Showing newest 36 of 43 posts from March 2010. Show older posts
Showing newest 36 of 43 posts from March 2010. Show older posts

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Just In Case You Were Ever Wondering

Toronto Humane Society Wants To Clear Its Cages And Start Anew

The Toronto Humane Society is seeking a court’s permission to close its doors, clear the cages and make sweeping changes to its animal-care policies in a rebuilding effort that would amount to pressing the reset button on one of Canada’s oldest and largest animal charities.

The closing, which was recommended by independent animal-care experts and approved recently by the charity’s board of directors, would last approximately six to eight weeks, with the shelter likely reopening in June. Such a move would leave the fate of the dwindling number of animals still inside the shelter, estimated at about 200, in the balance. Most have health and behavioural problems and, with slim chances of being adopted, many would probably be euthanized.

In an affidavit recently filed in court, THS executive director Garth Jerome outlined his designs “to rebuild the THS as a shelter and adoption centre from the ground up, and regain the public’s confidence in the organization.”

Mr. Jerome said he would have to regain control of animal care from the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to carry out the rebuilding. A court awarded control of animal care in the shelter to the OSPCA three months ago, after the provincial organization charged five senior THS managers and its board of directors with animal cruelty.

“The current situation gave the organization a chance to re-evaluate its mission and its goals,” said Frank Addario, a lawyer for the board of directors, who added he was reluctant to discuss the matter further as it remains before the courts.

The OSPCA said that “such a drastic step” should not be taken without consulting the charity’s membership.

“In addition, we do not agree that the decision to close the facility, even temporarily, should be made by the current board of directors of the Toronto Humane Society,” said Brian Shiller, a lawyer for the organization.

Most of the members of the board of directors have “indicated an intention to resign shortly,” he said, and any plan for renewal of the embattled charity should be considered at a special meeting of the members.

Mr. Jerome’s affidavit states that during the closing, the entire River Street facility would undergo a deep cleaning, staff would be retrained and a new computer system for tracking animal intake and care would be implemented, among other changes.

Ontario Superior Court Justice David Brown will consider the proposal next week, when hearings will begin on an application by some THS members and the OSPCA to have the charity’s current board of directors removed and order an election for a new board at a special meeting of the members.

The affidavit also outlines some problems that contributed to the need for a shelter overhaul, including animal corpses stored at too-warm temperatures, overcrowding, and animals whose physical and mental states had deteriorated to the point that they had little quality of life.

Euthanasia policies remain a controversial issue at the shelter, where six dogs, some of them favourites of dog-walking volunteers, were euthanized on Friday. The deaths fuelled a demonstration outside the shelter over the weekend in which protesters called the OSPCA dog murderers. However, in a statement posted on the shelter’s website, Mr. Jerome said the decision to euthanize the dogs was made by the THS.

Marcie Laking, a volunteer familiar with the dogs, most of whom were pit bulls who had lived in the shelter for years, said she blamed their deaths on bickering among THS staff, volunteers and the OSPCA.

“If we spent half as much time trying to adopt these animals as we did taking shots at each other there’d be no animals in the shelter, they’d all have homes,” she said.

According to Mr. Jerome’s affidavit, as of March 2, there were 255 animals in the care of the THS, including just 160 cats and 22 dogs. When the OSPCA took control of the shelter in November, there were more than 1,100 animals.

“It is my objective to keep the animal population at the THS moving through our facility quickly to adoptive homes or foster homes so that we do not accumulate a disproportionate number of chronically ill, unadoptable animals,” Mr. Jerome said.

“To a large extent, I believe that closely monitoring and controlling the population of unadoptable animals, coupled with an aggressive adoption campaign, will prevent the problem of overcrowding in the future.”

**Written by Kate Hammer, taken from the Globe and Mail

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Don't Forget About The Annual All About Pets Show This Weekend

Dog Dies After Being Refused Treatment

A six-month old puppy died a few hours after an animal hospital refused treatment because her owner couldn’t produce a $1,600 deposit.

Ryan Kerr took his mixed-breed puppy, Kila, to the 24-hour Willowdale Animal Hospital at 5 a.m. on Saturday, fearing there was something seriously wrong with his pet.

She was assessed by one of the overnight doctors who determined further medical treatment was required. However, Kerr said he was informed that a $1,600 deposit would be required before medical personnel provided that treatment.

“I told the doctor I would be able to pay for the procedure when she was ready to be picked up, but I was told nothing could be done without the deposit,” he recalled.

Kerr took Kila home and, despite the early hour, called family and friends and was able to raise the money and went out to collect it.

But by the time he got back home to take Kila to the vet, the dog was dead.

Willowdale Animal Hospital officials — citing patient confidentiality rules — wouldn’t discuss the issue Monday.

“They denied me treatment and she is dead hours later,” Kerr said. “It is tragic. The hospital could have got the money later and now I have lost a piece of my life. I have lost a family member and the most loving dog ever.

“I can’t even be at home right now because she isn’t there. What is ironic is the brochure from the hospital says, ‘day or night we are here for you pet.’ ”

The College of Veterinarians of Ontario sets price ranges for different procedures and some are more expensive than others because they require specific medications or extensive manpower time.

Kerr said no tests were performed on Kila.

All treatments are done by a case-by-case basis, said Wendy Eveleigh, the hospital’s assistant administrator director.

She says she can’t discuss individual cases and has no statistics regarding how many pets die because the owner can’t come up with the deposit.

“You have to bring your pet in for an assessment. The doctor makes a recommendation. (Any deposit) depends on what is wrong with your pet,” Eveleigh said.

It is a shame more vets can’t be more compassionate, said Martin Mersereau, director of the emergency response division for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

“I have never heard of this kind of deposit unless it is for massive surgery. (As for dog confidentiality issues) what can a vet say to look good in a situation like this?

“But the bottom line is it is the owner’s responsibility to be able to look after their pet. We all have to vet our pets so you need a nest egg. Vets are businesses and they won’t look after your pet for free, but some work out payment plans.”

Kerr’s girlfriend, Janet Olson, actually recommended the hospital.

“My dog was attacked five years ago by a pit bull and needed eye surgery. They offered me pay options so I thought they cared about animals,” Olson said.

Kerr says an autopsy will be done on Kila.

[email protected]

Monday, March 29, 2010

OSPCA Protest Yesterday

Angry dog-walkers and humane society supporters blasted the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals after six pit bulls were put down on Friday.

During a Sunday afternoon protest at the Toronto Humane Society’s River St. shelter - temporarily operated by the provincial organization - demonstrators said the new administration was “murdering” pit bulls.

“They say they are protecting animals - but they are murderers,” said Rosana Martins, a volunteer who walked several of the dogs that were euthanized.

“There is no mercy. This used to be a no-kill shelter, now it is a high-kill shelter.”

The OSPCA took over the animal care at the shelter last November, accusing THS leaders of allowing animals to live in inhumane conditions so that it could claim low euthanasia rates. The provincial organization charged several THS officials with cruelty to animals and requested a court-appointed receiver take over the THS. The hearing in that case will begin in early April, said THS spokesperson Ian McConachie.

Volunteer Andy Blau said there shelter is a “hot bed” of rumours right now with few answers from either organization and the issue of euthanasia is huge for the volunteers and donors.

“It leaves a great sense of futility for the volunteers to think “I am doing my best to make this animal’s life better but they are just going to kill it tomorrow,” Blau said.

Rosaline Ryan, a spokesperson for the OSPCA said veterinarians for both organizations made the decision to euthanize the dogs.

Ryan said she understands that emotions are running high. “The OSPCA works and deals with animals all the time so we totally understand, despite with another might say. We have feelings too, where the animals are concerned.”

The THS’s McConachie said the shelter has not adopted a “high-kill” philosophy but said a new euthanasia policy is in place that takes into account the future of very aggressive or sick animals.

“We can’t be a sanctuary. We have to be a shelter. We can’t house animals indefinitely.”

McConachie said that when the OSPCA took over animal care in late November, there were 1,100 animals at the shelter.

Since then, he said, 129 animals have been euthanized. Another 793 have been adopted (these figures include animals from the shelter’s Victoria Park location.) There are roughly 300 animals left in the shelters or foster homes. Of the 18 dogs remaining, McConachie said five or six of them are adoptable.

**Taken from the Toronto Star

Global Pet Foods Raises More Than $50,000 For Canadian Animal Shelters

Retailer teams up with Hill's Science Diet and the Air Miles Reward Miles program to help homeless pets find a second chance for love.

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 23, 2010) - Global Pet Foods is pleased to announce that its annual "Show Us Your Heart" in-store campaign raised more than $50, 000 this year for Canadian animal shelters. The healthy pet food retailer teamed up with Hill's Science Diet, the largest supporter of animal shelters in North America, and the Air Miles Reward Miles program to sponsor the Valentine's week-long fundraising event from February 6 -14.

