A Waiting Room Rant

This has been a long time coming, and it’s been a while since I really dusted off the Soapbox for its original purpose – a place for me to complain.

Dear Other Patrons in the Veterinary Clinic Waiting Room,

Re: Public Service Announcement

The waiting room of the vet’s office is neither (a) an on-leash or off-leash play area for pets, nor (b) a petting zoo.

Before you consider me a complete ogre for these statements, let us ponder for a moment about the reality that is the veterinary clinic environment.

Consider a veterinary office part family doctor and part walk-in clinic or emergency room; most of the people waiting in that office with their beloved pets are not exactly thrilled to be there.

For instance, many patients are waiting there in advance of a routine procedure or check-up.  But do not be fooled by the comfort implied by the word “routine”.  Even if you are taking a cat in for shots or a dog to get spayed, there always remains a certain amount of worry – and a definite amount of monetary cost – associated with the trip.  Even the most optimistic people do not look forward to a vet visit.

And the routine stuff is the best it gets!  Because if you’re not there for a planned appointment, you are there because you are concerned your dog is sick or, worse, there has been a medical emergency such as injury or sudden illness.  Those people REALLY don’t want to be there.

So you know what this means?

It means if I am in the waiting room, you can bet I have a lower-than-my-already-low tolerance for idiotic behavior and poor social decorum.

Which brings me to you, and your delusions of fun pet-to-pet or pet-to-people greetings while we wait.

Please be advised: I will not let it happen.

You know how I just explained why people are never excited about going to the vet?  Well now consider the pets themselves.

First of all, you have no idea why pets are there.  So if you even think about asking if our dogs can meet and/or play while we wait, you have another thing coming.

Many pets go to the vet because they are sick or injured.  This means they are not feeling well and, just like people, can be a bit more sensitive and intolerant when under the weather.  So there is no way I want to risk any dog-to-dog greetings no matter how friendly you assure me Fido truly is – it is just too unpredictable.

Even in the event of animals there for “routine” procedures, the veterinary clinic is a weird place to be, and the environment alone can result in bizarre and uncharacteristic behavior.  The smells, the noises, the overall “vibe”… our pets know when something is “off”.  And I bet if you looked for behavioral stress signals such as panting, lip-licking, and yawning, you would notice them in abundance.  Instead, I prefer my dog just sit as calmly as possible unbothered, allowing her to cope with the situation in her own way, without adding even more stress or stimulation.

And THAT is why I won’t let her play with your unruly beagle.  It has nothing to do with my dog being “aggressive”, but everything to do with your apparent lack of awareness and my prioritization of my dog’s mental state.

Speaking of things I won’t allow brings me to my next and last point: please prohibit your unruly children from groping my dog.

If you cannot keep your other human family members under control, they probably should not accompany you to medical appointments – even if it’s for the family dog.

First, remember all that stuff I just said about stress and unpredictable behavior?  Well, if your offspring goes in for an unauthorized full body hug with my dog while I’m distracted, I’m sorry (I’m really not), but any adverse reaction there may be from the dog was completely deserved.

And second?  Well even if we weren’t in the vet’s office, I do not allow children who do not ask to pet my dog.  Ever.  Children should ALWAYS ask first.  And if you can’t teach them that, I will help them to learn the hard way with my own negative reinforcement – better it is from me in verbal form than by way of the teeth of the unsuspecting dog.

I thank you very much for your consideration of these issues and I look forward to somewhat more pleasant interactions in the veterinary clinic’s waiting room in the future.  Though, truthfully, I hope neither of us finds ourselves there if at all possible.

Yours very truly,

Jen K

For further information and an illustration, please see this handy chart from Dr. Sophia Yin:

BtC4A: Kijiji Pet Sales and the CHS

It’s that time again!

This quarter, I would like to bring attention to the latest development between the Calgary Humane Society and the online marketplace, Kijiji.

Now, everyone should know by now that searching for a new pet through websites like Kijiji is generally a bad idea.  Everyone should.  But, because it remains prolific, clearly they don’t.

Why are Kijiji sellers bad?

Easy.  Because there is no transparency or regulation.  Online pet sales are where puppy mills, backyard breeders, and accidental breeders do their business.  And as soon as your money goes into their pockets, you have helped them to profit and condoned their practices.

Taken straight from the Calgary Humane Society’s official position on breeding companion animals:

There are a variety of types of irresponsible breeders and the CHS strongly opposes the practices of the following:

• Backyard Breeder: A backyard breeder breeds an animal for financial gain and not for the purpose of betterment of the breed, with little or no thought regarding the consequences for or the well-being of the animals. Backyard breeders usually breed animals without proper regard for pedigree, proper planning for future homes, spay/neuter planning for offspring, and/or little knowledge of proper rearing techniques.

