Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Minutes From Animal Advocacy Meeting - 10 questions answered

I will say only there were 3 of us present, working on questions raised by a fourth who wanted to come but couldn’t and expanded on to include views of 4 more that have been in touch since. I put the highlight first, of a response from TD Clare Daly who raised the pound contract problem in the Dail.
Our Question One was Clare Daly TD’s question no. 304!
I had asked for government to intervene and insist that the council executive remove the clause that says applicants, to run the dog pound, must hold two similar financial contracts.
             Question No.   304 
To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government if he will intervene with Kilkenny council executive to remove the clause in the public dog pound tender that says that applicants must have two similar contracts in view of the fact this clause would exclude every organisation from applying; and if he will make a statement on the matter. 
- Clare Daly. 

For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 29th November, 2016. 
Ref No: 37641/16 
Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney) 

Under the Control of Dogs Acts, local authorities have responsibility for operating and managing dog control and licensing services in their administrative areas, including the management of dog pounds or shelters and my Department has no involvement in this process. In this regard, section 15(2) of the 1986 Act empowers local authorities to enter into arrangements with any person for the provision and maintenance of dog pounds or shelters and for the exercise by any such persons of the functions of the local authority under the Act in respect of the acceptance, detention, disposal and destruction of stray or unwanted dogs.   
Furthermore, section 15(3) of the 1986 Act empowers local authorities to enter into arrangements with any other local authority, or with the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA), or with a person connected with animal welfare, for the exercise of all or any of its functions, other than its functions under section 17 or section 30  of this Act. 
The procurement of any service in that regard, therefore, is a matter for the local authority, Kilkenny County Council, and the management and operation of such pounds or shelters are matters solely for the relevant local authority. 


Question 2
How can we bring knowledge of dogs, training, responsible pet ownership and welfare in to schools?

a) In terms of life skills, a curriculum course to include teaching respect, philosophy, ethics and empathy.
b) Where are animals mentioned at present, in education?
Natural Science.  In this subject, animals are included as natural resources, along with wood and water. Animal husbandry, breeding etc are sometimes covered but room for discussion of their being, their social and physical needs.

Question 3
How can we bring up animal awareness in Youth Groups?
Food and gardening could be the way to reach groups of young people. Cooking skills, own grown ingredients and the conversations that take place, all open minds to where food comes from. Youth are sometimes more receptive than  parents and sometimes much less.  The statement ‘friends not food’ came up as a good start to talking about which animals are thought of differently and why.

Question 4
How can parents be informed of the health of animals as parallel to the health of their children?
The management of parasite, children need wormers too from time to time. Looking after animals and going for walks with them builds up the immune system in several ways. Can outline what meat and other food is unhealthy and why, like the cortisone, antibiotics, pesticides, bad energy from the moments of death and consider impacts. Parents can ask their children what they feel about animals.  Answers may show how compassion, sense of responsibility and care are developing. Nutrition classes could be enjoyed and informative for men and women.

Question 5
Current system uses fear to control people, should the same weapon be used to open eyes?
For example the problem of over-use of anti-biotics in farming and the statistics that 10 million will die from bacteria. Or, the poisoning effects of chemical residues on food etc. It could be good reasoning that appeals to people who are raising children or be useful information to equip people to ask for change in legislation.

On the other side, it was said that using fear is not the way to go. We are better off trying to raise the amount of love there is around. That will benefit animals much more, if people are warming to every sort of creature for its merits as a companion or in a general respect for its life. It was even suggested that we pray for the animals as an under-the-radar approach. Goodness knows, we do need divine intervention to improve the situation for pound animals, wild animals, farmed animals and those locked away in labs.  

Question 6
What can we hope to achieve?
The need for a gradual, supported transition has been talked about. For farmers to go organic they will have to take steps starting with no spraying, to increased welfare to changing feed and reducing the number of animals and mixing the use of their land. The economic benefits are that people will help, they will not have to inject their animals so often, money saved on no chemical additions. Community involvement encouraged and pre-invested community to sell to.

General mindfulness towards animals was discussed. Cultural changes were called for, to see greyhounds, beagles and other bigger breeds as inside dogs, as great pets. To discourage buying puppies to an interest in providing a home to an unwanted dog.

Question 7
Should there be Traveller Dog Projects?
One person felt that travellers needed a law that they must abide by. It was pointed out that ignorance had been responded to with a higher level of evil – the ACS. This was used as a generic term for the teams of collection services, providing heavies to take on the travellers and take their animals off them. A system that is not really working.

It was suggested that music and video, a softer inclusion of travellers and introduction of animal care. It was argued that many people have the noise of the system in their heads, stress, or perhaps travellers have the noise of resistance to the system in their head but, either way, it will be necessary to reach hearts and minds, one way or another. Animal video ideas were shared, all entertaining, and suggestions for sound tracks, such as Tom Jones, It’s Not Unusual and Barry White, Just the Way You Are.

Question 8
Pound Entry. How can we slow down the number of dogs surrendered to the pounds?
Articles about a typical life path of greyhounds bred for racing and on farm dogs, how traditions and role have changed etc
Also tell stories of heroes from the pound, increase emotional engagement by showing how every dog is different, special and has a soul.
Share the pet rescue stories wider and more formally.
Encourage legislation to support more time being allowed in shelters.
Develop such a strong culture of animal loving, rescuing and rehoming that government has no choice but to fall in with the public will and trends in behavior and retract their recent plan to withold the annual funding to ‘no kill’ shelters

Question 9
How can we tackle the major economic interests in animals?
Keeping animals out of the pounds and/or getting them out as quickly as possible. Having independent money to support rescues with their veterinary and other bills. Local information networks, keeping people up to date on what is happening in their area – like puppy farming, dogs for rehoming, pound, council, department of Agriculture/environment, shops and other business activities to monitor.

Another suggestion was to work with the people with an economic incentive, a little. The example was the hare coursing, for which now is the season. There was a tradition for farmers to leave an area for the hares to live and it is also mainly farmers who are interested in coursing. Therefore it might suit them to start again to leave land aside for hares and that way, increase their numbers as, as of now, they are an endangered species.

Question 10
How to manage differences in values?
I see everyone I know as sharing very close values. I use the words vegan, veggie, mindful, ethical, environmental, conscious inter-changeably to refer to all of us who think about things and care about what is happening behind the scenes, in food supply chains, in products, in pounds, in councils etc etc. So I really hope that instead of seeing differences we will feel more and more unified. We have to work together and not give in to feeling depressed and angry about what we see or, worse, allowing a resentment or annoyance with our fellow concerned citizens! Let’s stick together, keep in touch and then we can move mountains.

Thanks everyone for coming.
I look forward to seeing you at the ‘Empty The Pounds’ event 1.30pm this Sunday 4th December, on The Parade, Kilkenny!

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