"As a company of animal lovers, we'd adopt every homeless pet if we could. Our annual 'Show Us Your Heart' promotion enables us to work together with customers to support local shelters - and help these wonderful pets find new homes" said Jim Walker, president of Global Pet Foods. "And I am exceedingly pleased to report that our franchisees, with the generous support of our customers, were able to raise 65% more than last year's event!"

The campaign invited customers via Facebook, direct mail, radio, TV and point-of-purchase displays to "show their hearts" and help give homeless pets a second chance for love. Donations of $1and $5 were collected at local Global Pet Foods and Pitou Minou stores across the country. Paper hearts were hung in Global Pet Foods store windows in appreciation for those customers who participated in this great cause.

Customer donations were matched by Global Pet Foods and Hill's Science Diet and those who donated $5 or more were rewarded with 10 bonus Air Miles Reward Miles. The campaign also invited pet parents across Canada to enter an online contest, where they could upload pictures of their "pet children" and vote for their favourites. A grand prize winner was selected from the top 10 voted pets and received a year's supply of free pet food from Hill's Science Diet. Ten secondary prize winners received a free pampered pet basket created exclusively for their pet.

"We look forward to raising the bar even higher next year," said Jim Walker. "It shows what we can do as a community when we come together for a cause we believe in."

The "Show Us Your Heart" campaign is in it's forth year and donations to local animal shelters has reached close to $150,000 to date.

Global Pet Foods is Canada's largest chain of pet food stores specializing in natural, holistic and organic foods and supplements, with more than 120 stores across Canada.

**Taken from

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Group Two Of Photo Contest Submissions!!






Nala & Pumpkin!

Cheech The Cat & Elvis!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Best Friends

If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you; that is the principal difference between a dog and a man.

Mark Twain

Friday, March 26, 2010

More On The OSPCA

Talk about a Grand ol’ time.

Staff with the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals hardly has been roughing it since raiding the Toronto Humane Society late last year.

An unknown number of employees of the charitable organization, supported by donor dollars, have been hanging their hats at downtown Toronto’s Grand Hotel, the Sun has learned.

One room for one person at the Grand Thursday night would have cost from $169 to $699 plus taxes.

“I can absolutely say we’re not staying or using the penthouse suite. People stay in regular, standard rooms,” OSPCA spokesman Rosaline Ryan said Thursday. “It’s standard for charitable organizations to ask for a charitable rate and most places give it. Now, I can’t confirm because I wasn’t the one who booked this hotel.”

OSPCA officers raided the River St. building on Nov. 26, 2009, claiming THS was keeping sick animals alive that should have been euthanized. Former THS president Tim Trow and four other senior employees were charged with animal cruelty and led off the property in handcuffs in front of the media, who were tipped off to the raid by the OSPCA.

In January, prominent animal cruelty investigator Tre Smith was paraded out in front of the media in handcuffs.

Smith — who gained notoriety in the summer of 2007 when he smashed the window out of a vehicle to rescue a Rottweiler from baking in the heat — was charged with impersonating a peace officer and perjury.

The initial search warrant was for five days, but four months later the OSPCA still has the reigns of the shelter.

As part of the investigation, the OSPCA has been obliged to house staff close to the River St. site, Ryan said, explaining they are all out-of-towners.

The Jarvis St. hotel is no kennel — its website boasts of “intimate, luxurious and warmly residential” accommodations.

When asked how many employees have been staying at the Grand, Ryan said that while she didn’t have any figures, “it can often be a small number of staff depending on what the needs are.”

A private meeting was held by the OSPCA for humane society volunteers and animal lovers at a conference room at the hotel Wednesday.

Staff at THS, who did not want to be named, also raised concerns about other costs associated with the investigation, which won’t wrap up until next month at the earliest.

They say the OSPCA has hired security staff to work around the clock, as many as five during the day and two at night. And they claim the OSPCA also buys lunch most days for everyone on site, possibly more than 30 people, including OSPCA and THS employees.

The entire case may come apart at the seams if the courts eventually determine the relationship between the OSPCA’s lead investigator, Kevin Strooband, and a woman who was employed by THS up until last month is a conflict of interest.

The OSPCA has acknowledged the relationship but claims there is no conflict because Alison Hay is not a witness.

According to the OSPCA’s most recent tax return, the charity received $8.6 million in tax-receipted donations in 2008.

The OSPCA also got $2.8 million from the province, $2.04 million from municipal governments, and a small federal contribution, for a total of about $4.9 million in taxpayers dollars.

Total revenue for the charity topped more than $17 million according to its 2008 filings with the Canada Revenue Agency.

“I’m confident that donors know that the money that they contribute to the OSPCA, parts of it go to investigative work and investigative work covers a number of different expense items,” Ryan said.

THS spokesman Ian McConachie said he’s convinced donors would rather know their money was being used to help animals find homes.

“I’m pretty sure the OSPCA is going to have to answer some questions from their donors,” he said.

— With files from Tamara Cherry and Chris Doucette

[email protected]

Thursday, March 25, 2010

OSCPA Meets With Toronto Humane Society Workers Amid Infighting

There’s a dog and cat fight brewing within Toronto’s animal welfare community over an allegedly kidnapped German Shepherd, cats on death row and the operations of the Toronto Humane Society.

The infighting reached a pitch last night when the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which has been running the shelter since November, when five senior managers were charged with criminal animal cruelty, held a meeting to answer questions from frustrated THS volunteers, staff and animal lovers.

The OSPCA, which has been criticized for speaking too openly to the media, barred reporters from attending the meeting.

The OSPCA “certainly haven’t been welcoming to us and they’ve been treating us like we’ve done something bad,” said Sheenagh Murphy, a volunteer dog walker who left the meeting feeling that she only got partial answers to her questions.

The tension has been fuelled by rumours about everything from mass overnight animal euthanasia to the disappearance of Kincaid, a German Shepherd who was either kidnapped from his cage, a similar-looking dog slipped into his place, or transferred to a Northern Ontario shelter. (The first version of the rumour has spread amongst OSPCA staff, the second within the THS.)

Ms. Murphy said the dog was transferred, not kidnapped. Rosaline Ryan, a spokeswoman for the OSPCA, declined to comment because the matter is under investigation.

“There's a lot of mistruths circulating on both sides,” she said.

Over the last three months, several e-mails have circulated amongst THS volunteers threatening that hundreds of cats will be euthanized overnight if the OSPCA isn't stopped. Concerned volunteers have watched as a steady rotation of cats have been posted on the shelter’s “Rainbow Board,” a place where animal profiles are posted in a last-ditch effort to find them homes before they’re euthanized.

Many are skeptical of the OSPCA's assertions that only 95 animals have been euthanized, given that only about 300 remain in the shelter and the rotation of pets on the Rainbow Board. (There were 1,100 animals when the OSPCA took over in November.)

Staff and volunteers also raised concerns that the OSPCA has stopped animal intake until it bolsters its staff numbers and finances.

“They've created a spiral that just makes thing worse,” said Art Skibicki, a volunteer dog walker.

Without animal intake and adoptions the shelter can't generate income or hire staff, he said.

Fred Ni, author of the animal welfare blog One Bark at a Time, said he felt most of the rumours had been put to rest.

“I think [OSPCA CEO] Kate MacDonald explained the OSPCA's position fairly well,” he said.

He added that he hoped in the future, the OSPCA will keep the lines of communication open, and employ a “softer touch” with volunteers.

**Taken from the Globe and Mail article by Kate Hammer, which can be found here.

One Individual's Account Of The OSPCA Meeting Last Night

"Tonight from 7:30 pm to 9 pm the OSPCA held a "Question and Answer" style meeting at the Grand Hotel, downtown Toronto. Present were Kevin Strooband (lead investigator), Kate MacDonald (CEO) and Linda MacKinnon (member of "Association for the Reform of The Toronto Humane Society) among other OSPCA officials, and "ART" members.

Before entering the meeting we were questioned more then once if we were members of the media. They were neither notified nor allowed to be present during the discussion. The OSPCA stated this was not the kind of meeting that required note taking as it was a casual information discussion.

The room was packed and emotions ran high. The OSPCA demonstrated their remarkable ability to avoid straight answers to questions. One question posed was if it is true cats with FIV or Diabetes are being euthanized simply because they possess this treatable disease. Their response was, "There are cats with FIV available for adoption, this is a fact". Right. Well, that doesn't exactly mean you aren't still euthanizing other FIV positive cats does it?

