Our trouble with the Town of Fort Erie and the Fort Erie SPCA started when we were fostering dogs for the Canadian Chihuahua Rescue and Transport back in 2012. The representative for the OSPCA came to my door and told me there were complaints about the animals on the farm. So much more has happened, then and since. Here’s just a summary of the saga of the Town of Fort Erie and Beaver Creek Farm Sanctuary.
The Saga of the Town of Fort Erie
Beaver Creek Farm Sanctuary (BCFS) is a registered charity animal rescue in Stevensville, ON who provides sanctuary for companion and farm animals that have been abused or neglected. We ensure the animals are healthy before they enter our adoption program. http://beavercreekfarm.co
We received our Registered Charity 828253435RR0001 status in January 2014 and in our inaugural year we rescued forty-four animals. With over 95% moving on to loving forever homes.
Cogeco TV has come out to the farm and done a special on BCFS: http://www.tvcogeco.com/niagara/gallery/the-source/7131-october-source-stories/92201-beaver-creek
We are also filming a TV series for the pet network to educate the public about the plight of rescue animals. http://furever.ca/furever-home-tv-beaver-creek-farm-sanctuary/
We have several short films available that explain our goals:
BCFS is media friendly and have a solid social media following. We look forward to bringing the following issues into the spotlight.
Our trouble with the Town of Fort Erie and the Fort Erie SPCA started when we were fostering dogs for the Canadian Chihuahua Rescue and Transport back in 2012. The representative for the OSPCA came to my door and told me there were complaints about the animals on the farm.
The first complaint was for having too many dogs on our twenty-three acre farm. We had our three dogs, our flock guard dog and one foster dog – a pint sized chihuahua named Vincent. We were told we would not be eligible to foster a dog as having four companion dogs was a violation of the three companion dog limit bylaw. The second charge was for having dogs tied up in the backyard. We have five foot no-climb fencing and none of our animals were tethered, but we were told it was our responsibility to prove the dogs weren’t tethered – so I pointed at our flock guard dog Gus as he lay under an apple tree. What good is a guard dog to livestock if he’s tethered and unable to defend his charges? At that time we offered to give the OSPCA officer a tour of our farm, but he declined.
The only way we would be able to foster was to petition the town and get the bylaw changed. In May of 2012 with the much needed support of the community I made a presentation to the town and got the bylaw changed. Little did I know the change would cause more problems when we started our own rescue in 2014.
The new bylaw demanded a foster family have five acres and be zoned agriculture to qualify to purchase a foster dog licence. They added that you would need this licence even if you were under the three dog bylaw limit. Since none of my Fort Erie foster homes had five acres I lost places to rehabilitate foster dogs and the residents of Fort Erie lost the opportunity to be a foster home.
The cost for the foster dog licence is $125.00 on top of the regular dog licences for my own dogs $100. The town was demanding my payment of $225.00 every year to help rescue animals. This is a large expense for a small rescue.
The SPCA later added a $50 fine for harbouring a rescue dog without a licence.
In late 2014 we applied for a kennel licence and were denied because “we know you’re rescuing animals” and a kennel licence is only available to those who are breeding animals for profit. The massive wave towards progressive thinking regarding animals should be reflected in Fort Erie’s animal bylaws. With fewer and fewer people supporting breeders and puppy mills its important to get on board with the new changes in how the world views companion and farm animals.
The city of Niagara Falls has amended its bylaws to allow Registered Charity Animal Rescues to quality for kennel licences: https://www.niagarafalls.ca/pdf/by-laws/animal_control.pdf
- (1) Notwithstanding section 1, a dog rescue group may keep more than three dogs upon filing with the Clerk satisfactory documentation proving that the group is a bonafide dog rescue organization, and(2) A dog rescue group shall operate under a kennel licence.
The representatives from the Fort Erie SPCA and OSPCA visited me again in fall 2014 regarding the number of dogs we had on property. Occasionally, it has been necessary to have 2-3 dogs at the farm for a night or two before foster homes are available to pick up their charges. I had to prove the dogs were off the property within 7 days and I was threatened with a fine.
On May 14, 2015 the Fort Erie SPCA representative and the OSPCA officer came to the farm with a notices of a stack of bylaw violations adding up to over $5,000 in fines if not addressed by BCFS within a limited amount of time.
The first offence on May 14, 2015 was for violating the exotic animals bylaw that classifies alpaca as exotic animals. No other town in the Niagara Region has alpaca listed as an exotic animal.
In fact, a few weeks prior BCFS received a call from the Niagara Falls Humane Society asking us to take these three unwanted alpacas who could no longer be cared for by their then-current owner. We agreed and brought the alpaca to our farm. We immediately made arrangements to have the alpacas seen by a vet for neutering, vaccinations, de-worming, and trimming of their teeth and hooves. The vet was actually on-site at BCFS working on the alpacas when the SPCA and OSPCA handed me the violations.
