Monday, January 31, 2011

Getting off the (drawing) board

I love playing board games on chilly winter afternoons.  What's not to love?  Its sociable.  Its fun.  Best of all its a great way to encourage children and teens to focus and plan.
From simpler ones where the score is settled by the roll of the dice through to more complex combinations of strategy and chance, there really is something out there for all ages and tastes.
Mind you, my mother would never play Scrabble with me.  She claimed it wasn't Meant to be a tactical game and that I really wasn't very nice to block all the best opportunities :)
Nice or not, I far prefer board games to the ones often played in real life.   Take the whole issues of trying to get Low Cost / High Volume Spay Neuter clinics off the drawing board and out of the gate.
Responsible pet owners tend to be rather neutral about it.  Gee whiz .. if they can get their pets spayed and neutered, whats the big problem?  What kind of idiot wouldn't understand that?  Sheesh!
Veterinarians ... even the ones who do provide some support for animal rescue with reduced rates ... tend to view these clinics as competition that is cutting into  their bread and butter. 
( the subject of how seldom those eligible for low cost spay neuter would actually be able to pay full price for the surgeries at their clinics is an interesting topic to discuss on another day ... as are the numerous articles available online discussing ways that vets can discredit the low cost clinics to their clientele :(  Not to be mean ... until pet owners stop asking clinics to kill perfectly healthy pets, one would think that all clinics would be the first ones on board, eh?
Nor will the NSVMA set a standard spay neuter fee as it is not part of their mandate to be able to do any more than recommend fee schedules.  It is up to each individual clinic to decide what the market will bear, eh?
Politicians of course are always sensitive to the fact that their tenure is subject to regular renewal. In these days of fiscal restraint, councillors will continue to campaign that user pay clinics are more appropriate than those funded with tax dollars.
Now, I am a middle aged grandmother, not a budget expert, but I must confess that I am curious about which "user" they feel should pay?  
Should it be the rescues doing clean up crew duty?   Would it be the kind hearts who had no idea that spay neuter surgery ... along with the other bits most clinics insist on ... could cost them a months salary?  
Should it be the kind individuals who take in stray cats and vet them before finding them a more reliable home?   Should it be the hardworking little TNR groups who are trying to manage the feral cat populations that were born from stray cats? 
Should some of the cost come back to the culprits .. the ones who originally abandoned the animals?   You bet!   But here in the real world, when we have yet to see a successful prosecution for pet abandonment with a meaningful penalty, expecting results from that is about as realistic as preparing for retirement with Playsphere.
When it comes to creating safer and better communities, we are Never user pay.  Parents of school age children are Never expected to carry the entire cost of educating their children ... even if last weeks Bruce MacKinnon cartoon painted a very accurate, if amusing, picture of the current funding spat.
Politicians have no problem asking people who don't skate / go to the casino / take the bus / camp in national or provincial parks / etc to help fund these endeavors.  People with healthier lifestyles do not get taxed less for health care either.
How can we get politicians to do what we want them to do?  In a democracy, it is really very simple.  We ask them.  Politicians always remember the little nugget we so often overlook .. we "hired" them and we can "fire" them.
Its as much a part and parcel of living in a democracy as being 'bribed' with our own tax dollars.
Be polite.   Be brief enough to be clear.  Write about one subject at a time.  Ask for a response.  If you get a 'canned' response, write another letter and/ or email asking for specifics.  Include your name, address and phone number.  And of course, be sure to thank any politician who actually steps up to the plate!
What time is it?   Its always time to remember that the way ahead for the animals ... as with anything else ... will only ever be paved with strong voter feedback.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.    Margaret Mead

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