Career woman and mayoral candidate Caroline Sheppard (Amanda Langille) is determined to find her family's stolen dog, Dinah. Given a lead by an animal welfare activist, Caroline risks her safety and reputation and alienates her family as she searches for Dinah in the underground hell of puppy breeding mills and research laboratories. But when she confronts a brutal dog-fighting ring her courage inspires her family to reunite and help her rescue their pet. 

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Yes, you can bring your pets with you

Published on December 10, 2012 by in Blog

At Animal Alliance we receive calls regularly from people saying they must give up their companion animal because they are moving and can’t bring their companions along.  In Ontario, Part II, section 14 of the Residential Tenancies Act stipulates that “[a] provision in a tenancy agreement prohibiting the presence of animals in or about the residential complex is void.  The following article by Mark Weisleder explains some possible situations renters and landlords may encounter.  Unfortunately, it is the animals that may end up with the short end of the stick.


No-pet clauses in leases lack teeth

By Mark Weisleder | Fri Dec 07 2012

Pets. Landlords don’t want them in their properties. Tenants can’t live without them. Unfortunately, the law in Ontario just makes it worse for everyone.

Under the law, you can’t prevent a tenant from bringing a pet into your property, unless it is a condominium and the building declaration says no pets. So even if a landlord and tenant sign a lease that says no pets, the tenant can bring 2 dogs and 4 cats the next day and there is nothing the landlord can do about it.

Yet if the landlord has a no pet policy in the entire building, they can probably refuse to approve the tenant in the first place if they know the tenant has a pet. You start to see the problem. If the tenant is honest up front and tells the landlord they have a pet, their application can be refused. If the tenant lies on the application and then brings in a pet afterwards, there is nothing the landlord can do. The result is often a poisoned relationship, right from the start.

Some landlords ask tenants with pets for a security deposit when they move into the unit in order to pay for any damages the pet causes during the lease. Also illegal. In a landlord and tenant board case decided in Whitby on October 7, 2009, the tenant wanted to bring a pet onto the premises. The landlord demanded a $50 fee to bring the pet as well as an additional $50 per month which would go toward a carpet replacement fund when the tenant left. The adjudicator, Claudette Leslie, decided that both of these payment requests were illegal. The only amount a landlord can ask for in advance is last month’s rent, and it can only be used toward last month’s rent.

If your pet has caused damage to the home, then the landlord can evict you if you do not repair the damages. If you leave the unit damaged at the end of your tenancy, the landlord can go to small claims court and sue you for the damages caused. In another Board decision, a tenant was ordered to pay $250 to have the carpets steam-cleaned after their cat urinated on them. Scratches or bite marks caused by pets to the woodwork and floors of a home can cost hundreds, if not thousands of dollars to repair.

In other cases, tenants have been evicted because their pets barked all the time and were a nuisance to the other tenants in the building.

When you have a pet, bring references from prior landlords that confirm that you always looked after your pet and that you also took good care of the property while you lived there. This will assist you in convincing the current landlord that you will do the same with their property. It goes without saying that pets should always be properly groomed, to avoid any unnecessary damages as well.

Landlords, make sure that the tenant signs some form of rental unit condition statement when they move in and take pictures of the unit, so that you will have proof if any damages are caused by the tenant during the tenancy.

Landlords and tenants should not have to lie to each other. Treat each other with respect, even on pet issues, and the tenancy relationship will be a positive one for everyone involved.

Mark Weisleder is a Toronto real estate lawyer. Contact him at

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The Animal Guardian Society – TAGS

Published on November 1, 2012 by in Blog

Over the Moon Alice:
An Interview with Kathy Asling
Executive Director of
The Animal Guardian Society

Part II

When Kathy Asling, executive director of The Animal Guardian Society (TAGS), walked through the door of Oshawa Animal Services, as she did every week, she was looking for the most vulnerable and at-risk dogs – dogs who were at the top of the facility’s list to be euthanized because shelter staff considered them unadoptable.On that particular day, a little beagle named Alice jumped up on her back paws, placed her front paws on the bars of her cage and looked into Kathy’s eyes.  Then she began to howl.   Kathy had no doubt what Alice was saying.  “She was saying, Get me out of here! And I made her a promise I would.”

Through no fault of her own, Alice had found herself behind the bars of an animal shelter that disposed of unwanted dogs.  Because Alice was pregnant and shelter staff didn`t want to find homes for both her and her puppies, Alice was at the top of the kill list.  With an 80% kill rate, few made it out of Oshawa Animal Services alive, but Kathy was determined that Alice would be one of them.

So she began calling everyone she could think of, even people she had not spoken to in years.  Finally she found someone who would foster Alice and her soon-to-be-born puppies.  But Kathy’s work had only begun.While the vet had told Kathy to expect Alice to give birth to four puppies, Alice gave birth to nine.  Once the puppies weaned, Kathy set out to find homes for all of them. But she wasn’t just looking for any homes.  She was looking for the right ones: those that would fit the temperaments and needs of the puppies; homes with individuals and families who would be reliable and committed to providing the best care possible.  With lots of hard work, Kathy found those homes.

Once all the puppies were placed, Kathy took Alice home to live with her.

