Why don't we have a society for cruelty to animals" when he wrote about the horror of watching helplessly at the suffering of a horse.  Readers responded and with the $74 sent by the caring people of Toronto in 1886, the Toronto Humane Society was founded.  Now, 125 years later, the THS continues to live up to its mandate - To promote the humane care and protection of all animals and to prevent cruelty and suffering.

In its 125 year history, the THS has gone through lean times and bountiful ones. It has at various points in its long history been high kill, low kill and no kill. It has weathered controversy and battled those who would bring it down to the status of an animal warehouse.  It has had good leaders and bad leaders and leaders with good intentions who did bad things.  But through it all, it has fought to do the right thing.

On or about July 4, five dogs will reach the end of a very long journey and arrive in Toronto to be met by Toronto Humane Society staff and brought to 11 River Street for assessment, vetting and eventual adoption.

Five dogs from Thailand have found santuary in an organization that is exemplifying what it has always promised the city of Toronto - "ALL animals are welcome".  Even little Kaa-Moo whose sweet nature makes having just three legs and a broken back which makes her incontinent irrelevant.  On behalf of the THS, CEO Jacques Messier was also prepared to accept Lyca who is blind and little Evie who had a horrendous tunour which also blinded her recently removed.  Those two however found refuge in Seattle and Calgary, respectively.

THANK you Jacques Messier for leading the THS back into its rightful place. Thank you Toronto Humane Society for working so hard to return to the people of Toronto an animal refuge that truly exemplifies the meaning of humane.  Thank you THS staff for your determination and honesty and passion to move beyond the last few years of controversy and make 11 River Street once again a true REFUGE for every animal in need. Thank you also to Dominque, dog walker extrodinaire and to Lindsay of SCAD who has worked so long and so selflessly to make the lives of animals in Thailand a little better.

I bring you the Thailand Five:


December 2009
Mixed (Thai Ridgeback features)
15-18 kgs (33-39.6Ibs) once fully grown

Kaa Moo was being looked after by a kind Thai lady down the road from SCAD. Kaa Moo sustained an injury to her leg which became severely infected. Her leg became so swollen that it resembled a pig's foot; hence the Thai name. The lady did not have the money to get Kaa Moo the medical care she needed, so asked our vet nurse for help. SCAD treated her leg and to try and get the infection under control. Unfortunately Kaa Moo's infection had been left for too long and despite trying many treatments, it was decided that amputation was the best course of action. Kaa Moo has made a full recovery from the amputation - however, a further x-ray showed a broken back near the base of her spine making Kaa Moo incontinent. She is currently undergoing acupuncture and we hope this made help repair some of the nerve endings.

Late 2010, early 2011

Around 15-18kg
Yound adult male Pat is like a boomerang, he always comes back! He was found one day outside the SCAD dog center, but he looked in very good shape and so was not immediately taken into the adoption program. For several weeks, Pat did his best to break into the dog center (with the assistance of certain volunteers!) and wagged his way into everyone's affections, until he became part of the furniture and it was impossible to make him leave! He has such a great personality that we are hopeful he'll find a real home soon!

Unknown - young adult
Around 15-18kg

Spotty dog Wrinkle got his name from his very cute wrinkly head! Wrinkle came to SCAD during the recent flood crisis, when he was rescued from a flood area and brought to the TWP Shelter under SCAD's care. At first it was suspected Wrinkle had a dislocated left hip as his bone seemed to be sticking out at a very strange angle, however, x-rays revealed Wrinkle femural head (the 'ball' which fits into the 'socket' of his hip) was sheared off. Although complicated and painful surgery was an option, the vet instead recommended that as Wrinkle was in no pain from this defect, the hip should be left to form it's own joint. Aside from a lumpy hip, Wrinkle is fully mobile, pain free and loves to run!

Mid July 2011
10-15 kg (22-33 lb) when fully grown

Black puppy Shade was found dumped with her two sisters outside the new SCAD dog center one evening. She was tired, hungry and showing the early signs of skin condition mange, but was otherwise in good health and so was taken into the SCAD adoption program.

