‘This isn't right, and who ever thought it was?’

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That's Life with Terri McCormick

As another summer approaches, a summer where dogs will be left in hot vehicles or tied out for hours on end in unbearable heat, we wait and wonder why amendments to Nova Scotia's animal cruelty act are taking so long?

Agriculture Minister Keith Colwell has announced that we won't see the new laws for companion animals until the fall. The draft that was released the end of February seemed to have plenty of holes in it, especially regarding hot-button topics like 24/7 tethering. Colwell's team proposed that dogs can't be tethered for longer than 12 hours and while it's better than no proposal at all, here's hoping that it will be scrapped and a tougher, more common sense and enforceable anti-tethering law will be implemented (if it were up to me, dogs wouldn't be able to be tied out or penned for longer than a few hours a day).

Extreme weather also has to be factored into the tethering amendments and in the current draft it wasn't. Mr. Colwell has a black lab that he says he adores, so I wonder if he would deem it acceptable to chain his family pet outside for 12 hours in the freezing cold, pouring rain or sweltering heat? Probably not.

The minister's department asked for the public's input with an online questionnaire, and I, along with many others, jumped at the opportunity to put in our two cents. I posed why penning isn't included along with tethering as a form of cruel confinement. What's the difference if a dog is tied to a dog house or locked in a pen? It's all the same.

But while we wait for the government to get its act together, local animal advocates are continuing their tireless work on the front lines. No Chains All Love out of Halifax keeps up the good fight by rescuing chained dogs and re-homing them to "chain-free" families. The organization People For Dogs continues to pressure the government about the lack of legislation for chained/penned dogs in Nova Scotia, and groups like Marley's Hope, Litters 'n Critters, and Home to Stay continue to save dogs from euthanization, abuse and homelessness by fostering them, paying for vet costs and searching for new loving homes.

Closer to home, our own Lillian Allbon Animal Shelter remains steadfast in its plight to help homeless, neglected and abused cats and dogs. Ours is a no-kill shelter and it goes above and beyond to bring animals out of horrible situations. Our local Amherst Vet Hospital and surrounding clinics also offer help whenever they can.

As for cats, Amherst's Emily's Place and Carma keep on with the struggle to control the overwhelming feral and stray-cat populations. 

In New Brunswick, Kent County Rescue's Nicole Thebeau made the news by saving a small tethered dog that was buried under mounds of snow in his dog house when his owner went away and left him there knowing a snowstorm was on the way. Thebeau is defying SPCA and RCMP requests to return the senior dog to its abusive owners and I say good for her!

This Saturday, the largest animal welfare rally in New Brunswick will be held at the Fredericton legislature and a huge turnout is expected as New Brunswickers want their animal cruelty laws updated as well.

Someone said to me the other day that you get to a point in life when you look around at all this suffering and say "this isn't right, and who the hell ever thought it was?" I am at that point. If the authorities and the government continue to take a "can't be bothered" attitude on animal abuse issues, then regular people are just going to have to change things, and you know what? They are.


Terri McCormick’s column appears bi-weekly in the Amherst News.


Organizations: Amherst Vet Hospital, RCMP, Amherst News

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Halifax Fredericton

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