Musing about missing links

I love balmy breaks in the weather like we had yesterday!     What is not to love?   There are no spring chickens here … so we ALL appreciate some warmth from the sun!    Even better,  that one warm day really dropped the level of the snow in the yard!   Best of all of course is that our little sneak preview also promised that spring might not be such a pipe dream after all!

Lets face it … none of us need to be a weatherman to see how the winds of climate change are blowing.     One of the fringe benefits of gardening is a real familiarity with how the seasons are unfolding.    And it is not just gardening, eh?    These days the rule book is being rewritten on any weather driven activity, eh?

What does that mean in realspeak?    Simply of course that if the goalposts are shifting, any successes will depend upon our ability to change.

That is as true with animal welfare as it is with anything else in life these days.     And before the keyboards catch on fire, yes I do know that generally in this province once a rescue slot is found for a homeless pet, he or she is usually safe.    And that SPCANS has been making huge strides from the days when so many cats and dogs were being killed in Cape Breton that trucks had to be hired to haul them away 😦

And yes … whether it is waved as a banner on the front door or simply part of policy … I also know that most rescues and shelters in this province think of themselves as No Kill.    Is that a bad thing?    Of course not!

So why … in the midst of all this … are we not at No Kill Nova Scotia yet?    Sadly, even with all this enthusiasm for No Kill, we are not even close to being in the ball park!    Wot?     With all that love for the animals?    What on earth is the hold up?

Animal control has traditionally had a different mandate than animal rescue.     AC’s have traditionally been charged with the responsibility of addressing ‘nuisance’ behaviours such as running at large and disturbing the neighbourhood peace.

Here in this province, not all animal control departments are created equal.    Truth be told, the only constant is that there is NO constant!    In a world where each and every municipality has made its own unique arrangements,  WHERE a pet is impounded can make a life and death difference!

Now this is where folks are going to want to start throwing things at their computer screen!     One of the biggest bones of contention in the animal rescue community is that homeless dogs are being brought in from away!    From high kill pounds in Quebec to high kill animal control departments in the southern states, kind hearts here are moved to save lives by bringing them into their rescues.

Why do they do this?    Are there absolutely no homeless dogs in need in this province?    Of course not!   On any given day, most rescues and shelters have waiting lists for a ‘room at the inn’.     Here in the real world, not everybody on those lists is going to be able to wait for their chance to become a Happy Tail!   Some will be abandoned.   Others will be taken to the vet to get the short end of the long needle.    And that does not even begin to cover the possible Unhappy Tails awaiting impounded animals in this province when the 72 hour hold time is up 😦

Deep down, most rescuers know that there are only a finite number of rescue slots and adopters here.     So why do they do this?    That answer is so simple a stump could understand!     They are moved by compassion and love!   Why?     When they know from experience that it is going to take more resources to rescue a dog hundreds and even thousands of miles away?   Why?

The short answer is that animal advocates from away are pulling out all the stops to save every life that they can.   Really they cannot be faulted for having discovered they can send dogs here.    Nor are they going to worry about any implications for local homeless or impounded dogs.    They are simply doing what they can for the dog in front of them.

And that is the missing link that we need to get to No Kill Nova Scotia.     Like I said … the only constant is that there is no constant.   In some areas, like Colchester County, Animal Control has a proactive relationship with a reputable rescue like The Animal Rescue Coalitions.    In the city, Homeward Bound City Pound just won another five year contract to provide sheltering services for Halifax  AC.   In other areas, such as here in Kings County,  the Kings Branch of  SPCANS has won the AC contract for the county.   And in other places, there is a dark veil of mystery shrouding all Animal Control activities in the area.

What is missing from this picture?    There are none of the death defying advocacy groups struggling to save every impounded animal in every county here!   None!    That is the missing piece of the puzzle.    It is why otherwise ethical rescuers have no qualms about bringing dogs in from away, eh?     In the absence of any accurate web presence defining dogs on death row in Nova Scotia, they are able to focus on the need that they CAN see, eh?

As a sidebar note to that, there ARE several small bits that the animal loving Liberal government could do to help.   At the risk of sounding like a stuck record,  it should be mandatory for every municipality to:

  • post easily accessible and clear AC statistics on their official website
  • post clear pictures of all impounded animals, along with the impound date and the end of hold period
  • and of course that all impounds other than dangerous dogs be available for transfer to rescue   ( as a sidebar note to THAT … any contractor being paid to provide sheltering services should follow in Homeward Bound City Pound’s footsteps and ensure that all animals transferred to rescue are altered, vaccinated and vet checked )

What time is it?    It is time for local animal advocates to put their heart into helping cats and dogs in their own AC departments to find better outcomes!    Perhaps then, kind hearts would understand that there is a lot of need right here in their own backyard!



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