No reported right whale deaths in Canadian waters so far in 2018, officials say

By Keith Doucette

THE CANADIAN PRESS

HALIFAX _ There have been no reported deaths of North Atlantic right whales in Canadian waters this year _ with dozens of the endangered mammals spotted amid strict fishing and vessel speed restrictions, federal officials say.

There were 12 whale deaths last year in Canadian waters, half of those in June.

“Earlier in the year there was a report in the United States of one (death) … but in Canadian waters there have been none,” said Adam Burns, director general of fisheries resource management at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO).

At least 18 right whales have been found dead overall in Canadian and U.S. waters since 2017, likely due to rope entanglements and ship collisions.

DFO said Thursday that aerial surveillance had so far detected at least 75 whales in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence.

“This number likely underestimates the total number of right whales that may be present in the southern Gulf or in Canadian waters at this time,” said Jean Landry, the department’s director of marine mammal science.

Landry said observers had logged 371 flying hours since early April, more than last year’s total by science aircraft.

Meanwhile, DFO has temporarily closed 4,600 square kilometres of the Gulf and another 780 square kilometres in the Roseway Basin off Nova Scotia’s southern coast to non-tended fixed gear fisheries such as snow crab and lobster.

The closures have drawn the ire of some lobster fishermen, who say the latest closures have squeezed them into tight proximity in zones that are already heavily fished.

Nearly 500 brought empty lobster traps to Caraquet, N.B., on Thursday to protest against the continuing closures. They created a wall of traps outside a building where Acadie-Bathurst Liberal MP Serge Cormier has an office.

But with the lobster and snow crab seasons set to wrap up at the end of this month, Burns said DFO isn’t about to relent on urgent measures, given the unprecedented number of right whale deaths last year.

“These measures have a real impact on fish harvesters, processors, and communities in Atlantic Canada; however the long-term economic risks of not adequately protecting North Atlantic right whales is greater,” Burns said.

He said there has already been a temporary suspension of Marine Stewardship Council certification for the snow crab fishery in the southern Gulf, and additional trade and eco-certification impacts could result in “long term serious economic impacts to coastal communities in Atlantic Canada and Quebec.”

Still the industry continues to speak out with an eye to the future after reports of lobster landings that are down by as much as 25 per cent in some areas.

Groups such as the Maritime Fishermen’s Union and the Pecheurs professionnels du Sud de la Gaspesie have said frustration is mounting after Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc decided not to exempt waters up to 10 fathoms deep from the closures.

LeBlanc has said he isn’t insensitive to fishermen’s concerns and Ottawa is considering ways to alleviate the economic hardship. That includes measures to help processing plant workers qualify for Employment Insurance, and a possible fall opening of the lobster fishery to make up for lost days.

The Lobster Council of Canada called for measures that balance protection with the impact on fishermen.

“While we all agree we must do what we can to ensure the protection of the North Atlantic right whale, we believe we must continue to monitor the impact many of these mitigation measures are having on the people and communities that rely on the lobster fishery for their livelihood,” council executive director Geoff Irvine said in a news release Wednesday.

“We need to continue to look for the right balance to allow the fishery to continue while ensuring the right whale’s protection.”

Meanwhile, Transport Canada provided statistics on its mandatory slow-down area in the western Gulf, where vessels of 20 metres or larger are limited to a speed of 10 knots.

Luc Brisebois, executive director of marine safety and security, said 1,085 vessels have been monitored to date. Of that number, 106 were recorded above the speed limit.

“Out of those 106, there were 84 deemed non-violation,” Brisebois said, for issues related to time at speed, and the effects of weather or sea conditions.

He said 21 cases are still under review, but since the slowdown was implemented April 28 only one vessel has been found in violation, resulting in a $6,000 fine.

BC SPCA reminds public not to leave animals in hot cars

With the recent warm weather and several calls already received by the BC SPCA about animals in hot cars, the animal welfare society is again, reminding people to leave their pets at home if they can’t keep them safe.

Cars can become death traps in 10 minutes

“People don’t realize just how quickly their cars can become death traps for their pets – it can take as little as 10 minutes for the vehicle to reach temperatures where the animal can suffer irreparable brain damage or death,” says Lorie Chortyk, general manager of community relations for the BC SPCA.