A Small Rescue Group with Big Goals

The Animal Guardian Society is the rescue group Kathy founded to save unwanted dogs from unnecessary euthanasia at the hands of kill shelters.  Grassroots-based, TAGS is an all-volunteer organization with no paid staff.  And while small, it has big goals.

“One of our goals is to help reduce the population of unwanted animals.  We also want to build an adoption and education centre so that people can learn how to care for a pet before they get one,” Kathy says.

Kathy and her pack of volunteers recognize the need to educate people about responsible pet ownership prior to them getting a pet and also while they are living with one.  “We want to be able to provide that education before and after our rescues are adopted,” she says.

Without providing proper education to their adopters, Kathy explains, rescue groups will continue to face the problems of unwanted pets.

“Our goal is to teach children how to be responsible to the animals who live with them, because children will be the adults of tomorrow.  We want to send volunteers into the schools so they can teach children how to responsibly care for their companion animals.”

An adoption centre would provide TAGS with an interim place for the rescued dogs before they get adopted.  It’s a dream Kathy holds dear, for without such a center, TAGS must use foster homes until forever homes can be found. Unfortunately, there are only a limited number of foster homes available.  More are always needed.

Another goal Kathy hopes TAGS will reach is facilitating vets to provide low cost spay and neuter clinics in Ontario.   We want vets to help educate their clients about responsible pet ownership and the importance of spaying and neutering their companion animals.  Low-cost spay and neuter clinics would not only provide spays and neuters for families who cannot afford them but would also provide spaying and neutering for feral cats.

The Adoption Process

Like many rescue groups, TAGS is extremely careful in their placement of the dogs they rescue.  We have an in-depth adoption process based on what we have learned over a lot of years.  It’s an adoption process that TAGS shares with newer rescue groups that don’t yet have the years of experience needed for the implementation of an intensive screening process.  It’s also one way Kathy hopes to build a community of sharing among rescue groups.  “We all need to work together to be the best we can be,” Kathy says.

Innovative Programs

One of the things that differentiates TAGS from other rescue groups is its innovative programs.  For instance, each adopter and their dog are given eight weeks of free behaviour training classes, which help ensure that adopters and their dogs develop good behaviours together.

Then there’s the group’s Seniors Fostering Seniors program which pairs the elderly with older dogs.

The program fills a big need. At shelters older dogs are often the first to be euthanized because they are often overlooked by potential adopters.  Yet these dogs have lots of life left to live and would make the perfect pet for an senior who would love to have a dog but might not able to afford the costs of having one.  That’s where TAGS comes in.  Through the Seniors Fostering Seniors program Kathy takes a senior dog from an animal shelter and places it in the home of a senior who would love that dog.  TAGS covers all the expenses including food and vet bills.  When the senior can no longer take care of the dog, Kathy will find the dog another senior.

Another distinguishing characteristic of TAGS is the fact that they will always take a dog they adopt out back.  In fact, it’s built right into their contract with adopters.

Yet all these programs are costly.  Both donations and foster homes are needed.

To reach Kathy Asling or a TAGS volunteer or to find out more about TAGS’ volunteer program, pet training, dog surrender or to request an email newsletter, email

You can also telephone TAGS at 905-263-TAGS (8247)

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The Animal Guardian Society (TAGS)

Published on October 30, 2012 by in Blog

Thanks to Saving Dinah, we at Animal Alliance now have another reason to make common cause with animal welfare organizations around the world.  Collectively, we can continue to raise awareness about the crucial issues concerning companion animals – the dogs and cats we love.  One such organization is The Animal Guardian Society whose mission is to provide re-homing and medical care to displaced companion animals and to support the community in areas of humane education, behaviour counseling, the promotion of responsible pet ownership, and the needs of animals.

It All Began With A Thrown-Away Puppy

Interview with Kathy Asling
Executive Director of The Animal Guardian Society


It was 1987 and Kathy Asling was a young sales representative living in Oshawa when she discovered an eight-week-old puppy wandering in and out of traffic.  Determined to find the puppy’s owners, Kathy called everyone she could think of who might know who the puppy belonged to.  When that didn’t work, she placed an ad in a local Oshawa-Whitby newspaper.  A reporter saw the ad and followed up with an article in the paper’s Sunday edition.

Though Kathy never heard from the puppy’s owners, and now believes the puppy was probably “dumped”, she received almost 200 calls from people who wanted to adopt the little brown and white female.

Instinctively, Kathy screened the potential adopters and set up home visits. She didn’t want to adopt the puppy to just anyone, she wanted to find the right family.  After weeding through a number of good homes, she selected one, then looked forward to life returning to normal.

But it didn’t.  Now that the puppy was in her new home, Kathy realized that she had the names and phone numbers of several families who could  provide loving homes for dogs in need. The next day she went to the local shelter and started match-making families with available dogs.

But it didn’t stop there.  Kathy recognized the need to continue finding homes for adoptable dogs slated to die in local shelters.  She and her daughter came up with the name The Animal Guardian Society (TAGS) and set up Durham Region’s first animal rescue.

That was 25 years ago and Kathy has never looked back.  “Finding that puppy turned my life into an entirely new direction.  I believe things happened for a reason and this was the direction I was meant to follow,” she says.

(Part II of Kathy’s interview will be posted on Thursday)

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