Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Seeking a safer place ....

from today's Herald
Group seeks legal help for dogs at end of their tether
Some Nova Scotia dogs need protection from psychological abuse, say animal welfare groups seeking amendments to the Animal Protection Act.

They want an anti-tethering regulation that would make it a crime to keep a dog at the end of a rope or in an enclosure for lengthy periods of time, after dark and during weather extremes.
There’s no clear legislation requiring an animal to be untied at the end of the day and brought indoors, said Debbie Harvey of Shelburne.
"It’s not illegal to chain a dog continuously in Nova Scotia," said Harvey, a member of Pet Projects, a Shelburne County organization trying to introduce anti-tethering regulations at the municipal level.
Shelburne municipal council recently updated its 13-year-old dog bylaw without specifically addressing tethering issues.
But Pet Projects has been asked by council for more input about anti-tethering, said Harvey.
"We want change in the laws and legislation," she said.
In the Annapolis Valley, animal welfare advocates met this month with Kings West MLA Leo Glavine to ask him to consider their position.
"We’re looking at the Animal Protection Act and . . . possible ways for amendments to be made," said Scott Saunders.
"We’re at the very preliminary stages of this. As it stands right now, if a dog has food and water and shelter, that suffices.
"But we’ve got dogs that are spending their entire lives strapped out to a tree or to a doorstep. I think that’s really emotionally and psychologically damaging to that animal."
Dog behaviour expert Silvia Jay said dogs that have been tethered for extended periods of time often lack proper social skills.
They’re like misfits who have not learned how to behave properly around others.
"They also develop something that we call restraint frustration. It’s an anxiety," Jay said from her home near Truro.
Dogs are frustrated because a tether prevents them from doing what they want to do. That frustration, sooner or later, will switch over to aggression, she said.
A dog in an outdoor enclosure is in a similar situation. Dogs that are tied outside but exposed to a lot of stimulation can never rest, and that can create barking and lunging, Jay said.
"It’s really important to a dog that he belongs so that he has . . . social acceptance with the group he lives with. That’s crucial."
Jay wrote a book, Dump Dog, about her rescue of a feral dog and the animal’s journey from being wild to becoming a companion dog. Jay’s website,, has more information.
Well then!    Every animal advocate knows that the subject of Anti Tethering Legislation is stickier than any sweets that were crafted in my kitchen this week!
Why on earth would that be?   Do people LIKE to see dogs suffering?  Of course not!
Part of the problem is that many kind hearts hear the word 'tethering' and worry that it might apply to the little leashes clipped to the back door so that pee breaks don't turn into Unhappy Lost or Hurt or Worse Tails.  After all, building a fence can be an expensive proposition that might not even be possible in places with prohibitive covenants!
A big part of the problem is that any legislation to limit 'personal freedoms' is automatically opposed!   Given that our criminal code still considers dogs to be 'property', this is a particularly sticky wicket for some to accept.
An even bigger part of the problem is the failure to recognize that anti tethering legislation is a public safety issue.  People generally have no trouble understanding that laws are needed to prevent drinking and driving.  That speed limits save lives.  That even the security checks that slow down checking in are of benefit.
Why is it so difficult to understand that anti tethering legislation will also create safer communities?
Actually, it is really very simple.   Politicians ALWAYS remember the one thing we usually forget .. that we 'hired' them and we can 'fire' them!
Politicians are like anyone else, sometimes they are working on outmoded assumptions and invalid premises!   Judging by how tight my own MLA's collar became when I brought up anti tethering, it is safe to say he was concerned that it would lose him votes.  Why is he meeting with animal advocates on the subject now?   Because now , he understands that this is not just some wacky idea that Janet has .. but that many other folks feel the same way!
What time is it?  It is always time to remember that the way ahead for the animals will only ever be paved by strong voter feedback!
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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