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article imageVictoria SPCA fires volunteer who protested killings of 2 dogs Special

By Marcus Hondro     Dec 13, 2013 in Politics
Early this week, the Victoria SPCA fired their long-time volunteer, Ivana Halliday, because she spoke out against the killing of 2 dogs, Bear and Dozzer. She walked thousands of dogs in 14 years but is being forbidden from ever walking a dog there again.
Just like other volunteers and donors to the branch, Halliday urged branch manager Annie Prittie Bell not to 'euthanize' the dogs. She insisted that Bear and Dozzer were "gentle souls" who were not aggressive. But on November 12 Bear and Dozzer's lives were ended by Bell and the Victoria SPCA.
Victoria SPCA ignores protests
Halliday, and, again, others, were devastated and spoke out against the killings, writing letters to Bell and the SPCA condemning their actions. Their protests went unheeded and Halliday's protests both before and after the deaths of the dogs were cited in her letter of termination as part of the reason that she was let go. She does not, however, regret, standing up for Bear and Dozzer.
"I have repeatedly expressed concern about the direction they are taking the shelter, their care of the animals and the unnecessary euthanizing of Bear and Dozzer," Halliday told Digital Journal when asked why she was let go. She said she will continue to honor her canine friends and continue to voice concerns over the circumstances.
Both dogs, Halliday and others said, were being victimized because of their breed (pit bull crosses) and each had only had one incident of aggression, incidents in which the circumstances were mitigating. Bear bit a staff in the hand but was having food taken from him at the time while Dozzer was attacked by another dog and fought back.
The Victoria SPCA has recently come under new management after Penny Stone was fired as branch manager last August. Bell was given the job and many have questioned why Stone was fired and extoll her work there. Things have not been good since, Halliday and other volunteers insist, and they mourn the loss of the open and consultative style of Stone, along with her passion for animals.
"I, like many others, was very, very upset when Penny was fired for doing her job of caring and protecting the animals," she said. Digital Journal has received similar comments from other Victoria SPCA volunteers, past and present.
Bear and Dozzer: "Targeted" due to breed
The Halliday letter of termination says in part that "The mission, vision and principles of the BCSPCA stress respect, integrity and compassionate caring. Based on your actions you have demonstrate(d) that you are unwilling to deliver on these mutually agreed values." It also accuses Halliday of "bullying" and "harassment," charges she flatly denies.
"The new management considers any questions that they dislike as confrontational," she insists. "If you express an opinion that does not agree with theirs - you are a bully."
As for the dogs who lost their lives, Halliday speaks passionately of each. Of Bear she says he bit only because food was being taken from him. "Bear reacted when his food was taken away even though they knew that Bear might, like many other dogs, be food reactive," she said.
"A decision was made to feed Bear using a shaker kong because they wanted him to work for his food to "stimulate" him. Why would they make it difficult for him to get his food and then after he had worked at it they tried to take it away. Why?"
She talks of a Bear she knew who was "kind" and "gentle" and describes Bear's treatment after the biting incident as deplorable. Isolated from other dogs, his toys taken from him, not cared for despite an illness that saw him dramatically losing weight, she says even his frozen bones, which she had given him daily, were taken from him. When she asked why she was told "they did not want him to think he had ownership of these items."
Halliday believes Bear was "targeted" because of his breed.
Dozzer she calls an "sweet little angel" and "such a joy." His incidence of hurting another dog was a "terrible" one but she points out that it was "not all Dozzer's fault" and it has been acknowledged that the other dog was the first aggressor. She notes that despite the incident they were not mandated to walk him with a muzzle. Once again she believes Dozzer was targeted because of his breed.
"If management had such concerns about Bear and Dozzer," she asks. "Why were they both allowed to go out with volunteers every day with no caution from management? Every day!"
Death of dogs "heartbreaking"
Halliday's intention now is to continue to volunteer her time with and on behalf of dogs and other animals in another organization. But she's not going to be forgetting her two departed friends anytime soon and, for her, condemning their killings was a must.
"On the days before they were killed both Bear and Dozzer were out with the volunteers without incident," she said. "There is even a video of Dozzer playing in the gym. Without warning they were both killed the night of November 12.
"It is heartbreaking to all of us that loved our boys that their final moments were with people who knew nothing about them. Management had never spent any time with them. Had never experienced the unconditional love they gave. My promise to them was that their deaths would not be in vain. Questions would be asked. People held accountable.
"We will continue to honour them and mourn their sad passing."
More about dogs euthanized, victoria spca, bear and dozzer
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