We are having a much better April this year. To be perfectly honest, this month I am like a kid in a candy store. What should I do next? Start some more seeds? Trim more winter foliage? Tidy up fallen branches? Or pull up those darned blackberry bushes that are running amok through my daffodils and lilies?
Gardeners and home landscapers are not the only busy ones this time of year. Animal rescuers are busy, busy, busy. Along with the ‘ordinary’ owner and vet surrender requests, spring also brings the annual onslaught of puppies and kittens, eh?
Which is why most seasoned rescuers tend to take a dim view of the rescues who are bringing in dogs from away. It is not as glamorous to help a dog right here in Nova Scotia. They cannot make dramatic statements about bringing adoptables up from High Kill Shelters in the states. Nor does anyone on social media seem to understand that “every life counts” for the animals who are already here.
Part of the problem of course is perception. Unlike our southern neighbours, there are very few municipally funded Animal Control Shelters in this province. In a province where every municipality makes its own arrangements for Animal Control, the only constant is that there is no constant. Some places have their own animal control officers and a municipal pound. Others have an AC officer and contracted sheltering services. And others simply outsource the whole schmoo.
What does this mean in realspeak? Why of course that there are no actual numbers about how many animals in this province do not live to tell the tail. Gosh, there is no way of even knowing how many requests for owner surrenders are refused province wide, eh?
Why would that be? Do we not have Freedom of information laws in this province? Of course we do! But here is the thing … we do not have any open admission shelters or animal control pounds in this province. None. Zip. Nada.
To be brutally honest, most animal control departments never take owner surrenders. We did have an open admission SPCA shelter in Sydney a few years ago. But … as regular readers will remember .. they were killing at least four out of five that came in the door. It was so bad that they needed a gas chamber to keep up.
Please let me be perfectly clear about one thing. To the best of my knowledge, within my time here we have not had a private shelter in this province killing treatable and adoptable animals. Matter of fact, most of them have been No Kill for a long time.
As a sidebar note to this, today is not the time to open up a big fat debate as to whether or not our SPCA is actually No Kill. I will however say this one thing. Is it possible for them to be everything to everybody? To shoulder so many roles? This newfound … or should I say born again .. enthusiasm for Animal Control contracts may not necessarily be helpful for their core mission.
And before the keyboards catch on fire, I am not suggesting that anyone is ordering gas chambers. But it is no secret that there are no open admission SPCA shelters either.
That leaves a whole grey area that is never included in any statistics. When people are unwilling or unable to keep their pets, what do they do if there are no rescue or shelter slots available?
Hmmm! What do they do? When some see no alternative, they take their pets into the vet to the short end of the long needle. THOSE stats will never be publicly available.
Others try to give their pets away. When all else fails there are several unhappier options available. Leaving them on a back country road to fend for themselves. Tossing them in the river in a bag of rocks. Shooting them somewhere out in the country. So THOSE numbers will never wind up in any statistical total either.
Lets face it .. there simply is no way to calculate how many animals are killed in Nova Scotia. We may never know, eh? The only thing we do know is that we are nowhere near No Kill Nova Scotia yet.
There has been quite a bit of discussion this week about the dogs that were shot in Kings County. One can only hope that the people starting dog rescues to specifically drag dogs up from the states are paying attention to this article.
Why? That answer is so simple a stump could understand. We are not at No Kill Nova Scotia. Animals are still dying here. Some humanely. Some horribly. It might not sound as glamorous as the whole ” saved from high kill shelters” bit.
At the end of the day there are not enough rescue and shelter slots for local animals. It is the worst kind of tunnel vision to focus on those so far away as if the lives here somehow do not matter as much.