Alberta government knew farm worker insurance needed: Report

CALGARY _ A report commissioned by the previous Progressive Conservative government shows it was aware that Alberta farm workers needed workplace insurance protection.

The Sigma Risk Management report, obtained by the Alberta Federation of Labour, was presented to the Tories in February 2015, three months before they were swept from power by the NDP.

The report says about 2,000 farm workers in Alberta suffer a lost-time accident each year and about 20 will die in workplace accidents.

It also notes that Workers Compensation Board coverage would be the cheapest insurance option for small and medium-size farms.

The AFL says its findings repudiate arguments against the farm safety changes that have been brought in by the NDP.

Opposition Wildrose Leader Brian Jean and PC leadership candidate Jason Kenney have both pledged to scrap the NDP legislation known as Bill 6 if they win the next provincial election.

“This utterly repudiates the arguments against basic workplace protections for agricultural employees,” federation president Gil McGowan said Tuesday in a release.

“Anyone who reads this report and still says that Alberta doesn’t need common-sense agricultural workplace laws has no heart.”

Mandatory rules that require WCB coverage for paid farm workers in Alberta have been in effect since January 2016.

The rules don’t apply to farm owners or their family members.

Regulations to cover workplace issues such as overtime, hours of work, collective bargaining, safety education and health rules are being studied by farm, labour and other groups.

The government has said once these groups make their recommendations, the government will give Albertans a chance to respond to draft regulations.

Safety of four legged actors must be paramount on set, says animal trainer

By Lauren La Rose


TORONTO _ Amidst outrage over the alleged mistreatment of a German shepherd while shooting the upcoming film “A Dog’s Purpose,” animal trainers and agents say it’s essential to consistently advocate for the safety of four-legged actors on set.

Video footage posted on entertainment website TMZ appears to show the distressed dog forced into turbulent water during the film shoot, which took place near Winnipeg in November 2015.

Javier Schwersensky, head of the Winnipeg Humane Society, said his group was consulted for two scenes in the movie, but not the one involving the alleged abuse. He said the video suggests the dog was not properly trained and “weeks if not months” of work would’ve been needed to prepare the animal for what it faced.

The film’s producer, Amblin Entertainment, and distributor, Universal Pictures, said in a joint statement “there were several days of rehearsal of the water scenes to ensure Hercules was comfortable with all of the stunts.”

Abbotsford, B.C.-based animal trainer Gerry Therrien says he’s been in the field for 36 years, working with animals including dogs, cats, lions, tigers, leopards, cougars, jaguars, bears and wolves on a wide range of projects.

Trainers must “be able to say ‘no’ to producers and directors,” he said in an interview.They’re in a hurry, they’re in a rush. You have to understand there’s a lot of moving parts in a movie. Everybody’s under the same pressures. You have to be able to stand up and say: ‘Yeah, guys, I’m not going to do this. This ain’t going to happen. I need this much time to do this, “said Therrien.

“They’re in a hurry, they’re in a rush. You have to understand there’s a lot of moving parts in a movie. Everybody’s under the same pressures. You have to be able to stand up and say: ‘Yeah, guys, I’m not going to do this. This ain’t going to happen. I need this much time to do this,”’ said Therrien.

“You have to stand by that, and sometimes it costs you the show.”

He said he makes a point of getting the director’s shot list and storyboards, and does a thorough walkthrough of sets ahead of time. He will also consult with special-effects co-ordinators, and if weapons are being used during filming, he wants to hear the sound of the gunshots in advance. Trainers can also request air-conditioned trailers or any other essentials to ensure the comfort of the animals, he said.

Therrien said he usually has multiple dogs that all look the same to play the same role to eliminate having one canine take on too much work. There are often instances in which particular dogs will be better suited in certain conditions, be it playing a more aggressive part or navigating through water, he added.

“You have to just be very diligent in your job,” said Therrien. “The training of the animal is a very, very difficult thing; it’s a very long and hard process. But I’ll tell you what: it’s nothing compared to walking onto set and standing an animal in front of 300 people with cameras and lights and wind and having it do what you ask it to do.

“It looks all cute and fuzzy when a guy is petting an animal. You have to remember: that’s not his animal. You’re making it look like it is, but it’s a very difficult thing to do.”

On well-run sets, “sometimes they treat animals better than they treat humans,” said Carolyn Nikkanen, president of Hot Paws Talent, a division of Carolyn’s Model and Talent Agency in Mississauga, Ont.

She recalled one canine that had to be placed in water to try to swim during a shoot for an insurance commercial. Throughout filming, a handler was standing by at all times and warm blankets were at the ready, she said.

“They told us right from the beginning that the dog was going to be looked after and not stressed out. They just kept taking frequent breaks.”

– With files from The Associated Press.

Fright night: Keep pets’ safety in mind this Halloween

Fright night: Keep pets’ safety in mind this Halloween

Source: BC SPCA

The days are growing shorter and chillier in B.C. With fall just arrived and Halloween around the corner, it’s a good time to think about the animals in your care and their safety at night. Firecrackers, fireworks and other loud noises, as well as plenty of little-people traffic in and out of the house can be upsetting to animals, and even lead to harm.

