New Victoria Humane Society Humming Along

by Marg LeGuilloux
with Penny Stone


Q. How did the NEW Victoria Humane Society come to be?

A. I’ve always had a crazy love of animals, bringing home strays and injured animals my whole life. I joined the BCSPCA in Victoria 10 years ago and loved being able to make a difference in so many animals’ lives. After leaving the SPCA last year, I was thrilled to be asked to help the Whistler Sled Dog Company in finding forever homes for dogs left at the site after the horrible massacre years ago. I helped in finding homes for more than 100 sled dogs. When it came to the point that all these dogs were safe, I knew I couldn’t stop “rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming”. And so, with my wonderful long-time associate Carol Broad, who has operated Victoria Adoptables Dog Rescue since 2004, and with a small team of amazing people — the Victoria Humane Society was born.

Q. Who are the other people involved with deciding to start this new charity?

A. Well-known local animal welfare individuals involved with the administration, organization and hands-on work of the Victoria Humane Society include Cory Bond, Marty Mezeros, Melissa Medve and Ivanna Halliday.
Collectively our team has decades of experience in rescuing, rehabilitating and finding new homes for animals in need, with a specific focus on assisting animals in rural and remote communities.
Many other volunteers are rallying with us. We’re all brought together by our love for animals and an intense focus on one guiding principle: “What is the right thing to do for these animals?”

Q. What are the short term and long term goals?

A. Short term, our main focus is to find an appropriate site in Greater Victoria for a shelter, but a location hasn’t been chosen yet. At this time, rescued animals are being placed in foster homes until they are adopted.
Long term, we’re focusing on finding and expanding our sources of funding, building up our base of amazing volunteers, and improving animal care education in our community through information sessions and the media.
We want to continue to provide leadership in inspiring the Greater Victoria region to create a more compassionate future where animals are valued, protected and treated with respect.

Q. How is the Victoria Humane Society different from the SPCA?

A. The Victoria Humane Society is not affiliated with the BCSPCA. We are a separate, independently operated humane society that serves the needs of
animals in need in B.C., and we currently receive no provincial funding. We operate entirely through private donors and sponsors. We’re different also in that our Board of Directors and administrators are all local, living in the Greater Victoria region, so we make decisions based on our knowledge of what is going on and what is needed right here in our own community.
The Victoria Humane Society does not have legal authority to investigate or prosecute cases of animal cruelty.

Q. Are you affiliated with Humane Society of Canada, or any other organization?

A. The Humane Society of Canada does not have any authority or connection with the Victoria Humane Society. The Victoria Humane Society does not receive any funding from any national organizations. We really encourage people who would like to make a donation to us to visit our website and make a donation directly through there.
We operate entirely independently, and the Victoria Humane Society is run locally, by experienced animal welfare individuals with deep roots in our community.

Q. Where do your animals come from?

A. Lost or stray animals, and pets surrendered by their owners make up the majority of the animals that come into our care. We work closely with remote communities (who have no options for the many stray and abandoned animals in their areas) to bring their animals to us to help give them a chance at a better life.

Q. You’ve mentioned a particular focus on helping out in rural and remote communities. Why do dogs in these areas need particular help?

A. In way too many remote and rural areas, dogs are unsterilized, starving and homeless. Countless others are shot in a bid to control overpopulation problems.
The sad reality is that these communities have limited resources and veterinary services, and virtually no resources to address animal welfare. Thanks to the generosity of Pacific Coastal airlines and our volunteers, we can provide help without diminishing the care and attention we give to local animals.

Q. Animal rescue is not an easy thing to do. What keeps you going, after all these years of this difficult work?

A. There’s nothing so rewarding as seeing in an animal’s eyes the change you can make by just being there and caring for them. To see the ever-so- slight wag of a tail of an ill or fearful dog who now feels a little better or a little safer, or the spark of life and quiet little purr returning to a cat who had given up hope – these things make it all WAY worth the time and effort.
For sure, my experiences in animal rescue over the years have been at times
deeply moving, and other times deeply disturbing. Absolutely, opening our hearts and homes to these animals can sometimes be really overwhelming. But I and the team I’m so lucky to be working with are deeply committed to making sure that the treasures that come into our care find the safe, happy futures they deserve. It’s nothing short of a miracle when this happens, when so many of these animals beat the enormous odds to find safety and love in their new lives.
Our Victoria Humane Society team believes that if everyone does something – adopt, foster, volunteer, donate – together, we really can change the lives of thousands of animals. Nothing is impossible, we just have to believe.

