If animals could speak, they'd tell us off
May 8, 2004
Foxy loves to kiss. It's embarrassing; as soon as I arrive he's there, offering both cheeks. And then his mother -- we call her Mama -- tries to get in on the act.
Lexi is more shy and Winter just looks on in that good natured way of his. He's delighted to have a hug even if he won't initiate it.
Foxy, Mama, Lexi and Winter are to-die-for kitties at the shelter where I volunteer. They're all homeless and deserve so much better than life in a (no-kill) shelter. Yet another cat, Rana has been at the shelter for seven years. No one wants her because of her very long fur.
Foxy, Mama, Rana and Winter were seized from cat hoarders who kept them in wretched living conditions. Lexi survived a pet store fire.
You may not have been aware, but this past week was Be Kind to Animals Week. Its sponsor, the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, notes the week is meant to promote humane education and respect for animals.
I recently wrote about conditions for animals at B.C.'s SPCA, a story that concerned some readers. It was based on accounts from an SPCA staffer and volunteer, distraught by what they saw at society shelters.
Also cited was an SPCA Workplace Review Report from last year which asked staffers to express concerns about their organization.
Among their comments: Euthanasia is administered inconsistently; animals don't receive enough direct care and attention; animals are being warehoused; veterinary attention is sometimes delayed; staff don't seem to care.
Readers have informed me since that the SPCA has responded to their inquiries by assuring them that disturbing incidents cited in the article were isolated and happened years ago.
The head of the SPCA, Craig Daniell, also noted that B.C.'s SPCA has one of the lowest euthanasia rates anywhere in North America.
Such an assurance is puzzling since Mr. Daniell has repeatedly stated no current statistics on euthanasia are available for the Lower Mainland, that he would provide them as soon as they become available. How then can he know how the SPCA compares to counterparts elsewhere?
Moreover, a new and disturbing story has come to light thanks to a Surrey dog rescue organization.
Big Heart Rescue is livid that the SPCA weeks ago euthanized six dogs because the canines had been exposed to Willy, a seventh dog taken by the rescue group.
Willy quickly became so ill he had to be euthanized and was tested for distemper, which is contagious. Before pathology results returned from the lab -- with a negative reading -- the SPCA had killed the six other dogs.
Mr. Daniell had no comment on the situation but when challenged by Big Heart Rescue, the Surrey SPCA insisted the six had kennel cough, also contagious, and the shelter did not have space to keep them isolated. So, they were killed.
(My own dog, Dickens, had kennel cough when we adopted him as a pup. It was easily treated by our vet. He's now a healthy, spirited three-year-old terrier.)
Other readers have also written, documenting more heart-breaking SPCA stories.
If only animals could speak, many of them would surely tell us humans off but good. They would remind us that fewer than half the dogs that get adopted remain with one owner for the duration of their lives. The track record for cats is likely much worse.
Animals who aren't lucky enough to be in loving homes must surely suffer enormously because, based on experience with four cats and a dog, it's clear to me these critters have a great range of feelings, long memories and endless love to give.
As Mr. Daniell himself has urged: "Let's work together to create a society where every animal is treated with respect, care and compassion."
If anyone is interested in making a place in their home for any of the five enchanting pusses mentioned above, in exchange for a shelter donation fee, feel free to e-mail me. "