In praise of helping hands …

I love blue sky and sunshine mornings like this … when the day is balmy enough that noses can follow every lead … but still crisp enough that the little dogs can skittle across the snow!  Here in the real world of Nova Scotia winters, a day like this is a rare gift that gives all of us exactly what we need!

If press releases and interviews are to be taken at their word, we should soon be seeing a plain english draft of the new regulations!

Will they be everything that the animal loving community has waited and wanted and worked for?   Hmmmm!    Judging by the most recent media bits, I would say probably not!    (scroll down to the bottom of the post for a sampling)

Why would I say that?    Will it not be a great thing to have anti tethering legislation?   Of course it will … but there have been hints that working ( guard???) dogs will still be allowed, provided they have proper housing!   Even worse,  there does not seem to be any new funding being earmarked for any organization or municipality to support any additional workload 😦

Saddest of all of course is that the Minister has been very cleverly laying the ground to shift the blame by assuring us that the new anti tethering regulations will be “pretty much word for word” what the society suggested.   What does that mean in realspeak?   Why of course that if the regulations are thought to be – ahem … inadequate … that folks can follow a well-worn path and simply blame the society 😦

Does that mean that it is all doom and gloom for the animals?   Not really!   Why would I say that?      The answer is simple!   In six short years, social networking has successfully changed the landscape of animal rescue in this province!

Facebook has enabled collaborative relationships and been the catalyst for the creation of new rescues!     Even better, it has created a new climate that has made innovative ideas like The Nova Scotia Lost Dog Network and the Ready Set Rescue Network  possible!

Best of all of course is that social networking has made animal advocates work much easier!     Just look at what People for Dogs has accomplished!    How Tuxedo Stan and his brother Earl Grey have set the world’s imagination on fire!

It is almost frosting on the cake that somewhere along the way, the society stopped being the only voice for the animals!   Now before the keyboards catch on fire, just remember the old status quo!   Whenever  there was an animal in trouble, people would expect to solve the situation with one phone call to the society!     Indeed,  over the years my inbox has overflowed with pissed off angst whenever the society was unable … or unwilling … to pick up any ball!

Straight, sweet and simple  … if the society had been consistently charging people who let dogs freeze to death and helping hoarders onto a better path … we would not have seen the grassroots advocacy work that has brought about (hopefully) better regulations!       Funny how that works, eh?

Nathan Winograd was right!    There is more than enough love in this province to save all the treatable and adoptable pets!    Would we have really known that if we had just depended on the society to take care of everything?

Of course not!   There would be no facilitating rescue slots and new homes on the Ready Set Rescue Network!    No chains All love would not have stepped up to show that chained dogs can become grrreat pets!

Best of all of course is that along the way,  it has become crystal clear that the animal loving community in this province is a LOT larger than we knew!    Why is that important?   Does that mean we do not need better regulations?     Of course not!

It simply means that all the regulations in the world won’t be worth a tinkers dam without the village to back them up!

The impersonal hand of government can never replace the helping hand of a neighbor.   Hubert H. Humphrey

from the Herald

Animal welfare groups welcome anti-tethering proposal, seek good regulations

Gordon Delaney,

Jan  7, 2014

KENTVILLE — Agriculture Minister Keith Colwell is vowing to make it illegal to tether a dog 24 hours a day, seven days a week in new legislation that would strengthen the province’s animal protection regulations.

In an interview Tuesday, he pledged to present for cabinet approval changes that would toughen the existing laws by as early as the end of February.

The minister said once the bill is passed, enforcement officers with the SPCA, the police and municipal bylaw officers will be able to issue tickets similar to speeding tickets for people in violation of the law.

Colwell said his department is working with the Justice Department on a formula for fines. But he added that enforcement officers will still have the power to seize an animal and lay animal cruelty charges.

“We’re also going to look at other changes as well,” the minister said. He added that he will be seeking more consultation with animal welfare groups this month.

Colwell said the new law will be tied to weather conditions and whether the animal has suitable shelter. “There will have to be very defined criteria. … We have to be fair with owners of companion animals … to make sure that they understand what they have to do.”

