Tuesday, August 24, 2010


August 29 · 1:00pm - 2:30pm


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This phenomenal workshop by international award winning Cassandra Hartman provides an opportunity to try two unique canine sports: Doggie DanceFit! & Its A Ball! For the first 45 minutes, students and their dogs can sample Doggie DanceFit! - or literally Dancing with Your Dog - where obedience moves are set to music. After a break, it's time for It's A Ball - Exercise, endurance, balance and core strength through exercise ball work for dogs. Both provide a great way to deepen the bond with your dog while having a lot of fun!

Cost: $45 plus HST.

(Note: Full Doggie DanceFit! classes and workshops will be held at PawsWay in the fall so this is great time to sample this fun, canine sport.)

Visit PawsWay in person to register, or email [email protected] or call 416 360-7297 for more details.

Dog Park Plans Unleashed In Scarborough

Pair of sites expected to open in September

Dog park plans unleashed in Scarborough. Willow, runs for a ball thrown by its owners in Toronto's Withrow Park off-leash dog area. Though other parts of Toronto have 43 off-leash dog parks, the first two in Scarborough are slated to open in September of 2010. File Photo/WILLIAM MEIJER
Off-leash dog parks are finally coming to Scarborough with two sites are approved and set to open in early September.
Scarborough Centre Councillor Michael Thompson said Botany Hill Park and Thomson Memorial Park will be the first two areas to embrace the off-leash runs many other parts of Toronto have had for years.
"We support the idea as long as there is a balance of safety for dog owners and dogs and other users of the park," said Thompson.
The two locations are a start, but some dog owners in Thompson's ward aren't satisfied with the plans.
The rest of Toronto boasts 43 off-leash parks, and local dog owner Richard Spiegelman wants more Scarborough locations put on the fast-track.
"We are tired of being criminalized because we want to take our dogs in a park," said Spiegelman. "We are taxpayers, we pay for the parks and we would like some access to those parks."
Since 1995, Spiegelman has been walking his border collie, Duchess, in Wexford Park. He has never had a problem when she is off leash, but knows of people who have been ticketed for what he sees as a citizen's right to enjoy public property.
"We are made the instant villains all the time. Dogs in the park are always seen as bad and we are tired of that," said Spiegelman.
He is trying to get the city to approve Wexford Park as another official off-leash zone. On Thompson's suggestion, he started the Ward 37 Dog Owners Association to get the community behind him. So far, 166 people have signed up but Spiegelman hasn't yet filled out an application with the city.
There are many factors to be taken into consideration before city staff can recommend a public park be designated as an off-leash area. This process can take months.
In an attempt to move his suggestion through the red tape a little quicker, Spiegelman unsuccessfully tried to set up a meeting with Brenda Patterson, general manager of the city's Parks, Forestry and Recreation division.
"It was decided that whether or not he spoke to the general manager wouldn't make much of a difference because it would have to be considered through staff who would deal with the issue anyway," said Thompson. "They key is that we ensure a process is in place so that each opportunity can be dealt with in such a way that all the interests of everyone are considered."
Thompson said he would like the park approval to move through at a quicker pace, but there are concerns from residents and potential sites need to be thoroughly examined. Though Thompson hasn't spoken with anyone who outright opposed the idea of dog parks in Scarborough, he did recently hear from a pair of constituents who suffered dog bites in public parks.
According to Spiegelman, incidents like that won't be addressed under current rules in most parks, which stipulate all dogs need to be leashed. In his experience, those rules are frequently broken and rarely enforced.
"If you go to any park, any time of day, there are dogs off leash already," said Spiegelman. "You have all these rules about dogs in parks and they don't work 99 per cent of the time. Let's work on making rules that do work for people using the parks."
The off-leash park in Botany Hill Park, 277 Orton Park Rd., is scheduled to open on Sept. 1 and the one in Thomson Memorial Park, at Brimley Road and Lawrence Avenue, should open soon after.

Time To Investigate OSPCA: Worthington

Few things highlight the differences between the “new” Toronto Humane Society and the OSPCA than their respective reactions to the Crown dropping all charges against former THS executives.
In a press release, THS president Michael Downey said they were “pleased that the Crown has decided to withdraw all charges,” adding that “public confidence must be rebuilt . . . the image of the society has been severely damaged . . . put this chapter behind us . . . .” All positive and hopeful.
Contrast that with the press conference held by the OSPCA. Holding a kitten in his arms, presumably to show his love for animals, OSPCA chairman Rob Godfrey said: “We are outraged by the Crown’s decision to drop all charges of animal cruelty, conspiracy and obstruction.”
Calling the withdrawal of charges “the whims of a lawyer,” and urging the attorney general to review the decision, Godfrey went on about “alleged animal abusers” answering to a court of law.” Churlish, mean spirited and puerile, the reaction tells you more about the OSPCA than the THS which, critics say, was being cruel by not euthanizing more animals. “Killing with kindness,” according to the Globe and Mail.
One shouldn’t blame Godfrey who is a figurehead guided by others. The OSPCA board is a closed shop; the membership has no vote.
While THS executives are cleared, how about Tre Smith — charged by the OSPCA with impersonating a peace officer after being suspended as an animal inspector?
His bete noire at OSPCA is its lead investigator Kevin Strooband, who led the attack on the THS last year, and whose own conduct has since been brought into question, including his relationship with a THS female employee who was a potential witness against the THS.
Tre Smith is something of hero to many who care about animals. On a blistering day in 2007 he smashed the window of a car to release a foaming rottweiler that was literally baking to death. The angry car owner confronted Smith who handcuffed him to the car while he called police and sought medical attention for the dog.
Passersby beat the dog-abuser, who eventually pleaded guilty to cruelty. Smith, who worked at the THS was subsequently suspended by the OSPCA.
Torontonians sided with Smith who became the face of the THS on TV programs.
He was reinstated, then suspended again.
Smith did not give up on animals, and continued to investigate on their behalf until the OSPCA went after him and alerted the media which photographed him being arrested in handcuffs. Smith’s rights were abused as were the rights of other defendants.
Some wonder at the double standard with Stroogand, who managed the THS raid and screwed up. MPPs Frank Klees (Tory) and Cheri DiNova (NDP) question the double-standard in treatment. Strooband, curiously is a member of the OSPCA’s board of directors, yet leads their investigations and can lay criminal charges.
It raises the question why a charity dependent of donations, has been given policing powers and is answerable to no one — not even its membership.
Tony Brown of the Ministry of Community and Correctional Services is on record saying there are no plans to investigate the OSPCA: “The ministry does not interfere.”
Well, the damn ministry should investigate and should interfere. It doesn’t take a Sherlock Holmes to find all sorts of complaints against the OSPCA for heavy-handedness and gouging money from people to get their animals back.