Thursday, July 31, 2008

Politics of the grapevine

(This first part from a response to a previous comment)

From my perspective, and my perspective may very well have a limited view, TAS is mandated to serve the public interest by enforcing the laws our politicians manufacture including what many consider to be ill-conceived ones. Above and beyond enforcing the murky letter of the law, there are people within the facility where I volunteer who have a genuine concern for the welfare of abandoned dogs (and cats and guinea pigs and hamsters and pot bellied pigs, etc.). In fact, for those good people, I would say that is their prime concern and it is they who have led the charge to turn TAS into a shelter instead of just a pound. There is much done for the care and safety of all breeds that goes unnoticed, largely because TAS would rather spend their money on dog food than on PR.

I can't say I agree with everything TAS does but I have come to realize that there is sometimes a big difference between the politicians and bureaucrats who create laws which pander to paranoia versus the front line workers, who may not necessarily fully agree with those laws but whose job it is to see those laws carried out. It's a difficult balance to keep and I can only hope that one day the laws made to regulate animals will better align with the laws made for the welfare of animals.

A couple of days ago, a letter from a local Border Collie rescue asking for foster families from amongst it membership was cross-posted onto Craigslist. In this huge public space, without any relevant background explanation, the message stated that five Border Collie puppies were going to be euthanized by Toronto Animal Services unless something was immediately done. What started out as a Toronto Animal Services rescue mission for the five puppies had very quickly been internet transformed into "How can TAS be so cruel as to kill a bunch of puppies?" Toronto Animal Services and the people in charge of TAS immediately began receiving outraged e-mails, faxes and telephone calls about this.

In the past, when I said that the shelter program at TAS is a balancing act, I should have said that it is a very precarious balancing act. The recent influx of negative feedback into TAS has put the shelter aspect of TAS under threat because this fallout suddenly becomes ammunition for those who would use any reason, including adverse publicity, to shut it down. These nameless, nervous nelly opponents of a shelter program are more worried about the possibility of generating bad PR than the fact that hundreds of dog lives are saved every year. However well-intentioned the outcry of concern for the puppies was, it may have had an ill effect on the lives of dogs who find their way to TAS in the future.

But, there is a fix for this and it's pretty obvious. Communicate to TAS and the people in charge of TAS to let this public facility continue its good work in dog sheltering and rescue. If you have a voice and are concerned about this, use it now. E-mail them, fax them, call them with an appeal to keep on finding homes for those pets which have been abused and abandoned. Do not let thin skinned politicians and bureaucrats be frightened off from doing the right thing by internet churned misunderstandings. Do not let Toronto Animal Services slide back into being merely a city pound which is more concerned about animal management than animal welfare. If you have a voice, please use it now.

Addendum: This is their main telephone number, 416 338 7297, and this is the fax number for the south branch, 416 338 6688.


Cathrine said...

Please post suggestions as to who would be effective to contact. It would be very useful to get specific titles, if not names.

Fred said...

I might be able to find out for you tomorrow. For now, the best I can suggest is call the public number, 416 338 7297, and ask to speak to whoever's in charge of dealing with the public or get their e-mail or fax info. I know this is a lame response but the fact is that somehow people were able to get to the upper management at TAS and voice their complaints and I'm not sure yet what channels they used. I'm hoping those same people read this post and let us know what that contact info is.

Caveat said...

I'll send them a fax about this.

They need to realize that moving from being a death house to a real shelter is a bumpy road and that doing the right thing is not always easy.

I'll call to get the fax number and pass it along a bit later this morning.

There's a lot of BS on the internet, which is why I tend to ignore most of the pleas that make the rounds.

TAS needs to ignore fallout - not only from poorly informed hysterics, but also from animal rights/liberation operatives who don't want anything to do with the No Kill philosophy.

I'll send them a nice note urging them to hang tough.

Caveat said...

I put a post up at my blog and posted it to our DLCC members' group.

I used the fax from South region, hope that was OK.

Some notes should be coming in - we're a pretty rational group overall so hopefully it will have the desired effect.

Thanks for the heads-up.

Social Mange said...

I don't hate the shelter or the front line workers, I hate the bureaucrats and politicos. And I truly despise the backyard breeders, irresponsible owners and numerous morons who create the problem that causes animals to wind up in shelters. If TAS is improving its animal care and philosophies, good for it!