“We know that if people are taking their pets with them, it’s because they love them and want to spend time with them, but we really do encourage pet guardians to please, leave their pets at home when they’re going out in the car.”

What to do if you see a dog in distress in a parked vehicle:

  • Note the license plate and vehicle information and ask managers of nearby businesses to page the owner to return to their vehicle immediately;
  • Is the animal in distress? Call your local animal control agency, police, or the BC SPCA hotline at 1-855-622-7722 as soon as possible. Note: It is illegal for members of the public to break a window to access the vehicle themselves; only RCMP and Special Provincial Constables of the BC SPCA can lawfully enter a vehicle. SPCA branch staff and volunteers cannot enter vehicles.
  • Keep emergency supplies – bottled water, a small bowl, a towel that can be soaked in water- in your car so that you help hydrate an animal (if a window has been left open) while you wait for emergency response; a battery-powered fan from a dollar store also can be handy to circulate air.

Dogs can’t release heat by sweating

In just minutes, the temperature in a parked car can climb to well over 38 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit). Dogs have no sweat glands, so they can only cool themselves by panting and by releasing heat through their paws, which they cannot do in a vehicle that has become an oven, she notes. Dogs can withstand high temperatures for only a very short time – in some cases just minutes – before suffering irreparable brain damage or death.

Pet guardians should be alert to heatstroke symptoms, which include: exaggerated panting (or the sudden stopping of panting), rapid or erratic pulse, salivation, anxious or staring expression, weakness and muscle tremors, lack of coordination, convulsions or vomiting, and collapse.

If your dog shows symptoms of heatstroke, you should do the following:

  • Immediately move the animal to a cool, shady place
  • Wet the dog with cool water
  • Fan vigorously to promote evaporation. This will cool the blood, which reduces the animal’s core temperature.
  • Do not apply ice. This constricts blood flow, which will inhibit cooling.
  • Allow the dog to drink some cool water (or to lick ice cream if no water is available)
  • Take the dog to a veterinarian as soon as possible for further treatment.

“Your dog will be much happier – and safer – at home, with shade and plenty of fresh cool water,” Chortyk says. “It is such a preventable tragedy.”

If people see a dog in a hot car who they think is in distress, they should call municipal animal control authorities or local law enforcement immediately.

Hot pets are not cool: BC SPCA reminds public not to leave animals in hot cars

Cars can become death traps in 10 minutes

“People don’t realize just how quickly their cars can become death traps for their pets – it can take as little as 10 minutes for the vehicle to reach temperatures where the animal can suffer irreparable brain damage or death,” says Lorie Chortyk, general manager of community relations for the BC SPCA.

“We know that if people are taking their pets with them, it’s because they love them and want to spend time with them, but we really do encourage pet guardians to please, leave their pets at home when they’re going out in the car.”

What to do if you see a dog in distress in a parked vehicle:

  • Note the license plate and vehicle information and ask managers of nearby businesses to page the owner to return to their vehicle immediately;
  • Call to report the hot dog in car situation if no owner is found or when animal is suffering symptoms of heatstroke. During the daytime, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends, call the BC SPCA Provincial Call Centre at 1-855-622-7722 and staff will troubleshoot and help connect you with your local animal control agency or police. In an emergency, call 911 for RCMP attendance. Note: It is illegal for members of the public to break a window to access the vehicle themselves; only RCMP and Special Provincial Constables of the BC SPCA can lawfully enter a vehicle. SPCA branch staff and volunteers cannot enter vehicles.
  • Keep emergency supplies – bottled water, a small bowl, a towel that can be soaked in water- in your car so that you help hydrate an animal (if a window has been left open) while you wait for emergency response; a battery-powered fan from a dollar store also can be handy to circulate air.
  • Be an advocate! Help spread the word that pets and hot vehicles are a fatal mix. Put up a copy of our “Hot Pets? Not Cool!” infographic in stores, malls and other areas in your community where pets are left unattended in vehicles.

Dogs can’t release heat by sweating

In just minutes, the temperature in a parked car can climb to well over 38 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit). Dogs have no sweat glands, so they can only cool themselves by panting and by releasing heat through their paws, which they cannot do in a vehicle that has become an oven, she notes. Dogs can withstand high temperatures for only a very short time – in some cases just minutes – before suffering irreparable brain damage or death.

