Sunday, February 6, 2011

Will the 100 sled dog slaughter bring positive changes?

I have been having such deja vu the last few days with the public's reaction to the sled dog's being killed in British Columbia - it has so many echoes of the Celtic Pets scandal here in Nova Scotia in 2008 - public outrage - people from away and locally demanding "how could this have happened, and we have to not let this happen again" - government officials like the premier of the province -

At that time it was then Nova Scotia Premier Rodney MacDonald who said -

"this is a situation which is unacceptable. Be it in a shelter, be it on a farm, bet it in a household - they deserve to be respected, they deserve to ensured that their safety, their health is looked after and maintained - and as province - we'll make sure that happens."

Now it is British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell who's struck a task force to investigate the killings and he's saying -

"No creature should ever have to suffer in the manner that has been reported, and we want to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again in our province".

Well the Celtic Pets scandal happened in February of 2008 - and how has the animal cruelty landscape transformed in Nova Scotia since then?

Well - just this past month Gail Benoit had charges against her dropped for animal cruelty due to lack of evidence in the case of her selling numerous puppies in the summer of 2009 to unsuspecting customers and they all died a horrible and painful death - and those puppies were all bought from Chapman kennels - a place that shortly thereafter shut down, and to celebrate the closing of their "kennel" - they shot 175 of their breeding stock in the head.

So I have to say - not much has improved - except that livestock animal cruelty cases are now investigated by the Department of Agriculture instead of the Nova Scotia SPCA, and the NS SPCA has to submit a report to the Minister of Agriculture once a year - and the Nova Scotia SPCA has a very tarnished reputation that they are still trying and working very hard at getting back. But it has NOT been easy.

So to tell you the truth - I don't hold out much hope for thing improving because of the death of those poor dogs in BC - especially since the BC SPCA purportedly had been approached previously to try and rehome them and had refused - saying that the dogs were unadoptable because they were working sled dogs - which to me is SUCH bullshit - anyone who has done any rescue work with any kind of dogs knows that 99% of all dogs are able to be rehabilitated unless they are horribly people aggressive - so the SPCA saying they were unadoptable does make them partially culpable for those dogs' deaths.

Another level of culpability lies with the vet who refused to humanely euthanize the dogs. In Canada - dogs are property - and if I want to dispose of my property - I am the veterinarian's customer - and if I want to pay you to end my dog's life - that's my perogative - that is my property, and that's legal. So that vet should be censured. He/she was not doing their job as far as I'm concerned - everyone has some part of their job that they don't like to do.

Maybe if anything comes out of this - it might be a wake up call to the CVMA - that they have to look at their policies of not forcing vets to euthanize healthy animals against the wishes of owners.

Another issue that this tragedy has brought out is the "sled dog" industry, lifestyle - and husky dog owner - tethered dogs - and the idea that husky's like and prefer to be outside - and the preposterous idea that "working dogs" cannot be rehomed at the end of their working life.

I had the horror of living next door and watching a husky die over 4 long years at the end of a chain because the asshole living next door to me subsribed to the idea that "his dog didn't want to be indoors" - the "dog hated it indoors" - and wanted to be out in the backyard. Such utter bullshit. Whenever I was in the back yard with my dogs he'd cry and run around - he so much wanted to take part in whatever we were doing - I called him my silent 5th dog.

It was such a sad thing when he did finally die. So unnecessary - because he was such a nice dog. And so typical - he got off his chain one day and got hit by a car - the unfortunate thing was it took him 2 weeks to die - because he made it back home and got put back on his chain - to sit there and slowly wither away - with a huge gash on his forehead. Rest in peace, Zeus. If that's not cruelty, I don't know what is.

So now we have 50,000 people joining a facebook page, and a tweet-up meetup, and walks going on out on the west coast - will any of that make a difference for the companion animal in Canada?

The President of the Nova Scotia SPCA tweeted this week that the Criminal Code of Canada hasn't changed for animals since 1892 - and in a really good opinion piece on the CBC website - some guy said that if Michael Vick would have gone to court in Canada - he wouldn't have been convicted of anything - and probably - I don't think he would have even been charged with anything, really - so what is it that we, as responsible pet owners can do?

There are so many things going on that are really horrible and violent - wars, starvation, natural disasters, diseases are killing the weakest in every part of the world - sometimes it makes me feel guilty and foolish to even think that we should be wasting out time on a thing like making the world a safer place for companion animals when there are so many humans suffering - but the way I look at is that there are a lot of other people who spend their time on the suffering humans - and everyone is called to something different - some people are called to spend their life playing the ukulele.

So for those of you who feel like change is needed in Canada for companion animals - now is the perfect time to step forward - there's a lot of work that needs to be done - people need to start speaking with their wallets, and lobbying government, and getting organized - and saying that they aren't going away. Because I don't think that the people at PETA are going to win - and companion animals are here to stay - and animal cruelty is going to continue to happen - and protection of animals needs to improve.

Because it certainaly can't get any worse.


  1. I'm really suprised by your comment about the veterinarians putting down healthy animals - I totally believe that vets should not be putting down healthy animals simply at the request of their owner. I'd like to see a process where the vet contacts a rescue organization and the dog is taken into their custody rather than simply killed. Sure rescue organizations are over burdened but let them make that call rather than putting down a healthy animal. This is especially true if that animal is a pure bred / attractive - not that their lives are more valuable but a purebred st bernard for example in a shelter would be adopted out in a second - your saying you'd rather see that animal put down at the sole request of its "owner"?

  2. Hi Tristan - I know that does seem like a dichotomy - but I am a strong believer in having a birth to death commitment to animals, and I also think that keeping animals as property gives me the best chance of keeping them safe - and as their owner I get to say whether they live or die, and no one else does - unless I relinquish ownership.

    You can call it an eccentricity - but I have this belief that life is cheap, about 8,000 pets die everyday in shelters across America - people kill each other like crazy in wars around the world - so how can people get jazzed up about one insignificant soul on the east coast of Canada.

    It's a break I haven't figured out yet. The idea that every animal is special and deserves to be saved and rehabilitated and on the other hand - when an animal is owned the owner should be allowed to do whatever they want to do with their animal - as long as it's humane - and gives their animal the "five freedoms" that you hear about.