Unknown - young adult approximately 1-2 years
Handsome Sid came to SCAD after being rescued from a flood area by members of the TWP Coalition, consisting of SCAD, ENP and the Kinship Circle. He came to us obviously very afraid of humans and was virtually impossible to handle (which earned him the nickname ‘Grumpypants’) but after working with him gently for several weeks, Sid has been transformed into a loving and affectionate dog. Sid is now looking for his forever home!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Step Up

MANY dogs- most even, suffer horribly from parasites and mange
Thailand is not the place for a dog.

Unwanted, rejected, maligned and actively abused, dogs live a precarious, hungry and neglected life on the streets. While some citizens exercise compassion and care, the majority revile the dogs and actively abuse them.  In the hot, cloying atmosphere of the eastern city of Bangkok, water is a precious commodity and not easily accessed.  In a recent visit, long-time THS dog walker Dominque heard about an elderly, mange-ridden but friendly old boy who was horrifically beaten to death by police when a local resident complained that he had drunk out of a reservoir under his plant.
Rama - now safe in Canada
Dominique (and brother Luc) have a condo there.  Much of their time is spent feeding the hungry, sad dogs of Bangkok, bringing them in for vetting, spaying and neutering and treatment for the endemic scourge of mange - a condition which leaves them raw and bald, oozing fluids and blood which attract flies and vermin. 
Dominique feeding the pack
Dominique on his return from there recently brought back one of two street puppies that survived a horrific attack by a swarm of rats when born (and which killed and devoured the rest of the litter).  The Toronto Humane Society graciously accepted Rama who is currently out on foster but will be available for adoption soon.

For 10 years, a wonderful organization called SCAD made heroic efforts to help the animals of Bangkok. Cats, kittens, dogs and puppies were rescued, vetted, fed, watered and good homes found for them. Due to a variety of circumstances, SCAD now has to sadly close its doors. The people behind this wonderful and compassionate organization are desperately trying to find homes for the animals within their shelter.  They have already placed and/or transferred dogs and cats in a wide variety of good and compassionate homes and shelters.

But now scant weeks before they have to close permanently, they are still desperately seeking homes for the balance of the dogs. 

next blog... meet the pack

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Slán go fóill Lennox ... you deserved better

Added: Reading an article by Victoria Stillwell (a certified dog expert and celebrity trainer) you can't help but wonder if the reason that Lennox is being killed is becuase to release him would show the extent of the abuse he has suffered under the aegis of the Belfast Council for the past two years. From her account, his skin is raw and oozing, he has cuts and bruises, he is sick and in terrible physical and emotional shape YET still shows NO aggression.

Despite a world-wide appeal for compassion and common sense, an innocent dog will lose his life today

Lennox has never attacked anyone.

Lennox has never bitten anyone.

Lennox has never threatened or in any way exhibited aggression.

For two long, heart-breaking years, a Belfast family has fought hard and gloriously to try to save the life of a dog condenmed ENTIRELY on his appearance.  A dog that two certified experts describe as loving and sweet.  A dog that has been living in deplorable physical, mental and emotional conditions.  A dog condemned by an ignorant, biased, racist and STUPID city council that for all intents and purposes, are putting their fingers in their ears and refusing to listen.  A council incapable of rational thought.  A council now despised and reviled by an audience from a hundred different countries.

Today, his wonderful family has lost the war.  As reported by BBC news, the appeal has been denied and Lennox is to be murdered.   Caroline Barnes, my heart breaks for you.  Your refusal to give up on your beloved dog is an inspiration and an example for dog-lovers everywhere. I am sorry this day for your broken heart.

Lennox, you deserved more.

Lennox, we have failed you.

My heart breaks for this poor dog who has lived a sad, neglected and lonely existence for two years while the people who knew him and loved him best did everything they could to save him. 

Perhaps this ignorant council will at least let them see him to his final rest.

SHAME on you Belfast courts.

SHAME on you Belfast Council.