“Fireworks going off, a constantly ringing doorbell and the presence of costumed strangers can all cause animals to panic, putting both pets and people in danger,” says Lorie Chortyk, BC SPCA general manager of community relations.

When dogs and cats are frightened they are more likely to run away from their homes, jump out of open windows or dart into traffic. Stressed pets can also behave out of character — even scratching or biting people, says Chortyk.

It’s not only companion animals who are at risk.

“Frightened farm animals have even been known to run into barbed-wire fences or other obstructions. With a little planning, guardians can take steps to keep their all their animals safe on Halloween,” says Chortyk.

Help keep your animals safe on Halloween with these tips:

  • Keep pets inside: Pets who are inside have fewer opportunities to confront trick-or-treaters. Some pets do well left in a separate room with the radio or television on to mask the sound of fireworks and trick-or-treaters. Be sure to leave plenty of toys in the room for your pet so that he doesn’t think he’s being isolated as a punishment. If your pet finds the doorbell disturbing, consider disconnecting the doorbell for the night. Alternatively, you can leave a bowl of treats near the door outside where trick-or-treaters can help themselves. That way, they won’t knock or ring the doorbell – at least not until the bowl is emptied.
  • Identification: Make sure your pet is wearing identification. Dogs and cats may try to run away if they feel threatened. Clear, current identification is your best chance to have them returned to you.
  • Candy is for people: Candy can lead to health problems such as diabetes or obesity, and chocolate is especially dangerous because it contains theobromine, which is toxic to dogs and cats. Keep treats well away from your pets.
  • Leave home without them: If you think it would be fun to bring your pet trick-or-treating, your pet may not share your view. The strange sights and sounds of Halloween can cause a normally friendly dog to bite if it feels scared or threatened.
  • Don’t costume your pet: Dressing your dog in a costume inhibits his ability to communicate, making him prone to display aggression himself or be subjected to aggressive behaviour from other dogs.

The British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is a not-for-profit organization reliant on public donations. Our mission is to protect and enhance the quality of life for domestic, farm and wild animals in B.C.


Pets at work may help atmosphere but bring their own risks

When a conference call turns tedious, Brent Robertson can still count on getting a smile from watching Gus rolling around on the floor.

The golden retriever is a regular visitor to Fathom, Robertson’s management consulting business in West Hartford, Connecticut. So are Pookie and Ari, dogs owned by two of Robertson’s co-workers.

dogsBeyond the old tradition of a used bookstore or antique shop having a resident cat, some urban delicatessens and bodegas have cats to mitigate any rodent problems. And at some smaller professional businesses with a relaxed culture, it’s becoming more acceptable for employees bring in their pets. Robertson is among business owners who think having animals around boosts morale, improves the work atmosphere and raises productivity.

“Everyone seems to smile and immediately become a little bit happier,” says Barbara Goldberg, CEO of O’Connell & Goldberg, a public relations company based in Hollywood, Florida. Her bulldog, Rosie, is a frequent visitor.

A survey by the Society for Human Resources Management found that 7 per cent of organizations allow pets in the workplace, though that may not reflect the practices of very small businesses that don’t have HR officers.

At Badger Maps, owner Steve Benson’s Pomeranian mix, Foxy, seems to know when employees of the San Francisco app developer need some comfort.

“They’re very intuitive,” Benson says of dogs. “They have the ability to recognize when someone’s stressed out.”

But not everyone, including employees, customers and visitors, thinks animals belong in an office or a store. For as many customers that may be charmed, some people are allergic or afraid _ and might take their business elsewhere. So besides paying attention to permission from landlords and laws about having animals where food is being prepared, people need to consider how to accommodate uncomfortable staffers or clients.

Rodney Alvarez, a human resources executive at Celtra, a video advertising company, says legal issues to consider include making sure the company’s insurance covers any incidents like biting, and keeping animals well-behaved so they won’t frighten visitors. Some owners say when they interview job candidates, they let them know there are pets around.

Staffers at Celtra’s San Francisco office asked to bring in their pooches. Managers decided that was OK at its four offices, but only if every staffer agreed, Alvarez says. One Boston employee said no, and so there are no dogs in that office.

One regular deliveryman to Fathom is petrified of dogs. Since Gus “is a full contact dog,” Robertson says, “we collect the dogs and put them away in a room so (the deliveryman) can do his thing.”

And at Sterling Communications, seven of the 20 staffers want to bring their dogs into the Los Gatos, California-based office. CEO Marianne O’Connor, who has a German shepherd named Kaya, worked out a schedule that allows two dogs each day. Upholstered furniture may be off limits.

“We push them off gently, and they learn, that’s not for them,” O’Connor says.

When visitors arrive, pups may be placed in a closed office with a water bowl and toy.