There was apparently a cat euthanized that very day that a volunteer described as a very sweet cat that had FIV. An OSPCA vet stated the cat was euthanized due to a dental condition that made his mouth sore as well. "If you stroked your hand against the cat's mouth it would meow in pain". Are both these medical conditions not treatable? Many sick animals are in pain. Many sick people are in pain. That is not a justifiable reason for euthanasia. Now if the cat's "dental condition" was untreatable and going to cause it chronic extreme amounts of pain then that could be a justifiable answer. This was not the case.

There were many questions regarding euthanasia policies. They stated both in their own facilities and within the THS, euthanasia is entirely in the hands of the veterinarians. They were further probed, if this were true, why are animals euthanized due to lack of space? They digressed by saying no animals have been euthanized at THS due to lack of space. They neglected to clarify how a veterinarian would determine animals to be euthanized do to lack of space, which they confirmed, is something that "regrettably has to happen". It was then stated that not every OSPCA facility or affiliate facility is equipped with a veterinarian to perform this duty. In those cases euthanasia is not in the hands of a vet. What a round about.

They confirmed they have not been accepting new intakes due to lack of staff. However, they have removed many THS employees and are not accepting any new volunteers. Their doors are locked from 7 pm to 7 am. A question was posed if there was a sign on the door or anything to direct people to another facility in Toronto where they could take an injured animal. They said there are pamphlets inside that instruct people to take all animals to a Toronto Animals Services facility. Obviously this isn't much help to someone stuck outside the building at the front door. They stated people who show up to the facility between 7 pm and 7 am can "knock on the front door and a security personnel will direct them to take the animal to Toronto Animal Services". Unless a security personnel is permanently stationed near the front door where they could hear someone knocking (which they are not) they cannot guarantee this. Which is indeed what they claimed. Keep in mind Toronto Animal Services has replaced the city pound. Their main interest and concern is not rehabilitating sick or injured animals, it’s controlling the animal population.

I asked if they could confirm that the majority of OSPCA board members are paid member affiliates or employees. They stated 10 of the twelve board members are paid affiliate members, two of which are paid employees. This distinction to them ensured that there was no conflict of interest of any members. They also confirmed that there are two board members that are not a member of an affiliate facility and they are considered 'B' class members that do not have a vote. Kate MacDonald, CEO of OSPCA, stated she has been with the organization for a very long time and is not aware of a report by management consultant firm Grant Thornton that concluded "perceived conflicts exist because employees of affiliate societies are permitted to serve on the board". Grant Thornton was hired to do a governance review of the OSPCA in 2006 and urged that, "Employees should not be eligible to serve on the board.”

At the end of it all, the meeting held by OSPCA in an attempt to stop this Sunday’s protest, only confirmed that the rally is a necessity. I, and others will be there with bells and whistles on."

**The Toronto Pet Daily neither supports nor opposes these statements, and we can not speak to the validity of the statements, though we felt the need to publish this writing in an effort to ensure that those pets who can not speak for themselves are being treated with the most humane care throughout this process. Let your voice be heard by commenting, and for more of the author's thoughts on the situation, visit her blog by clicking here.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Big Thanks To The Welland Tribune

I had a great chat with reporter Kaesha Forand yesterday & she was so kind in helping spread the word about the Toronto resource sites and Niagara region resource sites by publishing an article in the Welland Tribune. Thanks so much Kaesha! :)

The article can be found at

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Monday, March 22, 2010

A Coffee Pub For Doggies!

William’s Coffee Pub at the Harbourfront centre allows two kinds of species on its premises.

Of course, humans regularly visit the pub. But the other species might be a bit of a surprise. The pub allows dogs indoors.

Of 16,000 restaurants in Toronto, William’s Coffee Pub at Harbourfront is the only establishment that allows pets in the dining area. In collaboration with the Purina PetCare Legacy Project—a dog museum in the same building—Purina and William’s have created what they call a pet-friendly location.

William’s supervisor Emery Hall says that regardless of the kind of pet, William’s welcomes both human coffee-drinkers and their four-legged friends.

“You can bring all pets in, but we haven’t had anyone bring in their hamster yet,” Hall said. “Our customers love it here; they love coming in with their dogs.”

William’s is careful about how pets interact while inside the pub. Signs advise customers to keep their pets leashed. Pets are also forbidden to sit on top of any furniture or tables.

Ingrid Holanda, general manager of William’s, says other rules are in place to ensure health safety.

“There’s actually a barrier between the dining area and our coffee shop, so the dogs can stay behind that barrier,” Holanda said. “But they can’t pass that barrier. That’s the agreement with the health inspector.”

The barrier may physically block pets from wandering near areas where food or cutlery is kept, but some worry about airborne bacteria or allergens carried by the dogs.

Jim Chan, manager of the food safety program at Toronto Public Health, says that William’s has agreed to design its kitchen to keep foods protected from such contaminants.

“The whole area inside the [William’s] kitchen is enclosed with a little tiny window where the order comes out,” Chan said. “We look at that as adequate protection of all the food being processed and prepared.”

As soon as any food or cutlery enters the hands of a customer, it then becomes the responsibility of the customer, Chan said. Holanda said that William’s cutlery is unlike other restaurants in Toronto.

“We use disposable cutlery actually,” Holanda said. “We don’t bring back anything that we put in the dining area; everything that goes out never comes back.”

William’s Coffee pub is licensed as a food take-out restaurant. But the dining area is designed to appear as part of the pub. In fact, the dining area is officially part of the Purina dog museum, where pets are permitted.

“Usually it’s just dogs that come here, dogs that live in apartments; so they’re really well-behaved,” Holanda said.

**Taken from The Toronto Observer

1st Round Of Photo Contest Submissions!



Basil & Masi!

Kobi & Shogun (with Charlie the referee)!



***For a closer view, just click on the pic! The second group of submissions will be posted next Monday morning, so stay tuned. :)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Some People-Foods Can Be Toxic To Pets, Vet Warns

Pet owners often feel guilty when they give in to their pets who beg to sample some of their human food. But it turns out a lot of the food on our plates is not only safe for our pets, it's good for them too.

"For the most part, the stuff that's healthy for us is healthy for them," Toronto veterinarian Dr. Ian Sandler told CTV's Canada AM this week.

That said, there are a number of people-foods that should never be fed to pets. That's because some people-foods contain toxins that don't affect humans but that can sicken or even kill pets.

Other foods are known to cause stomach upset among pets, who have trouble digesting some of the foods that we find delicious. And nothing ruins a pet and owner bonding moment faster than a treat gone bad.

"You don't want to be in the situation where you wanted to give them a nice healthy treat and suddenly they have vomiting and diarrhea," says Sandler.

So here are a few of the items Sandler recommends pet owners should avoid:
Fatty foods

These include such items as bacon, fat trimmings, anything deep-fried, cream sauces and gravies. Not only are these foods not healthy, they can upset pets' stomachs.

Lean meat, on the other hand, can be a great treat especially during training. It's rich in vitamins and protein. (Sandler's one exception to this rule is liver, which he says is too high-fat). Again, beware meat's high amount of calories and balance it with kibble or other starches and vegetables.
Chocolate, coffee-based products and soft drinks

These are well-known no-nos, especially to dogs. These products contain substances called methylxanthines, which are found in cacao seeds and well as in the fruit of coffee plants and the nuts of extracts used in some soft drinks. When ingested by pets, methylxanthines can cause vomiting and diarrhea, excessive thirst and urination, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, and even death.
Raisins and grapes

These are also non-nos for dogs, though it's come to light only recently. Large amounts of grapes and raisins appear to cause kidney failure in dogs, but why they do is still not clear. Doctors are trying to narrow in on whether a toxin is present in grapes that affects pets, so until they know more it's best to just avoid grapes and raisins altogether.
Canned tuna

Although cats love fish, it's not a good idea to give them canned fish made for humans. That's because canned fish has been deboned, and cats actually need the minerals and other nutrients found in the bones. As well, vitamin E is not present in canned tuna, which could lead to a deficiency, resulting in a disease is called yellow fat disease, or steatitis.
Macadamia nuts

These nuts are toxic to dogs, though just like with grapes, no one has been able to figure out why. But even tiny amounts of the nuts should be avoided because they can cause toxicosis, which leads to weakness, vomiting, tremors and hyperthermia in dogs. Dogs generally recover within 48 hours.
Onions and garlic

Members of the onion family which includes garlic, contain compounds that can damage dogs' red blood cells if ingested in sufficient quantities. Although cats are more susceptible, dogs are also at risk if a large enough amount is consumed. Pets affected by onion toxicosis may seem weak or lethargic, and their urine may turn orange or red. An occasional low dose of onions likely will not cause a problem, pets should not given regular quantities.

Sandler says the trick with feeding pets people-food is to make sure that their animals are not taking in too many calories.

"We don't want treats or snacks to make up more than 15 or 20 per cent of what they're eating," advises Sandler.

So if you supplement your pet's regular diet with plenty of leftovers or even pet food you've cooked yourself, remember to cut back on your pet's kibble.