Your ignorance is known throughout the globe.

Coal- a cat - a love story

A friend of my mother's had a son who adopted a cat from the Toronto Humane Society.  Stephen and his wife Andrea adopted Coal knowing full well he had congestive heart failure. They had four wonderful years with him but had to say goodbye just last month. Here is Coal's story.

The Urban Hunter — Coal

It is 3:4oam, technically Friday morning.

I can't sleep! The "urban hunter" is on my mind?

Yesterday at approximately 3:30 or quarter to 4 pm I was racing out to Oakville with Coal. He passed away on route. His last breath taken while I sped! Just he and I! I guess our last drive together.

I really miss him! It is only 12 hours since he physically left us.

The light is ON at the back door. Usually reserved for when Coal would stay out all night. I would do this as I wanted to ensure he was protected from and raccoons or other, making sure he could see his house. Tonight he isn't coming back.

Cats as they are, are private, and have an uncanny ability knowing when they are to die. Andrea called me while I was at a work appt . She said he isn't doing very well. Andrea really has a way of seeing this. Every other time Coal would present a flare up due to his disease, she would pinpoint and with i00% accuracy, I would then race to the specialist's clinic. I raced home and saw him in the back yard hiding behind a blue spruce. Andrea had been watching over him. She brushed him and brought water and his favorite wet food. We knew this was likely his last day. He came out from behind the brush and made his way to the house, the Congestive Heart Failure finally caught him. I picked him up as he struggled to make his way into our house; Andrea now panic struck guided Anderson away distracting him with an ipad. I didn't wait! I scooped up Coal as he laboured with every breath to stay with us. I gave Andrea and Anderson a chance to kiss and give a quick pet. Anderson very much unaware and Andrea all too aware as to what was happening. So the "urban hunter" decided to come home to die with his family and have his dad, me drive him rather than be alone.

We got Coal from the Humane Society of Toronto. Andrea and I went there to adopt. So many cats, so many cages. Andrea spoke to one of the volunteers about this one cat in particular. I think chino or something like that he was called. Whatever the name it wasn't working. We decided on calling him Coal, just like the coal used to warm a home. We even spelled it that too. Coal was to be our new warmth. There was also a checked `X" on the card outside his cage. Andrea asked what was with that? The answer. "Oh, he has a "disease". We looked at each other. What disease? CHF. I knew exactly what he had. Andrea and I looked at each other. Coal was going to not only be our family pet but Andrea's first. When we met the vet on staff she was relieved she didn't have to explain CHF. She also was really relieved someone was willing to take this cat home. We knew if we took him it would be expensive but we didn't care. Actually, more importantly was how difficult it would be with a cat or any animal for that matter who has to have administered meds. It is like trying to put your hand over a roadside bomb in Afghanistan. I mean really try placing your hand down a cat's mouth with not z pill but 2 different pills. Gheez I used to wear one of those butcher gloves you buy at Williams and Sonoma as a version of protection. Sure the glove could stop a ginsu knife from cutting your finger off but not coal's bite.

Coal was initially placed on Plavix and an Ace inhibitor. How ironic! BMS, the company I used to work for sold these exact meds. These meds would fall by the wayside once Coal's new vet/Cardiologist realized how severe Coal had CHF.

Coal's chart was virtually non-existent. We didn't even have an accurate age for Coal and hence we never really new Coal's age. The Humane Society guessed 5 yrs old or so. Coal stayed with us for about 4 1/2 years. So was he nine or possibly m to 12. We don't know. What we know is he had been removed from that god-awful cage. He was able to have people hold him, pet him, get a good bellyrub, yes he would let us do that. Yes, cats are generally independent and usually "do their own thing" but there are those few that hang with people and they era really special. He loved being brushed and chasing a ball or two. Really loved the wand with the rope attached and could he catch that string or rope faster than the runner-Usain Bolt. Anderson would do this at times with Coal and the two of them got a real kick out of it.

