Animals deserve better

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The Dexter government has $300 million for the Irvings (granted, only most of it was a gift) but just $3,000 for enforcing animal cruelty laws. That’s for the whole province.

A Halifax newspaper is reporting the SPCA plans to stop its enforcement mandate soon if the government doesn’t cough up $100,000. The government says the charitable organization has enough money, even if it’s all from fundraising.

I don’t think this public forum will allow me to express my anger harshly enough. ‘Despicable’ sounds a little too civilized.

What is clear is that the Dexter government doesn’t give a flying frogman about animals or their well-being, and any claim to the contrary is just offensive noise.

I’m always amused by hypocrisy. We’re all hypocrites some times, or at least those of us who aren’t perfect. But that doesn’t mean it’s wrong to point it out. It would be one thing if some hard-charging libertarian wanted to argue the government has no business protecting animals. I’d disagree with that position, but they might manage to cobble together a somewhat logical construct they think justifies their position.

But what is the justification for the NDP, the so-called party of social justice, deciding cash beats out mercy – and not even a lot of cash, not even enough cash to do the job right?

Here’s another word: uncivilized.

We all know animals are mistreated. We all know it isn’t just pets that face mistreatment. It’s my belief mistreatment of animals is widespread and needs to be addressed in a concrete, well-funded fashion. One of the obstacles to that happening is the difficulty governments face drafting legislation that protects companion animals while leaving meat producers alone.

Here’s a crazy idea: let’s treat all animals humanely.

I’ll try not to get on my vegetarian soapbox here. We all make different ethical choices, and plenty of very good people are also meat eaters. We need to come to terms, though, with the price of cheap meat. It’s unrealistic to think chicks whose wings are sold in baskets for loose change can be treated by processors as anything other than unfeeling protein pieces. I believe cheap meat leaves profit margins for producers too thin for animal care to receive the focus it needs.

As a society, we all gain if we substantially decrease the amount of meat we consume. Imagine if we decided to become informed consumers. For our $10, we no longer demanded five pounds of meat for the week, but a single pound from well cared for animals.

The calories we lost could be replaced with lower fat, higher fiber alternatives, improving our health and lowering our healthcare bill. Given that we were only demanding a single pound, that consumer demand might be met locally, supporting local farms. And because the farms were local, and the profits were attractive, as consumers we would be in a good bargaining position to demand access to see the living conditions of the animals, and producers could afford better living conditions and care for their livestock.

Naïve? Maybe. Maybe higher prices would just mean bigger profits, and animals would still be factory-farmed. But I think smart purchasing can make a difference: companies with best animal-care practices should be rewarded with our business, even if it means spending more to get less.

(For the record, I realize there are farmers who treat their livestock humanely, but I suspect there are fewer of them than we like to think as we peruse the neatly wrapped slabs of meat at the supermarket, and I think economics plays into that: animal care cuts into profits. So-called ‘factory’ farms aren’t the only ones out there, but they do exist in vast numbers and much of what most meat-eaters buy is produced in them.)

Government responds to public pressure. So does industry. We should expect more from both. We should demand more from both. What value should we, as a civilized society, put on helping an abused dog escape abuse, and seeing its abuser face legal sanctions? The Dexter government thinks $3,000 for all the animals in the province is about right. That disgusts me.

I’ve just put in a call to our MLA, Brian Skabar. I look forward to hearing his thoughts on the matter.

 

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