What’s the ‘real crime’

No doubt the entire community has seen and heard the numerous advertisements placed by the Town of Fort Frances reminding pet owners of their civic responsibility to pick up all excrement while walking their dog(s).
I certainly agree that keeping our community clean and free of doggie waste is every pet owner’s responsibilities, and that this message should be communicated to the public. However, I also believe it’s time the town opened its eyes and realized there is a lot more to responsible pet ownership and civic responsibility than picking up dog poop!
The town surely is spending a pretty penny on this “scoop your poop” campaign. Yet with all the serious animal welfare issues facing this community, is that really the only concern that warrants their financial support?
Remember how horrified this entire community was when it learned about the frozen puppies found in the dumpster. These types of problems are happening every day yet where is the town’s civic responsibility in preventing these types of situations?
If they can find the funds in their budget for all these poop ads, surely they can find a few bucks to develop some positive animal welfare initiatives, such as spay/neuter programs and humane education.
While our town continues to live in the “dark ages,” other townships are allocating funds in their budget to develop proactive measures that deal head-on with their pet neglect and overpopulation problems.
Let’s compare Fort Frances to the tiny community of Sioux Lookout. The latter has an animal control officer who is totally dedicated to fighting animal neglect and cruelty in her community.
In fact, on her own time, she chose to obtain her volunteer Ontario Society for the Prevention to Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) certification to enable her to act in a “police” capacity when dealing with the many animal abuse situations she witnesses as an animal control officer.
The Township of Sioux Lookout also supports a wonderful humane education program that their animal control officer developed for the schools. They believe that teaching children at an early age about responsible pet ownership is the best way to fight the future problems of pet overpopulation and neglect.
This tiny community also is building a brand new animal care facility this coming fall. Will there ever be the day when our town takes such positive measures to deal with its problems?
The town’s “scoop your poop” advertisements also state that failure to pick up dog excrement may result in a significant fine. I certainly agree such fines are warranted. But how about issuing some fines to the pet owners who constantly neglect and abuse their pets?
I find it unbelievable that a person can receive a $500 fine for failing to pick up dog poop, yet that same person can starve their dog or beat it to death and, in most cases, will be penalized much less.
If our town can pass bylaws restricting where pet owners can walk their dogs in the summer months, surely they can address other important issues of pet responsibility that cause undue suffering to neglected animals.
I do have a few more suggestions to offer:
1. It would be great if even one of our town councillors cared enough about these problems to meet with “Friends of Animals” members. Together, we could develop positive initiatives to fight the “real crime” in this community.
I recently discovered OSPCA training officers are willing to travel to communities such as ours to provide weekend certification programs free of charge. So it wouldn’t cost the town a penny to have their animal control officers certified.
In fact, if certain bylaws were passed regarding pet neglect and abuse, couldn’t the town issue fines for these offences (similar to the poop fines) thus increasing the revenue to this community?
I also learned the OSPCA covers food and shelter expenses for the animals which are taken from their abusive homes.
If the town is unwilling to have their own animal control officers OSPCA-certified, how about providing some financial assistance to enable “Friends of Animals” to act in this “police” capacity.
Just imagine what could be done for this community if members were better able to deal with the numerous complaints of animal neglect and abuse they receive each week.
I realize that all town councillors unanimously denied Friends of Animals’ previous request for financial assistance. But perhaps if one or two councillors would spend just a few minutes at their local Friends of Animals office, they could witness firsthand the severity of the problems we as a community are facing.
Then they would be in a much better position to pass judgment on whether or not our services are of value to this community.
2. Perhaps the town, Friends of Animals, and the Nor-West Animal Clinic could work together to develop a low-cost spay/neuter program like many other communities are doing.
Sure, it may cost the town a few dollars in the beginning, but look at how much they would save in euthanization costs and the time their animal control officers spend dealing with stray animal complaints.
3. Our town councillors and administrators should take some time to study the proactive measures other communities are taking to fight their animal control and abuse problems. It’s not up to a handful of Friends of Animals members to fight these problems alone.
As a community, we should all be taking social responsibility for the care of our animals—far beyond picking up our dog poop.
Susan Cousineau
P.S. Just prior to submitting this letter, I discovered from the OSPCA district manager that several years ago, the OSPCA approached the Town of Fort Frances to offer training programs in this area.
Perhaps the town could explain why they would forgo the opportunity to have their animal control officers properly trained to deal with the many cases of animal abuse in this community.