Province to strengthen animal cruelty regulations

Darrell Cole
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Buddy the dog had to be euthanized

Calls are being made for the province to strengthen legislation protecting companion animals such as dogs and cats.

HALIFAX – Nova Scotia’s agriculture minister wants to make sure there are no more cases like Buddy, a dog that had to be euthanized late last week after allegedly spending several years tethered outside a Joggins home.

“We are rewriting the regulations around companion animals like cats and dogs that will make it easier for authorities to go in and take the animal,” Keith Colwell said Monday. “It will also give us the authority to write tickets on the spot, the same as you would for speeding. We’re working with Justice on that and we’ll make the tickets substantial so people will get the message.”

Colwell said there are already options when it comes to an abused animal. The SPCA and law enforcement officers have the ability to ask a vet to assess a dog and if it feels it’s in distress it can order it can removed. Still, he said, the regulations need improvement.

Buddy was bought by representatives of the No Chains All Love Dog Rescue Society and taken from his Joggins’ home late last week, but his health was so poor that he had to be euthanized. He was underweight, his nails were overgrown and had several tumours – one of which had ruptured leaving a bulge on his lower abdomen that affected his ability to urinate.

Colwell said he’s a dog lover and Buddy’s story affected him deeply. He wants to improve the legislation, but wants to make sure the job is done right. He hopes to have draft regulations in place within the month and wants the new regulations in place soon after that.

“We have to get it right. There are a lot of people out there who want us to act right away and I agree with them because I’m a dog lover myself. But it has to be right because it will be tested in court,” he said. “We have to make sure the interest of the animal is the first concern. We need to put sensible regulations in place that actually work, we don’t want to put regulations in place that are no better than what we have now.”

Cumberland South MLA Jamie Baillie said animal cruelty laws need to be strengthened and he’s prepared to bring forward his own legislation if the government doesn’t move forward.

He wants it made an offence for anyone who cruelly tethers a dog and he wants it to be made an offence to leave any animal unattended in a hot car in summer. He also wants to remove from the Wilderness Act the provision that allows any person to shoot a dog they suspect of chasing a deer.

“These three things prove that we need modern, strong anti-cruelty laws. No one could help Buddy because his tethering was not considered an offence. I don’t want to see another incident in which people are told there’s nothing that can be done,” Baillie said. “What we can do is change the law. I’m willing to work with the government, but I will also bring forward my own bill in hopes we can work together to do a good thing. This is a tragedy.”

L.A. Animal Shelter president Marilyn Williams said she was heartbroken after Buddy was euthanized. She said she felt so helpless when the RCMP said there was nothing they could do as long as there was food, water and shelter for the dog.

“Personally, and this is just my opinion and not that of the shelter, I don’t think the RCMP or SPCA did enough. Even though there was no legislation, I think there was more they could have done,” she said. “If they had looked a little more they would have seen that dog was not well. Not enough attention was paid to the dog himself. They could have seized that dog.”

Williams said she plans to take up the case of Buddy and other dogs to anyone who will listen. She plans to ask why the Municipality of Cumberland no longer has a canine officer and she plans to talk to Cumberland North MLA Terry Farrell.

Joan Sinden of No Chains All Love Dog Rescue Society, who helped negotiate Buddy’s purchase, says not all tethered dogs end up like him. She said most people treat their dogs with compassion, but tougher laws are needed for those who don’t.

“We would like to see the SPCA constables and RCMP officers have better tools so they can take care of the dogs better so that when a dog is in distress they can remove the dogs,” she said. “We don’t want to see legislation put in force that can’t be enforced. If you were to ban the tethering of dogs, how can you enforce it? I want things put in place so that the people who are there have the power to remove a dog that is in distress and they have the tools to know when a dog is in distress. Buddy was in distress, he was dying and that RCMP walked away because either he didn’t notice or didn’t feel he had the power to do anything about it.”

She said Buddy’s story is the worst-case scenario, but she added there are also many positive stories of dogs being rescued before it’s too late.

