Thursday, November 4, 2010

Ontario's Highest Court Reinstates Death Sentence For Ginger The Pitbull

The Canadian Press

TORONTO — Ontario's highest court has reinstated a death sentence for Ginger the pit bull. Ginger was involved in a fight with a dog named Buddy in east-end Toronto in November 2005 that left both dogs and Buddy's owner with injuries. The City of Toronto was granted an application to have Ginger destroyed under the Dog Owners' Liability Act in 2007, but Ginger's owner, Philip Huggins, won an appeal. The Crown took the case to the Court of Appeal for Ontario which ruled Thursday to reinstate the order to destroy Ginger. Justice Mary Hogan, in setting aside the destruction order, had decided the Crown must prove, in addition to the fact that a dog is a pit bull and bit a person or an animal, that it is necessary for public safety that a dog be destroyed. However, the Appeal Court found that the intention of the Dog Owners' Liability Act is clear and requires Ginger be destroyed. "When it comes to pit bulls, one bite or attack, or one menacing act ... mandates the court to issue a destruction order," the justices wrote. "The legislature did not contemplate a debate over whether the dog's conduct was an act of aggression, or whether it occurred in circumstances of play or provocation or self-protection or the protection of humans or their property." Justice Robert Blair conceded that the decision will be difficult for Huggins. "Like pet owners generally, he is undoubtedly very fond of Ginger and sees her as the friendly dog and docile pet his mother portrayed at trial," Blair wrote in the decision. "The legislature has decided, however -- as it is entitled to do -- that pit bulls are inherently dangerous animals that pose a risk to public safety by their very presence in public places."

Missing Snake In Downtown Toronto...On Your Tippy Toes All!

Jayme Poisson Staff Reporter

Benjamin Schorer says he was cleaning his apartment Tuesday morning when a snake slithered out of his drain. “I was in shock, ‘Is this for real!?’” said the resident of 100 Wellesley St. E. “I’m extremely phobic, I haven’t gotten nearly any sleep in two days.” According to Shorer, he spotting the metre-long reptile, took a quick video of it on his iPhone and went straight down to the management office in his pyjamas. The snake disappeared. “At first they looked at me like I was nuts,” he said. “We looked for it and they told me not to worry about it. They said it was probably somebody’s pet.” But Schorer couldn’t stop worrying: “What if the snake was poisonous?” he said. So, Schorer said he began to research, calling several pest control companies until he was redirected to Animal Services. Then, he emailed the video to an expert at the Toronto Zoo who told him the snake wasn’t dangerous. Dangerous or not, he’s not pleased. He wonders why building management isn’t putting him up in a hotel. Journalists were directed to Tom Schwartz, president of the Canadian Apartment Properties Real Estate Investment Trust. He has yet to return a request for comment. “It could be in the walls of the building for all I know. It could have gone back in the drain or could even be in my apartment somewhere,” Schorer said, adding that the experience has been both weird and stressful. A memo from building management was posted on the tenant’s association website and outside the elevators saying the snake is a pet. It adds Toronto Animal and Control says the snake is not poisonous. The snake is being described as an albino California King, with orange and white markings and a very small head. Tenants are being asked to contact management if they spot it. Travis Bergmann lives across the hall from Schorer on the 21st floor. “I don’t want to live in a building with snakes,” he said, adding that he checks under his couch and inside his cupboards. On Tuesday, Bergmann said someone from animal control knocked on his door to ask if he had a mirror they could borrow. They were looking for a snake. “I know it’s not venomous but it’s still creepy,” he said. It is unclear at this time whether the snake belongs to someone living in the building. John Mowat, an employee at Vaughan Reptilia said people shouldn’t “freak out.” “They’re kind of shy snakes,” he said. “It’s not going to bite anyone or harm anyone.” On a scale of one to 10, Mowat ranked the California King snake “about a six or seven” when it comes to popular choices for pet snakes. He added that the breed is colubrid, meaning it can handle cooler temperatures. “It could probably survive here,” he said. “And I guarantee you a hundred bucks you’re not going to find it because those snakes get into anything.” While most tenants are on edge, some are thinking about the snake’s well-being. “I’m mostly just worried about the snake,” said resident Carolyn Bentley. “It’s been missing for two days. It’s probably hungry or stuck somewhere.”

For more & the video, go to The Toronto Star

OSPCA Fails A Champion Horse

Apalachian Chief heads to the winner's circle after winning the Cup and Saucer at Woodbine in 1998

This is a tale of a racehorse. He won and placed in several prestigious races in his younger days, willingly running his guts out for the glory and enjoyment of his owner. The owner got the fame and fortune and the money. This is a common practice in order to TRY to recoup some of the money the farm owner has already spent in giving the horse the care that they need and deserve. Among those sold is ‘our’ subject horse Appalachian Chief, known as Chief for short. He is bought by a lady who had him for a while and cared for him appropriately.  For whatever reason, this good owner sold him to the current owner. This is where his life in hell begins on April 1st2010.  Some would say that this was a cruel April Fool’s joke for this poor horse.
 He was bought by a woman who has worked at the racetrack and various prestigious farms in the area for MANY years and knows very well how to care for horses - but CHOOSES NOT to.  She brings Chief to his new ’home’.  This ‘home’ is a garage with a chipboard cage on a cement floor. 

