Tuesday, March 27, 2012

No advance notice please......

What a miserable morning outside!  It seems so surreal to have to bundle up again after we were swimming in the upper pond just last week!
Mind you, nothing Mother Nature is offering this morning could possibly compete with the storm of controversy surrounding the situation at the Sydney shelter.   After years of being left to go along their merry old way,  it was utterly beyond any of the old guards imagination that change could .. and would .. be possible.
How did all that change?   What got the ball rolling and really made the difference?  It was of course the "surprise" inspection of the shelter!
Does that mean that last year was the first time that people had complained about shoddy animal care / sick and dying animals being adopted / parvo being a death sentence for most puppies entering the shelter / inhumane and indiscriminate killing / etc..!  Of course not!
Prior to that, complaints always fell on deaf ears because shelter reports and site visits were prepared well in advance.   Excuses were accepted.    Reports and statistics always taken at face value.    Up until three years ago, permission was even routinely extended to continue using the horrible home made gas chamber!
Allowances were always made because there was no concrete evidence to support the sustained criticism.    Would that have changed without an unannounced site visit?  Would there have been a game changing Shelter Audit if there had been time to cover up the ugly truth?
Of course not!   When the Dept of Agriculture sends its inspectors out to restaurants, notice is never given in advance!   When the provincial Cosmetology Association inspects beauty salons,  it is always a surprise!   The first notice a welding shop receives is when the Dept of Labour inspectors walk through the front door!
Why to they do that?  Because here in the real world, honesty is not always the best business policy.    Do businesses not mind the surprise?  Of course they do!  Why don't they do more than mutter to themselves about it?
Because it is standard policy not to give notice.   It is not 'picking on' anyone.   It is not a matter of not trusting.  
Straight, sweet and simple ...surprise inspections are a time tested practice to ensure that rules and regulations are actually being followed.  It should be standard practice for the society NOT to provide notice for site visits to its shelters.
It would only be to the society's advantage to do so.   Unannounced visits would allow them to see how well .. or how poorly ... things were working in practice.   If everything was ticking over properly, it would give the society greater credibility when dismissing criticism and complaints.
Best of all, it would keep situations from spiralling so out of control as the situation at the Sydney shelter.
To paraphrase the old adage ... it would be the 'pinch in time'!     At the end of the day, it is much easier to nip things in the bud.  To implement small suggestions.  To switch some of the bits around that aren't working.  
Even better, it is an opportunity for provincial to prop up morale by sharing solutions to common problems.
Best of all of course is that change is always more possible and more economical if addressed before shoddy practices have a chance to become entrenched.
What time is it?  In a province where some shelters are hours and hours away from the city, it is time for unannounced visits from provincial to become standard proactive practice.
The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.   Norman Vincent Peale

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