An­i­mal res­cue or­ga­ni­za­tions need to be in­de­pen­dently mon­i­tored

Cape Breton Post - - COMMENT - Chris­tene Hig­gins Dutch Brook

In re­sponse to the ar­ti­cles and let­ters about the death of the chained dog near Bar­ra­chois, I be­lieve there needs to be leg­is­la­tion on the teth­er­ing of dogs for most or all of their lives. This is no life for any an­i­mal even with shel­ter, food and wa­ter.

If the lo­cal SPCA is un­able or un­will­ing to cor­rect the sit­u­a­tion, let’s work for change, rec­og­niz­ing that there is a prob­lem. The so­lu­tion in my mind is to form a con­cerned cit­i­zens group that will mon­i­tor the sit­u­a­tion, speak openly against in­hu­mane prac­tices, and see that an­i­mal shelters are do­ing the job they were cre­ated to do – pro­tect­ing the an­i­mals.

Shelters must be seen to be ac­count­able for the ser­vices they sup­ply, or don’t.

I be­lieve there is plenty of room for per­sonal burnout that leaves em­ploy­ees cold, un­car­ing and numb to the trauma and abuse that is wit­nessed on a daily ba­sis.

There is a rec­og­nized syn­drome that af­fects many mem­bers of the an­i­mal wel­fare com­mu­nity. Au­thor Dou­glas Fakkema of the Ca­nine Un­der­ground Rail­road de­scribes this in four phases of res­cue.

Once a per­son be­comes im­mune to the an­i­mal suf­fer­ing, that em­ployee be­comes part of the prob­lem and not part of the so­lu­tion.

Any­one con­cerned for the wel­fare of our an­i­mals should visit An­i­mal­ad­vo­, a Bri­tish Columbia an­i­mal ad­vo­cates so­ci­ety run by vol­un­teers, some ex-SPCA em­ploy­ees, who are very vo­cal in mak­ing their lo­cal SPCA branches be seen to be ac­count­able for the treat­ment of an­i­mals in their care and in the han­dling of in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

An­i­mal shelters that have be­come part of the prob­lem, in my es­ti­ma­tion, are sim­ply ware­hous­ing and eu­th­a­niz­ing un­nec­es­sar­ily be­cause the em­ploy­ees have long for­got­ten why they wanted to work in an­i­mal wel­fare.

I be­lieve all hu­mane res­cue so­ci­eties, SPCA and oth­ers, need to be closely mon­i­tored (and video-mon­i­tored for in­ter­nal lapses in hu­mane treat­ment). This should be done by some­one who does not have a stake­holder in­ter­est, and not by shel­ter man­age­ment or board mem­bers.

When re­ports of in­com­pe­tence or lack of in­ter­est keep sur­fac­ing, I be­lieve it is past due for an in-depth and com­plete in­ves­ti­ga­tion. At the very least, it’s time for con­cerned cit­i­zens to join forces and truly speak up and for the an­i­mals that so des­per­ately need to be heard.

A for­mer SPCA em­ployee:

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