Time to saddle up ….

I love having roasted root vegetables for supper!    What’s not to love?    Every gardener needs recipes in their repertoire that are so simple to make!   Even better,  it is one of those rare ‘fast foods’ that is actually good for my middle-aged heart!    Best of all of course is that all that yumminess is also easy on the wallet!

Really it is just frosting on the cake that the whole house smells as awesome as if I had actually fussed!      But wait just a darned minute, you say!  Why would  a gardener need any culinary shortcuts in January?

Ahhh …. well like everything else in life,  an ounce of planning saves pounds of problems later!     In gardenspeak, January is the time to check the seed files and sketch out this years plan …. before putting in this years seed orders!

Admittedly, it is VERY helpful that I have been gardening for decades!   More importantly I have been living here for twenty odd years!     Why is THAT important?    The answer is simple!    Being as this is not my ‘first dance’ here, there are fewer lessons left to be learned the hard way!

Does that mean there are no more mistakes waiting in the wings?   Not likely!      But it does mean that I do have a certain amount of sympathy for our new Agriculture Minister.    After all, it is not as if his predecessors had devoted much time to writing new regulations!    The Conservatives fast tracked their new Act in 2008 … and then left it to gather dust on the shelf for well over a year before it was proclaimed into law on January 19th, 2010!    Indeed … there are parts of the original act which have not been proclaimed to this day!

Then the NDP came into power … and like children at the start of summer vacation thought there would be all the time in the world!    It was not until the fourth year of their watch that any effort was made at all to address public concerns about animal welfare.

Nor …. I suppose …. is it helpful for the new Minister that there is no clearcut one size fits all example from any other province to draw on!

Yet …. during the election animal advocates WERE crystal clear about their concerns!     Indeed, animal welfare was a prominent enough election issue that ALL three parties in this province wrote open letters to the animal loving community!

If the new Minister looks frazzled these days, it is no wonder!    Was it a surprise to realize that animal lovers were not simply going to take him at his word that something would be done …. eventually?   After enough time to do the job properly?

Sadly that meant that there was still plenty of time for animals to suffer THIS winter!   Not to be mean, but I do not think that Buddy and that poor dog in Preston were the only two dogs who did not survive such poor animal husbandry … they are just the ONLY ones who made it into the media 😦

Sadder still is that cats have gone from being an action item in the far distant future to representing the ‘new’ reason for delay!     Will it be helpful if it becomes illegal to abandon cats?   You bet!   Is that going to solve everything?   Not even close!

It took years and years for the cat population to burgeon out of control!   Years of indifference!   Years of thinking that killing could solve the problem!   Years of tossing the issue … ie fiscal responsibility ..  around like a political hot potatoe!

When a problem has escalated unchecked for so long, there is no such thing as a one size will fit all solution!      Here in the real world,  it is going to take several different solutions to get out of the gate:

  • I saw in the CTV news today that Darrell Gould believes mandatory microchipping would be very helpful for identifying abandoned … and lost .. pets.   Great idea … but what about the litters of kittens that are tossed before even seeing a vet?    But it IS an excellent idea … and would be even sweeter if low / no cost microchip clinics were available.
  • I am not the only proponent of municipalities providing free spay neuter chits for kind hearts who take in stray cats!     At best, it would encourage kind hearts to keep the sweet cat when they did not have enough in the kitty to get him or her fixed.   At worst, it would prevent some kind hearts from escalating into the realm of hoarding.
  • Provision has to be made in the Municipal Act  to protect tended feral cat colonies!       Where necessary, bylaws such as our own Bylaw 12 A here in Kings County have to be rewritten to enable the lifesaving and humane population control provided by tended feral cat colonies!
  • The new regulations must do more than forbid the abandoning of an animal.    In very specific terms,  shooting, drowning and the use of  ‘homemade’ gas chambers must be outlawed.    As long as animals are legally classed as property under the criminal code, specifics are required to prevent the dumbass defence ( Gee I did NOT know I could not do that with my own property, eh?)

Last but not least is the REAL elephant in the room!    The Minister has been quite clear that last year’s 100 k to the society was a one time grant!   He has also been full of praise for the volunteer rescues.      No wonder the Minister looks frazzled!   No wonder he is ‘struggling’!

Perhaps I have the wrong end of the stick … but it seems he is really searching for a solution that does NOT involve the province ponying up any spay neuter money or TNR funding!

