Thursday, April 22, 2010
Today was the Summit for Urban Animal Strategies in Halifax
Well today, I burned away some more people's tax money - and took a vacation day from my job that I've been gainfully employed in for more than 19 years (which means that I get 25 vacation days a year) - and went to the "Atlantic Regional Summit for Urban Animal Strategies" that was being held in Halifax.
I went to the Atlantic Regional Summit last year too - and that was a lot of fun, so I figured I'd go this year too - and today was equally interesting, so I'm glad I went. Today's topic was cats - so I was half-preparing for a complete snooze-fest, but I was surprised, I was involved from beginning to end - even though we didn't talk about dogs at all - I still took away ideas that relate to topics that I'm personally interested in - licencing, legislation, homelessness, euthaization, how to get bureaucrats to do their jobs, and how to also get them to listen to what the populace wants them to do - except today was from the cat's viewpoint.
So for those of you who are also interested in this kind of stuff - here are some of the notes that I took today that I thought were worth remembering.
What we were talking about in the morning was a big survey that some guy did to cat owners in Canada - asking them general questions about cat ownership and stuff - and the survey came up with some conclusions - and in the conversations this morning the idea came up that animal shelters and rescues really have not done a very good job of showing the public what a good value that animals adopted from rescues are.
A lot of the public sees animals at SPCA's and pounds as being inferior animals - when in fact a lot of the time you get an animal that comes to you - spayed or neutered, up to date on it's shots, microchipped, a little bit of training - and it's even been matched to your lifestyle if the shelter has an adoption coordinator.
All for under $200 - what pet store or back yard breeder is going to do that for you? Shelters need to capitalize on that - and show the public the value for the money they're spending - because in the surveys of cat owners - that fact showed glaringly.
Last year I also talked about this fact - the fact that most pet owners get most of their pet care information from their veterinarians - this year the statistic they quoted was 45-71% of pet owners. That scares me - because we all know how backwards a lot of vets thinking is when it comes to vaccinations and what to feed your pets - and how to train your dog even! We in the humane community - but also the CKC, and the bsl people - we all need to work together - because the pet owning population - in order to understand and become aware of the problems of back yard breeders and puppy mills - needs to hear the same information - from all of our communities - in that way by telling the same stories and explaining things the same way - the breeding facilities that are truly puppy mills can be shut down.
One veterinarian from Hamilton spoke about what her city did - and they launched a program called "year of the cat" - which is going to go national in 2011 - and they had one slogan which I thought was hilarious - "cats don't wear condoms". That's a great line.
In the afternoon - Bill Bruce from Calgary gave a presentation about cats and his city.
I have seen Bill Bruce now at least 3 times. He is of course awesome. Although I have to say that I don't know if I would actually want to live in Calgary, because if you sneeze sideways, I think that's a bylaw infraction and you can be fined for that. I'm just kidding about that one - but it is for sure a bylaw infraction to let your dog hang their head out the car door window - and if your dog is deemed vicious you have to put a huge sign on the outside of your house of a growling drooling killer looking dog. If you've never seen him in action you can see him in a video - here -
Bill Bruce also came to Halifax back in 2007 to meet with HRM and Animal Control to give them some pointers on how to run their department - he also met with the public and gave a presentation - I don't know how successful he was when he met with Animal Control department - based on how the department seems to be run now, I'd say they didn't take too much of his advice. I wrote a blog post about his presentation to the public if you care to go back and read it - you can find that post here -
Bill Bruce's talk today was good too - he said that animals end up in shelters not because of pet overpopulation, and not because of the animal's fault - but because a human relationship failed the pet.
He desribed something really neat that happens in Calgary with their feral cat population - because they have a coaltion between the Animal Services Department, their Humane Society, a local shelter, and a tnr society who does all the tnr stuff for the city - every feral cat in the city that gets picked up to be trapped neutered and returned - gets microchipped - with the address and name of the tnr group - so every feral cat in Calgary is "owned" by the feral cat society - and only they know the actual colony location of each feral cat - so if a cat gets picked up - and it's already been spayed/neutered and returned - Animal Services returns it to the tnr society to return it to it's original colony.
I thought that was just the neatest idea - it solves so many problems - it solves the problem of the cat that's been in somebody's back yard for the last 3 years that the person says doesn't actually "belong" to them - and it keeps having kittens and what're they going to do about it - well now it belongs to the tnr society.
Every dog and cat that's adopted through Animal Services gets a free licences for the first 6 months - now THAT is a good way to increase compliance with licencing - you've already got them in the system. I wonder - that would be a great thing for Homeward Bound to start up, don't you think? Seeing as how they seem to have so much closer ties to the city than the SPCA did?
Now this is probably going to be the neatest thing you've ever seen. When Calgary Animal Services picks up a stray cat - they note where they pick up that fan-damned cat - which neighbourhood they got it from, they take a picture of that cat - and then they mail out a card like this one - to ALL the houses in that neighbourhood saying - IS THIS YOUR CAT?
Can you believe that? I wrote a post a couple months ago and I called that post "Think lost, not stray" - I think Bill Bruce has been to some of the same conferences I've been to. I think he has.
Anyway, that's enough bullshit for tonight.
Here's a picture of the Halifax Harbour taken with my beautiful Iphone and one of the wonderful apps I downloaded that makes photos look all fuzzy and wonderful. I love my iphone.
And since we were talking about cats - here's a photo of my cat Whisky on my newly painted back deck - also taken with my Iphone and that nice app - this was taken on the weekend though.