Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Let me be clear...

This is my blog, where we talk about animal welfare - for all animals - but mostly we have talked about farmed animals and companion animals. Today's blog, which is actually way over due, is simply to state a response to the situation in Steinbach, Manitoba.

Clearly, if you know me at all, you'll know I am not an activist but a welfare advocate - much different. That said, read on and see what you think at the end...then search Google News for the stories and let the Mayor and the media know what you think...someone has to speak for the animals, will it be you?


Talk it up on Facebook, www.winnipegdogs.com or contact the Mayor himself, I'm sure he would love to hear from you. Show your support for the Steinbach Humane Society so they can feel strong enough to be an effective voice for animals in that community.

I was one of the people who brought a situation to the attention of the media, which of course did get a lot of attention both positive and negative. It brought some pressure for change, and an expression of a strong desire to maintain the status quo. The key point to remember here is that the media notification was one of the last steps we took in trying to resolve the situation. We had spoken to the Mayor, we had called in to the Welfare Vet for the province, we did talk to people in high places...and NOTHING was happening!

So a friend who is a reporter (Richard Cloutier from CJOB) came out one day, and talked to some people and the agreement was if there wasn't a story, then there wasn't a story - no pressure to 'make' news. But lo and behold, there was a story, and it was one no one wanted to hear told...too late! Other media picked it up but it didn't even make the news in the city it was centred on...

Gunfire euthanasia for animal control, with the exception of vicious or dangerous animals, is not a recommended practice ANYWHERE in Canada or pretty much the U.S. or the E.U. You don't just get to shoot them in a kennel next to other dogs. Not to mention on a concrete pad, in a semi-urban neighborhood without a backstop or other safety measures. Not to mention no chips were checked, no tattoos registered, no 'found' postings put up on the city website (which woulda been FREE)...nothing. There are vets in the area, like Pet Vet and Old Country Vet who would help out if asked, but no one ever asked. EVER. We checked.

Then there is the issue of a grossly out of date animal control by-law (circa 1986) that wasn't even being upheld in it's own jurisdiction. Clearly stated in the bylaw were the measures and actions to be taken by Animal Control. There is the issue of a job description that does not include the work being done by the Animal Control officer. Nothing directed at the peopleinvolved, they are 'just doing their jobs' but at the actions of the elected leaders of this community who choose to let them do a job incorrectly..

They misquoted guidelines, they misstated intentions and the very group that should be speaking out for animals is trying to 'back door' their way in by grabbing some stones and lobbing them at those who would speak out. Hey, you do what you gotta do, but don't get mad if someone speaks up while you remained silent.

Is this community alone in their penchant for the easy way out by shooting dogs? Heaven's no! Many rural municipalities do it, sometimes too freely, but that doesn't make it right. Sheer numbers of people or organizations doing the wrong thing don't make it right by volume.

That being said, are there other issues? Of course - housing, care, re homing, disposal of carcasses, licenses and training for animal control and funds. Support is needed for a Humane Society in one of the last hold out cities in Manitoba where there could be better care for animals and better chances for owners to be reunited. This isn't a small farm town (as if that should be an excuse) it is a city which does business as a city, has an urban population and serves a market that is both urban and rural.

There is lots of finger pointing, blaming and misleading statements going around. That's fine, if you have to make noise to avoid the issue at hand then do so, but when there is a quiet moment the questions will still be there:

1) Are the animal control by-laws going to be reviewed, updated (1986), upheld and enforced?
2) will there be a modern, inspected animal shelter for the animals lost in this city?
3) will the practice of gun shot euthanasia for animal control be banned, except in exceptional circumstances?
4) will there be visible support for the establishment of an animal shelter and humane society within the city?

Will the mayor call anyone back if they don't have a Steinbach prefix? Will those who care for animals be labeled 'activists' just because they refuse to accept the status quo? Will anyone care, at the end of the day, that it took people from the outside looking in to notice there was something not right happening? Will the people with pets care enough to speak out or is the desire to be a 'closed' community too strong?

Don't be angry that outsiders are asking these questions, don't tell people who care to 'butt out'...some day you might need their help. Will they say no? If they did, could you blame them?

If you get caught, smoking gun in hand, with a dead dog at your feet, don't say, "Hey you don't live here, never mind!" The laws in Canada and in Manitoba for animal welfare do not exempt anyone based on municipal boundaries. The Animal Care Act in Manitoba even demands that their shelter facility be inspected and licensed. That doesn't even begin to address the care practices absent and that's a whole other story.

So if you want to be upset because someone told you something you didn't want to hear, that's your right, but you cannot expect them to remain quiet while you enjoy a nice trip down 'denial'!


Here are some facts:

Gunshot SHOULD NOT be used for routine euthanasia of animals in animal control situations, such as municipal pounds or shelters. – CVMA Euthanasia Guidelines 2007

The intravenous injection of a concentrated barbiturate with prior sedation is widely considered the most humane method for euthanizing animals. It causes a comparatively aesthetic death, is rapid-acting, reliable, and effective. Care must be taken, however, to ensure that animals killed with barbiturates are disposed of in a responsible manner since such animals can be a significant source of environmental toxicity. Improper disposal may result in the illness and death of scavenging animals (1,5).

CVMA (Canadian Veterinary Medicine Association) Guidelines

When other methods cannot be used, an accurately delivered gunshot is a conditionally acceptable method of euthanasia.

CVMA Euthanasia Guidelines

The too often misquoted CCOC guidelines are firstly for experimental animals only - and they do not advocate gun shot euthanasia for dogs at any rate.http://www.ccac.ca/en/CCAC_Programs/Guidelines_Policies/GUIDES/ENGLISH/V1_93/APPEN/APPXIV.HTM

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