He also advises that if you are trying new foods on your pet, start with small amounts and wait to see if they have a reaction. Don't mix a number of food items at once in case since that will make it more difficult to figure out which food upset your pet.

Sandler says it's okay to give in to your pet's puppy dog eyes by feeding him or her treats, but never slip them to them under the table at dinnertime. Instead, put the food in his usual food dish and serve it to hem after your meal in an area separate from space from where you eat.

That way, mealtimes can be peaceful times, free from hopeful, drooling pets whimpering for more.


Friday, March 19, 2010

Don't Forget About The Photo Contest!!

Entries are starting to flow in for a chance to win one of three Petsmart gift certificates. For more information, CLICK HERE!!

Pet First Aid Course


ONLY $125! (Regular Price $175)

Canada’s Premier Pet First Aid is a Pet First Aid Provider teaching an internationally recognized course developed by Walks N’ Wags Pet Care based in Vancouver. Developed by a nurse in 1993 this first aid course for pets is the most comprehensive of its kind and is distinctive in that we educate both cat and dog owners. Our Pet First Aid course is Internationally recognized and has since been taught by instructors across North America for over a decade. This course is invaluable for the Pet Professional or any Pet Owner.

Course contents include:

Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation
Artificial Respiration
Bleeding and Wounds
Injuries From Heat and Cold
Airway Obstruction
Restraint and Transportation
Medical Conditions
Bone and Joint Injuries
Prevention of Illness and Injury
Eye and Ear Injuries
Heimlich Maneuver
Pet First Aid Kit (Contents)
Vital Signs
Foreign Objects
Whelping and Queening
Dealing With Grief
Skin Care
Teeth and Gums
Nail Clipping

The course is veterinarian studied and approved and will give you the necessary information and skills to stabilize an injured animal until qualified veterinary care can be accessed.

The course fee of $175.00 ($166.25 + $8.75 gst) includes:

- 10 hours instruction time
- Reference manual and support material
- Certificate from Walks N’ Wags Pet Care

For information or registration please email: [email protected]
Or email: [email protected]
Next Course Date: Saturday March 20, 2010 (9am - 7pm)
Location: PawsWay - 245 Queens Quay, Toronto, ON

Great Radio Show!!

Every Friday while I'm at the computer updating the blogs, I listen to Dave McMahon's "Dog Talk With Dave" radio show, originating from the Niagara Region. Each week at 1:00 PM, Dave spends a half hour discussing pet issues with guests from the industry. The show is very fun & informative, and I learn something each time I listen. If you're near a radio on Fridays at one, make sure to tune in CFBU 103.7 FM, or listen online by clicking the link under resources at the left hand of the blog :)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Photo Contest Rules And Regulations

It is now time to submit your favourite photo of your beloved pet(s) for judging in our photo contest. The prizes are as follows :

First prize : $50.00 gift certificate to Petsmart

Second Prize ; $25.00 gift certificate to Petsmart

Third Prize : $25.00 gift certificate to Petsmart

***Rules and regulations

Submissions will be posted to the blog on Mondays. Deadline for submissions is April 30th. At this point, entries will be reviewed and judged by industry professionals. On May 15th, the top ten photos will then be displayed for two weeks, during which our blog readers will be able to vote for their favourite. This vote, in combination with the decision of our professionals, will determine the winners.

-Contest only open to residents of the GTA
-One photo per pet (or pets,if they are posing or playing together) so pick your best picture!
-Photos must contain pets only.
-When submitting, please include your pet's name(s).
-Photo's may be either professionally or personally shot, though copyrighted photos will not be accepted.
-Photos must be sent in .jpg format by email (click the envelope on the left of the blog) and once a photo is sent, you have given your consent to The Toronto Pet Daily to publish the photo on the blog or any other use associated with The Toronto Pet Daily..
-The Toronto Pet Daily reserves the right to refuse to publish any photos that are deemed inappropriate in nature.
-Winners will be announced on the blog on June 1st, 2010, at which point contact information will be confirmed for prize collection.

There you have of luck, and tell your friends (or don't, if you want to increase your chances of winning)!!!

**Please remember to tell us that the pictures are for the TORONTO contest!

THS Situation Receives International Attention

For years, the Toronto Humane Society bragged of its low euthanasia rate — only 6 percent, compared with other big-city shelters that put down 50 percent or more of the animals they accept.

But that impressive statistic was hiding a dark secret, according to criminal charges laid against its top officials. The "model" animal shelter was actually what one investigator called a "house of horrors" — a place where infections ran rampant, animals lived in filthy conditions, food was scarce and a no-euthanasia policy led to sick animals suffering and dying without adequate medical care.

"It's a pretty good donor grab if you say we only euthanize 6 percent of our animals. The sad part is the amount of animals that died in their cages — long, painful, horrible deaths — to obtain those numbers," said Marcie Laking, who worked for the humane society for five years as a volunteer and a paid employee. "The Toronto Humane Society took euthanasia statistics to very inhumane levels."

Last November, the Toronto Humane Society was raided by police and the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and its five top managers were arrested and led away in handcuffs, charged with animal cruelty. None of the allegations have been heard in court as a trial has not yet been scheduled but a lengthy affidavit submitted by the OSPCA details a pattern of alleged abuses, including managers forbidding staff veterinarians from euthanizing animals the vets felt were suffering without hope of recovery.

It's rare for animal shelters to be accused of cruelty, but it's not unheard of. While OSCPA officials were investigating the Toronto Humane Society, the American SPCA intervened in two alleged cruelty cases at animal shelters. At the Clarksdale-Coahoma County Animal Shelter in Mississippi, a facility built to hold 60 dogs was discovered in January to be crammed with 400 animals. At the city-run Memphis Animal Shelter, dogs were discovered starving and three supervisors were indicted in February on animal cruelty charges connected to the deaths of three terriers.

Julie Morris, senior vice president of community outreach for the ASPCA, said that in shelter abuse cases, sometimes the people in charge are apathetic or just plain sadistic, and sometimes they're well-meaning but get overwhelmed. And, as may have happened at the Toronto Humane Society, some shelter directors become so fixated on low euthanasia rates that they overlook real suffering, Morris said.

"Some shelters in their quest to be no-kill either end up hoarding animals or keeping them way too long and not thinking of the quality of life ... they get a little overzealous," said Morris, who is not personally involved in the Toronto case but is familiar with both U.S. cases. "To warehouse animals for years in a small cage so you can say the animal is not euthanized — but the animal is suffering — is insane."

In sworn statements, employees of the Toronto Humane Society recalled dozens of animals who starved or endured painful conditions for lack of resources and described how they were chastised for taking too long if they stopped to clean cages or give dogs fresh water. Perhaps most grisly of all, investigators found a mummified cat in a trap hidden above the ceiling tiles who had been forgotten and apparently starved to death.

Who's watching?
Oversight of animal shelters varies from state to state, Morris said: In some places it’s the Department of Agriculture’s responsibility, in others the Department of Health, and often inspections are spotty or non-existent.

When cities and counties are struggling financially, Morris said, “A lot of times, animal control is at the bottom of their list of priorities.”

The Memphis shelter seems to be a straightforward case of animal cruelty through mismanagement and apathy, Morris said. But in Clarksdale, as in Toronto, a no-kill policy seemed to spin out of control.

“That was somebody who wanted to do the right thing and got in over their head, and in the interest of being good to animals ended up being bad to them,” Morris said.

Clarksdale animal-lover Sissy Alderson blew the whistle on the shelter, notifying city authorities, the Humane Society and the ASPCA after she witnessed overcrowding in outside runs. Once she got inside the shelter, conditions were even worse than she had feared.

“You have no earthly idea, the amount of urine, the amount of poop. There was a dog eating a [dead] dog,” Alderson said, her voice trembling as she recalled the scene. Dogs were fighting in cramped kennels, and some of the more submissive dogs were starving because they couldn’t get to their food, she said.

“The suffering, I can’t imagine,” Alderson said. Many of the animals were sick with heartworms, mange, parvo, distemper and other illnesses, she said. “Euthanizing an animal that is sick is not easy, but it is humane. It is the compassionate thing to do.”

The Clarksdale shelter director, who was a volunteer, walked off the job once the shelter was raided. Local authorities decided not to file charges against her, saying the director meant well but was simply overwhelmed. She did not respond to calls seeking comment for this story.

Unlike in Toronto, the Clarksdale shelter director never publicized the unofficial no-kill policy, preferring to keep the crowded shelter out of the public spotlight.

“She asked me, ‘What is wrong with the shelter?’” Alderson said, recalling a conversation with the former director. “She honestly saw nothing wrong … it wasn’t rational.”