Q. How can people help, and what are you needing most?

A. We rely so much on people’s generous donations of cash, time, and items. Cash and gift cards are greatly appreciated, because they let us buy exactly what we need, when we need it. We’re a registered charity and so these donations are tax-deductible.
Some people prefer to volunteer, or to donate or buy items. We really encourage everyone to visit both the ‘Volunteer’ section and the ‘Wish List’ section of our website for more information on the various ways they can make a difference in the lives of the animals.

Victoria Humane Society website:

Changing Behaviour – The Process

By Valerie Barry, KPA-CTP
In Partnership With Dogs

One of the busiest parts of my job is helping people work on their dog’s troublesome behavioural issues. Unfortunately, not everyone will ultimately be successful in making some permanent changes in their dog’s behaviour. Why is that? Well – the main reason often boils down to an inability to commit to the entire process – which may be very lengthy. A lesser reason can be finances – the budget for getting help from a trainer simply may not be able to stretch far enough for long enough. I thought it might be helpful to explore what goes into working on solving behavioural issues so owners may have a better idea what’s involved.

First, Be Proactive! We are constantly encouraging people to attend classes with their dogs – puppy classes, classes that focus on adolescent development, group classes for dogs of all ages – all using force-free methods. The more appropriate work you do with your dog early in your relationship, the fewer problems you are likely to have later on. ALL of our classes, even the “just for fun” ones, are geared toward preventing the behaviour problems we see every day.

We’ve heard all the reasons why people don’t want to take classes: I have another dog in the house; I took a puppy class with my last dog; I go to do the dog park for socializing; I’ve had dogs all my life; my dog is too old to change; I can’t afford it after paying for my dog (yes – we’ve heard this more than once!). Just take a class – or better yet two classes! I promise the right class won’t be a waste of your time or money – it’s an investment into your dog’s future. Getting appropriate information and building good skills early prevents more expense and possibly heartbreak later on.

How It Works.

Whether the behaviour you want to change is serious or just annoying, the process to change it remains pretty much the same. There are basically 3 parts to the training process: (1) management, (2) changing the dog’s response to the “trigger”; and (3) building a new behaviour.

1.Management – It’s Critical.

The more an animal practices something, the better they get at it – us included. “Practice makes perfect” applies just as much to bad behaviour as it does to good behaviour. In order to be most successful in changing your dog’s behaviour, he must have little or no chance to practice the unwanted behaviour during the entire process. This can be very difficult to manage depending on the behaviour. If you have a dog who is reactive to other dogs, how do you walk him every day?

There are many tools and techniques that can help with management for different behaviour issues. It is critical to make sure that the tool you are using isn’t going to make your problem worse. Don’t choose something that is punitive and will cause your dog to become more fearful – like a shock collar (e-collar), prong collar or choke collar, electric fencing, etc. For example, if you have a dog who is reactive on leash, focus on tools that help you, as neutrally as possible, control your dog’s movement like a no-pull harness that uses leash placement and directing your dog’s momentum to help you. The Sensation harness and Freedom harness are two good choices to investigate. For dogs who are reactive to visual stimuli, there’s a really interesting product called a Thunder Cap (available on that fits over your dog’s head and attaches to his collar. The Thunder Cap has an opaque section over your dog’s eyes so that he can see to walk and not bump into things but he cannot clearly see squirrels, dogs passing by, cars, skateboards, etc. It’s surprisingly effective and particularly useful for dogs who bark at things when they’re travelling in the car as the visual stimuli isn’t also coupled with the sound of their trigger.

Make sure your management tools are secure. Consider attaching your leash to both your collar and harness for extra security, and ensure that all pieces of equipment fit properly and can’t be escaped from.

2.Change How Your Dog Feels.
The first “working” part of the process, is changing how your dog feels about what he’s reacting to. More often than not, behaviour issues are the result of fear, and a lack of confidence (plus often a lack of impulse control – especially in very young dogs). The goal is to help your dog overcome his fear and build his confidence. Once again, the technique you use is important as it must help change your dog’s emotion from fear to tolerance, curiosity and hopefully pleasure and happy anticipation. Punitive methods and tools that are available in abundance may temporarily suppress the behaviour (prevent your dog from reacting), but they absolutely will not change how your dog feels about the trigger. Therefore, it’s not a long-term solution and it’s not helping your dog at all – it just might make things look better on the outside.

