Thursday, October 25, 2007

How can we find the truth? Talking about Bylaw A300

What can I say. I am flummoxed. I don't know what's the truth, what's going to happen, what's going to be implemented, and how anything is going to happen - but I haven't got a good feeling about any of it. I just hope that none of my animals die because of the passing of Bylaw A300 on Tuesday night.

What I do know is that Bylaw A300 DID pass with the wording about dangerous dogs and what constitutes an attack that I personally was so worried about - and that I actually went down to City Hall and presented about at the public hearing in early September - see my blog post from September 11th - that talks about that night.

I personally have a lot of concerns and questions.

Above and beyond all the things that have been in the media and the things that I've talked about before about that bother me about the bylaw are some things that nobody seems to be talking about - and there are 2 huge items that are staring at me every time I look at the bylaw.

#1 is the fact that monies collected by fines from Animal Services offences are NOT GOING TO BE FUNNELLED BACK INTO ANIMAL SERVICES COFFERS!!!!!! Why hasn't anybody been talking about this? This question has been raised several times by Councillors at Regional Council meetings and then hastily dropped when asked to the Staff Seargent who wrote the bylaw. The reason for this is that the offences are charged under the "Summary Offence Proceedings Act" - the same act that you pay fines like speeding tickets and and seatbelt infractions - the bulk of those fines go into Provincial coffers - NOT TO THE CITY!!!!!

Why is that?

The reason why Calgary can support their own Animal Services Contract is that ALL their money from fines, licencing, boarding - goes back into their Animal Services budget. This is not rocket science!!!!!

Why isn't anybody talking about this?

How do I know this?

On page 1 of the Supplementary Report given out September 25, 2007 the 3rd recommendation (which was passed this past Tuesday October 23, 2007) it says - "Upon adoption of BYlaw A300, authorize staff to submit a request to the Province to include penalties levied under the BYlaw in the Summary Offence Proceedings Act. Here is the link to the Supplementary Report so you can see for yourself.

My second huge problem that no one is talking about is with the supposed shelter that the City doesn't want to build.

If you look at "Administrative Order Number 11" - which is on page 17 of the document I just gave the link to right above here - it says:

It is enacted by the Council of the Halifax Regional Municipality as follows:
a) The Shelter Keeper for the Municipality is the Nova Scotia Society for the prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
b) the Shelter for the Municipality shall be the facility of the Nova Scotia Socielty for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals located at 5 Scarfe Court, Halifax NS

and it goes on from there to say how much the "Shelter Keeper" can charge for animals and blah blah blah.

Well now. I have a HUGE problem with this. It would seem to me that such a huge contract should #1 go out for tender. #2 - how do I know that the current manager of the shelter is qualified to be the shelter manager as required under the now passed bylaw? If she's not, can she be fired and a qualified person hired?

And there's an article in today's Chronicle Herald where the president of the NS SPCA is talking about the bylaw - and she's saying nothing about the fact that they are going to be the new shelter:

SPCA welcomes proposed shelter but has concerns about new bylaw

Thu. Oct 25 - 3:40 PM

The Nova Scotia SPCA’s metro shelter welcomes a plan to have a larger, state-of-the-art facility built in Halifax Regional Municipality to accommodate an expected influx of strays and unclaimed cats because of the city’s new cat bylaw.

But at the same time, the agency is concerned about people being able to trap cats on their property.

"The SPCA’s concern is the education and monitoring of how this trapping will take place, as cats must not be left unattended in cages," the agency said in a news release Wednesday.

Such action, the SPCA said, would constitute animal cruelty under the law. There is also a concern of "pitting neighbour against neighbour."

"At our current shelter facility, we have already experienced this and we have found these situations can be very volatile."

The shelter has been assisting with the city’s stray cat problem since 1991 by offering shelter and adoption for cats brought to its Dartmouth facility. The shelter’s adoption rate is about 80 per cent.

The shelter helps with about 2,500 animals a year, 75 per cent of which are cats.

On Tuesday night, council approved a new bylaw that will put mandatory cat licensing in place by April 1. Bylaw A-300 also bars any dog or cat from running at large, damaging property or attacking another person or animal.

Several councillors have said they do not want to spend millions to build a shelter and hire officers to enforce the bylaw.

And in the article I have several problems in there - with #1 being that they KILL 20% of the animals that come through the door - that's not a very good percentage as far as I'm concerned - 2 out of 10 animals that go through their doors die.

And they also say that they've been the place that people could take their cats to since 1991 - that's an outright lie. For years they refused to take any owner surrenders. They would NOT take any animals that people tried to surrender if they thought they were too busy.

So that's the start of some of my concerns. Why are these things not being talked about - why is the money being raised by fines not going to Animal Control, and why is the Nova Scotia SPCA getting the shelter contract with no tender going out - and why is City Council talking about needing a new shelter when they've already identified Scarfe Court as the shelter?

Those are some questions I'd like answered.

Stay tuned while I try to find out.

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