Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Closing the Barn door

There is a real chicken and egg aspect to the free online ad sites that continue to condone the traffic of living breathing sentient beings. Do they promote irresponsible pet ownership? Do they offer an opportunity for folks who cannot afford a pet to give pet ownership a shot anyway? Do they offer an out for those who were too cheap or too careless to spay the cat in time? You bet?
But wait .... what are the other options for anyone who is unwilling or unable to keep their pet? Every shelter and rescue group in the province is bursting at the seams. In the Herald this morning, SPCA President Sean Kelly said that "We’re turning away 30 cats a day at the Metro SPCA because we simply don’t have room for them and we’re telling people they have to find homes for them "
One could run out of fingers and toes listing the problems connected with the 'free to a good home' listings:
  • first and foremost is the humane aspect .... without any proper screening some of the small pets are going to become feeders and some of the dogs will become bait dogs for fighting or sentenced to a life of horror in a puppy mill
  • the 'curbside guarantee' means that there is absolutely no protection for consumers. Heartaches are just waiting to happen with undisclosed medical and behavior issues
  • there is of course the practical aspect that the site is often frequented by kind hearted folks who cannot afford all the initial start up costs of responsible pet ownership. In other words, the first people who should be adopting already altered pets are the last people to lining up to apply .... opting instead for a short term solution fraught with long term problems
  • not to mention the layer of anonymity that enables the unscrupulous puppy brokers to prey on unsuspecting animal lovers.
  • it provides a customer base for a well intentioned but sadly misguided cottage industry of the backyard breeders who claim to provide affordable purebreds as a public service but are actually deteriorating the breed standards. The medical and behaviour problems that can arise from improper screening can cost unwary consumers much more in the long run.

Even worse, the ads do not provide any kind of support for the journey of pet ownership. When one adopts a pet from a reputable breeder or a responsible rescue, there is a wealth of support available. After all, it isn't just the pets that will need training. Good pet owners are made, not born, as well.

It is the lack of these educational resources that enables the cycle to keep spinning through the free online ad sites. As long as these sites exist, there will be pet owners that simply do not know how to make the journey last a lifetime. There is no obligation to return the pet if they are unwilling or unable to keep it. So pet owners keep missing the boat and hoping the next one will work out better.

In today's story in the Herald, Mr Kelly closed by stating that ""We’re not just a place to drop off unwanted animals. Our main reasons for being are investigation of cruelty complaints and education." Is that true? Of course it is. The society as a whole is trying to better itself, but they still have a specific mandate - cruelty prevention and investigation.

In keeping with that, it would be appropriate and timely for SPCANS to draft a proposal for legislation to ban the traffic of living sentient beings in the free online ad sites. Would that solve today's problem? Of course not. However, turning off that particular tap is something that only the official 'voice for the animals' can do.

It is a meaningful way that our new and frugal NDP government could make a pawsitive change. In all honesty, any spay neuter or tnr funding will be meaningless without this step.

To lend the support of your voice to the society in this issue, the appropriate email is animals@spcans.ca . To further bolster that by letting your MLA know that this is an issue of importance to you as a voter, you can find the contact at Members - Constituencies ( always remember that it is better to contact the home riding office email address

What time is it? If we want the official voice for the animals to speak up, its time to lend the strength of our support for specific issues like this. If you are 'full up' and can't adopt even one more pet, you can at least do that. Until this particular issue is addressed, almost everything else is akin to closing the barn door after the horse is gone.

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