Never in a million years would I thought I’d have to fight so hard to do animal rescue. I knew there would be huge challenges to help animals, but I thought those would be with evil abusers – not animal officials in my own home town. — Amy Bremner, President of Beaver Creek Farm Sanctuary.
Fighting for our Right to Help Animals
The Fort Erie council meeting on Monday August 10, 2015 was a violent roller coaster ride that turned into a mixed bag of new beginnings, while still being shackled to the old world bylaws.
The councilors will be reviewing the twenty year old animal bylaws for the next six to eight months to bring them up to date. We have been battling for positive change since 2012, so we aren’t excited by another delay, although they have asked that BCFS be included in the creation of the new bylaws, if and when they are eventually overhauled.
We do send out a big thank you to Marina Butler, Chris Knutt, and Mayor Redakop for defining the amendments listed below.
Four Amendments to Animal Bylaws
Councillors have created four changes for the interim that will allow Beaver Creek Farm Sanctuary to remain in operation, albeit extremely controlled and limited, but active for the next 6-8 months.
1. Increasing the foster dog limit from two to a maximum of five dogs.
Kennel licenses have no dog limits because according to the Fort Erie SPCA President Martha Lockwood: pure bred dogs are more valuable than rescue dogs, therefore their owners are more invested in them, so they never run away. They are kept locked in cages and kennels, so they are safer than dogs kept in homes.
How can the SPCA say that pure bred dogs are more valuable than rescue dogs? Half our rescue dogs are pure bred dogs, but they must lose their value when they are designated: rescue
Rescues often put a great deal of money into rescue dogs who need extensive veterinary care or behavioural modification due to abuse and neglect.
According to Ms Lockwood, rescues can’t be trusted with a no dog limit because rescues will hoard animals. Are those who profit off the lives of animals more trustworthy than those driven by a moral code who chose to help animals voluntarily?
Hoarding is a mental health issue — not a rescue issue.
The incidence of hoarding reported by Ms. Lockwood in Fort Erie was an individual who was hoarding 22 cats. She stated all the cats were euthanized by the Fort Erie SPCA due to poor conditions. This is the complete opposite of what rescues do in providing appropriate vet care and proper nutrition to animals who have been neglected or abused. Helping animals is our mantra — not hoarding them.
Rescues take in the animals that would otherwise be euthanized by the Humane Societies and SPCAs; the animals with medical or behavioural issues.
Rescues are not trying to take over. We are a bonus to those who are trying to help animals . We will take the tough cases. These animals are transferred to rescue rather than being euthanized. We aren’t taking away easily adoptable animals and we are saving more souls!
Ms Lockwood said she understood rescues have the best intention, however, she believes rescues work beyond their means (big hearts don’t go with big wallets) leaving the SPCAs to clean up rescue messes.
BCFS operating budget for 2014 was $50,000. The donations were used to care for 18 permanent residents and rescue 44 animals. The SPCA budget for 2014 was over $400,000 and they were unable to tell council how many dogs they re homed in 2014.
BCFS has zero employees — we are 100% volunteer.
BCFS never wanted this to be: us against them. We wanted to work with the Fort Erie SPCA, however, it has become clear that BCFS does not share common ideas or values with the Fort Erie SPCA.
2. Foster fee license to remain at $125.
Should BCFS foster in 2015 we have to pay $125 for the remaining months of 2015 and then in January of 2016 we have to pay another $125 to help animals.
A kennel license is $125 and comes with no dog limit. Two words: Puppy Mill. Why are people who make money off the lives of animals more trustworthy than a proven Registered Charity Animal Rescue? Do you know how hard it is to get a Charity number from the CRA?
BCFS is providing a free service to the town — except we have to pay to help animals. No other municipality in the Niagara region requires foster homes to pay a fee to rescue. Its absurd to ask people to pay to volunteer.
It is also absurd to allow the Fort Erie SPCA to set the amount of fines they themselves collect. The councillors asked Wendy Trombley, manager of the Fort Erie SPCA if the charge for a rescue license would increase if the dog limit was increased and she said: YES.
