Our Mission: To help as many animals as we can

Who Ya Gonna Call? The differences between Calgary Humane Society, Alberta SPCA and City of Calgary Animal Services

gonna

Hello CHS Supporters! We hope you are enjoying Protection and Investigations month here on the blog.

Calgary Humane Society is proud to be entrusted with protecting the animals in our city. It is no secret that our Protection and Investigations department is a busy team! In 2013 alone our officers responded to 1,290 phone calls and seized 314 animals from situations of cruelty, abuse, neglect and abandonment. In addition to calls regarding animals within the city, Calgary Humane Society also receives many calls that are outside of our geographical jurisdiction and legislated mandate. Today on the blog, we bring you the inside scoop on the differences between Calgary Humane Society, City of Calgary Animal Services and the Alberta SPCA.

Calgary Humane Society’s Protection and Investigations Department is appointed by the Province of Alberta to enforce the Animal Protection Act of Alberta. Our mandate at CHS is to protect animals from people. This means that Calgary Humane Society responds to calls where animals are alleged to be suffering cruelty, abuse, neglect or abandonment but does not handle ‘nuisance animal’ issues like strays, barking or dog bites. Calgary Humane Society’s jurisdiction covers animals within the Calgary city limits, though we do occasionally offer support, in a non-enforcement capacity, outside of the city limits when requested by another agency. Calgary Humane Society Protection and Investigations officers may also respond to areas near Calgary after natural disasters, for example, our officers attended High River to help rescue animals trapped in homes after the flood. Continue reading…

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Gary Says: Adopt a Kitty Friend!

emergcat

Hello Peoples,

It is I, Gary Van Meowski, Official CHS office cat, premiere advice columnist, Dog Jog 2014 victor and feline extraordinaire.

It has been brought to my attention that there is a feline-related emergency situation here at Calgary Humane Society and as the official office cat, it is my duty to ensure this emergency is handled quickly and efficiently.

We are bursting at the seams with awesome.

That’s right, Calgary Humane Society’s shelter is currently completely full of cats! While normally I would not oppose large gatherings of felines, the shelter building was simply not designed to contain this much concentrated awesome. We need to disperse this awesome in to the community. In the spirit of enriching the lives of all Calgarians, we are hosting an emergency adoption by donation event at Calgary Humane Society from now until possibly the end of July. Continue reading…

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Anatomy of a Forensic Animal Cruelty Investigation

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At Calgary Humane Society our Protection and Investigations Department is always on the go, working to protect the animals of Calgary from cruelty, abuse and neglect. If you follow Calgary Humane Society in the news, you have probably seen coverage of some notable animal cruelty cases, but have you ever wondered how these investigations really work? This month we wanted to give you a peek at what happens “behind the scenes” when we investigate an animal cruelty complaint. Brad Nichols, Manager of Animal Cruelty Investigations, has provided the following first-hand account of how a forensic animal cruelty investigation happens.

Most of the public concerns received by the Protection and Investigations Department allege a problem at a specific address, observed by an eye witness.  This gives our Peace Officers a place to start and, more than likely, complete the investigation.  In more complicated cases, investigators have to put together a compelling circumstantial case when there are no eye witnesses or identified owners and no metaphorical smoking gun or confession.  In these cases we have to rely on the help of the public and forensic investigative techniques.  A good example of this type of case is the current Willow Park husky and cat muzzling file.  As an open investigation, the details of this investigation cannot yet be released to the public, however, for this article I can speak about a similar case, which has already run its course through the court system. Continue reading…

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Q & A with a Calgary Humane Peace Officer

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This month we are celebrating the CHS Protection and Investigations department! We know that most of our supporters are aware of the great work they do, but today on the blog, we wanted to bring you a sneak peek behind the scenes.

We caught up with Officer Nichols, Manager of Animal Cruelty Investigations to find out more about what it means to be a Calgary Humane Society Protection and Investigations officer.

Q: What brought you to join the Protection and Investigations team at CHS?

A: Coming out of College, I got a practicum position doing animal control for a rural municipality. I have always loved animals and thoroughly enjoyed working with them on a daily basis. As soon as I found out that there were specific positions protecting animals from abuse and neglect, it became a career goal which I attained in short order, joining the team as a field officer in 2005 and investigating thousands of files. By 2008 I had been promoted to Managing the internationally recognized humane enforcement unit. I am very proud of what my team has accomplished over the years.

