Mirror, AB dogs are again being poisoned

Mirror, AB dogs are again being poisoned

DOG PULLING ON STICK © Gjs | Dreamstime.com

It’s been a year since the poisoning of dogs last was news in Mirror. At that time, approximately 20 dogs were poisoned with a chemical typically used to kill gophers.

Over night last night, 14 dogs died from poisoning.

Calls starting coming in to the RCMP in Bashaw about 9:30 this morning and continued throughout the day. As of early Saturday evening, 13 deaths have been confirmed and a 14th is believed also to have been poisoned. All of the dead dogs were found in fenced-in yards or on their owner’s property.

It is thought that something the dogs ate contained an unknown substance. Toxicology reports from veterinarians to verify the substance are pending.

Please keep an eye on your dog(s) and do not leave them unattended in your yard.

Anyone with information or anyone who believes their dog has been poisoned is urged to call Constable Duek with the RCMP in Bashaw at (780) 372-3793.

Mirror is about 215 kilometres northeast of Calgary and about 66 kilometres East of Red Deer.

Symptoms of dog poisoning

The following are a few of the symptoms of dog poisoning that you can look out for. A lot of these symptoms are quite similar to those in human poisoning, and some of them can be indicative of other conditions and ailments.

  • Irritation or swelling of the mouth and throat
  • Drinking excessive amounts of water
  • Drooling or discharge from the nose
  • Stomach pain or cramps
  • Loss of balance or coordination
  • Change of color in urine
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Tremors, Convulsions or Seizures
  • Respiratory problems
  • Paralysis
  • Erratic heart rate

Some symptoms are extremely specific. For example, rat poison can prevent blood clotting which can mean that small injuries become quite serious, and if ingested it can cause internal bleeding which if not treated quickly enough can lead to death. Sometimes internal bleeding can be diagnosed by blood in the dog’s urine.

What to do if you Suspect Poisoning

If your dog displays any of the symptoms of dog poisoning, you need to seek proper veterinarian treatment as soon as possible. The very first thing to do is call your vet and ask for advice. If your dog has been poisoned, there are things you can do to help, but it depends on exactly what he has eaten. For example, inducing vomiting can help the dog to clear out whatever is causing the problem and a mixture often used for this is made up of a teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide and a teaspoon of milk.

You should never try to induce vomiting in cases of chemical poisoning such as cleaning products or gasoline or if the dog is in a stupor. In these cases trying to make the dog throw up can actually make it worse. Always at least ask your vet before trying something like this. It will be much easier if you know the exact cause, but even if you don’t, the vet will be able to tell you what to do.

Read other articles about the Mirror dog poisonings

How false accusations by drug addict, RCMP in Sundre wild horse case destroyed lives

How false accusations by drug addict, RCMP in Sundre wild horse case destroyed lives

Jason Nixon with his daughter Chyanne, 4 outside of Calgary Courts Centre in Calgary, Alberta on April 27, 2011was exonerated after the crown withdrew charges that Nixon shot a horse near Sundre, Alberta. Photograph by: Leah Hennel, Calgary Herald

Three men charged with the slaying of a wild, pregnant horse near Sundre were completely exonerated in provincial court Wednesday morning.

Crown prosecutor Gord Haight told court that new information disclosed by the defence has led him to “withdraw all charges” against Jason Nixon, the general manager at Mountain Aire Lodge, as well as against Earl Anderson and Gary Cape. Charges against Nixon’s 14-year-old son, Markus, are expected to be withdrawn shortly.

“I feel like an 800-pound weight has been lifted off my shoulders, but I don’t think I will ever fully recover from this travesty of justice that has been perpetrated against me and my family,” said Nixon, 30, who was running the Mustard Seed Street Ministry’s program at the lodge near Sundre, where people battling addictions and homelessness can reform their lives and learn new skills by helping to run the lodge, restaurant, campgrounds and other businesses.

The new evidence revealed recently not only proves Nixon and the three co-accused are innocent of the heinous charges they were accused of, but has exposed the misconduct of the RCMP and its eagerness to believe an outrageous story dreamed up by David Goertz, a longtime crack and crystal meth addict seeking a $25,000 reward over the reputation of a law-abiding family man running a Christian ministry.

“This entire episode has been a complete nightmare for me and my family,” added Nixon, who was surrounded by his extended family, including his wife Tiffany, several of his five brothers and his father, Pat Nixon, an Order of Canada recipient and the founder and former longtime president of the Mustard Seed Street Ministry, until he was recently let go from his life’s work.

Nixon, Anderson and Cape, along with Nixon’s then 12-year-old son were charged in January 2010 with wilfully killing cattle and careless use of a firearm in connection with the death of a pregnant horse in April of 2009.

The story made the front pages of newspapers across Canada and even CNN. It led to Nixon and his co-accused receiving hate messages from across North America — including death threats against Nixon’s four-year-old twins — losing his job, his home and costing him $100,000 in legal bills that every member of his family and some friends have pitched in to help pay.

“And that’s just the superficial stuff,” explains Nixon.

New evidence brought forward by four hunters has exonerated Nixon, his son, Markus, Anderson and Cape — two former homeless men who had sobered up and worked at the lodge for some time.

One of those hunters is Justin Goodrich, 21, who along with his friends Peter, Adam and Noel came upon a dead horse lying in the middle of the road about one kilometre outside of Mountain Aire Lodge.

“It was the opening weekend of bear hunting season, almost two years ago exactly,” recalls Goodrich, an industrial firefighter who was reached at his work site north of Little Smoky, 330 kilometres northwest of Edmonton.

“We were driving down the hill and we saw the horse was at the bottom of the cliff. It was really fresh. It was still warm and no rigor mortis had set in,” recalls Goodrich.

The avid outdoorsmen checked to make sure there were no bullet wounds in the horse, since there have been numerous shootings of wild horses in the area for 15 years, something The Wild Horses of Alberta Society (WHOAS) put out a $25,000 reward for, seeking information leading to a conviction in the case.

“The horse was pregnant,” said Goodrich who took a photo of the dead mare. “We think that maybe she tried to give birth, lost her footing and once you go down that cliff, there’s no going back, it’s a sheer fall.

“My buddy Adam is training to be a wildlife biologist and he decided to cut it open to try to save the baby, but it was too late or the fall killed the baby,” explains Goodrich.

The men then tried to move the horse off the road, but she was too heavy, so they inched her as close to the cliff wall as they could and drove off.

Goodrich isn’t sure of the time, but he thinks it was about 7:30 or 8 p.m. and that it would be getting dark soon.

Maybe half an hour to an hour later, Nixon, his then 12-year-old son, Markus, Anderson, Cape and David Goertz, a longtime drug addict and resident of the rehab program, were driving down the road. When they came around the corner they had to stop rather suddenly to avoid hitting the horse.

Goertz, who had relapsed back into drug use and was no longer living at the Lodge, later went to the RCMP saying that he witnessed Nixon shooting the horse, a story that is now viewed clearly as a fabrication, motivated by the $25,000 reward money.

“It was a really gruesome scene,” recalls Nixon, a gentle giant of a man who stands 6’8” with size 18 feet. “The insides of the horse were outside of its belly as well as a baby foal. It looked like the horse had blown up.

“We couldn’t understand what happened. We thought maybe because she was pregnant that she had burst when she fell off the cliff.”

Everyone in the vehicle recognized it would be too dangerous to leave the horse there, since there are no lights on the road and a driver might swerve to avoid the horse at the last second and drop off the far side of the narrow gravel road, which is a sheer vertical drop of about 30 metres.

“I sent two guys further up the hill to warn drivers to be careful.”

Nixon, Anderson and Markus, who was crying at the sight of the bloody scene, went back to the lodge to drop off the upset boy and get a Bobcat to push the horse down the cliff.

“Even knowing what I know now, how devastating this has been to my life and family, I would still have moved that horse,” explains Nixon, “because I never would have been able to live with myself if a truck full of kids died that night.”

Standing on the road Tuesday it’s clear that Nixon made the right choice. The road is narrow, unlit and the fall off the side is almost a completely vertical plunge.

About nine months after he moved the horse, Nixon was at his home on Mountain Aire property when he got a call from Anderson telling him he had just been arrested for “killing a cow.”

Nixon opened his front door and his home was surrounded by 10 RCMP officers from three different detachments, some with their guns drawn and some of whom he once considered close friends.

“One woman officer was swearing at me, telling me to ‘get down you big F-ing retard.’

“I was born with arrhythmia and I was very afraid they would Taser me, so I laid down on the ground.”

Nixon was handcuffed in front of his frightened children, then just two-years-old, driven the 40 minutes to the Sundre RCMP station and charged with unlawfully killing cattle.

One officer he knew quite well, whispered in his ear nodding toward RCMP officers from Didsbury and Edmonton and said, “‘if I were you I’d get a lawyer and not say a thing to these assholes.” Nixon heeded his advice.

Ironically, just weeks prior to his arrest, Nixon received a letter of commendation from the RCMP for the countless times Nixon and Mountain Aire Lodge (MAL) staff helped the RCMP and the community with search and rescue, first aid and dead animal removal.

“Since taking over MAL, The Mustard Seed has worked to revitalize the business, clean the property up, add services and ultimately bring tourists and further stability into the area,” wrote Sgt. Percy Leipnitz with the Sundre RCMP.

“MAL staff and clients have assisted in many important operations in our region over the past few years, and have contributed to making this district a better, safer one for those who live, work and visit the Forestry Reserve …” states the letter.

Nixon says not only did he lose his job running the program, but so did Anderson and Cape, new Christians who had remained sober for a long while and were doing so well.

Willie deWit, Nixon’s lawyer said wrongful conviction inquiries have repeatedly shown how police get tunnel vision when they want to get a conviction at all cost.

“They start eliminating anything that goes against guilt and just take into consideration things that go toward guilt. We see that all the time and they don’t seem to be learning that lesson,” said deWit.

“You’d think, especially if you’ve got a person like Jason Nixon — a top-notch citizen — and then the guy against him is a crackhead that’s come forward to collect a reward, I mean, geez, right then you’d think the police would say, ‘hey, wait a minute,’” said deWit.

RCMP spokesperson, Sgt. Patrick Webb said Wednesday that the RCMP is investigating Goertz to “determine whether there was a deliberate attempt to accuse someone of something that never happened.”

Going into debt, having his reputation destroyed, having the ministry he built shut down, shattering Markus’ trust of police, losing his home and his job are not all the Nixon’s have lost.

“It’s deeper,” says Nixon. “Emotionally, I was a very trusting person prior to this, now I have troubles trusting outside of my family group. I used to view police very favourably, now I fear them.

“I feel humiliated. There were months where I didn’t feel I could walk around in town. Markus was teased in school.

“No matter what I do for the rest of my life, when people Google my name, its going to follow me the rest of my life. Once you’ve rung that bell you can’t unring it.”

But through it all, Nixon forgives Goertz and the others who have treated him so badly. On Good Friday he reflected on how his Lord, Jesus Christ was betrayed, wrongly accused, and crucified for the sins of others.

“I feel very betrayed and hurt by David (Goertz),” says Nixon. “I really showed him a lot of love, but that’s what addiction does. It’s so destructive,” he adds as he rubs the nose of his horse, Tank, on his rented acreage near Sundre.

“Through this all, I’ve really learned who my real friends are and just what a total, total blessing my family is and how important my faith is. Jesus never left my side. I know He has a plan for my life I just hope it doesn’t include this much pain. But we did the right thing that night. We may have saved some lives. That’s a comfort.”

Licia Corbella is a columnist and editorial page editor.

reprinted from Calgary Herald | Global News story

Charges dropped against three men in Alberta wild horse case

Charges dropped against three men in Alberta wild horse case

TWO HORSES © Iperl | Dreamstime.com

CALGARY — Three men accused of wrongfully shooting a pregnant wild horse near Sundre, Alta., two years ago felt vindicated Wednesday when the Crown dropped the charges in Calgary provincial court.

New evidence showed the mare never was shot, but likely died giving birth or in an accident, and was found dead on the side of the road — about 130 kilometres north of Calgary — by the three men: Jason Nixon, Gary Cape and Earl Anderson.

“I’m glad it’s over for me and my family. It’s all bittersweet, though. It’s not like it’s a great victory,” Nixon said outside court following the decision before Judge Harry Van Harten. “It’s the end of an extremely trying time.”

Nixon said the evidence the defence provided recently to the Crown prompted the RCMP to reinvestigate.

As a result of that, he said, they didn’t think charges were warranted anymore.

“What the evidence said was we never shot a horse, ever,” emphasized Nixon. “What happens was there was a horse . . . that had died on the road. It was a very dangerous spot. I was concerned it was shot and I had some of my staff move it into the ditch.”

Nixon said that nine months later, police surrounded his home and put him in jail. A youth also faces a similar charge, but it is expected the same thing will happen there.

Crown prosecutor Gord Haight would not elaborate on any of the evidence that prompted him to stay the charges.

He would only say: “There was not a reasonable likelihood of conviction.”

The three men had been scheduled for trial earlier this month, but it was adjourned when the defence revealed the new evidence.

“What happened was they came across a horse that either died in childbirth or had fallen off a hill there,” said Willie deWit, Nixon’s lawyer.

“When they came upon it, they looked to see if there was any evidence it had been shot. There was none, no bullet holes. So they ended up pushing it off the road, as it was a hazard. One of the people with them went to the police and said it had been shot. When in reality, it was never shot at all.”

He added it was several months before the horse was found and it was hard to make any determination what happened.

originally published by The Calgary Herald | reprinted from Global News

Ben – needlessly killed in an illegal snare trap

Ben – needlessly killed in an illegal snare trap

TRIAL: May 6, 2010 | Alberta Provincial Court in Cochrane | $300 fine for killing Ben

“My husband and I were the proud caretakers of Ben. I won’t say “dog,” because he was much more to us than that. This is my husband’s favourite picture of Ben, as it shows him in the snow that he loved.”

That’s how one of the letters we received started.

“Let’s take the dogs up to Powderface before the season closes.”

A simple gesture that occurred many times over the years because the dogs loved it… a change of scenery, new sights, new smells. Just something Ed and Lorna did for their four-legged “kids.”

But their last trip in late November, 2010 was painfully different.

They loaded Ben and Sarah into the truck and drove out to Powerface. Even though Ed, for health reasons, could not make the walk, he still went with them and waited in the truck. Once there, Lorna headed off with the two dogs.

Ben, killed in an illegal snare trap November, 2011

Shortly into their walk Ben scampered off while Lorna broke the snowballs from between the pads on Sarah’s feet. Lorna called him, but he did not come. Much unlike the big guy. So she whistled and called some more. Nothing. She walked further down the valley. There was no sign of him, no barking, no movement… nothing. Without a sound, he had just vanished.

Darkness was starting to fall, so Lorna and Ed decided they would have to come back the next day for Ben.

Returning the next day after hanging signs and talking to people about Ben, Lorna followed Ben’s tracks into the woods. She did not get very far before she found him. Dead.

Strangled in a snare trap.


“Ben was only about 30 feet from me in the bush, and I never heard a thing. The conservation officer said [the snare] would have instantly closed off his breathing, so he never had the opportunity to call out.”

Accidents happen and a dog is surely no match for a snare… but this wasn’t an accident. Ben’s death was the result of a decision trapper John McWilliams made to set his snare traps before the legal date to do so in an area where snare traps are not permitted. In other words, that trap should never have even been there. And Ben should not have died. Period.

Ben’s death was a result of a reckless decision. Not an accident.

At the first trial in February, McWilliams asked that the trial be remanded. In March, neither McWilliams nor his attorney appeared. The next trial is scheduled for May 6 in Cochrane.

The charge as I understand it is hunting out-of-season which could cause McWilliams to lose his hunting license. But he was trapping, not hunting. Why would he not lose his trapping license for acting with such negligence? He set a snare trap in a recreational area that was still open to the public; an area where snare traps are not even permitted.

Ed and Lorna will be back in court in Cochrane on May 6 as this case again comes to trial. Members of the DAISY Foundation will be there in support because Ben’s death should not just quietly go away. McWilliams needs to be held responsible for his alleged actions to the fullest extent possible. By his actions, he took Ben away from Lorna and Ed. By not following trapping regulations, he put other animals, pets and people at risk.

The maximum penalty is a fine of $100,000 and/or a 2 year jail sentence.

TRIAL: May 6, 2010 | Alberta Provincial Court in Cochrane | $300 fine for killing Ben

Read Lorna’s account | No justice for Ben | Calgary Sun story | Global Edmonton story

The Story of Ben

The Story of Ben

TRIAL: May 6, 2010 | 9:30 AM | Alberta Provincial Court in Cochrane | We’ll be there!

Here’s the email we received last week about Ben — Lorna and Ed’s Malamute tragically killed in an out-of-season snare.

We have been going up on the Powderface Trail to Canyon Creek for over four years to run our dogs. Until last year we had two big Alaskan Malamutes, Ben and Keesha and one SPCA special Sarah. Sarah is part cocker spaniel and part border collie, so she has long soft fur.

On November 29th, 2010 my husband and I decided to take Ben and Sarah up for the last run of the year as the Powderface Trail is closed on December 1st for the winter. We left home before noon, putting their coats on; as it is hunting season and we didn’t want Ben to be mistaken for a wolf. Ben has always been very obedient, and they come when called or to a small whistle that I have. He just loves to be able to run free, in and out of the trees. Ed has asthma and so waited in the truck while I walked with the dogs down the valley to the east of the trail.The snow was quite deep that day, and little Sarah was having problems in the snow. Ben had run about 15 yards ahead of me, but I wasn’t worried. I bent down to break the snowballs out of Sarah’s feet, and when I looked up Ben was gone. He just vanished without a sound. I called and called, and walked down the valley a bit more, but still no sign of him. As it was getting dark, we decided to go home and come back the next morning. Ben is an outside dog.

When we got home, I talked to my daughter, and she made up some “Lost” posters and I printed out a bunch to take back up to the area and post on any signboards we came to. We were up at 5:00 A.M. and started to put up our posters everywhere we could. We also talked to a lot of people including some hunters with the idea that the more people that were looking for Ben, the better it would be.

It was about noon by the time we got back to Canyon Creek, and I looked for Ben’s tracks to see which direction he had taken. It wasn’t far from where I last saw him that I found his lifeless body in the trees with a wire snare around his neck. I couldn’t get it off, so had to call Ed to help. Ed couldn’t get it off either, and ended up cutting the cable to get him free. In the same area was another trap, a big wooden box with a large Conabear trap in it and a huge chunk of raw meat. The trap was set about one foot off of the ground, and if a dog or a child had reached in, they would have been caught. The jaws of the Conabear are about 12 inches square, and have two strong springs. Trappers use a rope or clip to set them, as they can be caught in them themselves.

With great difficulty, Ed and I loaded Ben’s 120 pound body into the back of our truck. We headed back to the Ranger Station on the Elbow side and met up with a Conservation Officer, Bill O’Conner. He tried to get the snare wire off of Ben’s neck, but it took him ¾ of an hour trying various tools before he was able to free Ben.

Bill asked us to take him back to where Ben had been caught. He walked in and said it was 300 meters off of the trail. He also asked us if we had taken a quad in there, as there were fresh tracks in the area. We said no, and he left to go back to the Elbow side; and we went north towards the Transcanada Highway.

We continued about a mile or so, and came upon a truck with a quad in the back with fresh snow in the cleats. As we sat there, a man came out of the trees carrying some tools. We asked him if he had been the one who went down the Canyon Creek Valley. He was definitely on the defensive and said yes he was. So Ed told him that he had killed our dog. He went and looked in the back of the truck and said,”oh, sorry”, but I had the feeling he didn’t mean it. We asked his name and I took his license number. His name is John McWilliams. He was very arrogant to us, and so we just left.

When we got back to Calgary, we went over to our vets. and we left Ben’s body there to be cremated. The total bill was $275.00.

Bill O’Conner told us to call the R.C.M.P. in Cochrane, but to wait a few days as they were busy. Ed and I were absolutely devastated by this time. We felt that this was a wrong thing to be happening in a populated recreational area. I can’t remember why, but for some reason we were up on Barlow Trail N.E. and happened to see the Global signs. We went in and talked to a lady there, and she said she would talk to her boss.

They gave us a call, and we went out to the Elbow Falls area on Sunday December 5th and did an interview with the crew from Global news. We just wanted to get the word out, so that no one else would have to go through the heartache that we were experiencing.

Ben wasn’t just a dog. He was a member of our family. He slept outside most nights, but always came in to socialize and have his breakfast. He spent as long as he could stand in the house, as he had such a heavy coat. Ed kept looking out the kitchen window for Ben, as he was so cheeky, and would bark at us through the window.

The Calgary Sun phoned us, and wanted to do an article. A photographer came up to the house and took pictures. They were on the front page of the Sun on December 6th. Also a follow-up article on Dec. 7th.

Our son, Ted, picked up Ben from the City Pound. His boss’ daughter worked there, and Ben had been in the pound 3 weeks, and he hadn’t been adopted. Ted was so happy, and spent a lot of time with Ben, training him and taking him out in the mountains. We had another Malamute at the time, Keesha, and the three dogs ran alongside the truck or the quad. Ben gradually developed a special personality. He became very affectionate and was no trouble if you don’t count the holes in my front lawn!

After the story appeared in the Calgary Sun and on Global T.V. we had lots of people come up to us expressing their sympathy. We were in contact with the Cochrane fish & Wildlife officer named Rob Dipalo. He told us that Mr. McWilliams was charged with hunting out of season. We do not approve of that, as if convicted he would lose his hunting license. We felt he should be charged with what he did wrong, trapping out of season, and he should lose his trapping license. According to Mr. Dipalo Mr. McWilliams has a trapping license, and was allowed to trap after October 1st, but he could not put out snares until after December 1st. If he had obeyed the rules, we would not have lost our pet. Also we do not think it is right that they are allowing trapping in an area where people take their children and pets.

John McWilliams goes on trial for the killing of Ben on May 6 in Cochrane.

TRIAL: May 6, 2010 | 9:30 AM | Alberta Provincial Court in Cochrane | We’ll be there!

Blog post | Calgary Sun story | Global Edmonton

Calgary vigil held for sled dogs slain in Whistler

Calgary vigil held for sled dogs slain in Whistler

View Calgary vigil photos

Calgary animal rights supporters petitioning for tougher cruelty laws

By Stephane Massinon, Calgary Herald

A hundred animal rights supporters held a vigil for the 100 sled dogs that were killed in Whistler one year ago.

Standing at Tompkin’s Place on 17 Avenue and 8 Street S.W. on Saturday night, they held signs and circulated petitions for tougher animal cruelty laws in Canada on the anniversary of a slaughter that garnered international attention.

The killings between April 21 and 23 were brought into the public’s attention when a sled dog company’s general manager applied for compensation for post-traumatic stress after the gruesome deaths of the dogs.

Holding a sign with a photograph of a husky that read “Why did we have to die?” Lauren Rigoni said she was moved to act.

“Animals can’t be treated like disposable objects; they have lives,” said the 12-year-old who painted whiskers on her face.

Event organizer Heather Anderson, founder of the DAISY Foundation, said the vigil was meant to help remember the animals that lost their lives.

“We’re out here just to stand up for these huskies that were murdered and to make sure that a mass murder like this will never happen in Canadian history again,” said Anderson.

She criticized the major political parties for largely ignoring the issue during the federal election. Anderson said she did, however, approve of the British Columbia task force into the sled dog deaths.

The BC provincial government has promised to adopt stricter animal cruelty laws by the fall and to adopt the ten recommendations of the Sled Dog Task Force.

Kevin Sparham, a Calgary resident and recreational sledder, brought two Siberian huskies to the vigil.

He said last year’s killing “brought a tear to the eye.”

He hopes the controversy around the killing brings attention to the issue.

“It needed to be brought up. Some kennels are good, some kennels aren’t,” said Sparham.

Read more

reprinted from Calgary Herald | Other stories

New Democrats weigh in on animal welfare

New Democrats weigh in on animal welfare

DAISY Foundation received the following message as a comment on the post about the Sled Dog vigil, but because Election Day is May 2, I want to also add it as a post so everyone is aware of the New Democrats’ stance with regards to animal welfare in Canada. Thank you Lesley for sharing this with us!


Hello Lesley,

New Democrats recognize that animal welfare is very important. We support strengthening provisions of the Cruelty to Animals Section of the Criminal Code of Canada to discourage violence and cruelty against animals and to punish those responsible for such acts.
We continue to support meaningful legislation to provide real protection for animals. The abuse of any vulnerable creature, human or otherwise, is something that we should all take extremely seriously.

Specifically, the NDP are on record in support of amending the Criminal Code to:
•    move animals out of property law and extend protections to wild animals and strays,
•    make it illegal to train animals for fighting or profit from animal fighting;
•    close loopholes that allow 99 per cent of those charged with animal cruelty to escape conviction.

We fought tirelessly in the past to get these important amendments through the House of Commons. We agree that the legislation Bill S-203, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals), is deeply flawed and that is why we joined the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS), International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) in opposing this Bill.

New Democrats also support the Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare and will work with the Provinces, Territories, government departments and agencies and stakeholders to update Canada’s laws and policies on animal cruelty and welfare to reflect the principles of UDAW. Furthermore, we will … ensure Canada plays a leadership role internationally to promote animal welfare.

With regard to animal transportation, the NDP’s Agriculture critic, Alex Atamanenko, MP, has been working to promote policies that protect animals from the various stresses they may endure during the excessively long transport times allowed under the current regulatory regime. He has been corresponding with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and meeting with officials since 2006 to urge them to move more quickly to modernize the current regulations around animal transportation. Although the CFIA has been studying this issue for several years, changes in regulations are still outstanding.

In 2008, Mr. Atamanenko had his motion passed at the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food (SCAAF) calling for CFIA officials to be brought before the Committee to present a briefing on the status of their regulatory review process. According to their presentation they were still working with the Justice Department and preparing the regulatory amendments for publication in the Canada Gazette to be followed by a public consultation process. In response to Mr. Atamanenko’s November, 2009 follow up letter, the CFIA indicated there was still no movement on this file.

Mr. Atamanenko also re-introduced his previous motion in the House of Commons. It states as follows:
M-436 – September 15, 2009 – Mr. Atamanenko (British Columbia Southern Interior) – That, in the opinion of the House, the government should immediately move to publish the revised regulations governing animal transportation under the Health of Animals Act.

Again, thank you for writing to me about such an important issue.


You can read more about their stance on the Vote for Animals website. Or download Case for a Universal Declaration On Animal Welfare.

Remember: Get out and vote. Reading a blog or carrying signs for the news cameras won’t change the world for our animals. Voting can.

Will you vigil for the sled dogs on April 23rd?

Will you vigil for the sled dogs on April 23rd?

About this time a year ago, someone was sitting in the office of their business and looking over the financials. The expected boom from the recent Olympics had not worked out as expected, so changes had to be made. The easiest and quickest change would be to reduce the number of dogs this sled dog touring company had in its inventory. So he decided: 100 sled dogs needed to be killed.

And word was sent to the man who lives among them — the sled dogs’ very lifeline. It would be the job of their caretaker — the man who fed them, attended to them; the man who named them, and even kept one of them as his family dog — to kill them.

Reports that I have read say that he tried to find homes for as many as he could. And he was largely unsuccessful. The BC SPCA reportedly turned him down saying that sled dogs are unadoptable. This is not true.

But what I read that has stuck with me the most was the report released from Work Safe BC:

“As a result of the panic, mid-way through April 21st, he wounded but did not kill one dog, “Suzie”. Suzie was the mother of his family’s pet dog “Bumble”. He had to chase Suzie through the yard because the horrific noise she made when wounded caused him to drop the leash. Although she had the left side of her cheek blown off and her eye hanging out, he was unable to catch her. He then obtained a gun with a scope and used it to shoot her when she settled down close to another group of dogs. When he went to gather her body he was attacked by one of the other dogs and bitten in the arm. Although because he had a thick shirt on he was not injured, the moment was horrific given his fear when attacked combined with his feelings about the culling of the dogs.”

“On April 21 ,2010, he put down approximately 55 dogs. As he neared the end of the cull that day, the dogs were so panicked they were biting him; he had to wrap his arms in foam to prevent injury. He also had to perform what he described as “execution style” killings where he wrestled the dogs to the ground and stood on them with one foot to shoot them. The last few kills were “multiple-shot killings” as he was simply unable to get a clean shot. He described a guttural sound he had never heard before from the dogs and fear in their eyes.”

I do not doubt that this man has PTSD. I would be forever haunted. I want to scream at the computer that he could have done more and should have done more. But I have not walked in his shoes to fully understand the path he chose.

Instead I feel that on some level, in some parallel universe, or sadly in THIS universe, we ALL failed these dogs. We failed to realize the nature of this industry to periodically cull their dogs for business’ sake. We have failed to pull together as a society to be open and responding to their needs, we failed to help these babies.

