Bullied by the Nova Scotia SPCA?

Posted By on January 31, 2011


22 Responses to “Bullied by the Nova Scotia SPCA?”

  1. Peter Thompson says:

    Randy well done.
    I appreciate your opinion in this matter .
    As I know Ms.__________ does as well .

    The following is my opinion on the matter .
    The question that the SPCANS has to ask themselves is:
    If the events above took place remotely as described , How much hard work has been undone .

    (If you suspect animal cruelty, call the Nova Scotia SPCA provincial office at 902-835-4798 or toll-free at 1-888-703-7722.)
    I see nothing in the quoted line above that says the person has to prove the cruelty.
    As regards “At this point the SPCA does not intend to pursue charges against Ms. __________.”
    If you are at risk of being charged any time you report a suspected cruelty,you should be notified at the time of the complaint of possible court action .

    If such a condition exist A reasonable person would conclude that the officer doesn’t want to hear of the SUSPECTED cruelty. How many people are versed in law to know where they will stand if things go south as they appear to have in this case .

    The issue of the officer in question and the response of his superior leaves me pondering questions as to motive . The Mission and Vision Statement of the SPCANS is priority.
    Did the officer or superior do anything in this kerfuffle to encourage the reporting of the next poor animal in need ? I think not !
    I feel that any reasonable man would conclude that Ms. ______ did her part . The question is , will she ever again?Will I ? will anyone who is aware of this? How much damage have these two guys created ?
    Peter Thompson

  2. Karen Seamone says:

    An interesting read for sure! Many questions arise for me… I do find myself wondering what would have to happen for this province (country) to make a move toward laws that would be taken more seriously (defined clearly with some sustenance for consequences) AND enforced?

    One year ago I had a somewhat similar situation. I called in a concern (gave name and contact information) about a dog that I had encountered. It is not an easy thing to do, particularly in a small town or even smaller community. The fear of my name being used somehow in conversation with the individuals owning the dog did cross my mind. I called for the same reasons as you wrote about… a dog, tied by a chain to a small dog house away from the family residence. Water?? Food?? Who knows. I could not see from the road. I did get a call back from an investigator who said that he had visited (next day) and there was nothing he could do. He also stated the owners were not home… so no real “contact” had been made as far as I knew.

    I appreciated the prompt response and the visit but couldn’t understand why the dog was left there in the -15-20 degree temps during that time frame. I was told that if the dog had “provisions” that there was nothing that could be done. That makes me sick! No way in Hell could a water bowl not freeze in mere minutes… no “heated dishes” at that residence, I can assure you. Does the fact that the dog could literally freeze to death factor in or are we just concerned with water dishes here?? I am not pointing fingers at the investigator. I feel that this is a different situation than you wrote about as I was not treated rudely. I do feel though, that there should be something that can be done for these animals.

    That SAME dog still sits alone all day and night outside in the freezing cold chained to a little wooden dog house. If I thought I could get away with it, I would venture up and cut the damn chain myself. The dog would have a chance at a much better life in my opinion. I have never seen a human being interacting with it- never ever seen it off the chain.

    On this night, as my thermometer reads -13 degrees the dog was still there, alone, chained in the freezing cold barking as I walked by with my own…. Infuriates me ever single time I go by.

    I can assure you, had I have had a response like the lady you wrote about… I would definitely have been taking it further. I do think that the only way that people will feel confident in calling is if they can be assured they, themselves will be taken seriously & treated with dignity and respect when they do go out on a limb to call regarding animal in obvious need. This type of negative response will go a long way toward hurting the animals that need our assistance. I too regularly donate to the SPCA. I now look to them to see how they will handle the situation. If the response above is any indication, I am extremely disappointed in the “company policy” and the lack of consideration for how the response of this investigator will deter others from seeking assistance. Ultimately, who suffers in the end?

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by aaron007Rick, Lily Danel. Lily Danel said: Bullied by the #Nova #Scotia SPCA? http://bit.ly/h5odb2 #Canada. […]

  4. Randy says:

    Peter and Karen, thank you both for your comments.

    Karen, I feel your pain for that dog. As Diana and I drive through the province daily, the number of dogs we see tied to so called “dog houses” that are far removed from any human dwelling is spite inducing in the extreme.

    I’ve camped out in the dead of winter, and taught others to be comfortable doing that. Even with all the recommended basic survival equipment, I have rarely seen a “dog house” that would qualify as adequate shelter for human winter habitation. I’d rather sleep in a snow bank, and I have. Of course, I also had the option of having freedom of movement to burn body warming calories, wasn’t completely dependent on somebody else for my food and water, and had the option of building a fire.