He said there may be some exceptions for working dogs, if the owners can show that the animals are properly sheltered and maintained.

“We have to come up with a consensus on what we think is reasonable,” said the minister. He said the law may be “difficult to enforce, but is not unenforceable.”

Animal welfare groups in Nova Scotia welcomed the minister’s comments Tuesday, but said they need to work together to develop effective regulations.

Nova Scotia SPCA spokesperson Ashley Burke said society members are meeting with the minister Wednesday and looking forward to getting more details of his plan.

“Putting in an anti-tethering law is great,” she said. “But it’s just a matter of enforcing it. … There are a lot of loopholes that need to be discussed.”

The Nova Scotia SPCA has the power under the province’s Animal Protection Act to investigate complaints of animal cruelty and seize animals if necessary.

Joan Sinden, founder of the No Chains All Love Dog Rescue Society, said the group has been waiting for some government action on anti-tethering regulations.

She supports supervised tethering. “The kind of tethering that we’re against is where dogs are tied out 24/7 for 365 days a year … in all kinds of weather,” she said.

“If the minister can craft some kind of bill or regulation that addresses that kind of tethering, we are 100 per cent for that.”

The push for legislation banning all-day tethering became more urgent by a couple of recent cases making news headlines.

The No Chains All Love group rescued a dog named Buddy that was tethered for years in extreme weather every day. Buddy was later found to have a cancerous tumour and had to be euthanized.

The SPCA is still investigating the death of a tethered dog in North Preston last month. The dog’s carcass was so frozen to ice it had be chipped out.

From the Herald Pet Connection blog

PET CONNECTION: Colwell stepping up to plate in war on cruelty

PAT LEE PET CONNECTION Published December 22, 2013 – 4:58pm        Last Updated December 22, 2013 – 7:24pm

If newly minted Agriculture Minister Keith Colwell has any regrets about being handed the post that includes the welfare of animals in this province, he is keeping it to himself.Since Colwell took over the job, dogs have died, cats have continued to struggle and a horse-boarding facility has been accused of neglect.Not that I am hosting a pity party for the minister, mind you. The fact he landed in a fresh, steaming pile of … well, you get the point … was just further evidence of several crisis points meeting heightened expectations the previous government revved up.SEE ALSO: Copper the beagle is our happy-go-lucky Adoptable of the Week

Over the last several weeks, he has been feverishly working on finishing the promised beefing up of the Animal Protection Act, which is likely to include new rules on how long you can tie your dog up, as well as meeting with advocacy and rescue groups.

Colwell, an avowed dog lover and owner of a cute Labrador retriever, thought things were ticking along nicely, thank you very much, until cat rescues got up on their hind legs over the omission of more detailed provisions concerning feline protection.

That hiccup, as he called it, means it will be a bit longer before we see what his department has come up with after consulting with various animal welfare groups and rescuers.

Over the past couple of weeks, Colwell has met with representatives from several cat rescue and advocacy groups, and he told me that he thought the discussions were productive.

He said the issue of abandonment was high on their list, as well as cracking down on cat mills, which, like puppy mills, are more interested in profit than producing healthy, happy pets.

While Colwell isn’t offering up the details yet, he has floated a couple of big balloons, including using summery offence tickets to deal with lower-end offences — think speeding tickets — that you pay or fight in court, as well as expanding the cruelty inspectorate to expand the role of municipal police forces or the RCMP.

The latter idea will be an interesting negotiation between the Nova Scotia SPCA, which recently increased the number of special constables, and provincial police forces who probably won’t be too keen to officially take on more of that thankless job (although they claimed otherwise last year when the SPCA briefly suspended the service when money ran out).

SPCA representatives are sitting down with the minister in January to discuss these issues and no doubt whether the province will continue to help fund the cruelty investigation portion of their mandate.

As for ticketing, it is certainly a more cost-effective way to handle lesser offences. Many animal welfare issues don’t get pursued in court because of the cost of ushering a case through the justice system.

Perhaps the spectre of an immediate financial penalty will motivate more pet owners to unchain their dogs or not leave their cat behind when they move.

“I think we’re on the right track,” Colwell told me last week.

We will find out in the new year.



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