Friday, April 9, 2010

Steinbach Animal Control By-law - One Step Forward, Stay In Place

I have read through, a number of times, the new City of Steinbach Animal Control By-law and I have some questions, although I'm not hopeful that we'll get any clear answers the questions will remain.

The sections of the Animal Control By-law are in a different font below with some key areas highlighted. It is important to remember that in Manitoba the Animal Care Act requires inspection and licensing if all shelters, pounds and kennel facilities. We would need to see that license on file with the City of Steinbach as it is their facility although it resides in the R.M. of Hanover.

Destroying dogs for humane reasons

6.5 Despite section 6.4, if the Animal Control Officer believes that an impounded dog

is suffering from injury, disease, sickness, or other cause which it is unlikely to survive or

from which it is unlikely to recover, and that destroying the dog would be humane, the

Animal Control Officer may destroy the dog immediately.

The Animal Control Officer has no veterinary training to make this determination and should be required to consult with a veterinary professional, either local or provincial, to make a determination of the health of an animal.

Caring for dogs/animals

6.6/8.10 The Animal Control Officer, as he or she considers necessary and humane, may

maintain and care for impounded dogs including the provision of food, water, and shelter,

and may arrange for veterinary care and medication.

I combined the sections 6 and 8 because their wording is the same whether it be for dogs or 'other' animals. What expertise or training does an Animal Control Officer have to qualify them to determine what is necessary and humane for the care of impounded animals? Do they know the recommended food rations, quantity of water, the need for shelter that is adequate year round? How is the humane treatment of someone's PET discretionary? I really have issue with the words "may maintain and care" and if they choose not to? What is the penalty? Has the job description for the Animal Control Officer changed enough to require training and resources? Who provides the food? At what point is veterinary care determined and for what duration during the 72 hour window?

Disposing of dogs/animals

6.7/8.11 After expiry of the 72 hours referred to in section 6.4, the Animal Control Officer

may destroy, or sell by auction or private sale, an impounded dog.

Destroy, sell by auction or private sale - and to whom do the proceeds go? What methods of rehoming these animals are going to be used? We would strongly encourage the City of Steinbach to use their website, Facebook, Steinbach Humane Society and Steinbach & Area Animal Rescue as resources to foster and rehome these animals. The decision to destroy healthy, adoptable animals based soley on a clock or space requirements is wrong.

No destruction of cats in by-law, is the animal control officer still hoarding them on his property or setting them loose in the country? There is very little in the by-law about how cats are handled, nothing on their disposal once impounded or what is being done with feral cats. This is a big gap and a huge concern.



Destroying of an animal

10.1 Any reference to the destroying of an animal will follow the American Veterinary

Medical Association (AVMA) Guidelines on Euthanasia. The principle for a humane

method of killing an animal is a rapid unconsciousness and death, with the least possible

pain and distress accompanying the procedure. The most appropriate method of

euthanasia may vary depending on the circumstances and the animal species. Euthanasia

is not desirable as a sole means of population control, but is a necessary requirement for

unwanted companion animals. Optimal methods of euthanasia will be used. Shooting an

animal is considered a humane way to destroy an animal as it produces immediate

unconsciousness prior to death. Shooting may be the most practical and logical method

of euthanasia of wild or free ranging animals. Gunshot will not be used for routine

euthanasia of animals in animal control situations.

There is no reason, absolutely NONE, that would require the City of Steinbach to euthanize 'unwanted companion animals' as a method of animal control. Killing healthy adoptable pets doesn't stop people from dumping them, doesn't prevent irresponsible pet owners from causing their pets harm, it doesn't stop puppy mills or other activities that are detrimental to animals. Killing is easier than finding homes...and that is not a way forward.

I would encourage EVERYONE who reads this to write the Mayor and Council of the City of Steinbach to reconsider their KILL POUND policy and move forward into a new age of social networking and using the internet to return or rehome animals rather than killing them. The Mayor can be reached at his email:

You can view the entire by-law at this link:

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

“It’s disgusting that people would do this,” she said. “It’s sick. This is one of the worst cases (of neglect) I’ve ever seen.”

The bad and the ugly is taking an older dog, such as Tribe, not letting her walk enough to wear down her own nails, leave her starving on the side of the road.  The ugly is her being hit not once, but twice by cars.  The bad is her condition.  The really bad is that Tribe is not alone, there are many dogs, cats, horses and other animals experiencing abuse, neglect, outright abandonment and cruelty this very moment!

