Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The World is STILL a Very Dangerous Place

I love crisp cold days like this ... when a little snow and sunshine can surround us with such beauty.   Mind you, its ever so much easier to appreciate all this when we can come back into a comfy warm house.  Where the water is not as frozen as the pond ... where the food is not left to freeze in a clump under the snow ... and where noone is left out on their own to be lonely and cold and so hungry for a human touch.
This time last year, there was a dog in Cape Breton who was quite literally getting to the end of his rope.   Neighbours had complained to the SPCA for a couple years.  Inspectors were sent several times since 2007 but were " unable to do anything because the owner was meeting the minimum standard of care for the animal"
There was no surprise ending to that story ... the dog froze to death on the end of the chain.  As disheartening as it was to have such inconclusive necropsy results that the SPCA did not move forward with prosecution, the situation did underscore the need for anti tethering legislation.
Not for position papers.  Not for press releases .. but for real honest to gawd legislation specific enough to stop the practice.  To be perfectly honest, I'm surprised that this hasn't been pursued more aggressively by the society.
Chained dogs are out there for all the world to see.  When neighbours and kind hearts who are unfamiliar with the legislation ( or lack of it I should say ) complain, they simple assume that the society is unwilling or unable to address such obvious cases of cruelty.
Each and every time this happens, there is a notable negative impact on the society's reputation.   It reinforces the very urban legends that the society has been working so hard to overcome.  Even worse, anytime public confidence is diminished that has a direct impact on the society's ability to fundraise.
At the risk of sounding like a stuck record, we need Anti Tethering Legislation for the following reasons:
  • Animal Cruelty - It is cruel and inhumane to isolate social creatures. Dogs are allowed to be treated worse than livestock. Their suffering is profound and well documented 
  • Public Safety - All data confirms that unsocialized dogs are a grave danger to the public, especially to children.
  • Public Nuisance - The dogs frequently bark, howl, cry, whine, escape, and menace, creating neighbourhood fear and anger. Noise complaints often results in further cruelty to the dog in the form of punishment, muzzling and poisoning.  
  • Public Expense - Complaints and impoundment and disposal cost money, and these costs continue to rise as more dogs are owned. 
  • Public Health - The areas the dogs are kept in are frequently contaminated with feces and urine and the food is a rodent attractant. 
  • Lawlessness - When neighbours cannot get any action from city hall or the SPCA, they are forced to break the law by removing and rehoming the dog.  A broad spectrum of people have been forced to do this, from off-duty police officers, crown prosecutors, grandmothers, single mothers on welfare, wealthy socialites, ministers, community activists, and untold numbers of ordinary people who would not otherwise dream of committing a felony. They are forced by the lack of action from political leaders and the SPCA to become lawless.
This is particularly sad because the solution is so simple:
  • limiting the number of hours that a dog can be chained and/ or penned utside each day
  • legislation sets a ban from 1000 pm until 700 am 
  • Insisting that someone is physically onsite at the same address as the dog whenever the dog is chained or penned,
  • Clearly limiting the definition of indoors to the principal residence,
  • Establishing a firm weather advisory policy, with minimum and maximum
    outside temperatures, to include storm watches and wind chill,
  • Prohibiting the chaining or penning of any dog within a specific physical radius of a school.  This also reinforces the concept that anti tethering legislation is being introduced to protect the children in the community General consensus sets that at a minimum of 500 feet.   
Why didn't I include minimum housing standards and leash lengths in there?  Because:
  • it invites input from PIJAC members and CKC representatives which could muddy the waters and impede the progress of the bil
  • Minimum housing standards are an issue that is not limited to chained and penned dogs,
  • Setting minimum leash lengths and housing standards has created loopholes elsewhere, such as in Texas, that have completely undermined the rest of the legislation
  • Anti tethering legislation stands its best chance of success when it is presented as a public safety measure, and of course,
  • setting minimum standards of housing for outdoor dogs does not address the issues of socialization and public safety. A chained dog living in an insulated house is still deprived of the interaction he or she needs to be a safe part of the community.

To be perfectly honest, I'm at an absolute loss to understand why this has not been aggressively pursued by the society, because it would:
  • first and foremost, of course be of benefit to the animals,
  • provide society inspectors with the tools they needed to properly protect the animals,
  • improve the success rate of prosecutions,
  • allow the society to take the proactive step of offering a more humane alternative to the smoke screen of public safety provided by BDL,
  • engage the public in a shared journey that would of itself be an education process,
  • effective advocacy in this matter would provide a road-map for future
    legislative change, and
  • last but definitely not least, it would be a win win scenario for the society that would effectively address negative urban sometimes not so much legends.  At the end of the day what is good for the animals is always going to be good for, and reflect well, on the society.

To be perfectly honest, I can't think of a more sensible tack for them to take when they are so desperately trying to fundraise for cruelty investigations.
What time is it?  Like the old poster on my laundry room wall says ... "do something ... lead, follow or get out of the way"
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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