The prison from outside

There is nowhere for him to go outside because there is no paddock.  There are no other animals and horses being a herd animal, after all, thrive in the company of others.  There is a skiff of bedding on the concrete floor but not nearly enough to provide a proper cushion for him to stand on which he must do 24/7.  He cannot even lie down comfortably, if at all due to the constant presence of feces and urine in his ‘stall’.
Where he has been since April 2010

There is only a partially filled bag of hay and so he begins to live, without being able to stretch his legs for more than a trip around his approx. 7×12 foot ‘cage’.  The very nature of horses is that they must be able to have the ability to move freely over a large distance which this prison does not afford.  On April 2ndthe OSPCA is called by a concerned neighbour who is an experienced horseman and who lives nearby.  They do arrive quite promptly and for the rest of the summer into the fall they pay weekly visits to Chief.  Throughout the incredible heat waves we had this summer Chief would go for days without food or water. Had it not been for the concerned neighbour ‘trespassing’ and sneaking him a little bit of water and picking a few handfuls of grass, we have no doubt Chief would have died. Eventually a round bale of nasty, dusty, moldy hay that not even cattle would eat arrives and is placed outside his stall so that he can eat it, sort of.  It’s put just out of his reach so that swallowing is difficult.   

Chief stretching for his mouldy hay. Yes, the grey stuff in the photo below of the bale of “hay” is mould.  This the OSPCA deems as being acceptable.

Hay bale showing grey mould

As was this bale of something he was forced to eat earlier on this year.

Hay? Straw? Mould? YES!

A great many people have offered to purchase Chief from the owner, just to get him out of there, but she loves the attention not the horse.  One potential buyer had to spend upwards of 4 hours listening to Chief’s owner tell them how smart she is, how she outsmarts the OSPCA by having food present because that is all they need to see, about how she wins ‘wrongful dismissal’ suits, about how she does not believe in feeding horses unless they are being worked!  For those people who have offered to buy Chief from this woman when it comes to talking price she suddenly ups the amount she wants, often by double, and then caps it off by saying that she won’t sell him that she’d rather keep him so that she can write him off as a tax write off because he’s a “breeding stallion”.  With Chief’s escalating decline in health he will never be any kind of breeding stallion.  And so Chief stands, patiently serving his time in hell in this cage that was not cleaned out from April 2nduntil after June, count that, that is over 3 months of manure, ankle deep manure in the heat of the summer, with no cross ventilation, holes in the roof above his head allowing a steady stream of rain to add to the black, stinking manure, day in day out.  
Typical condition of Chief's stall
 Months of flies eating away at him. 
Months of wondering what he did wrong in life to end up like this.


How do have they done this?  

They have been notified many times about this situation that they eventually started making regular visits, same day of the week, same time of the day. They wanted to ‘educate her’ and left the owner brochures outlining how to take care of a horse, and reminding her that she should feed him  They would not ask or take into consideration all the people that were available to give references saying that she DOES know how to take care of a horse, but refuses to “’cause ain’t no body gunna tell me what to do with my horse, ain’t nun of their f..ckin’ business”.  All of the people concerned for this horse have been long time OSPCA supporters and know that funds are often tight and it is harder to re-home a horse than a kitten (they are all horsemen and horsewomen) and have let the OSPCA know that they have raised funds amongst themselves to pay for this horse, have arranged transportation that is on 24//7 standby, have found several options for places for him, all in an effort to help the OSPCA, IF they did their job and seized this horse.  This is met with a reply that they see nothing wrong and his care falls into the acceptable level of care as outlined for livestock and slaughter animals.   IF you read their own words on their own website about the necessary standards of care for ALL animals, it clearly states the animal must not be in  unsanitary conditions, it must have access to food an water, it must not be willfully neglected…………. and they are allowing every one of those ‘rules’ to be broken.
Chief showing wormy belly and protruding bone in his hindquarters from malnutrition. (The fresh layer of shavings he's on was put down on OSPCA inspection day. Below is the norm.)

This once dashing champion is wasting away before our very eyes  From the friendly, outgoing demeanor that was present when he first landed in this prison, he has changed to a depressed, frustrated and angry horse.  Who could blame him?  

It appears that the OSPCA will not move until Chief is dead. 

We are posting this story to raise awareness of Chief’s plight to implore our readers to demand that the OSPCA do the right thing and seize Chief and allow a reputable rescue take him and give him the good fitting home he deserves.  We also want to ensure that the you the public are made aware of this situation. You have the right to, no, need to know where your donations are going and what is being done with the money.  All of those cute little puppy and kitten and bunny calendars that the OSPCA sends out give a very misleading impression that they actually care about all animals and certainly does not come close to lifting the corner of that nasty little rug that they sweep these sorts of atrocities under.  Please contact the OSPCA and your local MPP to express your opinion on this awful situation.  And while you’re at it, tell them that the laws in Ontario and Canada have to be strengthened to protect all animals.
Chief and many others are waiting for your help!

