Blog Defibrillator

Wow.  Over two weeks since an entry.  When I went on vacation I was even able to keep a more regular schedule than this.

And it’s not just my writing that’s been neglected; I am way behind on reading my subscriptions!  I’m missing out on updates from the small blog-community I’ve slowly cultivated these past months.  I haven’t had time to check and make sure Gus is feeling better.  I haven’t read about how Shiva did at her day of agility.  I’ve missed out on updates from the dog park and razzing one person in particular about her and her BF’s walking regime (rain, snow, and shine!).

But I’m not gone forever, and I will get back to rabble-rousing on the Soapbox.  My husband even requested a new post, so I knew I was officially neglectful.  “And not about ASLC”, he said.  “Completely unrelated.”  So I have undertaken the task and decided upon a week deadline for it.

In the meantime, here is a cute puppy photo of Moses to make amends.  That should make up for it, right?

Maybe I should make it two.

Forgive what appears to be a raw-hide bone.  We were new dog-owners back then; we knew not what we did.

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Moses’ Third Birthday

Moses doesn’t know it, but today is his third birthday.  Third!  Already!  So naturally,  I had to take ol’ Mo out for a little photo shoot in the snow and the sunshine.  Birthdays aren’t really a huge deal for anyone in our household, but I’ll think we’ll make Pet Planet our walk destination for today and get the big guy a bully stick.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Birthday, buddy.

ASLC: Launch Success!

Whew!  What a weekend!

It was so great to see all of the support Actions Speak Louder (Calgary) received at the adopt-a-thon this weekend.  The petition got a lot of signatures, we sold some t-shirts, and we got a lot of offers from people and businesses interested in helping out, which was always welcome.

Like I said earlier, this is my first experience on the front lines of any sort of “activism”.  And I will be the first to deny I am a “people person” in any way, so it was quite something to be striking up conversations with as many strangers who walked through the door as possible, seeking support for the cause and a signature on the petition.  I know our petition requires an address, but take it up with the Municipal Government Act (Alberta) – I promise we won’t turn it into a mailing list of any sort!

It was also a great learning experience and good practice for more events to come in the near future.  For example, next time we will have additional signage: sorry folks, the stickers are actually for sale.

And best of all, it was a great gauge for public reactions to the Actions Speak Louder (Calgary) campaign.  Of course, being at an adopt-a-thon, an overwhelming majority of people were decidedly in favour of a retail pet sale ban for Calgary.  Some of my favourite comments over the weekend were:

– I read about you in the Calgary Herald and came down to sign!
– I wondered when Calgary was going to do this.
– It’s about time!
– I’m so glad to hear someone has started this.
– I won’t even buy poop bags at a store that sells live animals.
– I got my dog from a pet store – never again.
– I only adopt rescue animals.
– Let me know how I can help.

Definitely the bulk of people, when asked to sign the petition, would simply say “of course” or “that’s great” and happily sign away.  A smaller group of people would gladly sign after getting more information and learning exactly what ASLC was all about.  Here are some of the common questions we were asked:

“I live in Okotoks, can I sign?  Can my kids sign?”

Unfortunately, the legal requirements of the petition mean only signatures of electors of the City of Calgary are valid.  Which is very unfortunate, because we had to turn away many people who wanted to be counted.  I encourage these individuals to lobby for a similar ban in Okotoks, Airdrie, or where ever you’re from!

“So where will I get a dog then?”

This one kind of made me giggle (no offence).  We were in the middle of an adopt-a-thon that had over 100 dogs and cats up for adoption; they just had to turn around and look.  The removal of commercial pet sales is not going to result in a pet shortage.  I assure anyone with this concern that they will still be able to find dogs and cats at shelters and rescues, and with reputable breeders.

“Shouldn’t we regulate breeders?”

ASLC is focusing the initiative on the sale of dogs and cats on public and commercial properties only, and the petition wording concerns only that.  This will end the retail pet sales that promote a pets-as-commodity perspective, and prevent puppy mills and backyard breeders from distributing and advertising on public and commercial properties such as roadways and parking lots.  Commercial sales are the most visible sales medium of substandard and unintentional breeders.  The truth is, reputable breeders would never surrender their puppies or kittens to a pet store for sale.  The Canadian Kennel Club prohibits pet store sales, and reputable breeders want to ensure themselves that their animals go to good homes.

“What about the pet stores that feature rescues?”

They will not be affected.  We would love to see more collaboration between big retailers and rescues to get adoptable animals showcased.  Adoptions in these instances still need to go through the rescue organization, but the store serves as a way to introduce the public to the other options out there.

“But I just like to go to the pet store to play with the puppies for a little while and nothing else.”

Don’t worry, if pet stores opt to feature rescues (and some already do), you can still go in for an hour of socialization.  You can also go to places such as the Humane Society, where you can meet the animals, or even volunteer to walk the dogs and play with the cats.  If you’d like a slightly longer, but still not permanent, commitment, offer to foster for one of the rescues.  And many of the pet stores I know that refuse to sell animals still have the employees’ or owners’ dogs or cats in the stores most days to visit with.

“What about my breeder – are you going to shut them down?”

No.  Well, as long as they are responsible and reputable, we aren’t.  We would like only the responsible, reputable breeders to be the people you go to when you have a particular breed of dog in mind (well, them and breed-specific rescues).  Reputable breeders are those who put the health and care of the animals – both the offspring and the parents – first.  They do not breed females every heat, or often even yearly.  They do health and lineage checks.  They will provide you with lifetime support and advice, and will offer to re-home your dog for you if circumstances change and you can no longer care for them.   They will also put you through an extensive adoption application, usually requiring in-person meetings to see how you interact with their dogs before they determine you will be a suitable guardian.  They will also often contractually require you spay or neuter your dog by a certain age unless there is an alternative breeding agreement in place.  And when they say their animals come with “papers” and pure bred registration, that means the CKC.  I will again note that the CKC prohibits its members from selling their dogs to pet stores.  ASLC has already had some great feedback from breeders in support of a pet store ban.

