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Home > Pet News and Articles > Time for Change to Abuse Laws

Time for Change to Abuse Laws
Article By: Glenn Redmond

I lived away from this province for fifteen years and I am quite happy to be back. I left at nineteen years old when I was more interested in what time friends were gathering on George Street than the quality of life a city offers. "Double Dark and Dirties" at Trapper John's: now that was quality. I spent eight years in Vancouver, and although a beautiful place in its own right, I did not know my neighbours. Here, I'm often reminded of "Wilson" on Home Improvement as conversations through my high dog-proof fence happen quite frequently. I enjoy the fact that I don't sit in traffic for half an hour just to take my dog for a run in the woods. I'm happy to breathe clean air and watch the sun set over the waters of Conception Bay South, enjoying the view from my deck. You would pay a million dollars in Vancouver for this privilege. I like knowing I'm going to get a response when I say hi to a stranger on the street and I enjoy the openness and hospitality Newfoundlanders offer. However, we have a long history of animal abuse in this province. Over the years the neglect of animals has become engrained in our culture and belief system and this needs to change.

The Newfoundland Dog has represented our province admirably and is well known for its friendly disposition and amazing ability to perform water rescue. It is now the dog of choice for many coast guards, being dropped from helicopters to courageously rescue victims from frigid waters. Unfortunately, we have not always been reciprocal in the relationship. Years ago, the Newfoundland Dog was employed to help fishermen, often carrying loads twice as heavy as they should have been and fed putrid fish for their efforts. In the off season, they were frequently left to roam and fend for themselves. Those that survived were put back to work for another grueling round of abuse. We see it more readily today with our Beagles. They are penned in small cages often in unsanitary conditions until hunting season. They are used for the hunt and then sent back to their sentence of isolation. And it is not just Beagles. We do not have to look very far to see many dogs tied to a dog house or post, living a life of misery and despair.

The SPCA and Humane Services have long fought against this injustice, but have been handcuffed by outdated legislation. As long as the animal has food, shelter and water, there is little that can be done to ease the animals suffering. In fact, prolonged tethering is even recommended in our archaic laws, making it legal to treat an animal in such a way. I have been on abuse calls with the SPCA and what I have seen would turn your stomach. Dogs with choke chains so embedded in their necks, they have to have them surgically removed. Others with open sores and fur so matted that it is impossible for the poor animal to regulate its own body temperature. The worst cases have found animals barely breathing or already dead, having been left tied to their poor excuse of a dog house to rot. Many offenders see nothing wrong with it and animal control officials are often met with a verbal onslaught of oaths that would make even the hardest criminal's head spin.

Last week a major step for change was taken. Mayor Andy Wells responded to the concerns of citizens in the Airport Heights area and saw first hand how all too many animals in this province live. Wells drove by the location several times to find an innocent Golden Retriever tied to a dog house and left in the pounding rain. Neighbours in the area say the dog is always treated in such a manner and even attempted to buy the animal to rescue it from its imprisonment. Wells wrote a letter to the owners outlining the abuse taking place and has called for a change in the provincial legislation to put an end to these practices permanently.

Now, I have not always agreed with Mayor Wells on animal issues, and often felt that his tirades do more harm than good. On the other hand, he has been quick to recant statements once more educated information was gathered on the subject. It was Wells who agreed to bring Calgary's animal officials to our province to offer guidance and support in developing better animal control models, and it was Mayor Wells who got out of bed at 1:30 in the morning to go check on the Golden Retriever in Airport Heights. The winds of change have always needed a public official to get behind the cause and it seems that talk has finally turned into action.

We have a beautiful province, one which I feel fortunate to live in, but this issue has been a thorn in my side ever since I have been back. Finally there is hope, and I would encourage all those who have ever had any feelings towards an animal at all to write your counselors in support of changes to end animal abuse in this province once and for all.

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