  5. Concerned Nova Scotian says:

    I really appreciate hearing about your experience. The SPCA sure is not what it is all cracked up to be. I’ve learned this over the years.

  6. Selina says:

    This article is amazing. very well done. u say everything i need to say but better! i am hoping this article goes wide and maybe nova scotia will change their laws and make it illegal to tie your dogs out for any period of time in the freezing cold. because in fact any dog tied out in the cold or extrme heat is animal abuse and neglect. don’t own a dog if it is just a lawn ornament. they r a family member who u love and loves you back 10 times more. i feel bad making my dogs go out for pees and poops in the snow.. let alone left outside for their whole lives. grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

  7. Gail says:

    Hi Randy and all who is viewing, this is just disgraceful in all aspects and not what the government of Nova Scotia would accept for enforcement under this act to prevent suffering of animals. If the complaint was found not justified then that was all that need be stated. Often there is more than one caller concerned about the same animal. To be suspicious of that sounds more like paranoia.

    As for the Chief of this society (now said to be taken better direction with transparency) it is possible he is not educated in the area of when dog houses are not adequate (whether insulated, bedded & flapped) in extreme low temps -5° and lower. At this point it does not matter about whether there is or is not water. Those temps alone cause pain and too often frost bite. That’s when an order should be given for the dog only to be out 10 to 20 minutes at a time regardless of dog house availability. OMG I just went to the spca web site and have found this horrible injustice -7. At – 20 degrees with the wind chill, all cats and dogs must be taken inside. If this is what the new and improved spca board agreed to criteria in extreme temps they have sadly misrepresented safety for any dog in the province.

    We do have enforceable laws in Nova, however I believe the biggest failure is education for officers and board members who are not out in the field making legal decisions. Look out for that dog, if it is still out there in these temps take pictures and contact the Agriculture Minister and then go to the news please. They cannot justify inaction if this is continuing and you collect the evidence.

  8. Randy says:

    Many thanks Gail, and the same to all who have commented so far. I’ve been receiving comments on this article not only here, but also directly by e-mail and via Facebook. I find it interesting that all comments are on the same page both with respect to the unconscionable acts perpetrated and excused away by the SPCA in this case, and the seemingly insurmountable problem of animals left outside in miserable conditions.

    I invite more input because this isn’t close to over.

  9. Mux says:

    Great read, very well expressed. I must admit I really dislike having to read yet another example of an SPCA failing to be what it is supposed to be. I’ve worked and volunteered at a few across Canada….and have been very disappointed. However, they won’t improve if the public doesn’t participate. There is a level of professionalism and compassion that needs to be maintained and letting this guy get away with this behavior is out of the question. They should be ashamed. I wish you the best!

  10. Randy says:

    Thank you Mux.

  11. Gail says:

    you should all see this article in the CH this morning http://thechronicleherald.ca/NovaScotia/1226974.html

  12. Randy says:

    Thank you Gail. That Chronicle Herald article covers a situation we all need to keep an eye on, and no mistake!

    As typical as this story regrettably seems, I remind everybody that, at this point, Neil Hackett has only been accused. We must all keep our eyes and ears open for the outcome of the RCMP investigation, and seek enlightenment as to what measures SPCANS take to ensure such situations do not arise at the hands of their own people. After all, they’re supposed to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

  13. Gail says:

    I have been surfing for follow up media release either confirming or ruling out cruelty and have found nothing, anyone else find any updates to these concerns????

  14. Randy says:

    I’ve had the same success Gail – none. I suspect this will be kept quiet unless it keeps getting public attention. Media isn’t always that hot on following up.

  15. […] Scotia SPCA?”. If you haven’t read it before, you might want to do that now by clicking here. Even if you have read the article, you might want to check the comments it’s attracted in […]

  16. Randy says:

    On 28 February 2011 I received two comments on this article, allegedly from two people responding from a common IP address. Because they did not conform to my identification requirements and all indications were that the person or persons involved were using false names and e-mail addresses, their comments will not be posted here. Nevertheless, I feel their points should be heard so, instead, I have posted them along with my replies to their author or authors in a separate article at http://randy.whynacht.ca/archives/4012

