Amherst wants added protection for dogs

Darrell
Darrell Cole
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To work with animal shelter on stronger, or new bylaw

Amherst wants to take steps to prevent situations like what happened with Buddy the dog in December. The town plans to work with the L.A. Animal Shelter to either strengthen or enforce new animal cruelty bylaws.

AMHERST – Amherst doesn’t want to wait for the province to act on protecting abused and abandoned dogs.

The town wants to work with the L.A. Animal Shelter to either bring in new legislation or strengthen existing bylaws to protect dogs and prevent an occurrence similar to what happened to Buddy the dog.

“I’m a dog lover and why anyone would have a dog just to keep it on a chain is beyond me,” Coun. Robert Bird told members of Amherst town council on Monday. “With all the talk in the media there is very little confidence the province will come up with anything that’s anything but status quo.

“As a municipality, the Town of Amherst has the opportunity to get out in front of this and do something meaningful, and I really think we should do something. It might not be a big problem in the Town of Amherst, but we can solve it for ourselves and not have to wait for the province to do something or nothing.”

Last month, Buddy was liberated from his tether outside an abandoned Joggins area home and taken to the Amherst Veterinary Hospital. The dog had to be euthanized for health reasons and pressure was brought to bear on the provincial government to strengthen the legislation protecting animals like dogs and cats.

Another incident in North Preston saw a dog frozen to the ground outside home just before Christmas. The SPCA has charged two people in connection with this incident, but no one was ever charged in Joggins.

A group of people in the Amherst area are hoping to remind the province of that commitment when they hold an awareness walk for Buddy on Feb. 1.

Bird is suggesting the town meet with representatives from the animal shelter to get some input on the best way to proceed.

“I’m sure they will know exactly what we should do,” Bird said. “We are not the first municipality that has looked at this. Other municipalities have had the gumption to look at this and I know the shelter can tell us what we can do to make sure our dogs are protected. I bet you in two years the province will still be trying to figure out what it should do whereas we can get something done in three months.”

Coun. Frank Balcom, Amherst’s representative to the animal shelter board, said he will bring Bird’s suggestion to the organization and get some feedback on the best way to proceed.

CAO Greg Herrett said staff will take the information collected and decide whether to strengthen its existing bylaws or bring forward a new one.

Agriculture Minister Keith Colwell has indicated he wants to strengthen the legislation to prevent round-the-clock tethering of dogs outside. The minister suggested the new Animal Cruelty Act could make it illegal to tie pets up outside for more than 12 hours.

The minister intends to bring proposed changes to animal rights groups in the coming weeks.

Colwell said he would also like to see SPCA officers be able to issue summary offence tickets.

darrell.cole@tc.tc

Twitter: @ADNdarrell

Organizations: Amherst town council, Amherst Veterinary Hospital

Geographic location: Amherst, Joggins, North Preston

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Recent comments

  • Dorothy
    January 27, 2014 - 20:54

    Its about time that someone takes the lead in making new legislation or changing the language in the old one, I'm so happy that Amherst N.S. is going to take the first step ,and not wait for the government to move ahead with this or not, ,it hopefully will be a domino effect with other towns in the community,,our pets are important family members and we should all protect each and everyone of them.

  • Terri McCormick
    January 22, 2014 - 14:28

    Doug P. if long term anti-tethering bylaws or provincial laws had of been in place when Buddy was visited by authorities he would have been seized on the spot. You say laws won't help animals but concerned citizens will...so what happens after the concerned citizen calls the spca/police if there are no applicable laws regarding the complaint?

    • Doug P
      January 23, 2014 - 14:51

      Simple answer actually. The visit to buddy should have been an offer to buy the dog and take him to a shelter. No one thought of this at all. I guess they were too busy waiting for people who have no power at all to do something. Lots of money is raised to help animals, buying an animals life is well worth a few of those dollars.