The good is Animal Control Officers like Bonnie, the good is people like Sally Hull of Hull's Haven Border Collie Rescue, Darcy of D'arcy's Arc in Winnipeg, the people who have joined forces to have a single voice for small shelters and all rescues in Manitoba.  Manitoba Voice for Animals has been working to find Tribe a foster to care for her and help her golden years be her best.

The comments you see expressed on social networking sites, blogs and in emails express our outrage (entirely justifiable), our horror (completely understandable) and our disgust (if you aren't then stop reading right now).  They show our displeasure and strong feelings about this dog and all animals who have been treated like her with no love, no respect and no care.

The old saying, "The more I get to know people, the more I love my dog (cat, horse, fish, ferret, etc)!" can be no truer than when you hear the voices of animal lovers united in outrage.  I would love to be able to harness that sense of outrage and channel it in a slightly different direction.

When we feed the negative, when we build comment upon comment we do get our feelings out. No doubt about it.  We also don't get a chance to use that energy to say, "Hey someone cares!" or "Hey, someone is looking out for animals, let's help!"  It doesn't give us a chance to say good things about rescue, about animal control officers who truly put welfare first, about shelters working hard to have a no-kill world.

As loud as our voices can be in outrage, the do NO GOOD!  We only add to the UGLY, we only remind ourselves and others of the BAD.  We don't get the chance to speak out, and be heard, about the choices people have.  About the resources available to them that the side of the road is not acceptable and here's why...fill in your reasons...

We don't get to use our voices to shout out about rescues needing fosters, shelters needing loving forever homes, we don't get to speak up for the animals.  When we spend out time on the outrage too long it passes and our voices are lost in the noise of the day.  No one is left with an idea, a clue, that there are better choicesbetter options and we lose a chance to gain a friend, a foster, an adopter.

When we get past the first few chances to speak with outrage we have a small window where people pause to get their breath - a moment that the media and the public share - where we can fill it with good information.  We can use that small window to paste a link, post a blog, write a comment, volunteer our selves and our voices for the greater cause of caring for our animals!

Responsible pet owners do not do this to their animals.  This act of cruelty is going to be a rally point for people.  We as people care enough to share our resources, our knowledge, our passion and fill that window with something other people and the media can use.  Links to rescues, links to vets, links to Facebook groups and fan pages where the questions of "What can I do?"  and "How can I help?" meet face to face with the people who can properly answer them.

We can choose to turn the outrage into something that can bring good, we can choose to use our space of time to be heard in a way that gives people tools, choices and resources.  Options for something better for themselves and animals.  

Be outraged!  Be angry!  Be offended! Be careful...the hateful words you say today could drown out the information you would wish to share tomorrow.  The unfocused anger could leave us with no energy left to speak out and advocate for change.

It's okay to say this is terrible but it is even better to follow it with but together we can do something to change it!

Monday, March 29, 2010

So about those cats and dogs...

The days of a box of free kittens outside the feed store, courtesy of a farmer, are long long gone.  The days of rubber boot castrations are long gone too.  Long gone are the days of rudely ending the lives of unwanted animals and being able to think it is okay.  That disposing of offspring was a form of animal control.

Sadly, 'out of sight, out of mind' still happens, and sadly people assume that there is some sort of protective shield around a dog or cat that is dumped in the country. "They'll learn to fend for themselves." or "Someone will find them, and take care of them."

Firstly, most dogs do not learn to fend for themselves, and they eventually have one of a number of things happen to them: they get shot/poisoned/run over, they get picked up by animal control with a 72 hour policy and put down or they starve death or are attacked and killed by bigger, wilder predators.  Very few dogs are lucky enough to be an Emma who we found and took care of for her last years. She was abandoned in the country - blind and elderly.  What chance did she have? But for the grace of God, none.

Secondly, cats fare somewhat better on the survival scale, as evidenced by the number of semi wild and feral cats in rural areas.  They live in barns, yards, old equipment, empty houses and generally eat their way around the countryside. They eat mice (a good thing) and other rodents, they decimate bird populations (not a good thing), they attack each other, breed rapidly and tend to have short, violent lives unless they are in a protected farm yard.  Abandoned cats in winter, especially, will find themselves starving and frostbitten. Roving tom cats are vicious fighters, nasty neighbors and really bad actors.  The mother of our three barn cats came in such rough condition we didn't even know if she would make it.  She did though, and her three babies are living here with us.  She moved in with a neighbor and is living the life of spayed luxury.

City dogs and cats face many more dangers, and those in semi-urban areas face even greater ones as they are combined rural and urban.  Traffic, other animals, humans who exploit them to fighting and torture and other horrors.

