Thursday, February 10, 2011

please pass the peas ....

There were a couple of things in this morning's Herald that caught my attention.    First there was this very brief bit, which I'll come back to later in this post ....
SPCA official accused of animal cruelty
Thu, Feb 10 - 4:54 AM
YARMOUTH (CP) — The president of the SPCA in Yarmouth has been accused of animal cruelty and neglect.
Neil Hackett was suspended from his duties after the Nova Scotia SPCA received a complaint Tuesday.
Provincial executive director Kristin Williams said the complaint pertains to farm animals and pets in Hackett’s care.
She said the RCMP is investigating instead of the SPCA to avoid the perception of conflict of interest.
And the Herald also published an excellent letter that my friend Joan wrote: Thu, Feb 10 - 4:54 AM
Not isolated incident

It is amazing and wonderful that the 100 sled dogs’ tragic and inhumane deaths in B.C. is getting the amount of news coverage and public revulsion that it should. But it is not an isolated incident in a world where animals are treated as disposable — especially in Canada, where our Criminal Code gives them almost no protection.
Right here in our own backyard, in 2008, a puppy mill in New Brunswick, Chapman Kennels, shot 175 of its breeding dogs in the head when it shut down its business — and it didn’t even make the news. No one cared.

In the business of making money — whether it’s agriculture, puppy mills or "outdoor adventures" — the bottom line rarely involves the comfort and safety of animals.
The president of the Nova Scotia SPCA said last week that the Criminal Code of Canada has not changed for animals since 1892. That might be a good place to start.
Joan Sinden, Halifax
Is it a tragedy that the hundred sled dogs met such a horrible end?  Of course it is!
But I double dare you to ask anyone outside of the animal rescue community what they remember about Celtic Pets.   Brace yourself, because for more people in this province, Celtic Pets isn't just yesterday's news.  Nope .. most have forgotten all about it.   Utterly and completely!
Why?  Do people NOT care about the animals?  Or is it that ... in the absence of any meaningful penalty ... people feel that it is futile to invest sustained emotional energy for cases like this?
Or perhaps they believe that justice is Not blind!  When animal abusers are allowed to keep their personal pets and five dollar fines are handed out to kitten killers, how can everyday folks outside of the animal loving community be expected to get riled up.
People shrug and say its a shame and please pass the peas, eh?
Joan is absolutely correct.  The laws DO need to change.  Will that happen right now?  Odds are to even we are ramping up for another federal election, so its a pretty safe bet the short answer to that is No. 
Its not because nobody has tried.   Every single effort to improve the federal legislation has not been voted down .. it has simply fallen by the wayside when a federal election interupted the house business agenda. 
Bill C-17 was introduced, but 'expired' when there was an early election call in  2000.  Since then, it has been reinvented and reintroduced as Bill C-15, C-15B, C-10, C-10B, C-22, and C-50.
In 2003, Bill C-10B came very close to passing.   It was supported by all parties in the House, but the Senate stood in its way. ( the topic of how our elected politicians still have to send legislation to an appointed body for approval is a sticky subject for a blog with a different focus than this one )
Mark Holland has kept introducing bills similar to C-50 every time they have been lost in the election and prorogued parliament shuffle.   The NDP have introduced a similar bill C-558
What has happened to these efforts?  Other than being introduced.. nada.  Nothing.  Zip.   So if we do go to the polls this spring they will become part and parcel of a growing list of good tries.
To be perfectly honest, if Canadians would show some of the same enthusiasm for the animals that they do for bandwidth, one of these bills would already be law... assuming it survived the senate of course.  
At the risk of sounding like a stuck record, the way ahead for the animals will ONLY be paved by strong voter feedback.
We have come sooo close to getting better legislation so many times.  But as my dear Dad used to say ... close only counts in horseshoes and dancing.
Here at home, it is our own society that is mandated with the task of creating better legislation for the animals at the provincial level.   Now that does not actually mean that they are the only ones who can craft legislation .. simply that it part of the mandate expected of them.
In all fairness, the provincial board has come a long way in the three years since Celtic Pets burst across the consciousness of the animal loving community.    The process of putting their own house in order and building a framework to require the branches to do the same has pretty much filled up their plate.
Its no secret that Yarmouth is one of my favourite branches.  They were the first to embrace the society's New Path and always seem to pull out all the stops for their senior pets.
So you can imagine my disappointment at seeing this news about their branch president.  I can only imagine what it must be like for the employees and volunteers at the shelter.
I AM pleased to see that the society stepped back and did not try to investigate 'one of their own'.  Would that have happened three years ago?  Nope .. it would have been swept under the same carpet they tried to bury the Celtic Six / Seven / Eight ? under.
By their own admission in the online bod minutes, it has been a challenge for the provincial board to get branch level compliance.  Until they put their foot down, the bod couldn't even get some of branch heads to attend the monthly meetings even with skype.
This morning, there was this statement on the society site about the matter

Former President of Yarmouth SPCA under investigation

Nova Scotia (February 10, 2011) –A complaint was received early February 8, 2011 regarding Neil Hackett alleging cruelty and neglect of the animals in his care and custody. The Department of Agriculture was immediately informed and the SPCA’s side of the investigation is being carried out by the RCMP to avoid any perception of a conflict of interest.
The Executive of the Provincial Board of Directors met on the evening of February 8, 2011 regarding the status of Neil's position with the Society. They passed a motion to suspend him from his duties as a board member of the SPCA pending the outcome of the investigation and Mr. Hackett was advised. Late the same evening, Mr. Hackett's resignation was received and accepted.
The investigation is ongoing 
Pretty much the same thing the news story said, eh?
So what do you think is going to happen?  Will justice be served?  Can any justice be served with the existing legislation?
There are no specific standards of care for animals anywhere.    Until there ARE better laws, animals will continue to be mistreated and killed.  And there won't be a damn thing anyone can really do about it.  The best case scenario at the moment is the deterrent of public embarrassment.
If that ticks you off today, please contact your MLA and/ or your MP ... before you pass the peas.

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