A micro-manager with an iron fist
In Toronto, the OSPCA raid and charges at the Toronto Humane Society were prompted by an investigation published last year by The Globe and Mail newspaper, which aired allegations of mismanagement and sick animals suffering. Five top shelter officials were arrested, but the allegations centered around president Tim Trow.

The affidavit in support of a search warrant, which includes statements from 45 former and current employees, describes Trow as a micro-manager who ruled with an iron fist and screamed and cursed at anyone who questioned his orders. Several witnesses recounted an incident involving a pit bull, Bandit, who came to the Toronto Humane Society after biting a child in 2003 and became Trow’s personal pet. Two Toronto Humane Society workers reported being bitten by Bandit; on another occasion, Bandit bit a mother cat who was protecting her kittens, and Trow allegedly refused to allow treatment for the badly injured cat for over an hour.

The affidavit alleges that Upper Respiratory Infection, or URI, spread rampantly among the cat population because of poor sanitation and indiscriminate mixing of ill and healthy cats. Cats with untreated URIs suffered with sores on their tongues and eyes. Veterinarians describe being forced to ask to euthanize severely ill animals, and being refused by non-veterinarians in management.

"When animals are sick and dying, be it from infectious disease or any other cause, Tim Trow and his supervisors refuse to allow the veterinarians to humanely euthanize the animals. The animals are left to suffer to death in their cages in order that Tim Trow can maintain his artificially low euthanasia statistics which he uses for marketing purposes," alleges the sworn statement of OSPCA investigator Kevin Strooband. "Regardless of a veterinarian’s opinion, Mr. Trow has issued orders that no animal may be euthanized without the permission of a non-medically trained supervisor. Animals are found dead and in agonizing pain in their cages every morning in the THS facility."

1,000 animals crammed into a space for 600
Brian Shiller, an attorney for the OSPCA, said the mummified cat in the ceiling was found on the second day of OSPCA’s search of the Toronto Humane Society facility. Apparently, he said, someone set a live trap to catch a feral cat that had escaped — and then forgot about it, leaving the captured cat to starve to death. The overwhelming problem in the shelter, Shiller said, was the sheer number of animals: more than 1,000 in a space designed to hold no more than 600.

"It really did become a hoarder culture," Shiller said.

Trow, the focus of many of the allegations, has resigned from the Toronto Humane Society's board of directors. The OSPCA and the humane society are currently battling in court over financial control and composition of the board of directors; a judge has appointed an independent monitor to review the charity's finances. Trow's lawyer, Andras Schreck, said Trow intends to plead not guilty and will "vigorously defend himself against the charges." If convicted, Trow and the four other senior officials arrested face a maximum of five years in prison and tens of thousands of dollars in fines.

Schreck declined to respond in-depth to the charges against his client, but said the search conducted by the OSPCA was "questionable," and suggested the accusations may have been motivated by the history of competition and bad blood between the Toronto Humane Society and the OSPCA.

"They've always competed for the same donor dollars," Schreck said.

'A bad picture for all animal shelters'

Since the November raid, the OSPCA has been operating the Toronto Humane Society and recently re-opened it for adoptions. Accusations of abuse at a shelter can cut both ways for animal welfare groups in general, Morris said. People who complained about the shelter tend to be grateful for the intervention; but tales of abusive shelters can turn other people off from adopting shelter pets or supporting their local shelter.

"For people in that community, they're thrilled, they're so glad someone finally came to the rescue," Morris said. "But it paints a bad picture for all animal shelters... people need to know that all animal shelters are different."

The number of animals at the Toronto Humane Society has been reduced from over 1,000 to fewer than 500; Shiller said that 60 sick or wounded animals were euthanized, and the rest were adopted out or sent to other shelters with more space. Many former employees have returned to the Toronto Humane Society to volunteer since the OSPCA raid. Laking, who was fired after clashing with the former management, said she's thrilled to see the animals in new hands.

"The whole time I was there was just I got a very clear sense that nobody in a management position cared about the animals," Laking said. "It was always about looking good for the public. People lost perspective of what they were supposed to be doing, unfortunately."

Rebecca Dube is a freelance journalist based in New York who has written for The Globe and Mail, The Associated Press and USA Today. She blogs about pets at

*Taken from MSNBC

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Press Release From The OSPCA

Suspension THS Foster Care Program - Myths vs. Facts from the Ontario SPCA

A great many things have been posted online since the Ontario SPCA executed a search warrant at the Toronto Humane Society, resulting in seven arrests on a variety of criminal charges ranging from personating a peace officer to animal cruelty, as well as the Board of Directors of the Toronto Humane Society being charged with animal cruelty.

Many unproven and untrue allegations have been posted online, about the Ontario SPCA and its officials. Certainly all of the most sensational allegations have been posted anonymously. These include serious accusations of misconduct that are untrue, but also defamatory.

The Ontario SPCA realizes that people are compassionate about the animals and very concerned due to the nature of the criminal charges. But the facts are that all the animals housed at the Toronto Humane Society are being treated well, getting the care they deserve, and will get adopted into a loving home if at all possible.

There are many more facts of which animal lovers should be aware, especially regarding the Toronto Humane Society foster care program:


The Ontario SPCA cancelled the THS foster care program for pets out of spite.


As a result of the Ontario SPCA investigation, THS staff requested investigators inspect the animals in their foster care program.

The Ontario SPCA enlisted the help of veterinarians, the animals were inspected, and serious health problems were found with many animals. As a result of these concerns, the fostering program at the THS has been suspended.


The Ontario SPCA has no plans to resume the fostering program.


First, the THS will eventually be responsible for animal care policy at this facility. The Ontario SPCA is responsible, by court order, for animal care at the THS until the organization is stable and able to provide the appropriate standard of care in a sustainable fashion.

Second, the Ontario SPCA has advised current THS staff to suspend the fostering program until policies, protocols and care standards can be established that will properly protect the health of animals in the fostering program. Pet fostering can only work when the care and health of the animals being placed is assured, and that was not the case with the existing program.


The Ontario SPCA intends to euthanize these animals.


As a rule, with no exceptions, the only animals that can be humanely euthanized are those suffering from a terminal illness, with no prospect of a decent quality of life, or those animals that pose grave harm to themselves, other animals, and humans.

The Ontario SPCA wants to make sure the animals in the fostering program are healthy, getting the care they deserve, and are in homes that are capable of giving them the care they deserve. The decision to euthanize has been put in the capable hands of those licensed to practice veterinary medicine, in accordance with the regulations of the College of Veterinarians of Ontario.

The existing program lacked the controls and supervision that were necessary to ensure the pets' health and well being first. That is why the program has been suspended.

The animals that were recovered from the foster homes are now getting top quality care, and when possible, they will be available for adoption by a loving family.


The Ontario SPCA is doing everything it can to make the THS look bad.


The Ontario SPCA took this action on the fostering program, and other initiatives, based on the advice of THS staff that had grave concerns about the way these programs were being managed. The THS complained, the Ontario SPCA listened, looked into the situation, and then took the appropriate actions to make sure that the animals were getting the care they deserved.

Concerning the fostering program, investigators found the following problems:

* Pets were signed out for fostering without the approval of the appropriate THS official.
* There were incomplete records on the number of animals signed out for fostering, and who they were signed out with.
* Some animals intended to be signed out under the fostering program were instead listed as adoptions.
* Many animals signed out for fostering suffered chronic health issues and needed to be regularly re-assessed to ensure that fostering remained the best care option.
* Diabetic cats that required daily blood monitoring and insulin injections were sent out for fostering. The THS included a six-month supply of insulin and other medicine. There was no follow-up scheduled once these foster homes ran out of medical supplies.
* Animals with medical conditions were signed out to foster homes without training specific to the conditions and without ensuring that the foster volunteer had appropriate medical knowledge.
* Two aggressive dogs were signed out under the fostering program to people with no professional training to manage canine behavioural problems.

Happy St. Paddy's Day!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

In The Eyes Of The Beholder

Ugly Dog Contest crowns new winner

Rascal, a seven-year-old Chinese Crested, won the title at the 15th annual ugly dog contest in Del Mar, California.

Rascal is a descendent of Chi Chi, who is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for winning the most ugly dog contests at one time.

Rascal's proud owner Dane Andrew insists: "I think he's the most handsome dog I've ever seen.

"People just say, 'Your dog is ugly'. So we just go with it and have fun with it. He's the best at what he does, I guess. He's ugly."

**Taken from

Personally, I don't think that any dog will ever hold a candle to Sam...RIP.

Coming Soon...Vet Advice And Photo Contest!!

In the near future, we will be adding a feature here on the site called "Ask A Vet". Feel free to submit your questions so they can be answered here on the site. In addition, we will be holding our first annual "My Toronto Pet" photo contest, where you can submit your photo, which will then be voted on by both industry professionals and readers of this site. Prizes will be awarded for the top three submissions. Details to come soon :)

Doggie Recall Help

Q: How do I get my dog to come when called?