And, of course, we did get a small number of people – no more than half a dozen all weekend – who did not sign the petition or agree with the ASLC cause.  As they say, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction – and that includes opinions.

For example, there was one couple who seemed personally offended by the cause because they had bought their dog from a pet store (actually, their teenage son did, and they inherited the dog when he moved out).  I understand that reaction, especially if they did not have a particularly negative experience, and because they could view the ASLC cause as telling them they got their pet the wrong or uneducated way.  Indeed, we are saying that and I stand by it, but I do hope they went home and looked into the concerns about pet store pets a little more and give the issue some serious thought.

However, for a very small group of nay-sayers, there was a much larger population of whole-hearted support, which was certainly encouraging.

Thank you, Calgary, and everyone at the adopt-a-thon, for a successful launch!

Keep an eye out for more ASLC over the coming weeks, and check the website for locations if you’d like to buy the merchandise or sign the petition.

 

This is Kiwi. She was at the adopt-a-thon with AARCS, and was one of many dogs and cats who found a forever home over the weekend.

Actions Speak Louder (Calgary)

The Soapbox is starting to gather a thin layer of dust since I’ve been so neglectful.

But my time has gone to a good cause – I promise.

I am very excited to announce the official launch of the Actions Speak Louder (Calgary) (ASLC) campaign this weekend!

If you’re in the area, come on down to the multi-rescue adopt-a-thon taking place at BowDog Canine Specialists (6909 Farrell Road SE) between 11:00 am and 3:00 pm Saturday and Sunday to learn what ASLC is all about, sign the petition, and buy some merchandise.

Actions Speak Louder (Calgary) can also be found on Facebook and followed on Twitter @ASL_Calgary.

I’m very optimistic about the potential here for some serious change and improvement for Calgary’s pets.  A small amount of buzz has already been generated; ASLC was mentioned in a blurb in today’s Metro News – Calgary (page 6), and we’ve got over 100 fans after less than a full day on Facebook.  I’m confident this is an issue Calgarians will enthusiastically get behind.

And I am honoured to be involved with such a great group of intelligent, creative, and kind-hearted people behind the cause.  While my personal support for the goal itself dates way back, this is the first time I have actually been directly involved in an official, organized campaign like this, and I’ve been learning something new every day.  It’s been an insanely busy week getting everything ready for the weekend, but it’s easy to do when you know it’s all in the name of a good cause and everyone has been working really hard.

Once the website goes live (www.actionsspeakloudercalgary.ca), it will be ASLC headquarters for news, information, and updates.

In the meantime, here’s a bit about ASLC:

Actions Speak Louder (Calgary) is a campaign established by like-minded Calgary and area citizens concerned with animal welfare and who are interested in seeing a municipal bylaw introduced in the City of Calgary that will ban the sale of companion animals in pet stores.

As you may know, Richmond, B.C. recently became the first Canadian city to agree to ban the sale of dogs and puppies in pet stores, with their bylaw taking effect on April 30, 2011. Talks of similar bans are being proposed in Toronto, St. John’s, Winnipeg, and Langley, B.C., and several cities in the United States already have similar bans in place, including Albuquerque, New Mexico, South Lake Tahoe, California, West Hollywood, California, Austin, Texas, and (as of February 15, 2011) Lake Worth, Florida.

Preventing the sale of dogs and cats in pet stores does three things:

1. It will eliminate a medium through which puppy mills sell their dogs and “kitten factories” sell their kittens;

2. It will help to prevent the impulse purchase of pets; and

3. It will allow rescue organizations and reputable breeders to fill the niche. Shelter adoptions will increase, and as a result euthanasia will decrease. Albuquerque, New Mexico, for example, has noticed a shelter adoption increase of 23% and euthanasia decrease of 35% since enacting their ban in 2006.

The purpose of the Actions Speak Louder (Calgary) campaign will be to gather widespread public awareness and support for a retail pet sale ban in Calgary, through a petition and advertising, and ultimately bring the issue before City Council for consideration. ASLC welcomes support and sponsorship from corporations and individuals.

Actions Speak Louder (Calgary) is aware and advises that opposition to the campaign can be expected from the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council of Canada (PIJAC) and some affiliated pet retailers. However, the concerns that will be voiced are anticipated and have already been considered, and ASLC stands firm beside its goal as the best option available to ensure the well being of Calgary’s pet population.

Actions Speak Louder (Calgary) is readily aware that, no, a retail pet sale ban like the proposed will not completely solve the problem of puppy mills and unwanted pets; internet pet sales are also a significant concern for those interested in responsible pet ownership. That is why, after the campaign for a retail pet sale ban is complete and successful, ASLC will then move on to a second phase of animal advocacy, drawing attention to and educating the public about the problem of online and underground pet sales.

Wordless Wednesday 3: Big Giant Head

I know, I know.  Wordless Wednesday two weeks in a row, without much content in between, no less.  What a neglectful blogger.

Well, I assure you it has been a busy week with my time spent well, but elsewhere.  I will make it up to you eventually.

In the meantime, here is a photo to distract you.  Caption it at will.  Bonus points/special accolades to anyone who properly identifies the location.