  17. Dawn Beck says:

    I find it funny that I’m writing a response on a article written 12 months ago about someone I know personally.The young lady featured in your article is a good friend who loves dogs.She does wonderful charity work for them,rescue’s them and believes that they all should be treated with the same care she gives her own.I also know for her to make such a complaint she felt it to be true…but what happens when you’re on the other end of the situation.That’s my problem ,only yesterday I had the exact same SPCA investigator on my doorstep because someone called in a anonymous tip that my dogs were being neglected.If I wasn’t so totally gobsmacked by such an accusation right now I’d laugh…my beautiful,well cared for dogs,3 beautiful corgis,1wonderful sheltie,a sweet natured collie and our 16 yr. old rescue black lab/rottie mix supposedly are not given proper food,water,shelter and vet care.That they are left to outside all hours of the day and night. All of which is a total crock of ,well,dog poo.When asked if I could meet my accuser I was told no due to privacy laws I could not.To be honest we know who it is,as she has been continually a troublemaker in our lives since we bought our property.I went over everything with Mr Richard ..hell I even allowed him without a warrant to enter my home meet all of my dogs,including the two who were enjoying themselves outside playing in their runs .Why you might ask would I invited him in & let him look over all the crates where the dogs sleep,showed him their toy baskets,blanket baskets,their meds,their food,ect…even told him that my vet was right across the road if he needed to speak to him about the dogs and told him I could give him the number for the owner of the beautiful Sheltie ,whom is staying with me if he wanted to know more about her,as well as the numbers for all the breeders I have adopted my dogs from whom would all give me impeccable references,as would my vet.Because I had nothing to hide.Apparently my runs aren’t big enough yet what Corgi,Sheltie or even Collie for that matter who is already getting sufficient exercise needs a 10×10 run for exercise,my doghouse doesn’t meet their standards cause it’s not insulated on the outside and because one of the dogs chewed the door flap off yet it’s raised off the ground and has more bales of hay in it for bedding then the dogs like and they would push it out…his reasoning because it was no longer attached to the runs…well we moved it because to be honest the two dogs who like to be outside for longer periods of time then the others hated it and wouldn’t even go in it. So now I’ll have the old doghouse refurbished and a new one built because apparently I can only let one dog per run/house never mind the fact that these 2 are best buddies and love to be together.I will have this done because I love my dogs and it was asked of me it is after all for my dogs,it will also make the SPCA realize all those things.All anyone has to do is look at my dogs ,to see them with me to know these are not neglected or abused dogs..that they are dogs who’s food per month cost more then it does to feed a small African village for a week,who’s vets,they participate in obedience,agility and some of them are now in herding training to keep their minds and bodies active.They are happy,healthy specimens of their breeds…all who follow Dr Jean Dodds schedule for vaccinations,all who get health checkups and all who are well socialized to people and other animals.I applaude my friend for her courage in reporting those dog owners who from other statements in a other article you wrote let’s just say might have been neglectful(eyerolling)..but what happens to those of us who have SPCA investigators show up on our doorsteps with false accusions what recourse do we have our accusers have anonymity,so we must follow their recommendations even if some of them are a crock of poo.Mr Richard gave me sheets on what’s required to build not only a doghouse but a kennel facility btw all those requirements are ridiculous as well..but what else do we do.. if we don’t follow them they could come back again and this time won’t be as nice.


  18. Gail says:

    Hey Dawn just a heads up for you and something you should know. First you should be proud you invited this officer into your home, you had nothing to hide and welcomed the officer in a mature manor giving all the time needed to make good observations which is a vital part of his investigation.
    To either justify the complaint/concerns or rule out. It is very easy for an officer to determine just how much time dog(s) spend in an outside kennel by the wearing of an area (calculating how many dog(s) are using that area etc). Your discription of your dogs is of house pets with a time out area not an area wear the dogs are confind in a kennel situation 24/7. Not seeing this situation myself but reading your account and the direction he gave you and the reason is concerning. To my knowledge those standards are for long term kennelled dogs (not the houses, each dog has to have its own shelter because often one dog will/can become dominate and not permitt the other in-incase he did not tell you that) not dogs who are provide this area as a controled while out without the owner situation. I highly question this- his reasoning because it was no longer attached to the runs??????? Was the house not inside the runs? I would suggest that you have one shelter fully insulated and bedded with hay that is big enough for both dogs (both dogs can stand up, laydown and heat it with their body heat) if they choose so, still allowing to be together if they so choose and replace those flaps when needed, and have another just big enough to fit the bigest dog. If they choose to use one the other is there and available if they need it and you are covered. You are the one who knows if they are kenneled long term or not. The dogs physical /body conditions and medical info are all factors as well. I would contact that officer and ask a couple of questions but I would do it e-mail. I would ask if those standards apply to dogs who are family in house pets who utilize the kennel for time out of house pea breaks and play or if he determined the are long time kenneled. You have to look at your situation and be totally honest with yourself. Maybe there is some barking with 4 dogs out at once that has caused a call to the wrong people. Have a look at that possibility cause it often happens. You should also print yourself off a copy of the NS Animal Protection Act or ask the officer to forward you a copy. Hope this helps and I hope you would invite that officer in at another visit. I would love to see your set up for the dogs.