There are many techniques used in force-free training to help dogs change their emotional response to their triggers. Not every dog responds the same to everything so it’s nice to have many options to choose from. Generally, the basic goal of each technique is to pair something the dogs really wants and highly values with the appearance of the trigger – so the “thing” begins to predict something fantastic. The fantastic thing could be food, toys, play, human attention or even the release of tension and stress. Each dog learns at a different rate, so the time this takes varies widely from dog to dog – but it will work. If you were afraid of spiders but someone started to give you $100 each time you spotted one – pretty soon, you’d be hoping to see spiders everywhere and begin to feel much better about them!

The trick is to make sure that you are always working at a threshold level that is manageable for your dog. He needs to be able to think and respond to direction as opposed to be in full-on reaction mode. In other words, distance from the trigger (or the level of the trigger if it was a sound) is critical to your success – not too close – err on the side of caution. I generally use a Clicker or a verbal marker, so if the dog I’m working with can respond to the sound of the Clicker or marker by turning to me for his reinforcement, then I’m at a good working distance.

The process of changing your dog’s emotional state can be time consuming but it’s important. It’s not good enough to suppress behaviour by forcing your dog to quit reacting to something – sooner or later that emotion has to come out and the reaction isn’t going to get better over time. We need to work toward making your dog feel that it’s no longer necessary to respond negatively.

Most of the expense of working with a trainer comes during this part of the process. The techniques themselves are not complicated or difficult but it’s important that a good, professional trainer can frequently see and monitor your progress and make sure that you’re reading your dog’s responses properly. Sometimes it may be necessary to change techniques “on the fly” and only a well-trained professional knows when that needs to happen and how to do it.

2a.Create a Confident Dog.
Part of changing how your dog feels is also about building their confidence, which I consider to be an important part of this same process. The positive techniques you use will help build confidence, but there are also other things that you can do while not actively “working” that will help build confidence in other ways. Giving your dog mentally stimulating activities are really helpful to the overall process. Suggestions: feeding his meals from kongs, making use of puzzle toys, teaching him tricks, taking part in activities like scenting games or interactive games like fetch and tug. All of these activities are confidence building and will help keep your dog in a good mental space. It adds to your overall success and keeps the process fun.

3.Build a New Behaviour or Repair an Old Behaviour.
Usually, once you start to see some success, you also need to teach some new behaviours or perhaps “repair” some previously known behaviours. What behaviour would you like your dog to do instead of the unwanted one? If you have a dog who jumps up on people, maybe sitting beside you while you chat to someone is a good choice – but, can your dog “Sit” in that situation?

An important part of training is helping your dog generalize his skills to different situations. Take a simple behaviour like “Sit” for example. If you have a dog that jumps up on people, you need to teach him that someone stopping in front of you can also be a cue to “Sit”; or that when he hears that cue to “Sit”, he is able to do it anywhere and everywhere he may be – on leash or off leash. We hear all the time “my dog knows how to sit” – but more often than not even very simple skills like “Sit” are not taught to this extent.

In summary:
Obviously, each individual case is different and there are often other things that we teach dog owners that are too numerous to be covered in the scope of this general article. However, you get the idea – the process can be time consuming but necessary in order to address problem behaviours. It’s important to get some help from skilled professionals using appropriate, force-free methods. Don’t wait too long to get the process started – generally the longer the problem behaviour is practiced, the longer it takes to solve. Perhaps, the best piece of advice – be proactive! Do everything you can to give your dog a solid education from the start and prevent having to go down this path.

Cold Laser Therapy for Pets – Beam me up Scotty?

By Dr. Rehanni Khaseipoul

laser_photosNo, not that kind of laser! This is a practical down-to-earth device and while it won’t move us to another galaxy, it will move pain, whether it is our pain or the pain experienced by our companion animals. I wish I had known about Low Level light/Laser Therapy (also known as ‘Cold Laser’) eleven years ago when the love of my life, Java, a Rottie Husky cross had to undergo a major surgery. His recovery from the surgery was extremely difficult and I am certain Cold Laser would have made him more comfortable and sped up his recovery time. If Java were alive today, he would benefit from having Cold Laser therapy for stiff joints and arthritis, nerve pain and general improvement in the quality of his life as a senior dog.