A:Recall skills are essential for any dog owner and are often the hardest skills to master due to many factors including the everyday use of the word “come.”

Recall starts before words are even used. The dog needs to know that paying attention to you pays, and pays big. Start with a high-reward system in a home environment for the simple behaviour of the dog looking at you. When you notice them looking at you, immediately mark the behaviour by saying “yes” or using a clicker and then give them a treat. Breaking treats into small pieces, purchasing ones that are already in small portions, or using their kibble will allow you to give multiple treats without overdoing the calories.

This first step will take about two weeks of 50 - 100 times per day, or as many times per day as you can manage. You can introduce their name into the mix so that when they look at you, say their name, mark the behaviour (“Yes!” or click) and treat. This process will lead to them looking to you whenever you say their name, which is important in a multi-dog environment such as a park.

Set your dog up for success and look for opportunities to reward them; if they are looking at you when you are about to feed them, say their name, say “yes!” and give them their food, or find other such instances where they are looking at you and reward. If they are following you around the kitchen, or down a hallway, you can start introducing the cue word for “come” and associate this with a reward.

We highly recommend choosing a word for recall that is not used in a common fashion, particularly one that has not already been in partial use for asking them to come to you. “Come” is often overused and associated with other less desirable behaviours. Other words can be “here,” “hurry,” “scramble,” or whatever you choose. This will help the dog much more quickly associate the cue word, and the behaviour with a positive consequence.

Once you’ve established the connection between their name, attention and recall in simple situations, take it to the next level by working on these skills in your backyard, front yard, then on leash walks. Repetition and quick reactions are key.

The next step is to expand to a long line and a quiet park. The long line will allow you to go to environments that have greater distractions, but allow you to control the outcome.

Another great tactic to work on in your backyard with a friend is restrained recalls. Have a friend hold your dog in one place in your backyard, show your dog the treat, run away from your dog (increasing the distance each time), turn around, call their name and your cue word for recall while having your friend release them. When they run over to you, make a big deal about it with lots of treats and praise. If they don’t immediately come to you, have your friend get the dog and repeat with a more valuable “treat.” The object of this game is to get as many fast, fun recalls into a short period of time. Again, repetition helps to solidify this skill.

The key to successful recall skills is for the dog to know that recall pays big every time and that you practice in situations where your dog will be successful, gradually working up to incorporating more complicated situations. Be aware of what your dog finds rewarding; for some it is food all the way, for others a squeaky toy or ball is a higher reward than a treat.

Reliable recall in complex situations and environments takes time and dedication to perfect. Have fun working with your dog and enjoy the fruits of your labor when that time comes where you need to be able to get your dog’s attention and direct them from a distance!

For more information, contact [email protected] or call the Calgary Humane Society free Behaviour Helpline at 403-723-6057.

Q: I’m new to owning a dog and wondered if there are general guidelines for off-leash park etiquette?

A: A successful, safe visit to the park depends on the answers to many questions. Is your dog comfortable with dogs of all sizes running up to them, chasing them, or wrestling with them? Are they okay with having their ball, or toy stolen? Will they come when you call them back to you? Is your small dog able to deal comfortably with larger dogs coming up to him? Is your dog okay with other dogs coming up to you for “their” treats? Do you have a puppy who hasn’t had its full set of vaccines?

If you’ve answered NO to any of these questions, we strongly suggest you and your pooch get some training before heading to the park, or even reconsider if the park is right for your dog. Off-leash parks are a privilege for many owners, but they are not right for all dogs.

For example, a dog’s recall skills are challenged in an environment as exciting as an off-leash park. Many dogs have become lost while at an off-leash park. Ensuring your dog will respond will help to keep him safe. (Check out next-week’s Minding Manners for tips on developing recall skills).

For a number of reasons, while at the park be aware of where your dog is and what they are doing at all times. For example, to keep the park cleaner, you need to be attentive of where your dog has done his business.

Also be aware of other dogs around you and your dog. If you have a small dog that is running, some other larger breeds may kick into a predatory drive and chase your little one who may get seriously injured if caught. Keep little dogs near you at all times so you can scoop them up if need be.

Before heading to the park, get together with some friends and their dogs and make sure your dog is okay with sharing toys and with you petting or feeding other dogs. That being said, when at an off-leash park, don’t offer treats to other dogs as they may have special dietary restrictions.

Prior to any visits to the dog park, it's important to make sure puppies have their full set of vaccines; check with your veterinarian for more information as to when you can safely take your puppy out in public. Also be conscious that adult dogs may react differently to your puppy than they would with another adult dog. It’s important for proper socialization skills that puppies have a positive experience in their interactions with other dogs - a bad experience can leave them frightened and even reactive to other dogs. Consider taking a puppy class, like Precocious Puppies at the Calgary Humane Society, where they can romp and roll with other puppies and learn the necessary skills of interaction in a controlled environment before venturing into the dog park.

With summer right around the corner, everyone and their dog will be itching to get out and enjoy the sun. Keeping these points in mind will help everyone enjoy the off-leash park experience in a positive and safe way.

For more information, contact [email protected] or call the Calgary Humane Society free Behaviour Helpline at 403-723-6057.

Q: How do I teach my dog not to jump up?

A: Jumping up is a behaviour problem many owners struggle with. Owners frequently focus on eliminating the problem or undesired behaviour by telling the animal what not to do. When a dog jumps up, the owner will yell “No! Get down!” as they push the dog off. In such an interaction, even if the correction is given in a stern tone, the dog actually learns that if he jumps on his owner, the owner will interact with him. For many dogs, interaction is a good consequence.

Scientific study of dog behaviour and training methods indicates that a more effective approach focuses instead on desired behaviour that the dog can do, and reinforcement of this behaviour with high-value rewards. This positive approach results in long-term increases in the desired behaviour, which also boosts the dog’s confidence and supports a strong, positive bond with his owner.

To use positive reinforcement; instead of reacting when your dog jumps up on you, wait until he has all four paws on the floor. Then say “yes!” in a very excited voice, or use a clicker to mark the behaviour, then reward with the dog’s favorite treat. Toss the treat on the floor so that he is focused down on the floor instead of upwards at you.

At the start of this re-training process, you will need to use a high rate of reinforcement to allow the dog to be successful and come to fully understand that “four on the floor” pays! A high rate of reinforcement means offering 20 to 30 clicks and small bits of treats per minute. If the dog is sitting, keep throwing down the treats.

Generally after you have repeated this process two or three times, dogs will actively keep “four on the floor.” Once you have done the initial training with a high rate of reward, slowly reduce the number of rewards and only intermittently reinforce the desired behaviour. Intermittent reinforcement can be more or less frequent, depending on your dog and his level of distraction. If he fails to offer the desired behaviour, go back to a higher rate of reinforcement. Eventually, you can taper off altogether and just ask for the behaviour through a word or signal.

Dogs innately respond to positive reinforcement, because they are “wired” to repeat behaviours that “work” - that is, behaviours that get them rewards. If you stay consistent and patiently put in the time required, you will have dogs who are well behaved and happy to be around people. People are also happy to be around the dogs, thus providing the dog with a much more varied and exciting life experience.

**Taken from the Calgary Herald

Monday, March 15, 2010

March Break At Pawsway

Monday, March 15th through Friday, March 19th 11am - 4pm
Looking for something to do during March Break? Come visit PawsWay for a week of free fun activities for the entire family! Among planned highlights are interactive games, lessons on drawing, science experiments and much more!! Plus visit the Purina Animal Hall of Fame celebrating over 40 years of animal heroism. Have a snack at Williams Fresh Café - with their pet friendly eat area. FREE general admission.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Puppy Seminar

Featuring Dr. Jennifer Messer

Sunday April 18, 2010
Crowne Plaza Don Valley Hotel
Toronto, ON
9 am to 5 pm

This is a must attend seminar for anyone who has a puppy, is thinking about acquiring a puppy or any dog professional who works with puppies! This one day workshop will enlighten and enhance your understanding of puppy behaviour, health and training and give you the information and skills you need to effectively identify and comprehend all aspects of puppyhood.

Seminar Overview

Are temperament tests useful?
Do they predict adult dog behaviour?
What’s the difference between temperament and behaviour?

This seminar presents a critical evaluation of temperament testing and behaviour assessments of puppies to help potential dog guardians and trainers decide what role these tools should play in evaluating puppies and making associated training recommendations

Can I take my unvaccinated puppy out visiting?

Do I need up to date vaccines to join puppy school?

This seminar will provide a practical understanding of puppy vaccination - what diseases are commonly vaccinated against, which diseases are of most concern in the puppy class environment, how the puppy’s immune system responds to vaccination, and what the rationale is behind puppy vaccine schedules.

