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Letters  

Stop the madness

Open letter to the Premier, MP/MLA, Mayor and city council:
 
In a world in which millions of wonderful dogs and cats are being put down every year, it's a reasonable question to ask why more isn’t being done to severely reduce the number of dogs and cats being born. There is no rationale in this day and age why any animal is being killed just for being born. Unlike wild animals, dogs and cats are a domesticated species that is not adapted to life without human care and support. Strays often experience considerable pain, suffering or harm.
 
Pet over-population affects all of us whether we own a pet or not. Taxpayer money is used to destroy, pick up, and house homeless dogs and cats every year. Each year millions of dogs are destroyed due to the greed of thousands of puppy mills, the ignorance of back yard breeders and irresponsible pet owners. We need to eliminate the reasons these pets are put to death. 
 
Yet again, proposed legislation is being introduced to tighten regulations for better treatment of animals. How many more times does an animal welfare bill need to be introduced before it is passed? Each time it makes for wonderful photo-ops and leaves taxpayers with the impression that changes are being made. When will compassion reign over animal cruelty and greed? The responsibility must be placed where it belongs for the problem to ever change.
 
One of the fastest ways to affect the highest number of animals is to change legislation. The changes should be about unethical breeding and not harming the reputable breeders making the cost of well-bred puppies out of everyone’s reach. Good breeders are not the problem. Breeding and reselling is entirely unregulated, turning it into a source of undeclared income and leading to over-population and abuse. New laws, public awareness and compassion will help end the suffering of the voiceless. Classified ads and online sites offering ‘Pets For Sale’ should be banned as they are not capable of distinguishing between the responsible breeders and those simply profiting from irresponsible breeding. Puppy mills will continue to exist as long as people continue to buy from Pet Stores that resource from questionable sources. It comes down to supply and demand.
 
Twice a year, an animal control officer will easily find an over abundance of ads offering puppies and kittens. If a female and litter have not had health checks, shots and deworming, there could be an order of ‘Standard Care’. This would protect the consumer and the welfare of the animals. If the order is not complied with then it would be a mandatory spay for the female.The one-time cost of spaying would be far lower than the expense involved in rounding up strays, feeding and housing abandoned animals, and destroying those for whom homes can’t be found due to the result of more litters and those offspring having litters.
 
I am not saying that all backyard breeders are not reputable nor that all licensed breeders are reputable. The most reliable source of a pet is a responsible breed enthusiast who does health checks, breeds for good temperament, genetics, and backs up their litters with a guarantee. Breeding solely for profit or fun without regard to health and sound temperament, or new home, is destructive to the breeds and harmful to their reputation. Pets are a big part of our lives and we are allowing breeders to breed our best friends to death because of our ignorance. Be aware and educate yourself. A simple act of getting a poorly bred pet from a classified ad or pet store can come at a big price, and it’s not just financial.
 
Another part of the solution is to provide a sustainable and accessible low-cost spay/neuter program. Altering pets reduce the costs of animal control and improves public health and safety. Surveys indicate that as many as 85% of dogs hit by cars are unaltered. What impact does this have on our vehicle insurance? We need to address the main causes that keep people from spaying and neutering; cost, education, and transportation. 
 
An incredible amount of effort and money goes into promoting pet adoption. What effect would it have if the same amount of time and money went into a spay/neuter program? Or a spay/neuter fund supported by a provincial lottery? How can we more effectively allocate resources towards low-cost sterilization services?
 
Organizations can play an integral part of the solution by educating. Unfortunately, far too many pet  owners do not understand or accept the responsibility, cost, and commitment, but foremost the impact of their choices. An education program, to teach humane pet care to children, could be part of the school curriculum. Through the program, future generations will be more compassionate and give more thought to responsible pet ownership. 
 
Do we want a society where all dogs must be muzzled, cats are not allowed outside, mandatory spay/neuter? Do we continue to spend millions creating more and more shelters? Do we destroy pets and feral animals at the same rate as we are producing litters? Do we take the easy way out and ban specific breeds? If not, then the changes need to start with ourselves, the community, and our elected officials. There can be no solution to one without a solution to the others.
 
Pet over-population is very complex and cannot be adequately handled through this medium. We must take a multi-faceted approach that would seriously cut our numbers of homeless pets. We must call on our elected officials to ban puppy (animal) mills and hold irresponsible breeders and owners accountable. We need to be pack leaders and educate ourselves, teach the young, and be a part of the solution, not part of the problem. Animals can teach us what matters most in life. Are you listening?
 
Corinne Aselton
 
 


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