  19. Excellent article as well as some well thought out feedback from the public.

    My wife and I are very much both animal lovers/owners and animal welfare activists. I represent a couple of International NGOs that have faculties that pertain to animal welfare. My wife has several years under her belt in the Nova Scotia animal rescue community and is one of the most knowledgeable persons I know regarding this matter. We are not newbies by any measure. I pointed this out as it pertains to the situation that I will be mentioning.

    We have had a number of issues and run ins with the local SPCA here in Sydney (Cape Breton) in regard to animals that we came into contact with that required attention, be it from an obvious case of ignorance, neglect or abuse. Over the past 2 years we have rescued 8 dogs of which the very last one was actually an SPCA related matter.

    We came across the dog running loose, with an apparent limp, in Glace Bay late one evening. Our first thought was that it was a dog that had gotten loose and possibly injured (hit by a car). Long story short it took several calls to the emergency line to get the Bylaw Officer to meet up with us to hand over the dog. I called the line numerous times to mention that we had freezing temperatures, a dog who was limping and crying from pain, a house full of dogs at home to which we couldn’t bring him back in case there was any transmittable health issues. Their response was that the SPCA was closed, that there was nothing that they could do, that it wasn’t an emergency and we could leave a message for the branch and so on. I asked what the hell was their criteria for an emergency if it isn’t a dog found loose at night with what appeared to be an injury and there was nowhere to bring him. They didn’t have a problem with me setting him loose again.

    Anyway, a number of things were said in those repeated calls on my behalf indicating that this emergency line is neither educated on what constitutes an animal emergency nor what is involved with proper bylaw enforcement. I had requested their supervisor or someone on the call list to contact me and so on. Out of four calls in a two and a half hour period I never received one call back from the line but eventually we were able to page the Bylaw Officer and meet up with him to pass along the dog. It was a pathetic but sadly common occurrence apparently.

    The next day we were unable to find out anything regarding the dog while he was being examined by the vet and in the care of the CB SPCA branch. Two days later we were advised that we could visit him after which we were told that due to several medical issues he would have to be put down. We had issues with this as the staff at the desk as well as management didn’t have a clue about meds, the supposed medical conditions he suffered from and that he apparently was in extreme pain and needed to be put down.

    We convinced them to place him in our care (they were convinced we wouldn’t be able to do anything for him) and very shortly afterwards we received secondary opinions from the vets involved with our rescue community, had him placed on a pain meds program, receive all the rudimentary vet procedures to get him back into shape, was placed into a loving foster palliative care home in which he is now the resident stud among a few female poodles. There are numerous photos and videos of him enjoying himself and having integrated very well in his new pack. This is a dog that the SPCA branch insisted had to be put down.

    Since this occurrence we now routinely second guess any and all decisions made by them as our past experiences have clearly demonstrated to us that there is a lack of knowledge, skills and compassion for them to represent the purposes that they are supposed to. Any animal that we come across that requires help is put through our rescue community (CBAAC – Cape Breton Animal Adoption & Care, look for us on Facebook) and kept away from the SPCA as much as is possible. Thank goodness we have smarter, wiser and more compassionate rescues in our province who do their very best to help the animals and ironically fix the issues that the SPCA sometimes either ignores or messes up.

  20. Dawn says:

    2 yrs later and I am just getting your response Gail….since this occurrence Mr Richards and I have a very good working relationship. We do so because unlike a lot of people I not only know but knew the provincial & municipal bylaws but also their ( SPCA) own mandate and bylaws. I also have a very good support system in my CKC ( Canadian Kennel Club) rep… who politely sent off a email explaining that the conditions that was described were in fact for what is deemed commercial breeders,rescues and shelters …. none of which I am. My advice to any pet owner out there who faced what I did was to know your rights where your pets( or property, who are for all intent and purpose considered under Canadian law as property)…. be open and honest, if you have nothing to hide why not let them in..and to always get it in writing. I looked at my situation probably more closely then most people do, there was no barking complaint the complaint was neglect… as in no shelter, food, water or vet care was being given all of which was utterly untrue…. it was in my opinion and still is a petty person who couldn’t get the response they wanted from us as people so they used the system to be a nuisance…. so instead of helping animals who WERE being neglected Mr Richards spent over a hr and half with talking to me, and having one of my dogs entertain him with her agility abilities.

    • Randy says:

      Thank you for your comment Dawn. I have to take exception to a few of the points you made.