Scott Saunders of People for Dogs said there are other dogs like Buddy out there, but there’s little that can be done for them. He said organizations like the SPCA can only do what the law allows.

“Without regulations the legislation is useless. There’s nothing in place that could have helped Buddy. If we had been aware of the tumour we could have done something on the failure to provide medical care angle,” he said. “He lived in isolation for so many years. He wasn’t even interacting with the person who was providing him with food and water. To prevent this from happening we need better legislation to prevent people from chaining their dogs outside 24 hours a day, 365 days a year in cold and hot, mosquitos, ticks and the danger from other wildlife. That’s no life for any animal.”

Twitter: @ADNdarrell



Organizations: No Chains All Love Dog Rescue Society, RCMP

Geographic location: Joggins, Nova Scotia

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Recent comments

  • joyce dubeau((anntaylor on facebook))
    December 21, 2013 - 21:27

    we need the law changed now...i know there is questions and the right way,but right now there is a dog bullet in st margarets bay who is in nasty shape,tied outside..we need someone who will travell to each home in n.s. nad be able to check on each have the right to take them if they arent cared let a dog die alone,beautifull buddy,this story just tore my heart out..please get this done,before winter takes more victims... help these helpless dogs,they have so much love to give and are so can anyone be so vicious...

  • Tina McLeod
    December 20, 2013 - 08:53

    Terri, I wholeheartedly agree with you. To use the term "owners" is wrong...."captors" would more accurately describe this situation. How heartbreaking that this poor pet had to spend his life in misery. What these "captors" did to Buddy was heartless & thoughtless and they should NEVER EVER be allowed to own another animal ever again. They have proven themselves unfit to be fortunate enough to have any pet's unwavering love. To respond to the comments from "River Hebert" - please use your name......I am from River Hebert and would hate to be associated with that way of thinking. There is NO excuse for leaving an animal on a chain neglected 24 hours a day. I don't care if he was being fed - was he malnourished? Yes....Was he on a chain? Yes...Was he covered in tumors - Yes.....was he neglected - Yes. That's enough for me to pass judgement. I hope that this does bring about change to the laws regarding animal cruelty....and thank you to those who brought attention to this. To think that these "captors" were actually PAID to release poor buddy....shameful.....shameful.....they should have to donate that money to the Animal Shelter. Maybe if people were afraid of criminal charges, they would think twice before treating their pets this way. Poor, poor Buddy....I so hope his death was not in vain, what a sad story - my heart hurts for him.

  • bazzy1
    December 17, 2013 - 15:12

    I read this with great interest. Lets call it the way it was , the owners neglected this dog, abandoned this dog and were responsible for its demise, nothing short of this. The owner and the daughter of the owner should be held accountable, for good sake ,the dog was dying, starving, had tumors, and extreme pain and she wanted her pound of flesh in the amount of $200.00. These people should be charged and the weight of the law used against them. These people knew what they were doing, they just did not give a darn!!!! The law is there, utilize the law, the sad thing is that the RCMP could have done something to help this animal. The RCMP could have seized this animal and had the owners charged!! Years ago in PEI, an individual got jail time for trying to drown a kitten in a pool of water. The judge, in this case used the law as it was intended. The RCMP in this case on PEI , rescued the animal , charges were laid and the Crown prosecutor proceeded with the charges in court. Why was this not done, there is a charge under the Criminal Code that the RCMP could have laid against these individuals!!!. Thank You, Mr Colwell for getting with the Times and doing the right thing, and Mr. Baillie if he doesn't we as taxpayers want you to ensure a bill gets passed. Animal legislation has to change for animals, abuse is on the rise, for domestic animals, horses and the list goes on and on. Abuse is abuse!!! I know for one, I am tired of reading stories about abused animals. I am tired of society saying that the owners need to be educated, all of this gets the poor animal no were, lip service is cheap!!! In Buddy's case, death was his only salvation. I hope the RCMP does the correct thing, charged the owner and his daughter with animal neglect, abuse, unnecessary suffering and take them to court. Only then will we start to make a dent in correcting abuse!!!! ,

  • Crystal
    December 17, 2013 - 15:11

    This is heartbreaking and completely senseless. He was a beautiful dog who was dealt a bad human in life... It's awful that this had to happen for the government to sit down and decide that they should do something about cases like this...

