Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Where the no kill movement is today

I got an email this morning from the "No Kill Advocacy Centre" - they were putting out a call for Essays - and qualified entrants are going to get a signed copy of Nathan Winograd's book - Redemption. I already own a copy of the book (of course, who doesn't?) - but a signed copy would be awesome!

So while I was showering, then driving to work - I thought of what I could write for the topic of - "where is the No Kill Movement today?"

Their organization is of course thinking about where it is down in the United States - and in big American cities - but I thought - where is it in little places like Nova Scotia, Canada? What does the term "no kill" mean to people in the Annapolis Valley? Does it mean anything?

It's like the idea of enlightment - can a person be enlightened - and not know aboutu Buddhism? I think they can.

So that's how I wrote my essay, such as it is - if you want to write one too - go to - http://www.thenokillnation.com/?p=90 - to find out more.

Here is my submission:

I live in Nova Scotia, Canada. When 80 dogs were legally shot at a kennel in Pennsylvania in August 2008 I went and had a look at the laws here in Nova Scotia and found out that it’s still legal for our animal control officers here to shoot dogs as a way to euthanize them if they think they can get a clear shot and kill them with one bullet.. In December 2004 I wrote a post on a blog that I maintain about the practice – still being regularly used by the animal control officer in a little town here in Nova Scotia that had just been voted as “the world’s most livable small community”. Obviously they hadn’t taken into account the homeless and abandoned companion animals in the town.

The “No-Kill Movement” isn’t really talked about here in Nova Scotia - athough the idea of it is very much alive. There are an abundance of small rescues who save one animal at a time – who rescue them from a very bad life – chained to a dog house for their entire life, their neck bald from a choke chain – fur orange from the sun – and spay or neuter the animal, keep them safe until a home if found; there are tnr groups sprouting up in pockets all over Nova Scotia where colonies of cats have been living for decades – brave men and women finally saying that these cats deserve to have their babies live inside and the mom’s deserve to not have to be submitted to endless litters of kittens. I also have to say – a lot of animals are rescued from and pulled from SPCA’s – which is a very sad commentary – the very places that should be sheltering the animals, in Nova Scotia – are killing them.

But they’re doing it not because they embrace the “no-kill philosophy” – they’re doing it because it’s the right thing to do.

In 2003 the Nova Scotia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was in turmoil – and there was a coup of sorts – a new leadership took over – and on their year end report they used a quote from Nathan Winograd that was truly inspiring. Things were going on with the Society that seemed to be great – and I wanted to be involved with the great changes. The quote was –

“A decade ago, the idea of finding a home for every healthy shelter dog and cat would have sounded like science fiction. Now we are poised to make it a reality. But whether you call it No More Homeless Pets, No Kill, or other things, in a nutshell, the challenge is to build a humane "society." To meet that challenge, we need to get the community excited, to energize people for the task at hand. Everybody needs to be a part of the mission. And the measure of how much we succeed-or fail-is a function of what happens to the cat living in an alley in our community, whether the business downtown adopts a ’pets at work’ policy, whether landlords will help our lifesaving goals by saying yes to renters with dogs, whether our neighbors adopt imperfect pets because they believe in our lifesaving mission. It is about the cafes, the storefronts, the squares, the neighborhoods. That is how we will be measured. And that is what it takes to save all the lives at risk-regardless of how big or how small your shelter is.

What confuses a lot of people in this movement, what stops them before they start is the completely false idea that to end the killing of healthy and sick homeless pets, you need to start with big bucks and big shelters. That helps, it helps a lot, but it is putting the cart before the horse. And that’s not so great an idea when our cart and our horse have a long way to go. To reach our goals, we must first focus our energies, not on building a shelter, but on rebuilding our relationship with the community. “
Nathan Winograd , Executive Director, Tompkins County

At that time there were still branches of the Nova Scotia SPCA using carbon dioxide the euthanize animals. There were still branches euthanizing 75% of the animals that they took in. It was horrible – but this new Board of Directors were going to change all of that.

Five years later – nothing had changed. Five years of fighting to change things for the positive. And still 75% of animals at a shelter in Cape Breton are dying when they walk through the door “for space” – and they die in a box with carbon dioxide – because they “can’t afford to do it any other way”. At their flagship shelter in the Halifax Regional Municipality – euthanizations never have gotten below 20%.

The newest incarnation of the Nova Scotia SPCA’s Board of Director’s Executive says that Nathan Winograd is their hero – so hopefully this time they mean it. We can only hope.

But at least here in Nova Scotia – a lot of animals (thankfully) – don’t make it into the bureaucratic system of Animal Control, and SPCA’s – which in a lot of cases is certain death, and sometimes a shot to the head or a gas machine.

Up here the people who have truly embraced the “no-kill philosophy” are the ones who realize that the pace of bureaucracy rarely changes – so you’ve got to create your own perfect world.

I consider Nova Scotia to be Shangri-la – and because of private rescues and a lot of hard working individuals – the no-kill philosophy IS growing here – because we know it’s the right thing to do.

Joan Sinden

Halifax, Nova Scotia

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