It is great that the Minister recognizes what an important role private rescues play in our Nova Scotia communities!   From one end of the province to the other, kind hearts are doing their darndest to make Nova Scotia a Better Place to Live!

It would … however … be very poor planning on anyone’s part to expect these volunteers to be clean up crew for the whole province!    Straight, sweet and simple …. there is no sensible solution that does not involve the province providing some spay neuter money!

The good news is that Spay Neuter money funds are a good investment!    Properly managed … as the populations were better managed, the need would diminish.   Even better, the TNR experts are all volunteers who are experts at stretching a buck!   Best of all of course is that it would really and truly set Nova Scotia ahead of the pack!     Gosh it might even entice some of those pesky tax paying animal lovers to move here, eh?

What time is it?     Here in the real world,  there is no free lunch.   The only way to fix the cat overpopulation problem is to fix the cats!

Courage is being scared to death… and saddling up anyway.    John Wayne

from today’s Herald

Minister: Dog tethering likely to be limited but not banned

EVA HOARE Staff Reporter
Published January 16, 2014 – 5:50pm

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 Agriculture Minister Keith Colwell says anti-tethering regulations are close to being completed. (INGRID BULMER / Staff

The province will not likely ban tethering dogs outright, but instead plans to make it illegal to tie pets up outside for longer than 12 hours, Agriculture Minister Keith Colwell said Thursday.

“The regulations are very close to being finished,” Colwell said in an interview after cabinet.

“One proposal we’re looking at is tethering for no longer than 12 hours and there are some breaks and some other issues around that. We’d also tie in weather conditions to ensure an animal’s not in distress.”

The potential rules, which will be brought before various animal rights groups in Nova Scotia in the next few weeks, could become part of the province’s new Animal Cruelty Act and written into law this spring, the agriculture minister said.

Provisions will also be included in the regulations stipulating animals must have adequate food and water, said Colwell.

“I have to take them back out to the interest groups … to see if they agree with the proposals. We may tweak it a little past that. But we’ve got a pretty good idea now exactly where we’re going and I think what we’re going to bring out will pretty well be accepted now.”

Colwell said he was pleased to hear that the SPCA had charged a North Preston man with several animal cruetly counts in relation to the death of a young female American Staffordshire terrier in the accused’s backyard in December.

The tethered dog was found frozen to the ground in the yard of a Simmonds Road home on Dec. 23. The man will appear March 11 in Dartmouth provincial court.

“I’m glad they proceeded in the way they did,” said Colwell, adding that he couldn’t say more, because if the charges are appealed, the file will land on his desk. “I’m the avenue of first appeal on this process.”

David Ross, chief inspector for the SPCA, appeared pleased to hear of Colwell’s plans.

“Without knowing specifically what the minster has said, it sounds very similar to what we had offered to the minister at our meeting,” Ross said in an interview Thursday.

“He appeared to like our submission,” the inspector said of Colwell.

The meeting between the SPCA and Colwell was held last week, and was among a string of sessions the agriculture minister had with numerous provincial animal rights groups.

“We wanted to assist the minister and the government to formulate laws that would be acceptable to the people of Nova Scotia. We want a law but we want a balanced law,” said Ross.

Colwell said he also wants enforcement officers to be able to write tickets, known as summary offence tickets, “on the spot” in animal cruelty cases. For that to proceed, the provincial Justice Department will be consulted, he said.

“We can write a ticket on the spot and provide a penalty for someone who’s not properly looking after their animal, right then and there.”

Ross said there are two sides to writing such tickets; the pro is that a penalty for wrongdoing is immediate, while the con is the perception that the money is going into any group’s pocket.

“I think the idea of being able to issue a punitive penalty on-site has its merits. It sends an immediate message for violations,” the inspector said. “On the converse side of that, when you’re issuing (summary offence tickets), you don’t want the public to have an idea it’s a fundraising campaign … on behalf of your agency.”

It’s hoped the regulations will be included in the Animal Cruelty Act this spring, but there could be some delay, as the issue of cats also has to be dealt with, said Colwell.

Abandoning cats is central in the regulations, he said, adding officials are looking at making it illegal to dump cats anywhere. Colwell conceded it would be a difficult law to police.

“I don’t know how we’re going to enforce that, that’s the issue.”

Colwell said the province’s feral cat population is also “out of control,” so that issue has to be addressed as well.

“That is another issue and we’re really struggling with this.”

The agriculture minister commended the input from several animal rights groups throughout the province in coming up with regulations tied to the new law.

With Michael Gorman, provincial reporter

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