Sometimes Love is not all we need

I actually like scooping snow.   What is not to like?    In many instances, it takes no more time than it’s much noisier cousin, the snowblower.    Even better, it is both good for my personal fitness and the environment.   Best of all is that it provides a peaceful opportunity to mull things over.

I have been giving a lot of thought lately to the topic of regulating rescues.     Why would I do that?  Should it not be enough that someone would want to help animals in need?    Well … like so many other things in life .. the short answer is pretty darned simple.    Regulations could possibly provide a framework to balance the compassion that it takes to rescue with consumer protection.

As of this writing there are no consistent standards.    Does that mean that I believe that every rescue should do everything the same?   Of course not!    The specific practices for a shelter, for instance, are not always appropriate for a foster based rescue.   Or vice versa.

So why the need for regulations?     Think about what happens when we go car shopping!    If we wind up with a lemon and can get no satisfaction from the dealer, odds are that we will never buy that model or even brand of car again, not even from another dealer.    Nor will we be inclined to recommend that particular brand to our family, friends, neighbours and coworkers.

It is exactly the same when someone has a negative experience with pet adoption.  When problems arise because health and behaviour issues have not been fully disclosed, an adopter will have no reason to speak well of pet adoption.       If difficulties occur because good people have not been matched with the right pets, heartbroken adopters may never, ever again adopt.    Nor will they have any reason to encourage their friends to adopt.

In other words, regulations would protect all the rescues that are already doing a good job from being tarred with the same brush as the less reputable ones.

But wait just a minute …. won’t regulating rescues discourage decent people from stepping up?   Lets face it … as of this writing, not every rescue in this province has taken the simple step of registering as a non profit with the province.     The list of those who have taken the sensible step of registering for CRA charitable status is even shorter.    Why would we want more paperwork to encumber folks who want to help?

Maybe we don’t!     Here is today’s what if.   What if the Animal Protection Act was amended to include a section on pet adoption that would require:

  • a current health certificate from a licensed Nova Scotia  veterinarian,
  • a requirement for adopted adult pets to be spayed or neutered prior to adoption, unless a Nova Scotia veterinarian signed off a medical exemption,
  • a requirement for rescues and shelters to follow up to ensure that  all infant and juvenile pets are actually spayed and neutered,
  • that rescues and shelters fully disclose all behaviour issues,
  • that rescues and shelters provide follow up after care if the adopter needs advice,
  • and last but not least, in the event that the adoption is not a success, that the rescue or shelter be required to take the pet back into care in a timely fashion.

It has been suggested that instead of regulations, perhaps this could be incorporated into a voluntary Rescue Code of Conduct that participating rescues and shelters could sign.   While that is not a bad idea, it offers little if any protection to first time adopters who are utterly unfamiliar with the rescue world.

Putting regulations into the Act would, in my not so humble opinion, provide a vehicle to protect consumers without creating an additional administrative burden on rescuers.    Lets face it .. rescues and shelters would also have a difficult time recruiting fosters if their foster homes were subject to regular inspections, eh?

As a sidebar note to all this, while I was scooping this month I came to another conclusion.    Regulating rescues will be a bit like closing the barn door after the horse has gone without mandatory breeder regulations.

At the risk of sounding like a stuck record, there is no point in regulating rescues if something is not done about backyard breeders.    To be clear, I am not talking about the fabulous folks whose love for individual breeds has inspired them to work hard to maintain their beloved breed standards.

In no way shape or form should they be compared to the utterly unregulated … and untaxed … Wild West arena of the Back Yard Breeder.   Indeed, by the time they have done the show circuit and paid for the proper genetic screening, most reputable breeders are utterly unprofitable.

But I am wandering afield as I am wont to do in my meandering way.   The point I am trying to make today is that the inclusion of a section on pet adoption in the Act would do more than help homeless animals.   Such a step would also protect the kind hearts who are moved to rescue and those who adopt them.

What time is it?    It is always time to remember that love is not all we need when it comes to pet adoption.