Monday, May 30, 2011

Trying to light a fire in the rain ...

I am a middle aged grandmother ... not a TV show host with staff.  What does that mean?  In realspeak it means that at this time of year, I spend more time running my tiller than my vacuum.  That meal prep plays such a second fiddle to pruning and planting that supper can be as simple as opening a bag of chips.
Life is full of choices, and if I am unwilling to scale back on our hikes, making the dogs' food and doing web bits for the animals, then something has to give.   If I'm not willing to put my life on hold, the domestic bits will simply have to wait.
Kind of like everything else in life, eh?  No one person .. or group ... can do it all.  We're actually really lucky here in Nova Scotia to have so many kind hearts working for the animals, in so many different ways.
Does that mean that every is all rosy and peachy keen?  Of course not!  There are many areas of the province that don't have any rescue resources at all.   The society's coverage is uneven at best around the province.   At worst, branch effectiveness is limited by the challenge of overcoming negative 'urban legends' based on past performance.
A dear friend of mine running a rescue told me that she has to turn away ten dogs for every one that she can accept ... and there is no reason to believe this is the exception rather than the rule.  Every group and shelter in the province has a waiting list and can seldom accept strays or owner surrenders.
And before the keyboards catch on fire, please do not think for one second that I am advocating a return to the old status quo where the Cape Breton SPCA accepted everything that came in the door .... and then killed at least three out of four.  ( the subject of whether all the spiffy new stats for shelters with AC contracts include the AC intake when it comes in the door or only when animals are transferred on the books is an interesting topic that would be sheer speculation to dwell on )
If it sucks to be a homeless animal, the ante is really stepped up for the cats.  There are no breed rescues and every group and shelter in the province is full to overflowing.
Politicians at all levels turn a blind eye to the need to support Low Cost Spay Neuter and TNR.  Why?  Because cats don't vote of course!   The society has made presentations to every politician at every level who will listen ... yet to date there have been no 'takers'  Nor will there be, until there is sufficient voter feedback to inspire our politicians to act.
To the best of my knowledge, most municipalities do not provide any tangible support for the volunteer TNR groups trying to address the problem.  ( If anyone outside of Annapolis County is doing this, please contact me, eh? )  Bear in mind that these are volunteers who would give much better bang for the tax payer buck than most other ventures. 
In most cases, municipalities spend more on office supplies than the humble $5,000 stipend that would change the world for most TNR groups. 
Perhaps it is hard for our provincial politicians ... who will all be able to retire with a jammy pension after six years of service ... to imagine that such small sums would make a difference.  To even be able to visualize the impact of investing in Low Cost Spay Neuter?
Even worse, in many communities, existing bylaws make it virtually impossible for caretakers to shelter a feral cat colony.  TNR has been around long enough to have a proven track record as a humane solution for the feral cat problem.  
If there is one thing that I have learned in the course of maintaining the homeless pet sites it is that the primarily volunteer animal rescue community is brimming with good ideas and sensible solutions.  When miracles have to be made on a shoestring, thinking outside the box becomes the rule rather than the exception, eh?
How are laws changed in Nova Scotia?   Provincial laws are changed by our MLA's.  Municipal bylaws can be changed by the individual municipalities, but they are obligated to stay within the framework of their provincially legislated mandate.  Regulations to support these laws come after the fact, and are written by legal teams at the departmental level with input from stakeholders.
Like I said ... we are lucky in Nova Scotia to have so many powered by love for the animals .. but the only effective way to wake up those who love being in power is by strong voter feedback.
Pets do not vote, so it is up to us as tax paying voters to let the politicians who represent us at all levels know that better laws for the animals always do double duty by creating safer communities.  
Anti tethering legislation will go much further than any BS bits in dog law.  Better cat bylaws would encourage properly maintained feral cat colonies instead of nuisance behaviors in the community.    More specific regulations would enable the society to be more proactive instead of having to settle for 'education not enforcement'
What time is it?  It is always time to remember that love is not enough ... that it will take better laws to really protect the animals.
It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds.  Samuel Adams

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