I love going to the upper pond with Henry! He is such an incurable optimist …. hoping against hope that THIS will be the morning that the frogs will wait at the water’s edge for him instead of vanishing into the reeds! Not that he doesn’t give pursuit the old college try … but here in the real world self-preservation trumps the thrill of the hunt with amphibious prey in a fifteen foot deep pond!
Self preservation is not limited to the wild! It is the singular reason that politicians are reluctant to go out on a limb. When their job security only ever extends to the next election … every decision can lead to make or break time!
Even worse for them … politics is so closely connected to the game of life that sometimes the goalposts can shift in the blink of an eye! As a society we are supposed to move forward and better protect our innocents! How do we do that? By demanding better laws from our politicians of course! In a sense, politicians are like sailors at sea … in that without warning the deck can shift beneath their feet, making it hard to keep their balance!
That is where advocates of all stripes come in! They play a valuable role in educating our politicians as our social mores change. Without feminists, there would still be no equal pay for equal work. Without MADD to remind us of the human price for drinking and driving, the laws would still not allow our police to properly protect us! Without animal advocates tirelessly picketing pet stores, all pet stores in this province would still be supporting puppy mills!
Animal advocacy is not a new thing! Annette Armitage has been tirelessly promoting better laws for the animals for years! Joan Sinden was raising our collective consciousness when many of todays rescuers were still in high school! And without Janet Chernin, the (then) NS co-chair of the Dog Legislation Council of Canada., we would have full-blown BSL in this province!
Does everybody always agree? Of course not! But when it comes to the big-ticket issues, usually everyone can find enough common ground to work together!
Why have I not included our society in this list! Straight, sweet and simply because they have never been actively engaged in animal advocacy work. One would think that the very group that is in the ‘front lines’ whenever there is a cruelty complaint would lead the way with advocacy but sadly that has not been the case 😦
What we have seen …. even after the ‘shake up’ in the wake of Celtic Pets …. were more situations where inspectors left dogs like Po to suffer, claiming they had no legal grounds to seized! The ONLY reason Po did not spend the rest of his life in lonely isolation was that his owners dumped him on a back road … which began his journey with ARC to the better life he lives now!
Sadder still, when the dog in Cape Breton froze to death on the end of a chain after inspectors found nothing wrong with his situation … there still were no charges laid! Apparently an “inconclusive’ necropsy was all it took to get their inspectors off the hook THAT time!
But that is not even the worst bit. Instead of applauding the advocates who were reporting chained dogs, inspectors often turned on the complainants as if they were the criminals. Indeed .. and this is not a fairy story for I have seen the email … when one advocate persisted in taking her complaints up the chain, the (then) ED officially cut off all communications with her and the rescue group she was working with then!
Now this is where the story gets really interesting! What did this advocate do? Did she give up on chained dogs? Not even close! Along with two other kind hearts, she went on to form the incredibly powerful grass-roots group, People for Dogs!
LIke most “overnight’ successes, it actually took time to build up a strong support base! But … at the end of the day … it proved easier than anyone imagined for support to pick up steam!
Lets face it … chained dogs sit out there for all the world to see! Even social gatherings without any rescue related attendees can offer up at least one tale of a dog that simply could not .. or cannot … be helped. Folks have been horrified by the idea that such a practice was legally acceptable for a long time! People for Dogs just provided the opportunity for folks to add the strength of their voice to a common cause!
Now yesterday, I offered up a little five point plan for folks to think about! Does that mean I believe it is even close to what we need? That it is the only good idea out there? The only sensible option on the table?
Of course not! If I learned one single thing during my time in the military, it is that there is no I in the word TEAM!
Under the better late than never category, I was delighted to see the society stepping up to present on this issue However, last evening, I was saddened to see that this proposal was presented by one of the People for Dogs team, after consultation with the former society president who now seems to be the new leading voice for advocacy for the society. A truly suspicious mind would wonder if this was not an attempt to neuter the strong support base People for Dogs has earned 😦
Update … this will NOT be the proposal that People for Dogs will be presenting. Please go to their Facebook Page for updates 🙂
This proposal is copied from the People for Dogs Facebook page
(1) Any dog may not be left outside in caged or tethered conditions in -10 deg weather for more than four hours and may not be left outside in caged or tethered conditions in 25 degree weather for more than four hours. No animal may be left tied ou…t for more than four hours in temperatures exceeding 25 deg or lower than -10.
(2) An operator must ensure that dog houses provide an enclosed area that is large enough to permit sled dogs to stand, turn around and lie down comfortably.
(3) A dog owner who tethers a dog outside for more than four hours shall ensure that dog houses are constructed and maintained so as to provide.
(a) shelter from rain, wind, snow, sun and other elements,
(b) enough room to stand up and turn around,
(c) a burlap or canvas outside flap for weather protection,
(d) protection from excessive heat and cold, and
(e) the house shall be elevated.
(4) Is fastened or restricted with an approved restraining device of no shorter length than 3 metres (approximately 10 feet) which:
a) permits an area that is unimpeded of obstacles so as to allow free movement of the animal in all directions;
b) is situated so as to provide protection from heat, cold and wet that is appropriate to the animal’s weight and type of coat. Such area must provide sufficient space to allow the animal the ability to turn around freely and lie in a normal position;
c) provides an area with sufficient shade to protect the animal from the direct rays of the sun at all times; and,
d) provides an area that must be regularly cleaned and sanitized and excreta removed and properly disposed of routinely.
e) No person may cause an animal to be hitched, tied or fastened to a fixed object where a choke collar or choke chain forms part of the securing apparatus, or where a rope or cord is tied around the animals neck.
(5) A peace officer must give a warning before convicting under this regulation. On the second offense the animal owner will be considered guilty under the act.
Sigh … it is everything that I hoped it would NOT be! To be perfectly honest, it looks more like a How to Legally Chain Your Dog 24/7 in Nova Scotia ;( I am a middle aged grandmother, not a seasoned former society cruelty investigator … so I cannot possibly imagine how that specific time of four hours could possibly be enforced!
Even worse, if this passes, society inspectors will have to settle for 10 foot tethers instead instead of the 25 foot ones that Mr Ross was talking about the other day!
Saddest of all of course is that there is nothing in there that will change life as he knows it for Bullets! What a cold day in July for chained dogs in this province 😦
What time is it? It is time to take a moment and mourn what could have been. Then it is time … as always .. to dust ourselves off., pick ourselves up and start all over again!