Q: Once a call comes in and a peace officer responds, what does the investigation process look like?  Continue reading…

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Confidentiality in Investigations: Balancing Public Inquiry with Investigative Integrity

Confidentiality

One of the questions we are asked frequently at Calgary Humane Society is why we do not release “live” updates on cruelty investigations via our social media channels and why we do not make details of investigations available to the general public.

Today on the blog, we attempt to answer this difficult question!

Calgary Humane Society is appointed by the Provincial government to enforce the Animal Protection Act of Alberta. This means that Calgary Humane Society’s Protection and Investigations department is a law enforcement agency under the umbrella of a non-profit and registered charity. As a law enforcement agency they are legally and ethically bound to adhere to certain codes of conduct. While up to the minute updates via social media can be very useful in certain cases (i.e. searching for a missing person or animal), in the context of an investigation “live tweets” or up to the minute updates can become a conflict of interest.  Other departments at CHS, including Senior Managers, are not even privy to the details of investigations.  Typically details are not released until such time as they become public record. The exception to this is those investigations where public assistance keep an investigation from dead-ending.  In those cases the risk of release is weighed against the reward of a viable lead.

First, the information obtained during an investigation often changes rapidly. Our investigators are trained to evaluate the information as they receive it and are very cautious about labelling something a “fact” in the case too early. Releasing this rapidly changing information to the public can result in misunderstandings about what has been proven and what is alleged. Unfortunately, these misunderstandings can have serious consequences. For example, witnesses with important information about the case may not come forward to investigators if they think the case is already “solved” or “proven”.

Statements from witnesses could also be called in to question if the witnesses have been exposed to a lot of information about a case via social media before speaking with investigators. The human brain is excellent at making connections between pieces of information, so a witness could accidentally start incorporating information from social media into their witness statement without realizing it. Our investigators need witness statements to be as untainted as possible in order to build the highest integrity case.

Next, Canadian law and the Charter of Right and Freedoms afford certain rights to those who are accused of a crime. One of the most important rights being that those accused of a crime are assumed innocent until being proven guilty. This is the foundation of the Canadian justice system. Unfortunately, the court of public opinion is often not as forgiving. When developments in a case are “live-tweeted” or disseminated over social media, this can have tragic implications.

One very public example of this occurred recently in the United States. When the Sandy Hook school shootings took place the initial reports stated that Ryan Lanza was responsible and it was not until later that the media corrected the report and clarified that Adam Lanza was the perpetrator. Even though the report was corrected, Ryan Lanza’s photo and Facebook page had already been posted across thousands of media outlets and he had received numerous death threats for a crime he didn’t commit.

Finally, releasing too much information can jeopardize the outcome of an investigation. Legal investigations are complex and must follow certain protocol detailed within Canadian law. Performing a proper investigation and prosecution file typically involves a great deal of documentation and collaboration with other enforcement entities such as the police or crown prosecutors. Under Canadian law, if certain legal protocols are breached, it can actually prevent a court case from being successful due to a violation of the accused’s rights.

Providing “live” updates increases the risk that there could be miscommunications or privacy breaches that result in evidence being ruled inadmissible or a case being dismissed due to a failure to follow proper protocol. Our investigators spend a significant amount of time, sometimes hundreds of hours, conducting an investigation and preparing a case to be brought to court. All of that work is put at risk if confidential information about the case is released.

While we must be careful when releasing information about investigations, Calgary Humane Society is committed to ensuring that our supporters continue to see the results from our Protections and Investigations team. While there are limits on the information we can release about active cases, we do remain committed to providing information to our supporters by posting copies of our press releases and statements on our social media feeds.

Updates on cases that are pending before the courts can also be found in each edition of Connecting Lives magazine that is available in hard copy and on our website. Yearly statistics for our Protection and Investigation team are also made available in our Annual General Report.

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Camping with Fido!

camping

Summer time has finally arrived! Everyone is going camping and you want to go camping too!

But camping without your best friend isn’t much fun, so we’ve compiled several tips on how to make camping with Fido as easy and fun-filled as possible.

