That's Life with Terri McCormick
Bear runs on the trail with the other dogs. The 14-year-old Husky mix is amazingly spry. My best friend just became a foster mom to this beautiful fella. Bear was tethered 24/7 his whole life before his owner finally agreed to give him up.
As I watched Bear trot happily along my eyes filled with tears, I couldn't help but think about another tethered dog named Buddy who never got to run or play. For seven years he lived chained to a doghouse in Joggins, Nova Scotia.
Buddy relied on neighbours to bring him food and water. People reported Buddy's plight to the Nova Scotia SPCA and the RCMP many times, but after several visits from authorities he was deemed to be in good condition and it was decided there were no grounds to remove him.
Under current legislation it is okay for an animal to be tied or chained outside for any length of time as long as it has food, water and some type of shelter. The rescue organization No Chains All Love Nova Scotia tried to reason with the owner to give up the dog but he refused. Well, last Friday after a group of folks called the authorities over and over demanding justice, the owners finally gave Buddy up but only after they were paid $200.
It took almost two hours for his rescuers to remove his heavy chain from the dog house and when they walked him to the car it was noted that the dog with the bluest eyes "never looked back." His rescuers turned the heat up in the vehicle so he would be warm. But once examined by a vet it was obvious Buddy was not in "good condition". He was severely underweight, with rotten teeth and overgrown nails. He also had obvious abdominal tumours that had ruptured.
One can only imagine the pain he endured night after night, alone in the cold. In the end, Buddy had to be put down, and when he passed they took bolt cutters and finally removed that God-forsaken chain. Buddy's story is heart wrenching but everyone is determined that his death be the catalyst for change.
People all over the Internet are talking about the injustices done to this dog and wondering how they can help. Global news has done two stories on Buddy. The Chronicle Herald featured a piece on his plight, and phones are ringing off the hook at Cumberland North MLA Terry Farrell and Cumberland South MLA Jamie Baillie's offices.
This week it was reported that because of Buddy, Agriculture Minister Keith Colwell plans to rewrite the regulations around companion animals like cats and dogs so it will make it easier for authorities to go in and take animals if they are in distress, and to charge or fine the owners if need be.
I am sad that Buddy couldn't have found a great family to be a part of, but I am so happy his death has not been in vain. We have to keep the momentum going and make sure promises are kept.
The goal is to get the Nova Scotia government to redefine the minimum standard of care (tethering 24/7) when it comes to current and outdated animal cruelty laws. The laws must be based on common sense and take into account the horrible emotional and physical effects 24/7 tethering has on a dog. Nova Scotia can be a leader and fight against this form of cruelty.
Buddy, you might never have felt love while you were alive, but I hope and pray you can feel the love now.
Terri McCormick’s column appears bi-weekly in the Amherst News.