Monday, May 24, 2010

Summertime Blues

 Gardeners are real optimists.  No matter how bad last year's season was ... no matter how cool or damp or dry this year's weather is ... the beds are tilled and planted in the hopes that good things will come.   Is it raining?  Gosh doesn't that do the garden good!  Is it hot and dry?  Well ... we can never have too much sunshine either :)
There is a lot of romance attached to gardening.  The gardening shows and magazines are long on the loveliness and short on the amount of time and energy that is required to create successful gardens of all sizes. 
Why do they do that?  Because gardening is a big industry.  The reason the big box stores roll out the temporary garden centers is because there are big bucks to be made when gardeners come out of winter hibernation.
At the end of the season, it doesn't matter if everything was sold.   To be perfectly honest, none of the retailers really care whether the plants survived and settled in.  After discounting the remaining stock, its not a big deal if the unsold plants become part of the municipal composting system.
The pet industry represents big money too.   Like the gardening shows, more emphasis is placed on promoting the appeal than on the time and energy involved in the journey from infant to well behaved and well socialized adult pet.  
When the novice gardener, who remembers hostas from home plants a promising hosta bed on the sunny side of their house, it will generally not survive the first season.  A rookie wouldn't realize that the shade tag on the plant meant that full sun will kill the plant.  They might not know that new transplants need lots of extra water and tlc the first year.  Nor might they have thought that the kids might like to shortcut through that space to the front step.
Although it makes the gardener in me wince to see things like that, it is never the same thing as the pets that turn out to be the wrong fit for the family. Most of us live different lives than our parents and just might not have the time to train and exercise the Labrador that we loved when we were children. 
The pet industry resists regulation in the same way the auto and oil industries have.  All the stops were pulled out to discredit Ralph Nader.  Energy efficient prototypes were killed on the drawing board.   Two of the Big Three were brought to the brink by their failure to recognize the changing choices consumers were making.   The current crisis in the Gulf is brimming with industry altering implications.
When legislation, and more importantly the regulations that spell out the specifics, is on the drawing table ... it often gets bogged down with the very big question of how it can enforced.   As a result, the "new" Animal welfare bill in NS is still like a barebones CSS frame that needs to be filled out before it represents anything meaningful.
As a side bar to that .. it is Very Interesting Indeed to note that on the archived page listing the official status of bills that Bill 186 has been proclaimed except for "ss 31-33".  Why is that so interesting?  Those are the clauses that detail the Animal Cruelty Appeal Board which was supposed to provide a timely appeal process for owners of seized pets.    Hmmm.
But I am wandering a bit afield.  Regulations and laws do not exist so that they can always be enforced in a proactive way.   The RCMP don't go knocking on everyone's doors looking for drugs.  Their regulations are there so that when they DO find something, they are able to prosecute.
By the very nature of their limited funding for cruelty investigations, the society is never going to be able to go knocking on everyone's door looking for violations.  Their's is a reactive process that is normally complaint driven. 
So why do we need the regulations?   Without regulations, the RCMP would not be able to pull drunk drivers off the road.  Without regulations, the inspector from the Agriculture Department wouldn't be able to close an unsafe restaurant ... or post the violators names on their website.
We need the regulations so that when the society inspectors visit a puppy mill, they can actually do something about it.  We need regulations so that as other provinces and states tighten their own belt, so to speak, that we do not become the new puppy mill capital of the eastern seaboard.
Most importantly, we need regulations because companion animals are living breathing sentient beings.  At the end of the day, its not a big deal if the plants wind up in the composter.  But it is a Very Big Deal ... at least to me ... when the Unhappy Tails add up.
Everyone loves animals.  If our NDP government are looking for a great ... and fairly low cost ... way to restore their popularity, I can't think of a more effective way to do so than by fast tracking the regulations for the "new" Animal Welfare Act.
What time is it?  It is Always Time to let your MLA's know that you are an animal lover and your pet votes.

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