Coal was rescued from the Hamilton shelter. The Hamilton shelter had Coal scheduled to be put down before Toronto picked him up. Toronto Humane intervened and Coal was sent to Toronto. Much controversy surrounded the Director who many said was not rationale in his decision making with respect to how cats were being treated at he facility. It meant the director never wanted to let any cat get "put down". So in some respects, how can I blame him? If Hamilton had had their way, Coal would not have joined us. Period!

I remember Andrea and I pacing around this one section of the cat sections. And every time, we were drawn to this one cage. He never let on about anything. Coal never begged or pleaded. His intense eyes spoke volumes. Andrea knew right away he was the one. We brought him somewhat timidly home since no one really knew how along the CHF was. We only knew he would require allot of care and that was all right.

At first we were told not to let him out because he needed meds zx daily-day and evening. So responsible as we were, Coal would still sneak out and scare the sh*#" out of us. Hell, we finally adopt this cat and now we could potentially lose him outside and he needs meds. Many a time, we had neighbors", Vicki and Greg who were awesome at finding Coal. Vicki a vet tech herself had a keen sense on what Coal would do and where he would likely go.

When we moved from Armadale ave., Coal had no problem adjusting. In fact, Andrea and I as parents realized that when Coal left he would actually come back. Humm go figure! So we trusted our Coal to do just that. By now, the specialists were amazed at his health. Coal had been with us for over 3 years and they were baffled he lasted that long. Who says LOVE can't hold off death! Coal was proving medical science wrong.

Well into coal's fourth year with us, we were now giving him needles both lasix and lovenox once daily. This too would only prove to help temporarily. The exams would start to show deterioration. We had him tapped about a month ago. Tapping means draining with a medical procedure to remove fluid from the lungs. Costly as that was, it helped. But we were warned. The disease was gaining on him. Open door policy came into effect. Coal if he chose and weather permitting, Andrea and I have the go ahead to stay out, all night if wanted. And he did! We would nd gifts the next morning! I would go and clean up many mice before Anderson would go out and play. Yes, most recently a cardinal that really pissed off Andrea. A few chipmunks and some things we may never know.

Remember Coal grew up on the street and from the tough part of steel town- Hamilton. He had an already shortened tail, a cut over one ear and I am now guessing a shortened selection of a cats "nine lives", if you will. Hence why I am titling this eulogy the "Urban Hunter". He hunted most probably to survive while on the streets of Hamilton.

So here too, even with a new home, filtered water, the best cat food dry and wet, wool blankets and a free range of the house he still had instincts to hunt. So be it!

But here in lies the real Coal. Our family member! It was Coal protecting us while we lived at Armadale. Anderson was still an infant and the City Works had dug up the streets. Guess what? Rats and not small field rats. The rats from the sewage system- outright dirty vermin. Coal had been outside in broad daylight and caught one. So yes, he protected us. We had to buy traps because we weren't going to use poison. Anyways, there was a cesspool of a backyard some 6 houses away whose "sh*"t hole of a yard- a garbage dump would be prettier and safer too, was housing the rats. While we liked the idea of Coal protecting Anderson and us from them, Coal did get sick.

His white blood cell count went through the roof. A thousand bucks later and an overnight stay, and not at the "Ramada', Andrea and I knew not to let Coal kill anymore. Technically his heart was not supposed to be pushed to that extent.

So here is the low down on an animal that Andrea and I are so proud of. He could kill another animal in an instant. He could cuddle up and get a belly rub. He could be teased, chased and even attacked via Anderson with a hit we would not approve of and yet never hurt us. He would stay on the landing when we went to bed. When we had some night nurses and doulas to help out with Anderson in the first month, he would stay outside Anderson's room- watching if you will. He chased mice out of our house and most of all would be happy to lick your hands or face in a heartbeat.

It was sunny this afternoon and the sun shone on him. He got to be outside and he got a good brushing from his mom. He was given his favorite wet food and as he knew time was close- he chose to come in to die with his family, possibly his only family.

When I arrived back from the vets. The sun still shining, pushing Anderson on his swing and even though Toronto had no wind, low and behold, our chimes that rarely move unless a tsunami was to strike rang load and clear. His energy has passed over and I thank him for having joined us on this journey.

