This morning's Petpourri column in the Chronicle Herald included questions to the provincial Nova Scotia party leaders on where they stand on various issues pertaining to dogs - and that included what they thought about breed specific legislation. Darrell Dexter's answer to the question: "Where do you stand on breed-specific legislation that would ban certain breeds of dogs like Rottweilers or pit bull terriers?" was: "Personally, I support breed-specific legislation."
What a blow. What a kick in the teeth - to all dog owners, and dogs in this province. Has this man never talked to any dog owners before to gauge what his constituents think about this? I was blown away. Right now I feel like I've got absolutely no one to vote for - because I even had an NDP sign on my front lawn until this afternoon.
Until I went out there and took a couple pictures of my beloved rottweiller Daisy - who herself is a victim of breed specific legislation - being that she was born in Richmond County Cape Breton where there is a breed ban in effect - so that if she ever wanted to got back there - which she never would because she was horribly abused there - but as a human who is very involved with fighting for the end of breed specific legislation everywhere - it BEHOOVED me to remove that sign, take it back to the office of the candidate running in my area that provided me with it (who until today I was going to vote for) - and tell them why I was returning it. Which is what I did this afternoon.
When I took it back they had no idea what I was talking about - "breed specific what?" What does Darrell Dexter think about dogs? What is Michelle Raymond's stand on dogs? "Dog Legislation Council of Canada?" "Can you spell that for me?" I also told them that I actually have a bumper sticker on my car that says "My dog votes" - which is absolutely true. And which is true of 1,000's of other Nova Scotians.
The NDP's website is at http://www.ns.ndp.ca/?page=team if you care to go be a part of the change.
My question now is - how in the h-e-double hockey sticks can I possibly vote liberal when they've created such a genocide up in Ontario? Rodney MacDonald's camp provided his answers late this afternoon - so I've inserted them below even though they weren't in the original article. They're also pretty interesting.
Below is the rest of Rick Conrad's article...
Q: Did you have a pet growing up? If so, what kind and what was his/her/its name?
Darrell Dexter: Yes we always had pets. A cocker spaniel when I was young and we always had cats. My mother also had a poodle called Cuffy that meant a lot to her.
Francis Mackenzie:I have had dogs and cats around most of my life — Princess and Lew (American cocker spaniels). Cats: Brutus, Rosie, Oreo.
Rodney MacDOnald: Yes. I had rabbits named Cuddles, Detergent and Chubby; and cats named Paduwa and Caper.
Q: Are you currently a pet parent? If so, what kinds of pets do you have, what are their names, how long have you had them and where did you get them? If you and your family don’t have pets, why not?
Darrell Dexter: No. My wife and I both have very busy lives, and I often have to travel. Having grown up with animals I feel strongly that no one should be a pet owner unless they have the time to give an animal the care, company and attention they need. When our lives slow down we would like to get a Nova Scotia Duck Toller
Francis Mackenzie: We are the proud owners of a cat named Nero who has been part of our family for the last eight years. We obtained Nero through a friend.
Rodney MacDonald: No.
Q: Where do you stand on breed-specific legislation that would ban certain breeds of dogs like Rottweilers or pit bull terriers?
Darrell Dexter: Personally, I support breed-specific legislation.
Francis Mackenzie: We are not in favour of bans on certain breeds. There are bad owners but very few bad pets. These types of breeds, however, require knowledgeable owners and we would encourage owners to seek professional training. Owners must be held responsible for the actions of their pets. If any legislation is considered, it will look at the owner, not the breed.
Rodney MacDonald: I’m assuming this question deals with public safety, given the breeds you’ve mentioned. I believe there is a half pass, half fail rate with this type of legislation across Canada. I’m not entirely convinced that by banning certain breeds would prevent dog attacks from happening. Other breeds can also demonstrate aggression toward people depending on the circumstances, how the dog was raised and treated itself. I think I’d be more supportive of legislation that addresses the causes of aggression rather than targeting the banning of specific breeds. (Note from me here - he's assuming? He's never heard of the term breed specific legislation before?)
Q: Do you believe pet stores should be allowed to sell animals?
Darrell Dexter: My main concern is always that animals are well-treated. I would like to talk to animal health professionals more about this to hear their view and would take their advice.
Francis Mackenzie: I think it depends on the store and the type of pet. People should purchase dogs through reputable breeders or through adoption from the SPCA or animal rescue. But if the interest of the pet is being safeguarded, pet stores can be a suitable option.
Rodney MacDonald: It’s rewarding when you can give an animal a nice, loving home, bringing joy and comfort to many, from our children to company for seniors. If I were buying a pet for my son, Ryan, I’d opt to go to a shelter where the need to support a non-profit agency is greater. People who go to shelters to get a pet have usually done more research and thinking about pet ownership, and the responsibility it entails. There is also a screening process in place for potential adopters.
Q: If so, should the province regulate the breeding and sale of live animals as household pets?
Darrell Dexter: Yes, I think the province has a role to play in regulating pet breeders and those who sell pets, for both the protection of the animals and the protection of families looking for a pet. So much depends on breeding and early environment.
Francis Mackenzie: We believe that there should be consultations with interested stakeholders before proceeding with regulation. While regulation can help safeguard the interests of animals and their owners, we would prefer an educational approach.
Rodney MacDonald: While it’s true this is an industry largely unregulated - here, across Canada and in the US - it might be worth considering the practices of other jurisdictions.
Q: Are you in favour of tougher penalties for those found guilty under the Nova Scotia Animal Cruelty Prevention Act and why or why not? What’s your opinion of how the act is currently enforced?
Darrell Dexter: The real issue in enforcement of the act is resources. I question if the resources, human and financial, are there to fully enforce even existing regulation.
Francis Mackenzie: Yes, because people who are cruel to animals take away from our humanity. This area of the law does not seem fully developed in Nova Scotia. That includes enforcement. We believe that many agencies do a fantastic job. The issue may simply be one of a lack of resources. We should examine this area of enforcement with the goal of making improvements.
Rodney MacDonald: We always talk about whether the punishment fits the crime and, largely, society feels it never does, regardless of the act committed toward any human. I expect it no different with animals. Nova Scotia was actually the first province in Canada to pass animal cruelty prevention legislation.
It appears that in the context of other crimes, the provincial penalties seem adequate punishment. Under the provincial law, there is a fine of no more than $5,000 for the first and second offences and in default of paying that, imprisonment of no more than six months. Fines and sentences subsequently increase for more than two offences.
Consideration of a review of that fine structure may be appropriate to see if it meets the structure in other jurisdictions. I think it’s more important that the Criminal Code anti-cruelty provisions be brought into the 21st century. There have been several attempts to strengthen the federal legislation in recent years (most recently Bill C-50) but nothing that satisfies all the interest groups involved.