Sunday, October 4, 2009

There is nothing warmer than a patchwork quilt

The hundred and fifty dollar fence is almost finished. Admittedly the original cost for all the material and hardware used represents a much higher total. The $150 figure only expresses the amount of money that has been spent this year ... for a treasure find of 6' high heavy galvanized wire no longer needed by my groomer when she renovated their boarding kennels.
Much of the rest has been recycled from the fence that used to surround the old pool. The balance was bought on sale so long ago even I can't remember what I paid for them.
For years I didn't even consider building a fence. At just under two acres, it would take more energy and resources than I have to do fence the whole place. Then one morning I had an ah ha moment and realized there was nothing stopping me from fencing a PART of the yard. Its not as perfect as having a two acre private off leash park, but it will still be a safe place to play outside with my dogs and work on their recall. And honestly, its still bigger than most urban backyards.
It doesn't all match ... there are sections of board, galvanized wire, page wire and even some lattice. But it creates a safe place for Miss Ruby and Henry to have fun.
Finding an achievable and humane solution for the homeless cat problem is a lot like the $150 fence. The more that I mull the whole thing over, the more that I realize that there is no uniform, one size fits all solution. The answer lies in finding a way to amalgamate all the good ideas.
I'll be the first to admit that no meaningful formula is going to work without TNR. Can it be applied everywhere? Of course not .... but not for the reasons that its opponents will give.
The plain unvarnished truth is that there are still too many folks out there who lack the compassion and education to understand the simple effective beauty of the TNR solution. NIMBY often blinds people to the potential of TNR.
Folks who think of themselves as decent and kind human beings believe that its acceptable to cherry pick which lives matter. People will continue to kill cats until there are laws with enough teeth to apply penalties that will act as a real deterrent.
I have been told that TNR will not work here in Kings County because we don't have the fancy cat houses that they do over on the Island ( The plain unvarnished truth is that Bylaw 12A penalizes all feral colony caregivers and has been used in the past to shut down existing tended colonies. Until municipal bylaws are changed to protect feral cats, complaints from neighbours will continue to shut down existing colonies .... thus reinforcing the idea the TNR does not work.
Geography still plays a critical part in the prospects for survival of feral and stray cats. Although the society has officially come out in support of TNR, not every area in NS has consistent coverage with its own branch. Nor are these "financially independent" branches all on the same page with the provincial point of view. Changing that is an internal society issue .... but in the interim, the society should use its position as 'voice for the animals" to change the outcome for community cats by educating all municipalities about TNR.
In these days of fiscal restraint there is real competition for municipal funding opportunities. TNR is not the only good idea out there. One AC officer is firmly convinced that the solution lies in having the municipalities provide no questions asked spay neuter chits for pets. Is that a good idea? Of course it is? Is it a better use of resources than TNR? That's like comparing apples to oranges. This idea is a great way to minimize future strays and ferals but the immediate population still needs to be addressed. So yes ... a critical part of the solution also lies in a broad municipal program of spay neuter chits.
The existing "Feed me, I'm yours" policy of some branches is a proven recipe for disaster. When kind hearted people start feeding strays, the population escalates rapidly if the strays are not altered. If people are willing to feed and care for homeless cats, funding for spay neuter chits is a one time investment that does not involve further sheltering or staffing costs to kill the cats.
With all the good information out there on animal care and responsible pet ownership, how is it that there are still so many who just don't seem to 'get it'? Animal welfare sites are just brimming with wonderful resources that are all available for free. As the webmaster for one of these animal welfare sites, I can tell you that I normally get a minimum of 5000 individual visits to my site everyday. Boy that sounds like a lot , huh? Not even close. Its not eve two percent of the households in this province! Efforts to bring humane education into the public school curriculum's need to be complemented by responsible pet information on municipal and provincial websites.
There is an old proverb ... "when I teach my child, I am teaching my children's children" Until communities show enough concern and respect for all life to take pawsitive steps for the animals, our children's children will continue to perpetuate the problem. It will take a community to make it socially unacceptable to be so careless with life.
What time is it? Its always time to remember that strong voter feedback is the best way to remind politicians at all levels that humane solutions for the homeless pet problems always creates healthier and safer communities
Let your provincial MLA ( Members - Constituencies ) know that you support stronger penalties to the existing Animal Cruelty Legislation and,
Let your municipal councillors ( ) know that you want your tax dollars to be spent saving lives and setting a good example for our children.
The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing... - Albert Einstein

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