Thursday, August 19, 2010

Painting with the other end of the brush

I love making cinnamon buns.  Honestly ... what's not to love?  They taste great ... they're no trouble to make and best of all the house just smells so darned good when they're baking.
Truth be told, I love baking anything and back in the day when I worked on the floor I had a pretty good rep as a baker.  Why?  Because I followed the darn recipe is why. No matter how many times I had made a recipe, I always weighed and measured and followed all the steps. 
I'm a middle aged grandmother, not a mathematician, but even I know how important numbers are in life.   We measure everything, eh?   Time, money, speed, calories .... if its part of our lives we have found a way to take its measure.
Numbers are a definitive way to make a statement as well.   When people used to say that "many" dogs died a horrible death in high kill gassing shelters in Georgia, people were able to ignore that as not being "their" problem.  But when the director of the Atlanta SPCA went on record in the news with the fact that over 50,000 dogs were killed in shelters in Georgia every year ... THAT woke people up. 
From east to west in the northern states and all the way up into our own country, an Underdog Railroad developed in an effort to help.  Closer to home, their own citizens have effectively changed the practices in some shelters and are still campaigning with others.  Real numbers made it harder for people to overlook that killing healthy adoptable animals is terrible enough without gassing and heartsticking.
Straight, sweet and simple ... numbers can be a wake up call because they spotlight the true scope of any situation.
The thing that wakes me up at three in the morning is wondering how to get real numbers here in Nova Scotia.  And before the keyboards catch on fire ... of course I am delighted that the society now provide publicly available stats.  As the official voice for the animals, they'll never have the credibility to advocate for disclosure of AC numbers if they don't lead by example.
But not all the Unhappy Tails happen at AC hands.  In some places, the AC don't actually do any killing, but take the unfortunates to one of the vet clinics contracted by the municipality to provide this service.  In other areas,  outcomes are so veiled in secrecy that one can only speculate.  And of course any contractor providing AC sheltering service is under no legal obligation under provincial laws to disclose anything at all.
Animal clinics hold some of the answers in their hands ... but for privacy reasons of course would never ever disclose how many owner requested and AC contracted Unhappy Tails they have every year.
And of course there are all the Unsung Unhappy Tails that we normally never find out about.   Animals are abandoned and / or shot / poisoned / drowned or simply left to starve and freeze to death on the end of a chain.
So how CAN the picture be painted in bold enough terms to motivate?  The short answer is obvious .. it can't.
In light of that ... without real numbers .. how can we expect to change anything for the animals?  Well there is another set of numbers that politicians ALWAYS listen to ... strong voter feedback.
Why has HRM ignored the wonderful proposal for a Low Cost High Volume Spay neuter clinic?  They haven't had sufficient voter feedback is why.  Why can the provincial government dodge any responsibility for better consumer protection legislation for pet owners?  Not enough response from pet owning voters is why.
After all .... when position statements shift with every new poll, its plain to see that politicians Never Forget that their tenure is granted by the grace of the voters.
What time is it?  It is always time  to remember that strong voter feedback is the best way to paint a vivid picture for politicians.
One of the deep secrets of life is that all that is really worth doing is what we do for others.  Lewis Carroll

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