Caring people do their best to rescue and rehome these animals, all are spayed and neutered, vetted and ready for their forever home.  Many caring farmers and acreage owners are working hard to spay and neuter their cats to keep the populations down.

Responsible pet owners need to understand that spaying and neutering gives their animals longer lives, less stress from hormones, fewer chances of being attacked based solely on their ability or threat as 'breeding' animals.  Responsible pet owners need to remember that those animals they have taken into their homes and lives are depending on them for everything, from their first day to their last.  We give them their shots, we deworm them, we find them food in fun shapes, we provide them with toys, treats and nice beds or houses.  We give them yards and homes, love and care.  We give them a chance to thrive and live.

Those who choose to have animals and choose not to care for them are condemning them to lives filled with danger, fear, pain, stress, starvation and often times early deaths in painful lingering forms.  Those who choose this way are not always the 'bad guys' you would think - it could be the elderly lady down the road who loves cats but can't have them in her home so she feeds and lets them breed.  It could be the parent who bought the 'movie puppy' and couldn't learn how to train it, and decides to 'dump it'.  It could be the backyard breeder determining that rather than dispose of unwanted pups they'll just 'lose' them somewhere else.  It could be the farmer who lets the animals breed and then dumps the offspring in town, at a shelter or lets 'nature take its course'.

A few people purposefully and willfully cause animals harm, this isn't really about them.  You cannot unrotten an apple.  This is for those people who are generally kind hearted but thoughtless.  The ones that really don't see the harm in a few dozen unwanted cats or puppy roaming about.  The ones that don't understand that there is no good reason for putting down healthy, adoptable animals.  The ones that just don't get that their poor choices with animals leads to healthy, adoptable animals being put down in pounds and shelters around the world because no one thought to care for them and consider their future.

This message is for them...if you choose to have animals, choose to care for them. Spay, neuter, vetting, chipping or tagging, proper yards and homes, feed and care from their first day with you until their last.  Their last day with you should be the one before they go to a new home that you know they will be cared for at, in to a reputable rescue or are properly euthanized because they are too ill or injured or so elderly they have no more quality of life.

The funny thing about choices is that when it comes to life or death we are the ones that make them for our animals.  Choose good things for them, choose the right things for them.  If you are not willing or able to be their loving caregiver, please find them a new home, surrender them to a rescue or as a friend or neighbor whom you know is an excellent animal person.  You have the choice, make the right one for your animals!  Set an example of responsible and caring pet ownership.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

"Sincere Ignorance and Conscitentious Stupidity"

Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity. Martin Luther King Jr.


The above quote by Martin Luther King Jr. could be applied to so many aspects of our world - including animal care and animal rescue.  Want some examples?  Bet you have lots of your own - even some personal ones that could be examined and corrected?

"Oh I don't think __________happens here."  "We aren't that kind of community where there would be _________________(abuse? puppy mill? dog fighting? hoarding?)!"

"They are just dumb animals, they don't feel or understand anything..."

"My property, I can do with it what I wish - you can't stop me"

"Of course a puppy needs to be shown who is boss, that cowering shows they respect you."

"That shelter finds homes for all of their animals, they don't actually euthanize any."

"That's a religious community, they wouldn't run puppy mills."

"That's an important person in the community (sports, media, entertainment) they couldn't abuse animals."

"There is a lot of people helping with those animals, they don't need me."

"What can I do?" and for too many this last question, instead of moving them forward to action, stalls them out. They watch infomercials, they read the news but still do not see that they may have a place in doing some real helping.  

Talk to a rescuer, talk to a shelter volunteer, talk to someone who has adopted and they will tell you that any of the above, and more horrifying ones, have not only been heard but too often and in too many places.

They've seen the sad eyes, the flinches, the cowering and the fear. They've seen the aggression from animals who are lashing out due to fear or the need to survive. They've put in countless hours caring for sores, talking softy in  frozen or maimed ears, spent days and days encouraging a dog to touch grass for the first time in its life.

When someone wants to pretend that animal and human abuse doesn't happen they are having a holiday floating on DeNial, the cruise may be quite lengthy but always ends in reality, even for a short 'port of call'.

What can we do?  What can you do?  Simply: what you can!

Steinbach & Area Animal Rescue has no shelter building - we foster our animals so they have a home.  We have a network of other rescues we work with across Canada and the US to ensure that there is always someplace for animals to go.  We give of our time, we give of our homes and our love.  Some cannot foster - they do fundraising, they offer transport, they advocate to the media, they work with people to increase their understanding of better pet care.  