How important are puppy classes?

This seminar explores the key components to a well-rounded Kinderpuppy curriculum, and how these essential elements can be implemented in a Kinderpuppy course. Video clips from a variety of puppy classes will be used for illustration.

The socialization window of puppies is short and precious. Some learning can only take place easily and reliably while the puppy is still quite young, so you need to be able to take best advantage of this brief opportunity. Find out what the 5 key puppy training tips are and how to implement them effectively.

About Jennifer Messer

Jennifer Messer is a veterinarian working in a small animal practice. In addition to routine clinical medicine, Jennifer conducts private canine behaviour consultations and has implemented an in-clinic puppy parenting program to educate dog-owning clients about puppy behaviour and training.

Jennifer completed a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology at McGill University, where she graduated with first class honours in 1993. She then went on to study Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College in Guelph, Ontario, and graduated with a DVM in 2001. During her years as a veterinary student Jennifer established and operated Montessaurus Puppy School in Guelph. Jennifer has given numerous lectures and workshops to veterinarians, dog trainers, veterinary students, and the general public on a variety of canine behaviour topics, including aggression and early training and socialization. She has also written on canine behaviour for Chatelaine magazine and has been featured on Discovery Channel.

For more information visit or call 416-444-4190

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Friday, March 12, 2010

Summer Family Fun In Cobourg!

Shari’s Quest Animals R Us Festival

Saturday, July 24, 2010 (one day only/rain or shine)

Victoria Park, Cobourg (by the beach)

The Animals R Us Festival is both a family and a pet related event with exhibitors, demos (obedience/grooming, disc dogs), pet contests, photo shoot for your pet, kids area with face painting and crafts, door prizes, vote King and Queen of the Festival, plus so much more!

Also the first 50 people receive a free goody bag!

Admission is a donation to the

Northumberland Humane Society

Exhibitor Info:

Booth space is only $75 for a 10’ x 10’ space. A maximum of 2 booth spaces can be purchased by one business.

Rescues, shelters, Humane Societies and OSPCA’s get one FREE 10’ x 10’ booth space. The second booth space is available to rent if needed for only $25.

Last year saw an attendance of approximately 550 people!

Sponsorship Opportunities still available!

For more info about the festival please email [email protected] or call the Northumberland Humane Society at 905-885-4131. Ask for Sarah Lennox.

Purina National Dog Show This Weekend

What happens when you take more than 1,000 dogs and their breeders, add in their handlers - all of whom are competing for Best in Show - and put them before a cheering crowd? "The atmosphere is electric," says organizer Richard Paquette. "The crowd gets into it."

The 2000 film Best in Show parodied the behind-the-scenes life of "campaigning" in the dog show world, but there's serious prestige to be had at this weekend's Purina National Dog Show. Dogs are ranked by how well they do in shows and, as the only national show sponsored by the Canadian Kennel Club, "we're talking high-level competition," Paquette says of the Purina event.

The three-day event includes seven rings for canine competitors and a breeders' village, where the public can pat the purebreds. This is the first time in the four years since its inception that the national dog show has been held in the GTA. It begins Friday at 9 a.m. at Mississauga's International Centre, 6900 Airport Rd.

There's a lot at stake, with $40,000 in prizes and $6,000 for Best in Show. Plus a win in a category here can translate into big bucks for breeders. A 6-month-old puppy with show potential fetches as much as $5,000 while a 1-year-old proven show dog could cost $10,000.
`Dog world' denizen

Like the majority of owners at dog shows, Bob Whitney is a hobby breeder. With a current crop of 15 Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, he has been at it for 41 years. "My wife and I say that we have the real world and we have the dog world," the Castleton, Ont., resident says. In addition to shows year- round, the dog world includes membership in several clubs. A one-time professional handler and all-breed judge, Whitney now supports his hobby by doing accounting work.

Purebred breeders rarely make a living producing and showing dogs. "By and large, people spend more money than they make," he says. To participate in an average weekend costs up to $500, and top dogs compete at an average of 140 shows a year.

Whitney likes the level playing field a dog show provides - there could be a surgeon with one dog and a short-order cook with another, he notes. "It's fairly competitive inside the ring but outside the ring it's quite a fraternity." He is campaigning one of his dogs this year, which means going to a show almost every weekend. Last year, he had the top Cavalier in Canada, accruing 3,689 points in 71 shows. "You have to have a passion for the game," he says. "And you have to understand that winning is great - but having the dogs is great, period.

"They're pets first. Whether you win or lose, you go home with the dog you like."
Mentor to others puts Shih Tzus first. Margaret Brown has no idea how many Shih Tzus she has bred and sold over her 35-year career as a purebred producer and competitor. The St. Catharines resident went to a dog show one day. "Then I got a Shih Tzu and started showing it," she says. "Then I got another one and another one. They say if you last five years, you're in it for life."
She took her first Best in Show in 1978, three years after getting into the game. "That dog went on to win 75 more Best in Show awards," she says. One she bred became top dog in Canada in 1988, another was the country's top Shih Tzu in 2008 and 2009.

Being successful usually depends on getting a mentor, and a good breeder should provide guidance, Brown believes. "There are a lot of nice people in this game, people who are willing to help," she says. "I've helped a lot of people, myself, along the way. That's what it's all about - promoting the breed." During her 23 years working at a bank while competing most weekends, Brown says she planned all her vacations around dog shows. Now retired, she still does.

"I would come home from work on a Friday night, bath my dog, head out to a dog show, come home tired Sunday night and get up and go to work Monday morning. A lot of people do that. It's a tiring hobby, but I love it." Her husband and two sons love the dogs, but not the dog shows. Then she adds with a laugh, "He says it's like watching grass grow."
Loving those Labs

Paul Pobega plays Disney movies for his dogs each afternoon. "Twenty per cent of them watch," he claims. That may seem whimsical, but Pobega treats his champion Labradors like family members, same as he does the charges from the full-time Coldwater, Ont., boarding kennel he operates to support his family and hobby. Considered a small-scale breeder, Pobega has guided purebreds from 21 litters to 25 championships over the 14 years he has participated in the sport.

Exhibiting, showing and working on obedience are important, he believes. So is eliminating health risks by carefully monitoring bloodlines. All these endeavours help support the hobby, says Pobega, the Ontario director of the Labrador retriever Club of Canada. Keeping all the dogs exercised and occupied requires two staff and an average 15-hour day - he takes one 10-day vacation a year.

Pobega recently halved the number of shows he competes at, only attending 10 to 15 annually now - but they take place all over North America, like the world's largest specialty show for Labs, which happens in Maryland in mid-April. Sometimes he sends a dog with a handler, otherwise he handles the ring-work himself. And that can get competitive, he says. Bad-mouthing other dogs and owners can centre on whether a rival has a genetic flaw.

"What ends up happening is gossip goes around that makes a mountain out of a molehill. They'll say things that aren't true about a breeder's line or a breeder's dog," he says.

"It's like high school."

**Taken from the Toronto Star

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Pet Power: Good Companions Can Enhance Their Humans’ Health

Iolanda Celikkol knows the power of a good pet. The Toronto-based 45-year old suffers from osteoporosis and osteoarthritis, and says were it not for her dog Rayne, a two-year old Labrador retriever/Great Pyrenees mix, she likely wouldn’t get out of her home during the day. “Without my four legged friend I wouldn’t do anything,” she says. “She makes me more social and she makes me more active.”

A new study is finding many tangible physiological benefits to pet ownership. Conducted by Erika Friedmann, a professor and human-animal interaction expert at the University of Maryland, the study followed cat and dog owners over 50 years of age in the Baltimore area suffering from mild hypertension to determine the effect pets have on blood pressure levels.

Throughout Friedmann’s study, pet owners were tracked every 20 minutes of their waking hours on three different days over a three-month period using ambulatory blood pressure monitoring. The participants also recorded how often their pets were with them.

After analyzing her preliminary data, Friedmann says her findings are showing that pet owners had lower blood pressure when their pets were present in a variety of situations. In the wake of a recent report by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada revealing that high blood pressure and obesity have risen dramatically, especially among younger people, more Canadians might benefit from a four-legged friend.

Friedmann has also conducted studies that found people of all ages experience reduced stress responses in mildly stressful situations when in the presence of a pet. For instance, her subjects felt more comfortable engaging in small talk when a friendly animal was present. “The presence of a pet can moderate these responses and if repeated over time that has the potential to slow the development and the progression of hypertension (high blood pressure),” Friedmann says.

Alan Beck, director of the Center for the Human-Animal Bond at Purdue University in Indiana, calls pets a positive distraction. He says they are stimulating enough to hold our attention without being stressful. “We’re in the present (with a pet) and we can’t worry about the past or the future -- so much of anxiety is the mind worrying about the past or the future,” Beck says.

