Thursday, March 11, 2010

Family calls for regulations after pet dies at kennel
by Keith CorcoranCOUNTY
This lab, named Boss, died at a South Shore kennel
An Italy Cross family mourning the loss of a beloved pet is calling for regulations to govern the way kennels in Nova Scotia are operated.
Their dog, named Boss, recently died in the care of a South Shore boarding facility and the family questions the story they were given about the cause of death. Krum Dochev, 20, speaking on behalf of his family, said they've incurred the costs of an autopsy, cremation and the legwork to track down the real story.
"We're not happy with the answers we have received and something that's come as a complete shock to us is that there's absolutely no regulatory body for kennels," Mr. Dochev said in a recent phone interview. "There's the SPCA but they only deal with cruelty and not industry standards, in general."
While they have the time and money to devote to the matter, Mr. Dochev said many others in similar circumstances don't, such as seniors on fixed incomes.
"We've had to mourn for a loved member of the family and play the role of investigators at the same time," he said, adding his point in contacting this newspaper wasn't about a vendetta against the kennel.
The facility operators explained to the family that a boxer's hind leg got caught in Boss' chain leash and the pulling caused Boss to strangle to death.
There were no indications of a struggle between the two 80-pound dogs, Mr. Dochev said and the kennel operators were both less than forthcoming with information and too hasty in its offer to pay for Boss' cremation.
He suggested there were "inconsistencies" with the kennel's story and said he figures Boss' chain got snarled in a fence, causing strangulation thereby making the kennel negligent in the care of the dog.
"I'm not saying that most kennel owners aren't good and honest people but at the same time they're businesses and if there isn't a law telling you, you have to do this, well, it's natural that people are going to cut corners. It's human nature."
Kristin Williams, executive director of Nova Scotia's SPCA, confirms there's no current provincial legislation that specifically addresses kennels through a regulatory system.
"However, the SPCA is mandated through provincial animal welfare legislation to inspect environments where animals are kept, inclusive of kennels," she said. "When we do an inspection, we review the standards of care."
Why is it that, in a society with so many animal lovers, that regulations with respect to animal care and housing still have such trouble getting out of the gate? Is it because noone every tried? Nope, animal advocates all around the continent and beyond have been hard at work with this for quite some time. Is it that noone understands the specific shape that the legislation should take? Not even close.
Every single time that legislation is introduced anywhere in North America, the pet industry participates in the process.
When food service safety regulations were drafted for restaurants, restaurants were not able to 'water' down the laws to a more user friendly format. The listeria crisis was a less than shining example of what can happen when any industry is permitted to be its own watchdog.
Whenever regulations have been drafted with respect to drinking and driving, the brewers are not invited to the table for discussion ... no matter how many sporting events they might sponsor.
Part of the problem that animal advocates face is that most pet owners do not "relate" to the need for laws. They take good care of their own pets and don't understand what more might be needed.
It takes a personal tragedy like this to highlight the fact that every humane law to protect the animals does double duty as consumer protection legislation. Minimum housing standards. Breeding limit laws. Mandatory breeding registration. Anti tethering legislation.
Sadly ... as long as the reputable CKC breeders are willing to be tarred with same brush as the commercial members behind PIJAC, all efforts by animal advocates will continue to be watered down by the very industry they are attempting to regulate.
If our MLA's wish to redeem their reputations after the dubious distinction of winning the Teddy Award for Outrageous Government Waste (from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation), fast tracking decent regulations for the new Animal Cruelty Law would be an excellent place to start.
What time is it? Its always time to remember that the way ahead for the animals will only be paved by strong voter feedback.

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