  • Wherever you go camping, make sure it is safe and that you allowed to bring your dog. Not all camp sites allow dogs
  • Check your dog’s vaccinations and/or talk to your vet to ensure your dog is protected against parasites and risks in the area you’re heading too
  •  Keep your dog on a leash or tether to avoid him or her to run away
  • Have your cell phone number on your dog’s tag since you are away from home. Adding your site number to their tag is also a great idea in case Fido takes an unsupervised walk
  • Do not let your dog drink out of standing bodies of water. Have fresh and clean water available at all times
  • Be careful not leave your dog too close from the campfires or cooking utensils that could harm him or her.
  • Check frequently your dog’s fur and skin for ticks. If you find a tick, remove it properly with these tips from the Humane Society of the United States
  • Do not leave your dog’s food out when he or she is done eating as it may attract wild animals

This lists of items will make camping with your dog a woofsome and safe experience:

  • Collar / identification tag (Is Fido micro chipped? Ensure the microchip company has your most up-to-date contact information)
  • Leash and/or harness
  • Carrier (if necessary)
  • Food dish and water bowl
  • Bedding and toys
  • Dog waste bag
  • Dog first aid kit. Check out this great DIY Pet First Aid Kit from Modern Dog!

You are all set for a great camping experience with your dog!

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51 Charges Laid in Acadia Case

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Calgary, AB – July 3rd, 2014

On June 30, 2014, Calgary Humane Society’s Protection and Investigations department charged Beverly Jean Creed of Calgary, Alberta for causing or permitting an animal to be in distress, contrary to the Animal Protection Act of Alberta. The 51 counts include charges laid due to distress suffered by the animals as a result of environmental conditions of the dwelling, as well as charges pertaining to 17 dogs deemed by veterinarians to be in medical distress.

On May 13, 2014, more than 30 dogs of varying breeds were removed from the home in the Acadia community of Southeast Calgary. This was due to a multi-agency collaborative effort deeming the house to be unfit for human habitation.

“We thank Calgary Police Service; Calgary Fire Department; Alberta Health Services and Calgary Animal Services for their efforts in safely removing these dogs from the home. It is encouraging to see all of these community resources working together towards a common goal – in this case rescuing dozens of dogs from an unsafe environment”, said Officer Nichols, Manager-Cruelty Investigations with Calgary Humane Society.

Creed appears in provincial court on August 27, 2014.

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It’s finally Canada Day! Time to have some fun and relax with your family and friends. Pets are part of your family too, so we listed 6 fun ways to celebrate Canada Day with your furry family member(s).

1. Homemade Cat Treats

Meowlicious cat treats for your furry love would be a purrr-fect way to celebrate Canada Day! But how to make your picky kitty happy? With a homemade cat treat that will make him purr with happiness! Theses treats are safe for your cat to eat and approved by Gary – what else could you ask for?

The whisketeers.com had this great recipe for cat treat:

cat treat

2. Paws Painting

Painting with kids is fun and painting with pets is double the fun! Painting with your furry friend can be messy, so a bit of organization is required, but it will be all worth it in the end, because you’ll have a beautiful craft Canadian flag made with love.

For this craft you will need:

  • a canvas or any white paper you would want to paint on
  • red paint
  • a paint brush
  • a paper plate
  • a pet with crafty paws
  1. Paint the two sides of your Canadian flag in red and leave space in the middle
  2. Prepare red paint in a paper plate
  3. Ask your furry friend to lend you a paw and dip it in the red paint
  4. Use the paw to replace the maple leaf and press the painted paw into the middle of the white space
  5. And voila ! Your pet is more talented than Picasso

(Don’t forget to wash off the paint from your pet paw so you don’t find a trail or red paws in your house.)

3 . Firework Safety

Fireworks can easily scare or upset your pet, and if you are going to go to Canada Day firework celebration here are five ways to keep your pet safe:

  1. Make sure your pet’s tag or microchip info are correct in case your dog or cat runs away.
  2. Always have your dog on a leash to prevent him to run away.
  3. If your pet is scared of loud sounds it might be better to leave him or her at home in a secure room with his toys and a comfy spot to rest. Leave food and water too. We also recommend that you leave a litter tray for your cat.
  4. Bring a collapsible water bowl and water.
  5. If your dog it not good with other dogs or crowed, consider leaving him at home or stand further from the crowed during celebrations.