Pet guardians should be alert to heatstroke symptoms, which include: exaggerated panting (or the sudden stopping of panting), rapid or erratic pulse, salivation, anxious or staring expression, weakness and muscle tremors, lack of coordination, convulsions or vomiting, and collapse.

If your dog shows symptoms of heatstroke, you should do the following:

  • Immediately move the animal to a cool, shady place
  • Wet the dog with cool water
  • Fan vigorously to promote evaporation. This will cool the blood, which reduces the animal’s core temperature.
  • Do not apply ice. This constricts blood flow, which will inhibit cooling.
  • Allow the dog to drink some cool water (or to lick ice cream if no water is available)
  • Take the dog to a veterinarian as soon as possible for further treatment.

“Your dog will be much happier – and safer – at home, with shade and plenty of fresh cool water,” Chortyk says. “It is such a preventable tragedy.”

If people see a dog in a hot car who they think is in distress, they should call municipal animal control authorities or local law enforcement immediately.

BC SPCA escalates rescue efforts for animals affected by wildfires

The BC SPCA is escalating rescue efforts to help animals impacted by B.C.’s raging wildfires.

“Our staff and volunteers have been very active in supporting emergency services in affected areas, but as the wildfires spread we are escalating our involvement,” said Lorie Chortyk, general manager of community relations for the BC SPCA.

“The animal evacuation centre being operated by the Prince George Humane Society with the support of the SPCA is now full so the BC SPCA has set up a second Evacuation Dog Care Site in the Duchess Park Warehouse at 747 Winnipeg Street in Prince George,” says Chortyk. “There are currently 35 dogs in care but the facility has the capacity to handle more incoming dogs.” Dog owners will be referred to the SPCA-run centre by local Emergency Social Services personnel.

The BC SPCA has also deployed a number of special constables from its cruelty investigations department to a base camp in Clearwater, where they will be providing support in rescuing animals trapped behind fire evacuation lines.

“In addition we have transferred more than 130 homeless animals in our care from SPCA shelters in the Cariboo region to our facilities in the Interior, the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island to free up space for temporary emergency sheltering for animals impacted by the fires,” says Chortyk.

She said the BC SPCA has also contacted large pet supply companies about shipping urgently needed pet food and supplies to evacuation centres.

In areas where evacuated families are seeking temporary shelter the BC SPCA is also offering free spaces for kids in their week-long summer camps (as capacity allows).

“The situation and the needs are changing on a daily basis, but the BC SPCA is in regular contact with provincial and local ESS officials and our staff and volunteers are ready and willing to help however we can,” said Chortyk.

The BC SPCA has set up a special online emergency donation site (spca.bc.ca/emergencyalert) to help animals affected by the wildfires.

Update:

The BC SPCA Provincial Call Centre (1-855-622-7722) is now also fielding calls from pet owners in the Cariboo Regional District who require officers to attend, feed/water animals and remove animals if given the authority to do so by the owners. Currently the call centre is managing calls from the 100, 103, 108, 150 Mile areas as well as Lac La Hache and Williams Lake.

Source: BC SPCA

Keep your canine cool in the summer heat with tips from the SPCA

If it’s hot, your pet may be in trouble! During warm weather pet guardians must take precautions against the danger of heat exhaustion and heatstroke for their pets. The temperature in a parked car, even in the shade with the windows partly open, can rapidly reach a level that will seriously harm or even kill your pet. Leaving you pet in a car with the air conditioning on is also taking a risk as many pets have died as the result of a faulty air-conditioning system.

If you see a dog in a car on a warm or humid day who you believe may be in trouble, ask nearby stores to page customers. If the dog is in distress call municipal animal control authorities right away, or the local police department, RCMP immediately.

Dogs (and cats) cool themselves by panting and by releasing heat through their paws. On summer days the air and upholstery in your vehicle can heat up to high temperatures that make it impossible for pets to cool themselves. Your dog will be more comfortable if left at home.

Note that dogs also risk overheating if exercised outside during the day in hot weather. Choose the early morning and evening when it’s cooler, to excercise your dog and always remember to bring extra water for your dog and take lots of breaks.