What is Cold Laser therapy?

laser_photos2Cold Laser or Low Level light/Laser therapy (LLLT) is the application of light (a low power laser or light-emitting diode [LED]) to promote tissue repair, reduce inflammation, or reduce pain (analgesia). Unlike high-powered lasers, which create heat and destroy tissue (and are often used in surgery for making incisions), Low Level light/Laser therapy actually stimulates the healing of tissues at the very foundation of the cell level.

How does this work?

Remember mitochondria from high-school biology class? They are the power-house of the cell that produces energy known as ATP (adenosine tri-phosphate) and each cell in our body has these little powerhouses. Normally these mitochondria can produce enough energy to allow the cell (and its surrounding tissues and organs) to heal itself when injured and to reduce inflammation. However, stress affects everything in the body, including our mitochondria. In tissues that are stressed, the mitochondria can’t function at full capacity and produces less cellular energy than that which is needed for repair. This reduction in cell energy results in an environment where tissues and organs can’t function properly, and creates a buildup of inflammatory byproducts causing pain and swelling in the damaged area. The LLLT device works by emitting particles of light, known as photons, which are absorbed by the cell’s mitochondria at the actual site of injury. The mitochondria use these photons to produce more ATP energy, which is exactly what is needed for tissue repair and reducing inflammation and pain at the site of injury.

What can be treated?

laser_photos3Low level Light Laser Therapy (LLLT) can be used to treat a wide variety of conditions, both chronic (long standing) and acute (recent) diseases. Chronic inflammatory conditions such as; pancreatitis, tendonitis, torn ligaments (knees), muscle sprains & strains, nerve injuries, cellulitis, arthritis, hip dysplasia, and joint pain can all benefit from Low level Light Laser Therapy. Even chronic infected ears, which are extremely painful, show reduction in pain and swelling with Low Level light/Laser therapy treatment. Postsurgical incisions and wounds heal faster with the aid of LLLT.
In clinical trials, LLLT has been found to improve blood circulation in injured tissue as well as stimulate the formation of new blood vessels. This is important because blood is the life source of all healing and better blood circulation means the body’s important healing products and nutrients can reach the site of injury. LLLT has been shown to help repair all kinds of tissue from muscle, skin, bone, cartilage and nerves to organs (including the liver). Skin conditions such as dermatitis, burns, hot spots and lick granulomas have benefited from Low Level light Laser Therapy and research supports the benefits of LLLT for nerve injures, as it helps to regenerate both the nerve itself and the insulating nerve cover (known as the myelin sheath). LLLT stimulates bone healing through the increased production of new bone cells (known as osteoblasts). LLLT accelerates healing in injuries of skin, muscle, nerve and bone, and reduces edema, inflammation & scar tissue.

Are there any contraindications to using laser therapy?

LLLT should not be used directly over any cancerous tumors, or over a pregnant female’s uterus. It can be used safely over metal implants such as pins.

How long is an average treatment?

Treatment times range from 2-30 minutes depending on the condition being treated. Larger animals may require more time so that the LLLT can be directed over the entire injured area. Most animals find LLLT to be a relaxing treatment once they become familiar with the procedure, some will even fall asleep during treatment.

How many treatments are needed?

laserphotos4The number of treatments needed depends on the condition being treated. Recent (acute) conditions may only require 1-5 treatments, while more chronic long-standing conditions may require 10-15 treatments or more. Older animals can benefit from an ongoing maintenance treatment on a weekly or monthly basis. Because LLLT works so well for joint pain, it can be used as a maintenance program to reduce, delay or prevent joint degeneration in companion animals. LLLT treatment can replace or reduce the use of steroids and other anti-inflammatory drugs. Long-term use of steroids and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory can have negative side effects on the health of our companion animals.

Health care for animals has come a long way in the last decade and more options exist than ever to help us provide more gentle, effective and non-invasive medical care for our animal friends.

About the author:

Dr. Rehanni Khaseipoul practices Holistic medicine at Vital Beings Veterinary Practice in Vancouver BC. She will soon be introducing a LLLT program for her patients at her practice. Learn more about her at:

References: Thor Laser Ltd

January 2014 Pet of the Month Winner!

rikerCongratulations to Riker, winner of the first ever Pet of the Month contest on The contest was a huge success and we couldn’t be happier with the results. There were almost 100 entries and over 1000 votes cast! Riker will now be eligible for a calendar spot and entered into a vote to be placed on the cover of Pet Connection Magazine.

The February contest is now accepting submissions and voting is open! You can enter here and vote here! We want to thank everyone who participated in the January contest and wish you the best of luck if you choose to enter again in February. Enter early and share often for the best chances of winning!