CHRONICLE HERALD: NSLDN Among Those Honoured: “PET CONNECTION: Time to honour 2013 Game Changers”

THANK YOU Pat Lee and the Chronicle Herald for including us, Nova Scotia Lost Dog Network, in 2013’s Game Changers Honour Roll.

We are proud to be part of this list which includes some of Nova Scotia’s most compassionate and hard working volunteers.  And we also agree there are many others deserving of this honour and we tip our hat to all the folks that work to help animals. You all should be very proud. We also know we couldn’t do this without our nearly 14,000 followers. Thank you! 

Medric Cousineau and his service dog Thai attend Remembrance Day ceremonies in Halifax’s Grand Parade. Cousineau, a retired member of the Canadian Armed Forces, and his yellow Lab walked from their home in Eastern Passage to Ottawa this year to raise awareness about the lasting impact of post-traumatic stress. (CHRISTIAN LAFORCE / Staff)

Medric Cousineau and his service dog Thai attend Remembrance Day ceremonies in Halifax’s Grand Parade. Cousineau, a retired member of the Canadian Armed Forces, and his yellow Lab walked from their home in Eastern Passage to Ottawa this year to raise awareness about the lasting impact of post-traumatic stress. (CHRISTIAN LAFORCE / Staff)


PET CONNECTION: Time to honour 2013 Game Changers


I think we can chalk 2013 up as an interesting year in the world of animal welfare.

It was a year where Halifax got its first low-cost spay and neuter clinic, the year there was finally a serious discussion about chained dogs and the year politicians were forced to at least acknowledge there are issues affecting the welfare of cats in Nova Scotia.

It was a year of forging new, creative partnerships. A year of looking beyond the old models in order to exact change and improve the lives of more companion animals, many treated like garbage in our communities.


It has meant that everyone has had to step up their game — from politicians, to rescues, to the veterinary community, to fundraisers, to  those who have chosen not to turn a blind eye.

In honour of that, here are my 2013 Game Changers, those who had the gumption and the fortitude to push the envelope or move the ball forward despite the many obstacles constantly thrown in the way of advocacy and rescue groups.

This is in no way a complete list, as there are untold unsung heroes across the province toiling away in obscurity in aid of animals (Disclosure: I’m a volunteer with the SPCA, Spay Day HRM and 2nd Chance Charity).

I’d love to hear your nominations for Game Changers and what they have done to advance the cause.

In the meantime, here’s my list of individuals or groups that have made a difference:


People for Dogs/All Love No Chains

By working to bring in anti-tethering laws for dogs in Nova Scotia, the advocacy group People for Dogs has put the issue front and centre as the province beefs up the Animal Protection Act with new regulations. Minister Keith Colwell has promised there will be rules regarding chaining dogs, and that is thanks to People for Dogs. The rescue All Love No Chains has furthered the cause by taking surrendered chained dogs, no questions asked, and finding new homes for them, removing one of the barriers to getting a dog off a chain and sending the message that these dogs are worth saving. To date, the rescue has found homes for 18 formerly chained dogs.


SPCA Low-Cost Spay and Neuter Clinic

Opened last May, the Dartmouth clinic — a partnership with Dr. Leslie Steele and her team — has been a resounding success, to date spaying and neutering approximately 1,400 cats and 200 dogs from low-income households, the animals in their care and other rescues. The clinic also recently stepped up its game and did a one-day spay-neuter session for 22 cats from a Halifax-area trailer park, an event likely to be replicated many times in the future. The clinic will also increase its hours of operation sometime in the new year in order to keep up with demand.


The Feral and Abandoned Cats Society

This newly formed volunteer trap-neuter-return group in Cape Breton has, get this, spayed or neutered more than 800 stray or feral cats in 2013. Backed by a grant from the municipality for $25,000, which they’ve added to through tireless fundraising, and working in conjunction with the Cape Breton branch of the Nova Scotia SPCA and Friends of Cape Breton’s Homeless Animals, this project is seeing tangible and remarkable results.


Spay Day HRM/Tuxedo Party

Another winning collaboration between a rescue and an advocacy/fundraising group, with Linda Felix’s Spay Day HRM continuing to make a true dent on the cat population in Halifax by focusing on fixing owned cats from low-income homes and also doing blitzes on pockets of stray cats around town, like the Lower Sackville trailer park where 40 cats were recently trapped and fixed, then re-homed or returned. In 2013, Spay Day ensured that 362 cats will no longer contribute to the overpopulation problem, bringing her two-year total to 618. Much of this work is accomplished thanks to the Tuxedo Party, which tirelessly fundraises, as well as doing advocacy work with various levels of government. The group, named after the late feline mayoral candidate Tuxedo Stan, was central in getting the regional municipality to contribute $40,000 toward the SPCA clinic, as well as meeting with the new government about strengthening laws protecting cats.


Paws Fur Thought

Medric Cousineau, a retired member of the Canadian Armed Forces, and his yellow Labrador retriever Thai made their mark this year by walking from their home in Eastern Passage to Ottawa, along the way raising money and awareness about the lasting impact of post-traumatic stress syndrome, which laid Cousineau low for years, and the life-saving impact a service dog like Thai can have. Working in the dark shadow of news of four recent suicides by members of the military, Cousineau’s Paws for Life has paired several veterans with their own service dogs and the work will continue in 2014.


Pet Stores

A few years ago, Pets Unlimited stopped the controversial sale of dogs and cats, and when Pet Valu and Petsmart came to town, they didn’t start the practice. Instead, these pet retailers and others have chosen to promote adoptions and partnered with shelters like the SPCA and other rescues to provide valuable space where the public can interact with a future adoptable pet. It has meant many, many more dogs and cats have gone home, and shelters have been able to take in many more animals.


Nova Scotia Lost Dog Network

Born of social networking and its wide reach, there are probably not too many people on Facebook or Twitter who don’t see the daily notices of lost dogs coming across their screen. It’s a simple premise and it works. Instead of being a stray dog, dogs are now lost dogs looking to find their way back home. The NSLDN has become an invaluable tool in that process.


Honourable Mentions

•2nd Chance Charity, which under the direction of Nancy Northcott has raised more that $100,000 for the SPCA and Halifax-area cat rescues in the last few years through events like yard sales, auctions and the unique and popular Meow Mover fundraising and adoption events.

•Veterinarian Kathryn Finlayson, who owns East River Animal Hospital in New Glasgow, for offering ongoing low-cost spay and neutering for all her clients.

•Declawing activist Sarah Fraser for launching a movement to have the procedure banned in Nova Scotia. Thanks to her efforts, veterinarians are considering the move, to be addressed in 2014.

•Sarah McManaman for her mission to help pet owners who are struggling financially. The Smiling Dog distributed $12,100 to help families and animals in need.

Pat Lee is an editor at and a volunteer with various animal rescue organizations, including the Nova Scotia SPCA.




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