I have been informed that I have ten days to remove the alpaca from the town of Fort Erie. I explained that the alpaca needed a few days recovery from neuter surgery (one of three completed that day; two others to be neutered the following Wednesday) and they are set to be sheared on May 25, 2015 and could I extend the length to at least fifteen days in the best interest of the health of the animals. The officers gave me until May 26, 2015 to have the alpacas out of town or I will be charged $5000. The BCFS large animal vet is willing to talk to the Fort Erie SPCA regarding the extension of time required and the impact on the health of the animals.
The OSPCA officer advised me in writing that I “… must notify the Fort Erie SPCA where they ahve been relocated. Failure to do so will result in a summons for a court appearance.”. BCFS bylaws provides reasonable privacy to adopters along with Canadian Privacy Law.
According to the exotic animal bylaw in Fort Erie you can only have alpaca if you run a business that is profiting via a breeding program or by selling their fibre. Again, this bylaw is incredibly antiquated supporting the concept of making money off animals and not allowing sanctuaries to help unwanted animals.
Hamilton does not list alpaca as exotic:
Niagara Falls HS does not list alpaca as exotic animals:
Our large animal veterinarian has offered to call the Fort Erie SPCA and speak to the staff regarding the quality of care the animals receive at our farm.
The second offence on May 14, 2015 was a $260 fine for not having my personal dogs licensed in Fort Erie. We are in a year of transition and we have moved our dogs to a new location. The OSPCA officer informed me that it was my responsibility to notify the SPCA that the dogs no longer live in Fort Erie. I was unaware I needed to notify the SPCA that we were moving. This is when I started feeling bullied. The OSPCA officer told me to have our new town fax the dog licences to the Fort Erie SPCA if I wanted to avoid the fine.
The third offence was $65 for not purchasing a foster dog licence. We are no longer keeping dogs at the farm in Stevensville due to the problems with the Fort Erie SPCA. The offence stated that “Amy Bremner” would no longer qualify for a foster dog licence. At this point I feel like I am being singled out and harassed.
Our farm spans twenty-three acres and is zoned agricultural in Stevensville. We have a barn and several outbuildings. We completed an upgrade to our fencing last fall 2014 with volunteer help and donations from Home Depot and TimberMart. Our 3800 square foot home is clean and set up to accept animals with a wash station and skilled volunteers.
The Fort Erie SPCA and Beaver Creek Farm Sanctuary are both registered charity animal rescues. The biggest difference is that the Fort Erie SPCA has the contract for animal control in Fort Erie, and of course the volume of animals they manage. The kennel used at the Fort Erie SPCA is old and very cold, especially for the small breed dogs like shih tzus or maltese. BCFS houses their dogs within family homes where they receive basic training and human contact making them more prepared for adoption. There have been many studies done regarding kennel stress in dogs housed in solitary kennels, which often sets them up for adoption failure. I have taken many dogs from humane societies that were considered “unadoptable” and found them the right forever home.
Our adoption process includes a home visit to the potential foster and/or forever home. I do not believe many SPCAs or humane societies do home visits. We request personal and veterinary references as part of our adoption process. Once the application is completed it is sent to our board of directors for approval.
We should be treated as a Registered Charity Animal Rescue with an exemption from bylaws written for the masses, that will allow us to continue rescuing animals that are within our means. Over the last eighteen months we have proven that we provide excellent veterinary care, offer free in home training for adoptive and foster families, and have a comprehensive adoption process.
We work in conjunction with a large and small animal vet, a variety of trainers, animal chiropractors and alternative medicines to improve the quality of life of the animals.
We work with other rescue agencies and humane societies – including Canadian Chihuahua Rescue and Transport, Rescue Dogs Match, PetPoint Systems, Erie County SPCA, Toronto Animal Service, Beirut for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Evolucion Mexico, Lincoln County Humane Society and Niagara Falls Humane Society. We have brought in animals from other countries and have proof of the amazing care these animals have received as charges of BCFS.
Most other towns have a section in their bylaws that allows Registered Charity rescues to operate beyond the limits of the towns local bylaws in providing care to animals (see above link for Niagara Falls HS). Its time for Fort Erie to jump on the ethically correct wagon.
City of Hamilton specifically 3.2 part b
City of Hamilton has allowances for foster homes.
BCFS does good work. We save animals and find them forever homes. We share common goals and would rather work with local organizations who share common goals.
You are welcome to join our cause and writing letters of support to our town council. These are the only people that can help save BCFS by giving us an exemption from the bylaws: CKnutt@town.forterie.on.ca
You can also support BCFS by donating on our donations page or in our new account at: http://www.gofundme.com/une5wg
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