United We STAND, Divided We FALL

When I retired from hands on rehab training of difficult rescues due to health concerns a couple of years ago, I knew that I could not leave the animal rescue/advocacy world completely. After all, I had spent literally half of my adult life working with rescue dogs, and that desire to help these animals does not just disappear because your body decides it wants to quit. So I shifted my focus and began speaking out on the issues that face animal rescuers on a daily basis, and what if anything can be done to solve some of them. I have learned a lot in my twenty five years, most of it the hard way, and that knowledge has made me more convinced than ever that education is the key. Awareness is everything, and I could help by spreading that awareness, and trying to educate people to the truth of what is happening, and how to stop it.

I realize that might sound arrogant to some people. Some would read the last paragraph and think “oh so she knows how to fix everything does she?” The answer to that question would of course be no, because no one knows everything, but I do have a pretty good idea of what might set things off in the right direction.

One consistency I have noted in my years of working with rescue dogs is the infighting that goes on between rescue organizations. Very rarely do we see rescues work together for the good of the animals. I’m not saying it never happens, just that when it does it’s the exception not the rule.┬áThis “infighting” is counter productive and wastes valuable time that could be spent working with animals in need, destroys good rescue organizations, causes general havoc, and it needs to stop, for the good of the animals.┬áThe same thing goes on between advocacy groups, even when they are fighting for the same cause, and that is part of the problem.

“United we stand, divided we fall” isn’t just a quote from some guy no one can remember, it is true. Those who tirelessly work to try to make a difference would stand a far greater chance of success if they all worked together towards a common goal. The problem is human nature and ego get in the way. People’s inability to set aside petty differences, or the desire for being “known” for what you do get in the way of working with anyone else to do it. When that happens, animals suffer.

A perfect example of this is the current case with the OSPCA in Chatham/Kent Ontario. The #Chatham21 are 21 pit bulls the organization is applying for destruction orders on. The dogs were seized when a suspected dog fighting operation was raided in the Chatham area, and are now in the custody of the OSPCA who is seeking the order to destroy the dogs despite offers from qualified rescues outside of the province and south of the border to take responsibility for the rehabilitation of these dogs. The OSPCA claims that they do not have the legal right to transfer custody of these dogs to any other agency. It is the opinion of other advocates and rescuers in Ontario that if they can apply for an order of destruction they can apply for the right to transfer custody of the dogs. The OSPCA refuses to do so.

Were the OSPCA willing to work with other qualified rescue operations the lives of these dogs could be turned around, but the OSPCA is not known for co-operating for the good of the animals. In fact, in recent years they have been legally stopped from committing mass euthanization of animals for questionable reasons. (OSPCA plans mass euthanization over ringworm outbreak at Newmarket shelter) in that case as well other organizations came forward saying they would take responsibility for some of the animals in order to ensure they were treated, but the OSPCA refused to release any of the animals to another organization. (Ringworm is a treatable disease) It was later determined there had been no outbreak.

Is it glory the OSPCA is seeking? What is it that stops this organization from working with others for the good of the animals? Most Ontario rescuers and advocates believe there is a darker motive for the OSPCA’s refusal to work with other rescue groups. That motive is MONEY.

In an ongoing case involving the OSPCA 71 dogs lives are being held for ransom. The OSPCA is refusing to return the dogs until the owners of the rescue they were seized from pay half a million dollars for their “care” while in the custody of the OSPCA. The organization threatens to kill the dogs if this “bill” is not paid. (OSPCA demands $500,000 from rescue operation to get their seized dogs back)

It’s bad enough that we can not get rescues to work together, but when an organization with a government contract starts seizing animals from other rescue agencies and holding them for ransom there is a serious problem. The only way to solve that problem is for the rest of Ontario’s registered rescue organizations to band together and demand oversight of the OSPCA. After all, remember “united we stand, divided we fall!”

Have a Great Weekend Everybody!