  • Jo-Ann Livingstone
    January 21, 2014 - 22:15

    It is about time someone is going to do something and I commend the Town of Amherst for stepping up. Now if the rest of Nova Scotia would do the same then we are getting somewhere. I do feel that 12 hours tied outside is still to long to be out in the cold or extreme heat of the summer. We need to put temperatures with the length of time they can be tied out.

  • Terri McCormick
    January 21, 2014 - 19:47

    This is wonderful news! Simply hearing about sad stories will not deter people from tethering their dogs 24/7 in all types of weather; that's like saying hearing about a murder on the news will stop violence...it just doesn't work that way. Cruelty towards animals should never be tolerated and I'm proud that our town is taking such a humane step.

  • Steve
    January 21, 2014 - 17:33

    What good is making up new bylaws when they are not enforced. I believe it is a bylaw that pet owners are required to pick up their animals' dung and keep them on a lease.The streets of Amherst are littered with animal dung (especially it seems in the winter) because several ignorant animal owners know there is nobody to enforce the bylaw.

  • Doug P
    January 21, 2014 - 14:34

    The right thing was done in both of these terrible stories. People were charged and the other dog was almost rescued with charges pending. We don't need to pass any more laws out of pure emotion fueled outrage. These terrible stories become the better lesson to all in the long run. Besides, the Councillor even admits no one even knows what to table, which is a pretty good indication that they should not be in the business of writing laws in such a state of mind. The moral of these two stories are a million times more effective then a token law that might even do more harm and become contrary to its intent.

    • carol l
      January 21, 2014 - 17:04

      Good for Mr.Bird for bringing this prob. to the forefront,we need people like this so the poor animals are taking care of,yes you are right Mr,Bird because the laws we have now don't seem to be working.

    • Kirsteen Thomson
      January 21, 2014 - 17:26

      In reply to Doug P.'s comment, yes, charges have been laid for the accused in Preston-not in Joggins- but did the laying of charges save these animals from a life of suffering? As long as the law only dictates that all an animal must have is food, water and shelter, tied dogs will continue to suffer and die. The lack of concrete legislation means that often the SPCA inspector will visit the residence of an "outdoor" dog and be able to change nothing. Most of the year a dog can survive tied out on a dog house. Some even survive the bitter cold and live to survive another year. But this is no quality of life for a companion animal. Dogs and cats have been bred over centuries to be companions to humans and to subject one to a life of isolation can only be described as cruelty. As long as individuals are permitted to tie their dogs out 24/7, the suffering will continue.

    • Kirsteen Thomson
      January 21, 2014 - 20:32

      In reply to Doug P.'s comment, yes, charges have been laid for the accused in Preston-not in Joggins- but did the laying of charges save these animals from a life of suffering? As long as the law only dictates that all an animal must have is food, water and shelter, tied dogs will continue to suffer and die. The lack of concrete legislation means that often the SPCA inspector will visit the residence of an "outdoor" dog and be able to change nothing. Most of the year a dog can survive tied out on a dog house. Some even survive the bitter cold and live to survive another year. But this is no quality of life for a companion animal. Dogs and cats have been bred over centuries to be companions to humans and to subject one to a life of isolation can only be described as cruelty. As long as individuals are permitted to tie their dogs out 24/7, the suffering will continue.

    • Doug P
      January 22, 2014 - 10:30

      A new law will do nothing to stop the next dog or cat from harm. What will save the next animal is a compassionate observant citizen to take action when they see something is wrong and step in to save the animal. Any new law will require prosecution and funding from a local government to even attempt to appear to be effective. A quasi police power will have to be given to who? the SPCA? If this new wanted law were already in place, those two dogs would not have been saved by it. Think rationally before you act out of emotion. The 'there ought to be a law for that' people think that laws are like precise instruments when they are not. Many innocent people are harmed by seemingly well intended laws. Bylaws included. If one pays close attention they will notice that not one law on any of the "books" stops what it was originally designed to stop. Show me any speeding law that stops speeding? Show me any law that does what people think they do. Laws are for defining a penalty after the act is done, it does nothing to stop the act or prevent it.