• Puppy Mill: “A puppy mill is a breeding operation in which dogs are repeatedly bred for financial gain and are kept in substandard conditions” (Ontario SPCA, as cited in No Puppy Mills Canada, 2001).

• Accidental Breeder: An accidental breeder is someone that has not had his/her animal spayed/neutered and an unplanned breeding occurs as a result. Many animals end up in shelters as a result of such accidents. Failure to control animal breeding is connected with other forms of neglect.

These three categories of breeders play a significant part in buyer misinformation and pet overpopulation.  Ease and price often cause the public to seek out these sources for new pets, rather than researching reputable breeders or adopting from a shelter or rescue agency.

Rescue agencies have long been aware of this fact and have made endless attempts to educate the public.

And now the Calgary Humane Society is blazing a trail with a new strategy.

Earlier this week it was announced that CHS and Kijiji have teamed up to regulate breeders selling pets online.

The CHS will inspect and certify online breeder listings through a new Breeder Inspection Program.  Approved breeders will then be given a particular badge on their ad that acknowledges their certification and CHS approval.

To earn the badge, the CHS must approve the provided space and shelter, sleeping conditions, supply and quality of food and water, the number of animals in the home, general cleanliness, and vet inspections.  There will be follow-up inspections to ensure the “breeders” remain credible.

One of over 300 Calgary ads for cats/kittens currently on Kijiji - also an example of an Accidental Breeder.

Now, before you start nit-picking, I request you acknowledge the innovativeness of this new idea and that is really is better than nothing.

In fact, I must remind myself of that, as cynicism often takes over.

Do I wish Kijiji ads were now limited to ONLY breeders who receive CHS approval?  Sure.  I mean, this badge strategy will not reduce the number of pet ads online, nor will it make it more difficult to advertise on Kijiji or find a pet breeder on Kijiji.

Do I wish the solution was a bit more active than passive on the part of buyers?  Of course.  People will still be able to see non-CHS approved breeders in with the CHS-approved ones, and only people who’ve heard about the program will know to look for a CHS logo.  Not to mention it does little to stop the impulse purchase of that cute kitten based on a picture – regardless of what badges appear.

Do I wish we educated the public so greatly that they didn’t go to Kijiji for a pet in this first place?  Indeed.  This may be considered an example of treating the symptom and not the problem.

But you know what?  As I said, it’s still better than nothing.

It’s a concrete step forward that other cities have yet to take.

And if it causes just one person to re-think their potential purchase of a backyard bred puppy, then I say a small improvement is better than none.  And if the press release about the partnership educated more people about the perils of online pet ads – great.

There are many pieces to the puzzle of pet overpopulation.   This is one.

It would be a mistake to think we’re done now, though.

To watch the news report on this program – and see ASLC’s comments – check out the CTV video by clicking here.

One of over a thousand current Calgary Kijiji ads for dogs/puppies.

To see what others are writing about for Blog the Change for Animals this April, view the list by clicking here.

Good Friday

Today is Good Friday.

Good Friday means millions – if not billions – of people will meditate on something like this at least once during the day:


But that metaphor makes me think of how I have this:

Foot – and paw – prints in the snow.

And it’s Easter.

Which also means lots of this:


Happy Easter; Happy Passover; Happy Long Weekend, however you spend it!

Wordless Wednesday 13: Winter Storm Warning

It’s a late addition, but I just had to sneak in a last-minute Wordless Wednesday.

Alma was hanging out with the Husband at work, but I just had to take Moses out before the sun set to show you exactly what April looks like in Calgary.

Nothing like a Winter Storm Warning!

Moses in his element.

He hides his excitement well.

What’s that they say about “April showers”?

Monday Mischief 5: The Peace Bridge

Last weekend, Calgary’s new famous (or perhaps ‘infamous’) landmark opened for public use, so I thought Moses and I should check it out.

There has been no shortage of controversy over the bridge since it was approved: the price tag ($25 million), the location, the design and build by a Spanish (instead of Canadian) company, and a routine weld inspection that resulted in major delays and extra work as a result of different requirements between Canada and Spain.   It was a hot topic in municipal politics here.

So of course I had to see first hand the results of all the commotion.

Heading to the bridge.

It’s a pedestrian bridge into downtown Calgary.

Moses feeling peaceful.

Across the bridge.

Not a bad landmark to have, I say.

I was not actually able to locate the reason why this bridge was named the “Peace Bridge”, but based on the turmoil caused in City Hall, its title is nothing short of ironic.

In any event, it’s done now and I think it looks great – another interesting piece of architecture to add to our city.

Check out what others got up to this weekend.