Symptoms of heatstroke

  • Exaggerated panting (or the sudden stopping of panting);
  • rapid or erratic pulse;
  • salivation;
  • anxious or staring expression;
  • weakness and muscle tremors;
  • lack of coordination;
  • tongue and lips red (which may eventually turn bluish in colour);
  • convulsions or vomiting;
  • collapse, coma and death.

 

Emergency treatment for dogs

If your dog shows symptoms of heatstroke follow these instructions:

  • Immediately move the animal to a cool, shady place.
  • Wet the dog with cool water.
  • Fan vigorously to promote evaporation. This process will cool the blood, which reduces the dog’s core temperature.
  • Do not apply ice. This constricts blood flow which will inhibit cooling.
  • Allow the dog to drink some cool water.
  • Take the dog to a veterinarian as soon as possible for further treatment.

Veterinarians may apply supportive measures such as intravenous fluids to rehydrate the animal and oxygen to prevent brain damage.

Dogs in hot cars resources

The following documents are available to help you raise awareness and educate others on this all too common danger.

For injured paws and claws, insurance may come in handy for some pets

By Aleksandra Sagan

THE CANADIAN PRESS

TORONTO _ Monica Finlay’s childhood yellow Labrador, Amy, had a few surprise accidents that cost her parents a lot of money.

“She blew out her ACL and that was really expensive,” Finlay says.

“Then, right at the end of her life, she blew out her other ACL.”

That experience is partly why she and her husband have been spending $45 a month for pet insurance since they got their German shepherd mix, Ozzie, about six years ago.

Pet insurance plans cover some veterinary costs, but pet owners are divided on whether they’re worth it.

Medical costs over an animal’s lifetime can be steep.

Cats cost their owners at least $100 a year, while dogs cost at least $200, according to the British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Those numbers only cover routine visits and don’t take into account emergencies, which can add up to thousands of dollars.

Monthly fees vary depending on factors such as the animal’s breed, age and location, as well as what the plan covers. Owners can choose from accident, illness and wellness coverage, which covers the routine visits most plans don’t.

Plans often have a combination of a maximum payout amount each year, a deductible (an amount the owner must pay before the insurer pitches in) and a co-pay (a percentage of the bill the owner is responsible for). Many plans won’t cover future costs for pre-existing conditions.

Fees vary. But the average yearly cost of insuring an adult cat for accident and illness coverage with Pets Plus Us, for instance, is $370, while for a dog the cost nearly doubles to $734.

It’s estimated only about one to three per cent of all domestic cats and dogs in the country have some type of insurance, like Finlay’s dog Ozzie.

Finlay says insurance has covered Ozzie’s roughly $2,500 of annual medical costs since they discovered he has allergies to about 22 things, including beef, chicken and wool.

“It would have been really cost prohibitive to keep him if we didn’t have pet insurance,” she says, adding the insurer pays 90 per cent of those costs save for a one-time $500 deductible.

But not all pets need such expensive, ongoing care and the monthly fees could add up to more than what the insurer needs to pay.

Michelle Van Dyk-Houghton chose not to insure her dog Brooke or her cat Ginger after weighing the monthly cost of insurance versus the potential savings.

Instead, she and her husband set aside $100 to $200 a month for animal care and draw on those funds when needed.

“If we don’t need it, then it’s money that we still have,” she says. “I don’t feel like I’m just giving it to an insurance company to kind of be gone forever.”

Not all pet owners are able to take out insurance though.

When Marli Vlok’s first guinea pig fell ill with what she believes was fibrous osteodystrophy, a metabolic bone disease, she paid more than $900 for Ember’s teeth to be trimmed three times and about $700 for a visit to a specialist.

She looked into pet insurance for her other guinea pigs, but couldn’t find a plan that would cover them.

Vlok routinely shells out between $40 and $70 for vet visits and has paid about $300 for two sets of X-rays for Onyx.

She says she keeps about $500 on hand for vet purposes at all times, but would prefer to pay for insurance.

“They’re one of those pets that you have a very good chance that they’ll be absolutely healthy,” she says.

“But when things go wrong, it’s expensive wrong.”

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