Monday, January 8, 2018

Who left the dogs out (despite new law)?

Years ago, I felt great dislike, and sometimes rage, toward a friend’s husband. Why? Because as unquestioned “ruler of the roost,” he insisted that the “family dog” (a real misnomer) live and stay outdoors. He had provided a small dog house near the home, and “Lily” lived and stayed there.

Some prehistoric family tradition had probably convinced him that dogs belong outside. Period. Well, maybe dogs did once sleep outside the caves where humans lived.  Once.  But this guy’s ideas were archaic as well as cruel for the late 20th century.

Or so I thought -- until hearing from Brian Hackett, who heads up HSUS-NJ, of the horrors  happening to dogs during our recent arctic freeze period. Happening now, in a new century!  “We’re inundated with stories of people leaving their dogs out to freeze to death in this frigid weather,” Hackett wrote, sounding both astonished and furious. As he should.

This behavior toward sentient beings who like us, suffer in such cold, is not only unspeakably thoughtless and cruel, but it’s also illegal in New Jersey, as Hackett pointed out.  

Passed last August, the law about tethering and proper outdoor sheltering was actually the culmination of several bills on those subjects,  he explained. The ASPCA worked on the bill and led legislative efforts, supported by HSUS and other advocates who saw the need for it. One key provision: the law bans leaving an animal outside in this weather for longer than 30 minutes without proper shelter.

“Proper shelter” is spelled out and specific unlawful ways to tether animals outside are described. These include a tether restraining more than one dog or a tether less than 15 feet long. The law also requires access to sanitary, potable drinking water.

The HSUS-NJ Facebook page includes an extensive post about the law, stressing the importance of spreading the word about this crucial protection for animals. Remember: dogs, domestic companion animals or service animals left outdoors in cruelly cold weather must depend on people to look out for them, and in such cases, to rescue them.

Please: If you see something, say something.  You could save a life.

The Five Freedoms, explained

They appear on posters and bulletin boards. They’re often referred to in conversations and in the literature of animal welfare.  But do we consider “The Five Freedoms” for animals in our daily transactions with animals in our care?  (If we did, we would have to adopt all the animals in shelter cages and close down many animal facilities because their conditions are so far removed from the quality of life called for in the Five Freedoms.)

1.    Freedom from hunger and thirst
2.    Freedom from discomfort
3.    Freedom from pain, injury or disease
4.    Freedom to express normal behavior
5.    Freedom from fear and distress

This link takes you to an article about the origin of the Five Freedoms – first, for farm animals in England, then, ultimately, for all animals, everywhere.  

 Finding ‘fire cats’

The California wildfires occurred in October, but one woman and her team are still tracking and trapping “fire cats” -- the “felines that for weeks have remained missing because of stubbornness, trauma, instinct, or a mix of all three.”  As this story was published, they had already recovered more than 70 cats, most then returned to their owners.
Kudos to the cat-catchers!

More on Mobile Vet Services

Please see the excellent comment on this subject after the last post – and add your own.


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