When council asked why – Ms Trombley said it would increase her administrative costs for rescues to have more than a few dogs.
3. BCFS will be required to report to the Fort Erie SPCA.
BCFS will be required to report to the Fort Erie SPCA the names and addresses of Fort Erie residents who adopt or foster dogs from BCFS. If a dog is adopted or fostered in another city we will not be required to report the names of those families.
We can’t even begin to describe how this is a violation of privacy and completely segregates Fort Erie Families. If I lived in Fort Erie I wouldn’t adopt a dog from BCFS where my personal information is going to be shared with the Fort Erie SPCA.
It is the responsibility of the adopting family to license the dog, not the rescue or breeder.
4. Alpacas and llamas will be removed from the exotic animals list.
Both species have been designated regulated livestock, in their own group, under the division which includes sheep and goats, for some time. This is merely a much needed upgrade.
The final straw
Fort Erie SPCA administration staff carry out euthanizations on animals. This is not done by a vet, nor supervised by a veterinarian. They stated they had “training,” but how would you feel knowing that the person who works the front desk is also the person responsible for euthanizing your dog?
At the council meeting August 10, 2015 the three representatives of the Fort Erie SPCA (Martha Lockwood, Wendy Trombley and Robin) told stories of how they euthanized each other’s dogs and how Robin euthanized an old cat.
We are merely stating facts. Please listen to the meeting at:
Registered Charity Leaves Fort Erie
The Beaver Creek Farm Sanctuary Board of Directors has deliberated and discussed the new changes to the bylaws and we’ve come to a heartbreaking decision.
Given the horrific information that came to light at the August 10, 2015 meeting BCFS does not feel comfortable operating in Fort Erie and will seek alternate locations for the future of BCFS.
Added to the BCFS personal experiences is the story of the OSPCA raiding a rescue where the family dog was euthanized without consent. OSPCA kills Family Dog of Rescue Group
Their dog was dying of cancer and became very ill in the kennels. We think of our own dog Gus – Gus would never survive locked in a cage. If this trend continues, SPCA could justify his early demise due to his history.
The Board of Directors is unwilling to risk BCFS animals, or the rescue, by putting ourselves under the control of the Fort Erie SPCA and the current bylaws. It is with great sadness that we announce:
Beaver Creek Farm Sanctuary will operate cautiously as a farm animal sanctuary only. We are unable to operate as a companion animal rescue under the current Fort Erie Bylaws.
The only way BCFS would operate in Fort Erie is to be given an exemption from the bylaws. The only people who can give BCFS an exemption are the Fort Erie Town Councillors.
Mayor – W. Redekop
Regional – S. Annunziata
Ward 1 – G. McDermott
Ward 2 – S. Passero
Ward 3 – K. Zanko
Ward 4 – M. Butler
Ward 5 – D. Lubberts
Ward 6 – C. Knutt
On a personal note….. by Amy Bremner
I want to help animals because I love them and see the love they have to offer. When I see an animal in pain I have a deep visceral reaction that inspires me to help. I believe all dogs are good dogs and that all animals deserve respect and love.
Not a single volunteer at BCFS receives a salary. Most people volunteer because they love and want to help animals.
Volunteers are becoming a very rare breed who should be nurtured and respected. Volunteering time, money, fuel and energy is a wonderful gift that gives back to the community and instils respect in our young people.
I work full time. I don’t need to continue to help animals. I don’t need to keep BCFS going as a form of survival or income. I do it because I love animals and I want to teach the next generation about the importance of loving animals, so that animals continue on the path of having better lives.
Never have animals been more in the media. Never have people made such an effort to care about creatures that can do nothing for them, but love.
I will continue to help animals in my own way, in a place I can respect the laws of the land too, and I will continue to educate the next generation.
I will not continue to try and make change in a community which fights so venomously against goodness. I will not waste the remaining years I could dedicate to helping animals trying to change Fort Erie.
I don’t consider it giving up. I consider it moving forward in fulfilling my dream of helping animals.
Thank you to those who have supported me and BCFS. Stay tuned for the future….
With much love from the farm,