      Your present sunny relationship with Mr. Richard notwithstanding, I have been keeping an eye on local SPCA operations since all of this first came to my attention, and from what I’ve seen, your satisfactory outcome is more of an exception than a rule. Now, while it’s true that, as my Mother used to say, there are some people you could cut your own throat for, and they’d still say you didn’t do it right – meaning nothing will satisfy them – there are also those who seem to find happiness in everything, no matter how unacceptable, which no doubt explains the governments that keep getting elected.

      In between these two extremes lies the Truth. There will forever be the inevitable problem of petty complaints from equally petty people who are simply trying to use law enforcement to complicate the lives of the people they have a beef with, but speaking as one who dealt with police complaints for 17 years of my 30 year career, I can tell you that these are usually quite obviously bullshit from the get go, beginning with refusal of the complainant to identify themselves from the start. Not to say that a desire to remain anonymous is an automatic indicator that the complainant is lying, but where the complaint is false, the name of the originator is usually going to be absent, or if given, false as well.

      With all due respect, your statement that, “… unlike a lot of people I not only know but knew the provincial & municipal bylaws but also their (SPCA) own mandate and bylaws ….” intrigues me in that it seems to have been uttered in exclusivity of the contents of my article – the one you’re still commenting on here. I would strongly urge you to reread it, with particular attention to how the stated mandate conflicts with the way the local SPCA operates.

      Most particularly, pay attention to the encouragement given to those who even suspect a case of cruelty or neglect. A dangerous suggestion from my observations, considering how frequently complainants are told that, without clear and consistent evidence and documentation, nothing can be done. This puts the investigative onus on the complainant, which is a far cry from the complaint based on suspicion the SPCA encourages.

      It should come as no surprise to you that the world is full of assholes, some of whom own animals. It should likewise be no surprise that assholes treat their animals the same way they do the other people who named them assholes in the first place. If you have an asshole neighbour you’d prefer not to have anything to do with, but who you’ve seen abusing or neglecting the animals under their care, would you want to be found lurking around their property, taking pictures and collecting other kinds of evidence? Animal welfare be damned, such a situation would bring into play a lot of other complications most would prefer to steer clear of.

      All of this introduces a potential inclination on the part of the public to remain silent, at least as far as official complaints are concerned, and the result of that could be that the SPCA holds the drop in complaints up as a sign of their stellar stewardship in the cause of animal welfare. Were that to happen, it would be a house built on a foundation of bullshit.

      Another issue I have, with Mr. Richard in particular, is his documented propensity to identify the complainants to the people they complained about. While it’s the right of everyone accused of an offense to confront their accusers in a court of law, an interview pursuant to an investigation is NOT a court proceeding. This practice of a law enforcement organization telling someone it’s investigating exactly who it was that made the complaint seems unique to animal cruelty law enforcement organizations, and the local SPCA is only one of those operating in Lunenburg County that have done it. Add to that a situation in which the so called investigator walks away without any action being taken, and the outcome should be obvious – the animal welfare issue gets lost in what is now an ongoing enmity between neighbours.

      I do take EXTREME exception to your statement, “… if you have nothing to hide why not let them in.” I hear these words far too often to excuse every kind of illegal and inappropriate intrusion into private affairs. It disgusts me most particularly because it implies asserting one’s right to privacy in his or her affairs is somehow proof that something is in fact being hidden, and perish the thought that it might simply be nobody’s effing business. I call bullshit on that attitude. It’s a dangerous and slippery slope.

      That having been said, law enforcement agencies operating on probable cause to believe an offense is being committed have mechanisms they use to gain access to a situation for the purpose of conducting an investigation, and these do not rely on people cooperating simply because they are trying desperately to prove they have “nothing to hide”.

      While I am happy for you in that you’ve developed a good working relationship with Wade Richard, I feel that your experience is unique to the point of being meaningless within the context of my article. I still see the local SPCA as an organization hampered in its efforts by legislation that badly needs revision, and in this, the quality of its efforts are left to the interpretation of its agents. Pending such legislative revision, they have the laws they have, and I believe the ongoing shortfall in performance is an outcome of poor judgement brought to bear on too many complain

    • Diana says:

      Dawn, you operate a breeding facility. That puts your situation in a whole different realm. You SHOULD expect visits from the SPCA.

      Advising the average pet owner “… if you have nothing to hide why not let them in…” is appallingly irresponsible. We have privacy laws in Canada, and if we start bending over and allowing them to be abused, they won’t be around much longer.

      I WILL NEVER allow someone, anyone, to come snooping into my home without valid reason, and it’s not because I have something to hide. I value my personal privacy far more than the opinion of some asshat on a power trip, and I will always defend my rights and the rights of others.

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