  • Tracey LeBlanc
    December 17, 2013 - 11:34

    You can rescue my suffering, neglected dog, but only if you pay me money first. Horrifying and disgusting - to treat an animal this way and then make a profit off of it! Wish I had heard about Buddy sooner :(

  • Terri McCormick
    December 17, 2013 - 09:57

    To try and defend these "owners" is a joke. How can anyone read about how that dog suffered and try to direct attention onto how the "owners" were misrepresented. This is about Buddy and how his death will not be in will bring about change and other dogs like him will we rescued. This dog was given to the "owner?" wow, what a lucky day for Buddy (I say that with sarcasm.) People should be ashamed of how this dog was treated and forgotten.

  • Wolfe
    December 17, 2013 - 09:18

    I hope these new actions also count for pet owners who leave their dogs tethered outside of stores in inclement weather during the cold winter months while they shop with no shelter from the wind or snow. Dogs can suffer from hypothermia from being left in the cold as they can die from overheating when left in a hot car. This is especially true for short-haired breeds with slight undercoats like greyhounds and boxers for example. I realize that some breeds, such as huskies and malamutes are bred to handle severe winter conditions, but hypothermia can happen to any breed of dog in the right circumstances: This happened to me recently when my partner and I went to the grocery store during a severe snowstorm. The dog was a Cocker Spaniel, who was clearly older in age, and by the amount of ice and snow that had built up in its fur and judging by how violently the dog was shivering, it had been sitting there for awhile. Two workers from the grocery store came out to help as well as another stranger, as we attempted to warm the dog and shelter her from the high winds. I phoned the police and the dispatcher seemed appalled that anyone would do such a thing to their pet, but there was also nothing they could do to help. This was upsetting and frustrating. The dog owner finally came out of the store 15 minutes later and got really angry at us for touching her dog. We told her we would call animal control if we ever see this again and will have her dog removed for abuse. I'm hoping it scared her enough to not do it again, but honestly, it broke my heart to watch that poor dog leave with that idiot of a woman. That said, I wish regulations for adopting and owning a pet were more strict because some people really shouldn't be allowed to keep animals.

  • noodle
    December 17, 2013 - 08:49

    Glad to see this legislation going forward. My only concern is the potential for getting carried away. In the case mentioned the poor dog should've been taken years earlier. Any case where a dog is tied out overnight or all day while the owners are at work should be grounds to confiscate the dog. However, having your dog tied out for a couple of hours during the day when you're at home to keep an eye on him shouldn't be an issue at all.

  • Louise Lorette
    December 17, 2013 - 08:16

    Thank God someone is finally listening. This story broke my heart so bad I have been crying since I read it.

  • dave snyder
    December 17, 2013 - 07:52

    Thank You Mr Colwell for getting with the Times and doing the right thing,,

  • Trudy Allen
    December 17, 2013 - 07:49

    It is good news the laws will be changed for dogs an cats,But what about horses they also need this protection as well,wheres the justice for the abused neglected horses here in this Province??They are companions as well as pets an also very Therapeutic in helping people like dogs an cats.Please you have to change these laws as well in helping horses.

  • Rose
    December 17, 2013 - 06:15

    Certainly hope that Buddy's death will bring about positive change for other dogs. It is too bad that we are not seeing a similar response from the Minister in terms of all the horses that have been starved, dehydrated and neglected over the past year - many at one barn. And there have been many, many complaints filed over that situation with seemingly little action being taken. Thankfully, many horses have been 'purchased' over the past month by kind and caring individuals just to remove them from a desperate situation. But we need better laws and legislation as well as enforcement of them - the focus needs to be on protecting the animals from humans that are not meeting their basic needs for food, water and shelter.