Mom and Anderson and dad love you Coal - our urban hunter.

Many thanks for the kind care from all the staff especially - Tessa, Terri, Kristina, Jen and Dr. Jackie who looked after Coal during so many emergency visits. Lastly a special thanks to Dr. Sandra Minors and Sara - Coal's cardio team.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

SHAME CBC ... Toto Auditions label certain dogs as "menacing" and Dangerous Dogs

Auditions for Toto in the production of Over the Rainbow clearly indicate MASSIVE prejudice towards pit bulls and other dogs that the producers arbitrarily and not very clearly label "menacing".  Please write to and voice YOUR disgust with their prejudicial and erroenous "rules.  Here's mine, sent at 11:15 today.

I should not be surprised or shocked to see what used to be a reputable and trustworthy news organization disseminate such drivel. In view of the cutbacks, the numerous articles and the brouhaha respecting whether CBC is or should remain a viable Canadian news source, one would think that CBC would put its best foot forward and show the world the quality and depth of its commitment and newsworthiness.

On the very first page of the Competition Rules, you state:
2. Eligibility

2.1 The Competition is open to all dogs (“Competitor Dogs”) that are at least one (1) year old, are legally entitled to be in Canada, and are not Dangerous Dogs. ... (emphasis mine) - then in the glossary you identify "Dangerous Dogs" as

A “pit bull” as defined in the Dog Owner’s Liability Act, a dog with any history of violent behaviour or a violent or menacing temperament, or a dog otherwise determined by Producer in its sole discretion to be dangerous.
Truly, the quotation marks are appropriate in this case - as they in essence underline the reality that there IS not such breed as "pit bull" - merely a large number of dogs of mixed heritage that fit the general and vague description of such - blocky heads, musclar, short-haired - the choices are myriad and HAVE, again and again, shown to be any of a number of mixed breed dogs - NONE of which are by nature aggressive or in any way dangerous.

As a long-time supporter and champion of CBC, you've just lost me.
Not only becuase you clearly have NO clue what "pit bulls" are like - try doing some research CBC people and show some real journalistic integrity - but becuase you so blithly condemn dogs simply based on their appearance - an appearance moreover that can vary dramatically yet falls under the racist and prejudicial onus of the McGinty Liberals who are intent on creating hysteria and have been adept and sadly successful as spreading misinformation and lies.

On your page seeking competitors, you state:
Who is Toto?

Toto is a bright fun loving companion full of energy and charisma who loves the spotlight and definitely isn't camera shy. Our Toto must be able to put a smile on anyone's face with clever tricks and affectionate behavior. Toto is faithful, heroic and an entertainer extraordinaire. Toto will have eyes that twinkle merrily back at our winning Dorothy, sure to turn the greyest of days into vibrant colorful adventures.
Guess what, CBC - you JUST described most of the "pit bulls" i know! To the T - bright, fun loving, full of energy and charisma just about describes most pitties I have known and loved! Furthermore, Pitties have a LONG and illustrious history on stage, cinema and in media generally.
  • Early 1900s Military chose an image of a dignified pit bull to represent the country on World War I propaganda posters. 
  • The pit bull is the only dog to have been on the cover of Life Magazine three times
  • Buster Brown dog is a pittie
  • Flashdance Dog Grunt is a pittie
  • Pit bulls have been featured in the films Snatch, Homeward Bound, Oliver, Babe: Pig in the City and No Country For Old Men
  • Petey of Rascals fame is a classic "pittie"

 There are numerous other examples not cited here - but their natural intelligence, their delight in attention and clownish natures make them natural actors.

So CBC, sadly, your lack of journalistic integrity, your perpetuation of the same slanderous lies and myths espoused by the McGinty government, your willingness to embrace and disseminate hatred against innocent animals based only on appearance has only hastened the inevitable demise of what was once a venerable Canadian institution. Based on realities like this, no wonder.

Yours truly,