The thing about doing 'just one thing' is that if we all did 'just one thing' so many amazing things would get done because everyone would be doing something - rather than wondering what or considering who or even deciding not to.  

Have you wondered how the guys of Rescue Ink, Sally at Hull's Haven and so many others started down their path?  Was it one thing or a culmination of many?  What was it for you?  Next time you visit a shelter or a rescue ask them.  Ask why they are there - you'll meet some amazing people and hear some amazing stories. Some will hearten you and others will break your heart.

Join a group or ten on Facebook!  Volunteer to drive a leg of a relay or transport!  Offer your time and support in whatever way you'll be surprised how good it feels.  And you'll be helping in many ways - including reducing the danger of  "sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity"!

Sometimes it can be as easy as cross posting a lost dog notice or a need for a foster...anyone can give a click!  Start with a click and then follow a link and see where it takes you...and I'll see you along the way!  

*Photo borrowed with thanks from Hull's Haven Border Collie Rescue Facebook Album.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Stories to Warm Your Heart

Here are some stories for you to check out, about hard working rescuers who have big hearts, amazing animals who can teach us more than we think and help rescue people...and more happy tails!  Share yours here - send me a comment or an email!

A Home For Patches: Thanks To A Caring Pilot

What Can One Person Do? Amazing things...
On a personal note, with 'just one thing' many people have helped bring many many animals home - including the four at our home...

Rescue Dogs on their way to Haiti

Rescue Ink Stories

Hull's Haven Happy Tails
Be sure to watch the video of Riddle's Song - amazing! 

Bilingual Border Collie

And so we don't forget the animals impacted by the events in Haiti here is some more 'good news':

"Together, the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) will be working on the ground to help the animals in Haiti. We have developed the Animal Relief Coalition for Haiti (ARCH) to assist in the response efforts, and all animal welfare organizations are invited to join the ARCH and direct their financial support to the coalition.

Our teams will be working out of a mobile clinic which has been donated to us by the Antigua and Barbuda Humane Society. WSPA and IFAW have pledged funds to fully outfit this mobile clinic, and it will be shipped from Antigua to our member society, Sociedad Dominicana Para la Protección de Animales (SODOPRECA), in the Dominican Republic for them to drive across the border into Haiti."

Sunday, January 3, 2010

A thought for the new year...

Linda Colucci "Until people are killed for lack of space, I'll keep putting the animals first. Until people are tortured and murdered on the scale animals are, I'll keep putting animals first. Until people make me smile the way animals do, I'll keep putting animals first." ~ Animal Outreach

Without shame I admit I borrowed that from a Facebook Friend who is also an animal rescuer, foster mom to critters and a super awesome advocate for animals...something to consider.  When we put those without a voice first, we become more empathetic to the world around us...and that is not a bad thing!

Be sure to check out the Facebook Page for SAAR and download your FREE animal emergency window signs, see which animals are available for adoption or fostering from the many other rescues and groups, including the good folks at the Dauphin Vet Clinic.  Chat it up, share your stories and photos...let people know that your animals matter!

Friday, November 6, 2009

What would you do?

Here is a question, which will probably become a poll on our Facebook group and I hope a starting place for a serious discussion...

"What would you do if you had knowledge of, or witnessed, animal abuse or cruelty?"

Do you know? Have you any thoughts on how you would react, who you would call? This question comes to mind today at the end of Shelter Week (supporting the adoption of shelter animals) and the posting of the news story about the Calgary puppy beaten and left in an animal hospital parking lot.

Are you aware that people who abuse animals are more likely to abuse people? That someone who feels ownership and the need for physical domination of animals will also, most likely, do the same to people around them?

What would you do? Are you going to work in the dark places like the guys from Rescue Ink (by the way their show in Canada will air on National Geographic Channel beginning Tuesday November 10 at 10 pm EST, running for six consecutive weeks. We will also run episodes 1-4 as part of Best of National Geographic on Sunday November 15 at 12-4pm, 7-11pm and 12-4am, all times EST.)

What would you do? Volunteer at a shelter? Work with a rescue as a foster home or relay driver? Would you speak out on your social networking profiles and in your blogs?

Are you willing to demand that your city or municipal council update and obey their own animal control by-laws? Are you willing to speak out and say what needs to be said for the animals?

Do you know that there are laws and acts that protect animals? That there are people you can call who will get the ball rolling to care for animals?

What would you do? Comment on this blog, share on our Facebook group, speak out and tell us what would you do...