Friedmann agrees, explaining that a pet forces people to focus on something outside of themselves and their problems, even if only for short-term intervals. Having a furry companion around can also motivate people to exercise and increase fitness levels.

Rebecca Johnson, director of the Research Center for Human Animal Interaction at the University of Missouri, has been studying community residents of all ages who walk shelter dogs once a week for the past four years. Johnson found that by participating in weekly walks volunteers increased their physical activity outside of the dog walking program and felt motivated to think more about their personal fitness.

In a separate study, Johnson looked at residents from retirement facilities who walked shelter dogs five days a week for 12 weeks and compared them with other retirees who walked with human companions. The study found the dog walking group gradually increased their speed by 28 per cent, whereas the human walking group only increased their speed by four per cent.

In addition, while the dog walking group grew more enthusiastic and motivated, requesting an earlier start so they could beat the heat and provide their dogs with longer walks, the human group often discouraged each other from walking and complained about such factors as the heat.

“It’s the motivation that’s important,” Johnson says. “There are physical benefits if you make a commitment to your dog. You just have to realize animals need to be walked and reinforcement from the animals and exercise feels good.” Celikkol, whose physical limitations prevent her from working, is able to walk her dog and enjoy social interaction with Rayne at her local dog park.

She says owning a dog helps her relax, gives her a sense of security and makes her happier overall. “She (Rayne) picks up my spirits,” Celikkol says. “You know how you can depend on a family?” In the same way, she says, “you can depend on a dog.”


Want the benefits of being around animals without the responsibility of owning one?

Volunteer at a local animal shelter where there are many opportunities to walk a dog, cuddle a cat or pet a rabbit.

- What are the benefits?

If you take part in a dog walking program at a shelter, you’ll help increase a dog’s chance of adoptability, according to Shawna Randolph, spokesperson for the Edmonton Humane Society. Not only do dogs need exercise but they need human contact and to get out and be socialized, she says. And you might shed a few pounds while you’re at it.

If you’re not a dog lover, but would still like to interact with animals, there are other ways to get involved.

“Cats and rabbits, rodents, guinea pigs, all need regular socialization and cuddling from humans,” Randolph says.

Studies have shown people can lower their blood pressure simply by stroking an animal.

- How do you get involved?

Contact your local humane society or Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. You’ll be required to go through an application process and attend an orientation session.

**Taken from the Vancouver Sun

MHS Adopt-A-Thon!!

The Mississauga Humane Society is currently holding an adop-a-thon blitz. All adoption fees are half price for adults, making the adoption fee only $64.00. This includes spay/neuter, vaccines, micro-chip, vet check. We have lots of lovely cats looking for their forever homes. Please check out our website.

Monday, March 8, 2010

For Dog Walkers, The Walk In The Park Is Hard Work

Pass by any of the city's parks, especially around noon, and you're sure to see a canine league of nations. Short, tall, fat, thin, purebred and mutts. They race, chase balls, beg for treats and do their business.

The humans are scarce - it's the middle of the day after all - but those in attendance have a job to do. The rank-and-file dog walkers who live and work in Toronto frequent the city's 25 off-leash areas open to dog walkers, offering advice on everything from canine nutrition and health to discipline and exercise. According to the city's bylaw department, only 209 of them have permits, though. And Jenny Wisenberg, owner of Toronto dog walking company The Bark Zone, guesstimates the real number is at least double that.

The rest are either walking the required three dogs or less, or taking their chances with a $365 fine.

In 2009, animal services enforcement officers handed out 67 tickets. The city's main aim for policing dog walkers is less about revenue and more about ensuring adequate insurance, says Bruce Hawkins, media relations officer for the dog/bylaw department.

The annual licence is $200, but to get one you must have insurance (about $600 a year) for third-party liability, in case your dog bites someone, gets into an accident or the client's keys are lost. To get insurance, you must be a registered business and file income tax.

For serious dog walkers it's a business - and at $16 a pop for an hour's walk, and 15 to 20 dogs five days a week, quite a lucrative one, too.

But like any business, there's outlay, like a vehicle to pick up the dogs, start-up costs and months of no income while building clientele.

There are obstacles, too. Of the city's 37 designated off-leash areas, only 25 permit commercial dog walkers. So if you're not living in Forest Hill, Riverdale, the Beach or High Park where parks, lakeshore and ravines are natural terrain for dogs, it's drover time as you herd canines down city side streets.

Space is an issue - and the phrase "off leash" is the proverbial red flag.

"Don't get me started," says Wisenberg. "Dogs need to be off-leash so they can socialize, but most parks are congested and don't contribute to healthy dog development. Sherwood Park, for example, is more a trail where dogs can walk along but not play. Cedarvale and Winston Churchill are like dust bowls filled with dogs so bored they dig and fight."

A walker is responsible for controlling the dogs and grouping dogs is a skill, developed once you walk them and learn their temperament, says Wisenberg.

Even so, some dogs don't make the grade and aggression will get them banished from groups and into "specialized services" - private walks at $25 for half an hour.

It takes a special personality to walk dogs, says Dianne Eibner, who has been walking dogs in Toronto for two decades.

"You need to be calm, confident, have lots of energy and the commitment to stick with it through rain and sleet and ice," she says.

People skills come in handy, too.

"These people aren't just trusting you with their pets, they're also giving you the key to their house," Eibner adds. "More than friendly, you need to be reliable."

That goes for the public. In the '90s, she founded the Professional Dog Walkers Association, partly to ensure better conditions for walkers, like being able to get insurance, but also to improve public perception. Things have improved since then (the association merged in 2007 with the American Canine Professional Association), but some negative perceptions persist.

"We can get blamed for poo in a park," Eibner says. "But the reality is, dog walkers often pick up everyone else's poop so the park is clean. And when we arrive the next morning, it's often dirty again."

No doubt, poo is probably the worst part of the job, Wisenberg says. Picking it up is one thing, but "it's the poo eating that's really gross." While the jury's out on why dogs eat feces, the ones who do "have to be muzzled."

Add that to the occasional projectile vomit, rolling in dead fish or animals, or plunging through muddy puddles. It's no wonder dog walkers never look their best.

"Definitely not sexy," laughs Alexa Doran, who started in the business last summer. "On top of the seven layers of clothing and big fuzzy hat, I'm covered in dog drool most of the time."

But she's having too much fun to complain.

"If it's a nice day, we stay out longer. The dogs love it. I love it. And it beats a desk job."

After university, Doran worked in a bank. When she and her actor husband moved to the Beach and couldn't find a dog walker, A Dog Day at the Beach was born.

For a while, her little Honda Civic was pressed into service, but that defeated the purpose. "I was spending all my time behind a wheel."

Now that she picks up on foot, those hour-long walks turn into three hours or more. Seven dogs need walking in two groups, so at $80 a week per dog she's working almost full time, but not exactly getting rich.

The pros and cons are described in Eibner's book, The Face in the Window.

Meant as a deterrent - "if you still want to be a dog walker after reading my book, you have what it takes" - it also lays out pluses.

"There is nothing like pulling up in a driveway and seeing that eager face in the window waiting for you."

**Taken from the Toronto Star.

Here is my personal take on this issue :

Recently, several parks within the area have become inundated with walkers who take as many as 15(!) dogs at a time to the local park for their time to play. Just the other day, I myself witnessed this on the Don Valley Golf Course, when I saw two walkers who each had 12 dogs in their care. This happens throughout the city. THIS IS ILLEGAL. As many of you might not know, the legal limit that one walker may take at a time on City Of Toronto property is six dogs, provided they have a license. Any walker taking more than this amount is subject to a fine. Of course, as is life, sometimes things come up and walkers may have to add an extra dog to their schedule. In doing so, they are taking a chance that they will be fined, but so long as they are open with you about their policy and you are okay with this, there really shouldn't be a problem. Most important is the fact that no matter what your walker may tell you, it is SIMPLY IMPOSSIBLE for one individual to be responsible for the clean up, and more importantly, the well being and safety of your dog, if the walker is taking that many more than the legal limit to the park (especially when they encounter smaller groups of dogs that their dogs mingle with). If you have any concerns about your walker and the number of dogs that they are going to the park with, or if you have concerns about the amount of time your dog may be spending in the park (I have seen ten minutes in many cases), then you must DO YOUR RESEARCH!!! Ask your walking providers where they take your dog and for how long. Further, ask your walkers if you can come along to watch the dogs in action at the park. You have the right to do this. If you were picking out a daycare for your child, it seems highly unlikely that a respectable provider would not allow you access to witness the daily activity. Believe me, having been in this industry for years, I can tell you that there is enough business to go around, and there is no need for your dog to go without proper and safe care!

**Feel free to share this with anyone you know who currently employs a dog walker.