At Crescent City Books in New Orleans, the majority of customers are glad to see Isabel, a Maine coon mix cat, and some let her curl up on their laps as they sit reading. “Most with any issues just keep their distance,” manager Michael Zell says.

Most often, a business becomes pet-friendly when it’s the owner who brings an animal in. Anne Buchanan adopted a dog about 12 years ago who turned out to be emotionally needy and much happier when Buchanan was around. So she began taking him to work at her eponymous PR firm in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania.

As her company grew, staffers asked if they could bring pets in, too. There are generally two dogs in the office, and sometimes as many as four, including Buchanan’s two rescues, Katie and Lacey.

Behavioural issues can crop up, but many owners said they can be dealt with. If Rosie the bulldog at O’Connell & Goldberg starts barking during a phone call, the office manager quickly lures her away from Goldberg’s side. When Buchanan’s dog and a staffer’s couldn’t get along, the boss paid for a trainer to work with both pups and their owners. Peace was restored.

Sterling staffer Rosie Brown recalls when Hazel, a co-worker’s Swedish Vallhund, couldn’t wait for her owner to get out of a meeting and left a present behind Brown’s chair. The next day, Hazel’s owner brought a cake for the office that said, “Sorry I pooped. Love, Hazel.”

“We all laughed it off,” Brown says.

Many people without pets are happy to have co-workers’ animals nearby.

“The dogs just wander around from office to office, say hi to everyone and nobody minds,” says Mike Dunklee, co-owner of Blvd Suites, a corporate housing company based in Oak Park, Michigan. Some staffers without pets keep treats in their desks.

Cats also sometimes make themselves at home in workplaces with dogs. When Brandon Scivolette, president of Elite Moving Labor, goes on vacation, his cat boards at the Tampa, Florida-based company, where there is often at least one dog about.

“A cat is a great thing for an office. It goes from office to office to hang out with people,” Scivolette says.



Raccoon Goes Ballistic on Vancouver Woman

raccoonOriginally reported by Amy Judd of Global News

An East Vancouver woman is recovering after an attack with a raccoon sent her to the hospital. Karee Toft was walking her dog early in the morning on October 17, 2016 when the raccoon pounced. She did her best to fight the animal off, but was left with over 50 puncture wounds. The struggle lasted for over 15 minutes before her cries for help brought some neighbors to the rescue. She was taken to the hospital and immediately given an tetanus shot. Her dog, Indie, was also hurt, but is expected to make a full recovery.

“The raccoon ran and actually jumped on me and knocked me over and attacked me,” said Toft.  “He was in a total frenzy, he didn’t stop. I was holding Indie, our dog, with one hand as far away as I could on the ground.”  “I was trying to kick or get away, or punch the raccoon. He just wouldn’t stop.”

Urban raccoons have become more aggressive lately and experts suggest when walking your dogs try to avoid bushed areas or areas where disgruntled raccoons may reside.



Rabies Can’t Affect MY Pet… Can It?

Rabies Can’t Affect MY Pet… Can It?

GUELPH, ON, Sept. 6, 2016 /CNW/ – In early 2016, when the raccoon strain of rabies was resurfacing in the province of Ontario, members of the public were saying the same thing: I didn’t even know rabies was still a ‘thing’?

Government agencies across Canada have made significant progress in baiting and prevention, that public concern over rabies was virtually non-existent.

With over 150 confirmed cases of rabies in Ontario since December 2015, public concern over rabies has justifiably risen.

“Rabies is a virus that affects the central nervous system,” says Kristina Cooper, Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT). “Once symptoms show, the virus is almost always fatal.”

It is estimated that one person in the world dies from rabies roughly every nine minutes. (Predominantly in Asia and Africa.)

Cooper, the Provincial Manager of Ontario’s Rabies Response Program (RRP), says that mammals, including animals and people, can contract rabies. This usually occurs when an infected animal bites or scratches a person or other animal.

“There are different strains of rabies,” Cooper explains. “Currently, Ontario is seeing bat, fox and raccoon strains. These strains are not limited, though, in transmission to other species.”

This means that an infected bat, fox or raccoon could infect your cat or dog. Regardless of whether or not your family pet leaves your own backyard, it is important to get your cat or dog vaccinated against rabies.

“Bats, skunks, raccoons and foxes often travel in backyards, unknown to home owners,” says Cooper. “Wildlife encounters can happen quickly resulting in wildlife fights with pets, or pets coming across deceased or injured wildlife, all of which can result in the transmission of rabies.”

Vaccinating against rabies is an easy way to help protect pets against the rabies virus, and in many Canadian cities, it is the law. Cooper explains that for most of Ontario, pet owners are legally required to vaccinate all dogs and cats 12 weeks of age and older against rabies.

“There are rabies vaccines that last one or three years,” say Cooper. “The one year vaccine is due every year. The three year vaccine requires the first vaccine to be ‘boostered’ one year later, and then every three years after that.”

Talk to your veterinary health care team to determine the vaccine schedule that would be best for your pet.

SOURCE Canadian Animal Health Institute

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