Canadian Horse Defense Coalition

Another Entry In The "Winter Wonderland" Photo Contest


Pets & Prozac - Your Thoughts?

Great news, pet owners: You no longer have to share your Prozac with your hyper pooches. They now have their own beef-flavoured pet Prozac. No yip. Besides, pet owners, you've done enough already: you've shared your neuroses with your puppies and pussycats and, more than likely, you're responsible for their perceived unsettled states of mind. Furthermore, you may have no qualms about forking out hard-earned funds to cure what you believe is ailing your Fido. Statistics show that North American pet owners shell out more than $5 billion -and counting -on meds, for everything from dealing with tapeworm to, now more than ever, psychoactive drugs. No surprise, then, that North American pet owners spend more than $53 billion annually on food and supplies for their critters. Or spa services like "pawdicures" and "doga" -that's yoga for their Bowsers, silly. Or that North Americans now pay more for dog-walking services than daycare for their humanoid offspring. That's the nature of the beast these days. There are more than 140 million pet dogs and cats in North America, and their owners can be rather obsessive. These are some of the alarming findings uncovered in Pet Pharm, a must-see documentary -for those with or without animal sidekicks - tonight at 9 p.m. on CBC-TV and tomorrow at 10 p.m. on CBC News Network. Doc director Patrick Reed raises the question of whether putting pets on Prozac and the like is an act of compassion or indulgence. The answer is not as obvious as it may seem. In addition to a slew of anxious pet owners at their homes or on the road at the Woofstock festival in Ontario, Reed speaks to vets on both sides of the controversial position of prescribing psychoactive drugs for pets: Nicholas Dodman and Ian Dunbar. Dodman would be the pill proponent, while Dunbar is all about paws and love without the Prozac buzz. Both make convincing arguments for their respective cases. But the frightening reality is that they are increasingly dealing with alleged grown-ups who view their pets as surrogate children and who have passed their foibles on to them. And so if the pet owners believe they need Prozac or the like to chill out after a draining day, they are sometimes of the opinion that what's good for them is good for their dogs and cats. Not all pet owners come across as nuts here. Take Toronto dog owner Jen Hart. All was swell between her and her rescue hound Zeke. Until Hart hooked up with a new beau, Greg, with whom Zeke took exception. Zeke took a large nip out of Greg. Then Zeke had to be muzzled when in the same room as Greg. Hart tried all sorts of approaches with trainers and vets to find a solution. None worked. She didn't want to have to make a choice between her man and her mutt. So, as a last resort, she put her pet on Prozac. Viewers will have to determine for themselves if the therapy was a success. Viewers will have less difficulty coming to conclusions about whether psychiatric meds are really needed to handle alleged cases of obsessive-compulsive and separation disorders. Unlike Dodman, Dunbar seeks to curb anti-social behaviours by playing with and praising pets. He notes, as is evidenced here, that not all "yuppie puppies" react well to drugs. He also observes that perhaps it's not the unruly pet who has to be changed, but rather the neurotic owner. Dodman, on the other paw, estimates that 4 to 5 million pets a year in North America must be put down because of their bad behaviour and that meds may be the panacea in keeping them alive. If you think North Americans are a little over the top, Reed heads over to Japan, where canines now outnumber kids under 15. He also discovers that there are five-star hotels for pets, that there are kitty cafes where folks can frolic with felines for a price, that there are companies renting out dogs for $30 an hour. And, no surprise, that there are an inordinate number of millionaire Japanese veterinarians. Reed's initial feeling upon learning a few years ago that people were administering beef-flavoured Prozac to their pets was not entirely positive. "My knee-jerk reaction was that this was a sign of the apocalypse," he says in a phone interview from his Toronto office. But Reed, who abandoned a Ph. D. in history to make movies, decided not to jump to quick conclusions when undertaking this doc: "I didn't want to sit in judgment. I started looking more closely at the situation and saw that people were really struggling with their pets and their behavioural issues. They had tried so many different approaches before finally reaching for the pill." Yet he is alarmed about the potential of pet-pharm conglomerates preying on the unsuspecting and naive. "If there is a cautionary tale here, it's to watch out for those pharmaceutical companies. Maybe these pills work in extreme cases, but the pharmaceutical companies are not marketing to niche extreme cases. "It's the classical marketing. Like does your dog whimper when you leave the house or get excited when you come home? Then your dog is probably suffering from separation anxiety, they would like you to think, and is a candidate for a pill. But, honestly, all dogs are a little upset when their owners leave." True enough, based on personal experience with my two pooches. But not enough that either of them need meds to mellow out. Cats becoming despondent when their owners split? Not so much. The usual reaction in my kitty's case: "Here's your coat. What's your hurry?" Reed reports the same with his cat: "If you treat your pet as a pet, there's often no problem. But if your pet fulfills your need for a child, there's a certain degree of transference. Then you can't help but look at the animal through your own eyes, and with more and more people on psychiatric medication ... well, you can see what may happen."

Read more: