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Meet Puffy: homeless & FIV+

Meet Puffy: homeless & FIV+

UPDATE: Puffy has found a new home! Thanks to the new family!

Puffy has been an Ottawa neighborhood cat for about a year now. Neighbors have been feeding him and keeping an eye out for him. However, he was an unneutered male, so, though handsome to the eye, a “baby-maker” nonetheless. And a bit of a rabble-rouser who got into fights with other cats in the neighborhood.

Recently, a concerned neighbor stepped up and befriended Puffy.

“…he let me pat him and cut some matts out of his fur. He had a huge tick on him, a big healing abcess and lots of smaller scabs and scratches.”

Puffy: FIV+ and homeless

After talking to his neighborhood “watch group,” it was decided that Puffy needed to be caught and neutered. Then he could possibly be released back into his neighborhood.

So this week, Puffy got a full checkup, de-worming, vaccinations, FeLV/FIV tests, and a neuter. All went well except for the FIV test. He has tested positive for the FIV virus.

If you are unfamiliar with FIV, feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) is a lentivirus (or “slow virus”) which is characterized by a long incubation period. An infected cat’s health may deteriorate progressively or be characterized by recurrent illness interspersed with periods of relative health. Sometimes not appearing for years after infection, signs of immunodeficiency can appear anywhere throughout the body — poor coat, gingivitis, stomatitis, various cancers and blood diseases; much like any other cat might experience. [source]

What does FIV do to a cat? Infected cats may appear normal for years. However, infection eventually leads to a state of immune deficiency that hinders the cat’s ability to protect itself against other infections. The same bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and fungi that may be found in the everyday environment — where they usually do not affect healthy animals — can cause severe illness in those with weakened immune systems. These secondary infections are responsible for many of the diseases associated with FIV. [source]

In other words, FIV won’t kill him, but rather a secondary infection could. Therefore, to lessen the possibility of acquiring a secondary infection and for keeping his immune system as strong as possible, it is best for Puffy to live indoors now.

So we are looking for a home that can take Puffy in. He currently lives in Ottawa. Taking him to the Ottawa Humane Society would likely be a death sentence (read some of the reasons an animal is destroyed in a shelter) and rescue groups called are full at this time.

Per Judy who took him to the vet:

The vet says he is young and seems to be in good health other than being a bit thin. He seems gentle and friendly. When he was at my house for a little while he was comforted when I rubbed his cheeks and ears.

I have a foster home for him only until Sunday, and then maybe another foster for a few days after that.

If you are interested in fostering or adopting Puffy, please email me (Enable Javascript to see the email address) and I will connect you with Judy.

If you want to learn more about FIV — what it means, how it is transmitted, what you might expect — the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University has created this great page to explain. It needn’t be a death sentence. Puffy can live a long and happy life. Even in a home with other cats.

And please… SHARE Puffy’s story by clicking on one of the icons below so we can find him a new home.

Why shelters kill animals in their care

Why shelters kill animals in their care

This list shows reasons why an animal may be killed in one of our kill shelters. In my opinion, it is simply a list of excuses for the purpose of either easing someone’s guilt about needlessly taking a life or granting them a pardon for their laziness in finding homes for the homeless in their care. I say this because my pets are wonderful individuals, but some would die in a shelter based on this list of “reasons” even based on interviewing them at home on their own turf. Now add the shelter environment which hardly seems like a warm and friendly place…

I can’t see why killing animals based on this list is necessary. Did anyone think to ask them if they wanted to die? I have seen animals more dead than alive choose to fight the fight for life… and win. But that’s a whole other post.

How do your pets stand up to this test?

  1. Aggressive towards humans
  2. Behavioural
  3. Blind
  4. Cat flu
  5. Compulsive, obsessive, stereotypic behaviour
  6. Congenital defects
  7. Contagious (quite vague)
  8. Critical distress
  9. Deaf
  10. Declared dangerous
  11. Dental disease
  12. Dominance aggression
  13. Dominant behaviour
  14. Ear mites
  15. Escape behaviour
  16. Excessive vocalization
  17. Failed BA (behaviour assessment)
  18. Fearful/aggressive
  19. Feline leukemia
  20. Feral
  21. FIV positive
  22. Guarding behaviour
  23. Hair loss-demodex
  24. Hair loss-non specific
  25. Hair loss-ring worm
  26. Head trauma
  27. Heartworm positive
  28. Humane grounds
  29. Hyper reactivity to stimuli
  30. Hyperactive
  31. Idiopathic aggression
  32. Injured
  33. Kennel cough
  34. Kennel crazy
  35. Lack of pigmentation (albino)
  36. Litter box aversion
  37. Neurological problems
  38. Old
  39. Orthopedic problems
  40. Owner request
  41. Parvo
  42. Parvo contact
  43. Poor condition
  44. Seizures
  45. Separation anxiety
  46. Sick
  47. Spraying stress
  48. Tick paralysis
  49. Timid/fearful with accompanying anxiety
  50. Too many cats (space)
  51. Too many dogs (space)
  52. Too young
  53. Trauma
  54. Unsocial
  55. Wolf hybrid
  56. And of course, in some areas, just because of BSL (Breed Specific Legislation: the dog “looks” kind of like a Pit Bull or other legislated breed)

I myself fail this test on many points. Please don’t take me to a shelter when I get even older than I am.

What price for a cat’s life?

What price for a cat’s life?


We implicitly trust those caring for our pets when they get sick. They are holding something quite precious in their hands. But what happens when that trust is betrayed?

What happens when the alleged negligence comes at the hands of a veterinary professional? Someone you think has the best intentions for the care of your sick or injured pet?

These are the questions that Renate faces daily since the death of her cat Sonny just a few weeks ago at a clinic in Mount Pearl, Newfoundland. Here is part of the letter she sent to the clinic a week later.

At approximately 8pm on April 27, 2011, I made an emergency call to your hospital – regarding Sonny.

We told the veterinarian that we noticed that Sonny was hunched up when he came out of his litter box and vomited once. We were told to bring him in to your clinic.

Upon our arrival we gave [the vet] the history on our cat. Sonny showed no other signs of discomfort. He had eaten and was drinking that day and was still quite playful. (Having owned a male neutered cat in the past, I knew full well what signs to look for in a cat that had a urinary blockage.) Sonny was on the highest quality food for urinary tract and hair ball. The doctor obtained a urinalysis and [saw] crystals and at that time he advised us that an x-ray was necessary.

When the x-ray was completed, he showed us the image and said there were small stones but no blockage and that was good. He said Sonny would have to go on special food and possibly antibiotics. He debated on giving Sonny an injection and [bringing] him back the following day but he then decided to keep him overnight and flush his bladder. Feeling quite confident in what he had said, we put our beautiful cat in his hands.

At 11 pm that night, I received a call that he had lost Sonny.

I could not comprehend what had happened. The following day I went to get Sonny and asked to speak to the vet about what happened. The events that took place next will live in my mind forever. One girl brought Sonny in to us, while another followed with a debit machine asking us how we were going to pay for this? Holding my baby in my arms with my heart broken, I could not believe the lack of compassion!

I asked to speak to the vet who flushed Sonny’s bladder. When he came in he told us this: He flushed Sonny’s bladder and all went well with that and the anesthetic. He told me that Sonny was waking up from the anesthesia and when he went to check on him – Sonny had “PUKED” and he was blue by the time he realized it. He then went on to say that he worked on him for ½ hour but lost him anyway.

Sonny was left unattended as he was coming out from the anesthesia. Perhaps because of the food in his stomach, which the vet was aware of, Sonny vomited. Because he was laying down flat and likely barely conscious, he had no way to clear his mouth. With no one there to notice and no one to help him, Sonny asphyxiated on his own vomit. He suffocated to death.

To this was the added insult of the way the staff at the clinic seemed more concerned about payment. While Renate is sitting there holding her lifeless baby and trying to get her head around this whole event, she is being insensitively asked how she wants to pay for the “care” Sonny received.

In her search for answers about the work done for Sonny, Renate received this response from a vet professional:

If Sonny did not have a urethral obstruction, that is, if he was not blocked and could still urinate on his own, then there was no reason to rush the aesthetic procedure. This is especially true since your vet knew that Sonny had not been fasted, thereby increasing the risks of vomiting and aspiration of the vomitus into the lungs…

If Sonny’s life was not in immediate danger, then there is no reason at all why he should have been anesthetized that night. Your vet should have fasted him for 12 hours and performed the procedure the following day. In addition, if Sonny did not have a urethral obstruction and did not have bladder stones, anesthesia and flushing of the bladder is not even necessarily required.

It is far below the standard of care to allow an animal to wake up from anesthesia without someone there to monitor him. I feel this is another area in which your vet failed Sonny.

Just this week, Renate was finally contacted by the clinic’s owner.

She said that she was deeply sorry about what had happened to Sonny and offered us a full reimbursement.

Yes, I guess that is a start. But the hard part is Sonny’s loss, especially when it shouldn’t have happened.

The big questions that still loom are those already mentioned:

  • Knowing that Sonny had eaten just a few hours prior, why was a procedure that required anesthesia performed at that time? Sonny was not in danger.
  • Why was the bladder flush even recommended if Sonny’s condition did not necessarily warrant it?
  • Why was NO ONE supervising Sonny as he came out of anesthesia?
  • Was it really appropriate for staff to approach a client in the exam room, hand her Sonny and ask for payment? That seems so insensitive at that time.

Debbie, the clinic owner, has offered full reimbursement of Renate’s expenses and I think that short of performing some kind of miracle that would bring Sonny back, this is the least they can do when an unnecessary procedure is performed on an animal. Especially when that procedure results in this baby losing his life.

The vet that performed the procedure is on vacation. I certainly hope Debbie will take appropriate action with this vet to assure the public that this kind of veterinary care is never repeated; that unnecessary procedures are neither recommended nor performed because the pet’s owner ultimately pays the price.

Sonny should still be running around the house playing with his best pals — a rabbit named “Thumpy” and a budgie named “Fenster.”

Sonny and his pals Thumpy and Fenster

So where do we go from here? We’ll talk about that in another post.This post is about Sonny.

For now, Renate has created a wonderful video honoring Sonny. I encourage everyone to watch it (grab your tissues) and leave her a message on the Daisy Foundation Facebook page. I’m sure she would appreciate the hugs.

Skinned dog found outside Granum

Skinned dog found outside Granum

DOG © Andrii Iurlov | Dreamstime.com

We received the following email over the weekend. It tells a terrible story that we wish was not true. If you have any information about this dog or other similar animals from the area, please call the RCMP in Claresholm at 403-625-4445 immediately.

I was just with the RCMP from Claresholm on the phone.

My daughter found a dead dog outside of the town of Granum and sent me a picture. It looked like it was very fresh, the skin was missing like somebody had skinned it, very clean cut from neck to buttox. His meat was still red colored, no damage to the body other than the missing skin. Fresh probably from today as coyotes would have found him if he would have been there longer.

The police [were] not able to help me and said the killings in Mirror probably have nothing to do with this dead dog but if another dog shows up dead, they will open an investigation… The dog’s body was found just outside of Stavely East. Black in color, young one if you ask me. Again no injuries to the dog. The picture looked like he had been placed there after being skinned.

My first reaction is that nothing will happen until ANOTHER dog is found in a similar situation? Why is that? Is this crime not heinous enough or concerning enough to warrant an investigation?

When Heather Anderson spoke with RCMP last year about the dog killings in Mirror, the investigating officer asked, So you are telling me that we have a serial dog killer in Mirror? Well, I think the facts from a couple weeks ago bear out the answer quite loudly. YES! You have a serial dog killer in Mirror.

And let’s not forget that research does show a link between this kind of abuse and abuse to humans.

EVERY one of these cases should be investigated BEFORE something worse happens.

If this had been a child or an elderly person found skinned and left by the side of the road, would we have waited for another victim to be found before we started an investigation? If it had been the dog of the mayor or the chief of police or someone else prominent, would we be waiting for the next one?

This seems like a case of JADed justice – i.e., JUST A DOG justice. The value of their life is really no less precious than our own. Life is the only thing that really is ours and it should be respected.

No justice for Ben today

No justice for Ben today

Ben out in the park for the day

Ted was Lorna and Ed’s son. Ben was Ted’s dog.

Ted adopted him from the pound after hearing about this big gentle guy from his boss. Ben had been at the pound for three weeks.

They were buddies. Ted trained Ben. They played together. And together, they climbed the nearby mountains in their spare time. They were best friends.

Ben and Ted

Until Ted passed away the year before Ben, succumbing to cancer.

So Ben became kind of a connection to Ted for Ted’s folks. They did not hesitate to give Ben all the love that Ben gave to Ted. After all, they were family.

Losing Ben — especially so needlessly, so senselessly and by such negligence as an illegal snare trap — makes the hole they already had in their hearts even larger.

I guess the best you can say of the situation right now is that somewhere out there, Ted and Ben are back together and hopefully doing all the things they so loved to do together.

But here on earth, this carelessness needs to be more accurately addressed. John McWilliams purposely and negligently set an illegal snare trap in a publicly accessible park that should not have been where it was. And by these actions, he killed Ben. Thirty feet from Lorna, Ben was strangled in such a way that he could not even cry out for help.

At trial today in Cochrane, a slap on the wrist was handed down by the judge in this case. The stakes were a maximum fine of $100,000 and/or two years in jail plus the loss of his hunting license. But the judge fined John McWilliams $300.

Ben - 2009

That illegal snare could have killed a child. An adult. WHAT would the penalty have been then? That snare should never have been where it was. It was set weeks before hunting season went into effect by McWilliams’ own admission. Snares are not even legal in that particular recreational area per regulations. This snare could have killed Lorna as she walked Ben.

And for such gross negligence, John McWilliams pays $300 and returns to trapping as he does?


If this does not anger you into working for stricter penalties, I do not know what will. Ben should be alive making big holes in Lorna and Ed’s front yard. He should be there for Sarah, his dog mate. He should have never been strangled in an illegal snare in a public recreational park.

My deepest sympathies to Lorna and Ed that justice was not adequately served today.

I am tearfully speechless at this seeming injustice. I am so disappointed that such dangerously reckless negligence results in only a $300 fine. We MUST push for stronger punishments for our animals.

Ben – needlessly killed | The Story of Ben | Calgary Sun story | Global Edmonton story


Canada’s animal welfare after the 2011 elections

Canada’s animal welfare after the 2011 elections

The election provided some disappointingly expected results — keeping Harper, but it also gave us some surprises as the New Democratic Party emerged as the official opposition party. This will be good news for animal welfare as the stance the NDP has made public for animal welfare is very much in line with what animal advocates have been asking for.

So with that hurtle behind us, we must hold them to their word. It’s not so much that we can relax from our protests, vigils and petitions, but hopefully we now have voices in Parliment that are hearing us.

I am optimistic about these changes at this point. I hope you are, too, and will resolve yourself to continuing our push for better animal welfare legislation. Let’s hold the NDP to their pre-election stance.

Click to read the NDP's stance on animal welfare in Canada


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.


To quote a comment from Open-Eyes on one CBC newspage:

We must remember the parties do not own the voters, it is the other way around.

Change is slow, but I think we are on the path to seeing a new Canada. We have this opportunity now to create better legislation for our animals — companion, wild and farm animals. It is what we have been asking for for years, so let’s not waste it.

With thoughts of the slaughtered sled dogs, healthy pets killed in our shelters, abused farm animals, pathetic puppy mills, affordable spay/neuter options, stricter legislation for animal cruelty and so much more, I urge everyone to get behind some aspect of animal welfare and apply yourself to it.

Finally, change for our animals is at our fingertips. We CAN make it happen!

Stories about Canada’s election results

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.

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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.

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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