Kyber, a Whistler sled dog

Most rescues and shelters are full… and likely responded as such if/when they were approached by Outdoor Adventures Whistler. Would/could they have responded differently if they had realized the very real urgency here?

As we finally start to really embrace a more humane lifestyle for our animals — pets, farm animals and wildlife, we must make ourselves available to the situations we encounter and respond appropriately. Both the situations that we know of and those that will arise. We need to improve our animal welfare legislation. We need to stop animals from being categorized as mere property and respect their sentience. We need to create a more effective countrywide network of rescues and shelters so that people in trouble can more easily tap into this community of caregivers when they need help. We need to do it for the animals.


On April 23, 2010, the last of the sled dogs were killed. And not in a pretty or humane way. They died terrified.

On April 23, 2011 in many communities across the globe, people will be marching or gathering in vigil to the victims who were given no say about their very own lives, the ONE thing that truly is our own. It’s not too late to organize your own sled dog vigil — whether it is a march, a gathering in a park or even inviting your friends to join you in your backyard. In remembrance of these dogs, we MUST enact better legislation for the welfare of our animals. And we must enact stiffer penalties for animal abuse/cruelty.

And remember: Get out and vote. Reading a blog or carrying signs for the news cameras won’t change the world. Voting can.

More photos of Outdoor Adventure Whistler sled dogs | Thanks to Amie Wills for posting their photos

List of cities holding vigils

Will you Vote for the Animals on May 2nd?

Will you Vote for the Animals on May 2nd?

(click image above for a smile…)

On May 2nd, Canadians will elect a new government. Animals can’t speak or vote so we must be their voice. Help us send the message that animals matter!

Visit the WSPA’s (World Society for the Protection of Animals) Vote for Animals site to:

Get more involved!

Here are a few things you can do to get more involved in campaigning to protect animals in your riding and across Canada.

  • Attend the all-candidates debate in your riding. Contact your local candidates for more information about when and where the debates will be held in your riding. Consider asking an animal welfare related question at the debate.
  • Collect signatures on WSPA’s petition for stronger animal cruelty laws. During the next session of Parliament, WSPA will see that these signatures are presented to the House of Commons. A similar petition effort in 2008 and 2009 resulted in a Parliamentary motion in support of a Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare.
  • Follow Vote for Animals on Twitter and Facebook.

Now is the time to make change happen.

So much has come to light in the past year from the “No Country for Animals” documentary to the awful slaughter of 100 healthy sled dogs in Whistler and so many other cases inbetween.

Now is the time for us to unite our voices and do right for our animals.

Now is the time to speak for them.

Get out and vote. Reading a blog or carrying signs for the news cameras won’t change the world. Voting can.

More on the elections

Red Deer joins the sled dog vigil with a memorial walk

Red Deer joins the sled dog vigil with a memorial walk

Sled dog memorial walk in Red DeerWe just received word that folks in Red Deer, Alberta will be holding a memorial walk on April 23, 2011 for the sled dogs killed in Whistler. This event is being put on by Candice and 2 friends.

Here’s what she said. “In February, we held a walk and got great support, however it was also -33. So, on April 23rd we are holding the walk again: 2 pm-3:30.”

“We are starting at Bower Ponds, then walking up and around City Hall, to get the most exposure as possible. Either our facebook page or is what we will be using for contact information.”

From their Facebook page:

In response to the out pour of support from the community and dog lovers alike. A follow up memorial walk is being planned for the anniversary date of the slaughtering of 100 healthy sled dogs in Whistler, B.C. We welcome everyone, their families, and their pets to join us in April (hopefully much warmer then the walk in February :). To honor these animals, and other animals that have been abused, beat, or tortured. Bring your signs, and sign the petition in support of Bill-C 229. I encourage everyone to check out http://markholland.liberal.ca/cruelty-to-animals/ . Especially S-203 vs. C-229, as it clearly illustrates the current loopholes in Canada animal cruelty legislation. And http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dnKmECGxnSs. As mentioned this is very much still in the planning stage and we encourage those who are interested in helping plan, or have ideas or suggestions to contact

So glad to add them to the event calendar… and we are so happy to hear from Red Deer!