A little chat about responsibility

There has been a LOT of buzz on Facebook this weekend about George.   For those folks, not on Facebook, PLEASE CLICK HERE for the story that the Chronicle Herald did on the subject.

The short version of the story is that on Wednesday, Dec 9th, Tyler Singer and his friend found an emaciated boxer in Georgefield.   Tyler brought the dog home and named him George.   The next day, Dec 10th, Tyler posted horrifically heartbreaking pictures of this poor dog on Facebook.   Naturally there was an immediate outpouring of compassion and these pictures quickly grew legs and galloped all around Facebook.

Before the keyboards catch on fire, this is not going be a post asking why this emaciated dog which was found on Wednesday did not see a veterinarian until the weekend.   Nor it is going to be a debate about which should come first for a rescue, the fundraising or the essential vet care.

I am a middle aged grandmother, not an SPCA cruelty investigator.   It is for the SPCA to pursue their investigation of what is so clearly a case of animal abuse.   And while they may never discover who was responsible for such suffering, the bottom line is that IT IS THEIR LEGALLY MANDATED JOB to investigate animal cruelty in this province.

So what ARE we supposed to do in Nova Scotia if we find a dog or a cat?    Under normal circumstances, finders have a legal obligation to contact animal control.   After all, that is one of the first places that the distraught owners will go to look, eh?

In addition, while I cannot swear for every vet clinic in this province, I do know that when my vet clinic is called about a found pet, they also call animal control.  Why?   Because they are obligated by law!

Now I will be the first to admit there is a natural reticence to calling animal control.   Lets face it, in many instances in the past and even sometimes today , not every impounded pet makes it out alive.    Nor is there any assurance that ill or mistreated pets will receive the immediate medical care that they need.

Even so .. not every foundling is a stray.     Here in Nova Scotia we are also lucky to have the fabulous resource of The Nova Scotia Lost Dog Network.   And while  the Lost and Found Cats in Nova Scotia is not as of this writing a public group, there are plenty of local lost and found facebook pages available too.

What about the SPCA?   Are they not mandated by law to enforce animal cruelty?   Of course they are!   Are we not supposed to report animal abuse cases to their cruelty line?   Now THAT is where it gets a little fuzzy.

Under the new law, veterinarians are legally obliged to report cases of animal abuse.   That part is pretty straight up.   What about private folks?  You?  Me?   What about animal rescues?   THAT is where the ball drops.

The short answer is that technically none of us are obligated by law to report animal abuse.   Straight, sweet and simple!    So why should we as individuals stick out necks out?

That answer is so simple even a stump could understand!   How can the SPCA ever hope to properly investigate animal cruelty cases if they are kept out of the loop?    After all, there is not one single rescue in this province that has a legal mandate to investigate animal abuse, eh?  Not one!

Just imagine if someone found a child in distress in the woods.    Would anyone take that child home and feed him and keep him warm?   Post pictures on facebook?   Of course not?   They would call 911 immediately!   Police would not have to haunt social media to find the child.  Nor would any social services department have waited to provide medical care for the child.

But I am wandering a bit afield as I am wont to do in my meandering way.   The point I am trying to make today is that if we expect the society to protect pets in this province, then we have to give them the tools to do the job.

Should it be mandatory for individuals and rescues to report animal abuse?    Here in the real world, it can upon occasion be problematic and even dangerous for individuals to report on their neighbours.     It is however, a completely different kettle of fish for animal rescues.

Organizations that are devoted to providing better outcomes for animals in need should be obligated by law to report animal abuse cases.   For today, lets leave the testy topic of the need to regulate animal rescue groups as a sticky subject for a future post, eh?

What time is it?   If we want a better world for the animals, it is time to move past what we have always done.    To paraphrase Albert Einstein, it is the only way we will get different results.

Being responsible sometimes means pissing people off.     Colin Powell

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