This RSPCA leaflet provides more detailed info to help your pets if they are scared of fireworks

4. DIY Cat Toy 

We have to admit it: Gary is not the most cheerful cat around, but he sure got excited about the toy we made for Canada Day. Follow our Canadian themed tutorial to craft a Canadian spirited cat toy. This toy is the a spin of the Martha Stewart DIY Cat Toy, you can download the template for the leaves if needed. Click on the image below for a larger version.

canadadaytoy

5. Pup-sicle

We hoomans of the Calgary Humane Society love popsicles, but do you know who also loves popsicles? Your dog! If you don’t know how to make delicious and dog safe pup-sicles here are some easy recipe that we found for you on Pinterest to treat your dog or puppy to a refreshing treat.

6. Pool Party!

When playing in either a pool or a lake with your dog make sure that your dog is comfortable with being in the water. Some breeds, like pugs or bulldogs, have to be extra closely supervised when in the water. Some dogs do not like water at all and prefer to play on the banks or beach. If your dog likes being in the water, but is not a good swimmer you can also get a dog life jacket.

Dogs can easily get tired when playing in water and swimming, so ensure that your animal is safe, keep an eye on him or her in case you see signs of fatigue.

Finally you don’t need a real pool or going to a lake to get your dog to play and cool down at the same time a kiddy pool works too!

If you don’t have a furry family member yet, they are plenty lovable and adoptable like Domino at the Calgary Humane Society.

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We will be closed on Canada Day but will operate during our regular hours through this weekend (10 am to 5 pm) and Monday (Noon to 7 pm).

Happy Canada Day!

 

 

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A Cat Cannot Live on Tuna Alone!

tuna
It’s Cat Adoption Month at Calgary Humane Society! Time to celebrate all things feline (even if it does inflate Gary’s massive ego further). Did you know that when you adopt a cat from Calgary Humane Society our adoption counselors are trained to provide you with all the information you will need to keep your pet happy and healthy at home? That’s just another benefit of adoption a new feline friend at our shelter.

Today on the blog, we bring you some interesting facts about feline nutrition! This topic is often one of the most important parts of the adoption conversation, but thanks to the massive amount of information available on the internet, it can also be the most confusing. One of the most common questions we get is whether or not cats can eat tuna or fish… so this is what we are trying to tackle on the blog today!

Let’s start with the most important point: Cats are obligate carnivores. This means that a cat’s diet must contain meat. That “obligate” in front of the carnivore means that eating meat is a biological necessity for cats… but why is this?

Well, first let’s start off by saying that all members of the felidae family are obligate carnivores, but they aren’t the only ones! Hawks, snakes, some fish and even seals are also obligate carnivores. These animals share in common a similar ancestral diet that was effectively “meat only”. Now, before you comment about cats eating grass or snakes consuming vegetation in the digestive tract of their prey… you’re right! Some vegetation does make it in to an obligate carnivores diet on occasion, but they cannot bypass their need for meat and live on this vegetation instead. Continue reading…

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Alberta Flood 2013: One Year Later

Flood

Last summer brought record amounts of flooding to Southern Alberta. While residents in High River, Calgary, Canmore and the surrounding areas battled flood waters, there was a different type of flood beginning at the Calgary Humane Society.

The arrival of evacuated flood animals began on Thursday evening. Over the next couple of days we saw a flood of need. Evacuated pets needed housing, frantic owners were looking for lost pets and families who had lost everything needed basic supplies for their animals.

In total, CHS took in 114 animals, helping 69 families.

As the need grew, we saw another flood. We saw flood of generosity and compassion. A flood of hundreds of volunteers who dropped everything to ask, “What can we do?” We saw an army of Calgarians who arrived with bags of food, toys, litter, kennels and other supplies. We met caring individuals who came in on a lunch break to make a monetary donation of whatever they could afford. We saw staff and volunteers who worked dozens, even hundreds, of extra hours, giving up weekends and family time.

By the end of the crisis, CHS volunteers committed 1,563 hours to flood-based activities (That’s right, that doesn’t even include all the regular duties that still had to be done!). Staff also worked hundreds of extra hours to ensure every animal and every family got the care, attention and resources they needed.

We saw a special kind of amazing. Continue reading…

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