  • Jack Frost
    December 17, 2013 - 05:07

    It's always puzzled me why people have a dog tethered outside. Why do they have the dog in the first place if it's going to spend it's life tethered outside by itself. Quite frankly it doesn't make any sense.

  • Darlene Hicks
    December 16, 2013 - 19:48

    I am a animal lover myself and pleased there will be changes to the law ,The owner of Buddy did not move from the home and the neighbor did not tend the dog for 7 years as stated , he may have took scraps over but not 7 years , some of the information is true and some is not ,I feel they should of been up front with the owner since august and the problem could of been solved differently.

    • Patti McCormick
      December 16, 2013 - 22:00

      I think you have your facts wrong here - the owner is NOT living in the home anymore - and YES, somebody else fed that dog on a daily basis for many years. I know the person who fed him and if he didn't, the dog was not fed - and complaints were made long before August by other people and on top of that the daughter was supposed to move that dog to her property well over a month ago and did not - there is no defense or sugar coating of this situation - the pictures and the facts speak for themselves.

    • River Hebert
      December 17, 2013 - 06:47

      To Patti, your the one who better get your story straight,,that dog was given to the owner 7 years ago and the owner does live there maybe you should just take a drive to see for yourself and not depend on family to tell you stories..and so you says you know who fed the dog ,you would cause they are related,,Yes its wrong to leave any animal outside but before you go judging people you get the right story..

  • Mary Jewers
    December 16, 2013 - 18:58

    Thank you for telling Buddy's story and now let's hope his death will bring change.

  • Clement Roy
    December 16, 2013 - 18:53

    The same regulation has to be applied to horses as they also are known to be pets animals.

  • Amanda Morash
    December 16, 2013 - 18:30

    WOW! Although I am THRILLED to hear about changes being made I am disheartened that despite over 10,000 signatures and many emails to Keith Colwell in relation to a horse related matter we got no more then a "form letter" back. Below is link that might be of interest.

  • audrey Kennedy
    December 16, 2013 - 18:22

    this is the best news I have heard in months and maybe Buddy your death was not in vain. Maybe you are the catalyst that finally gets done what should have been done many years ago.It is so sad you had to go through this horror for so many years and I hope karma comes to those who had a hand in your torture. We must never forget that there many Buddies still suffering at the hands of uncaring and cruel people and for them we carry on with this fight. Thank you Mr. Minister for moving this forward and thank you to all the good people who have been advocating for change that is so badly needed to help those without a voice.

  • Jo daigle
    December 16, 2013 - 17:44

    Great now what about the equines that are starve and dehydrated and no shelter don't ignore them Honourable Minister they are also your department and require immediate changes to the law. Many have been put down why do they have to suffer

  • Joanne Fortin
    December 16, 2013 - 17:43

    And what about the poor horses out there. that fiasco that is ongoing with the Breaghmara horses makes me so sad. Canada should be ashamed of their laws concerning the welfare of animals. I know I am.

  • anne barnes
    December 16, 2013 - 17:31

    this would be a good if we can carry it on and close puppy mills and stop all animal abuse we could set a precedent here in Nova is only a start but it is something...somebody is listening

  • Robert Charbonneau
    December 16, 2013 - 17:21

    Gent in the legislature : the SOONER the BETTER. Lets hope that those 'promises' will come true.

  • Robert Charbonneau
    December 16, 2013 - 17:21

    Gent in the legislature : the SOONER the BETTER. Lets hope that those 'promises' will come true.

  • Lesley
    December 16, 2013 - 16:55

    If I saw a child outside in the cold, caught, I wouldn't should be the same for all of God's helpless creatures. I'll go take any dog or cat that's in distress because of a thoughtless owner. But, I want the owners punished by law..I will supply pictures for court and testimony. Thank you..please's cold outside.