Monday, March 19, 2012

On quitting cold turkey ...

What an utterly beautiful morning!  There is nothing subtle about early spring ... it bursts on our collective consciousness full of irresistible enthusiasm!    Breezes caress our faces instead of chilling us to the core.   Early yard chores almost feel like liberty for not needing to bundle up.
Best of all .. in my books .. are the bevy of busy little nest building birds back for the season.   To listen to them is more just a joy ... in these days of global warming it is always a relief to seem them back!
When one thinks about it ... these little travellers would be the envy of any defense department planners.   From first arrival,  they are already hard at work readying for the job at hand.   Almost overnight, their nests will be set up and their territory well established.   It is a well choreographed dance from first courtship through to final flight lessons for rookies making their first return journey.
As a result, their exit strategy will be smoother than anything politicians could ever hope to negotiate.
During this past year, the society has been getting out of the business of providing Animal Control Services of all stripes.    They had found out first hand what the No Kill experts have been saying all along ... non profit shelters providing animal control services were usually subsidizing the expenses at the cost of their own work.
Does that mean that they intend to get out of the AC business in Cape Breton?   Although I am not privy to inside information, odds are the educated guess would say no. 
Why?  Situational ethics of course!   The alternative is unthinkable ... to enable a return in another facility to the old status quo ... where previous management was killing at least three out of four that came in the door.
At the moment, CBRM Council has decided to extend the current animal sheltering contract on a month by month basis.   Unless I miss my guess, when the bid does go to tender the society will have a well prepared bid to toss in the ring.  
They did not go to all the time and trouble and yes .. expense .. to clean up the shelter and save lives in order to let the 'old guard' have another horrible home made gas chamber built, eh?
And of course .. there is the other elephant in the room that noone wants to talk about ... what is happening to the animals that are picked by by the new contractor providing Animal Control Services?
Technically, as I understand it, those animals 'could' be brought to the Yarmouth SPCA Branch, but as of this writing, there is nothing in Yarmouth's new dog bylaw to make that mandatory!
Why is that troubling?   This time last year, the "new" contractor was a member of the Yarmouth Branch Board.   Now officially .. she and all but two other board members quit in a grandstanding ploy protesting the new governance changes.
As a board member she was also privy to the knowledge that the branch was getting out of the animal Control business.   So there is a distinctly chicken and egg aspect about whether the grandstanding was about the new governance policy or positioning to prepare for a splendid business opportunity ... unfettered by any conflict of interest!
But I am wandering afield .. as I often do in my meandering way.  The point I am trying to make here is that if the society is going to get out of the animal control business anywhere, they need a better exit strategy.
There is more to No Kill than not killing, eh?    If there is nothing in place to protect impounded animals, does it really matter who kills them?  Dead is still dead, eh?
Last year, the society successfully negotiated a splendid little clause into the new Town of Windsor dog bylaw ... after the 'hold' period is over, the town AC is now obliged to offer the animal to the local branch.    That is a life saving tool that should written into every dog bylaw in this province ... and should be expanded to include the caveat that all reputable rescues should be offered the chance to take the animal into their care.
After all, at this point in time, the society does not have coverage all around the province, eh?
Nor should it stop there.   If the society truly wants to protect those who cannot speak for themselves, then more stringent minimum housing and care standards need to be written into our Animal Protection Act.  Until that time, the only animals in care that the society can protect are the ones in the care of its own branches and shelters.  Animal control contractors have no such limitations, eh?
Last, but not least, more aggressive steps should be taken in pursuit of a law to make all animal control statistics freely available online in their respective municipal websites.     The historical reluctance to let the actual paint the picture cannot be overridden by the taxpayers' right to know how their tax dollars are being spent.
What time is it?  If the society is going to let go of the Animal Control 'rope', then it is way past time for a three step program to protect the animals.

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