Thursday, May 31, 2012

Beautiful Joe... time brings wisdom and the path is still long

The day has been, I grieve to say in many places it is not yet past, in which the greater part of the species, under the denomination of slaves, have been treated by the law exactly upon the same footing, as, in England for example, the inferior races of animals are still. The day may come when the rest of the animal creation may acquire those rights which never could have been witholden from them but by the hand of tyranny. The French have already discovered that the blackness of the skin is no reason a human being should be abandoned without redress to the caprice of a tormentor. It may one day come to be recognized that the number of the legs, the villosity of the skin, or the termination of the os sacrum are reasons equally insufficient for abandoning a sensitive being to the same fate? What else is it that should trace the insuperable line? Is it the faculty of reason or perhaps the faculty of discourse? But a full-grown horse or dog, is beyond comparison a more rational, as well as a more conversable animal, than an infant of a day or a week or even a month, old. But suppose the case were otherwise, what would it avail? the question is not, Can they reason?, nor Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?[23]
English philosopher Jeremy Bentham

Many years ago, as a precocious 6 year old, obsessed with reading and even then, animal rights, I devoured those terrible, awful, wonderful books, many of which were birthed in the late 1800s. Black Beauty, Beautiful Joe and then as I matured, in my teenage years, Schopenhauer (oddly, a philospher WAY ahead of his time in understanding the complexity of the animal), Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, and a myriad of other books, articles and digests on the emerging understanding of the animal mind.  I was 15 when I first learned how veal (once a favourite meat) was created - and have not touched it since. I was 14 when I brought a younger sister to the Shrine Circus in Montreal and for the first time REALLY looked at what they were doing to these magnificent creatures and was horrified.  I walked away from animal-based circuses then and have protested through letter writing campaigns and calls ever since. 

Wisdom is dependent on knowledge - knowledge changes in a nanosecond

There is no ultimate truth. By that I mean our understanding of our world is based entirely on the science and understanding that we have at this point in time.  As creatures of the information age, we know that truth is variable - that what is seen as "truth" can change from moment to moment as our knowledge base increases exponentially and quickly.

Animal Rights

The concept of children having rights, not to talk about animals was a complete anathema in the Victorian world.  Children - and animals - were property and as such, the "owner" had full permission from the government to do as they wished. 

German philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer (1788–1860) was an early champion of animal rights, saying"

Thus, because Christian morality leaves animals out of account ... they are at once outlawed in philosophical morals; they are mere "things," mere means to any ends whatsoever. They can therefore be used for vivisection, hunting, coursing, bullfights, and horse racing, and can be whipped to death as they struggle along with heavy carts of stone. Shame on such a morality that is worthy of pariahs, chandalas, and mlechchhas, and that fails to recognize the eternal essence that exists in every living thing ...[
Certain books stayed with, one of them being Beautiful Joe.  Curious, I recently googled it and was astonished to find out that the author Margaret Marshal Saunders based her fictitious book on a dog owned by her sister in law's father - who had rescued this horrifically abused pit mix from a local farmer in Meaford, Ontario. She credits Black Beauty with inspiring her to write from the dog's perspective.

Fame and legacy (from Wikipedia)
In 1893 Saunders submitted her story to a writing contest being run by the Humane Society. It won, and the following year it was published as a novel. The response was tremendous; both the book and its subject received worldwide attention. It was the first Canadian book in history to sell over a million copies, and by the late 1930s had sold over 7 million copies worldwide. In 1902, a sequel, Beautiful Joe's Paradise, was published. In 1934, Saunders was granted Canada's highest civilian award at the time, Commander of the British Empire or C.B.E. In 1963, the official Beautiful Joe Park was named in Meaford, next to the Moore house where Beautiful Joe was rehabilitated by Louise Moore. A Beautiful Joe Heritage Society was formed in 1994 to preserve Joe's legacy and ultimately establish the Moore residence as a museum.[1]
Docking is Mutilation and Cruel

In many ways, the compassion shown by Walter Moore is astonishing in the context of the times.  The scene I remember so vividly from the book - even after all these years - is where the farmer grabs the puppy and laying him across a block, proceeds to chop off his ears and tail with an ax (in the book, hearing the screams, Mr. Moore went in and got the dog from the farmer).  Yet what I find compellingly SAD is that in the name of "form", the barbaric practice of docking continues with the FULL approval of the law today. So what is the difference between that cruel farmer and our Canadian pedigreed dogs?  Either way, dogs are being MUTILATED because a human being thinks it is ok and the law does not stop them.

more to come

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A little Wiki-Knowledge about the THS

File:TorontoHumaneSocietyBuildingOld.jpg[from WikipediA]

The Toronto Humane Society is a Toronto charity that operates animal shelters and animal rescue operations. It was founded by crusading journalist John J. Kelso after he added the comment “Why don't we have a society for the prevention of cruelty?” to a November 1886 letter in the Toronto World about a horse in distressed condition. Subsequently, a total of $74 in donations was sent to the newspaper which was used by Kelso to found the Toronto Humane Society in 1887 as an organization dedicated to promote both children's aid and the humane treatment of animals. The Children's Aid Society ultimately became a distinct organization in 1891.[1]

The THS was originally located at the intersection of Bay Street and what is now Wellesley Street in downtown Toronto. It is currently located on River Street.[1]

[FROM THS website]

The inaugural meeting was held on February 24, 1887. In his book, Early History of the Humane and Children's Aid Movement in Ontario, published in 1911, John Kelso related that the meeting was “quite successful” and the name “Humane Society” was chosen “because its mission was to be broadly educational – better laws, better methods and development of the humane spirit in all affairs of life.” The following week, an organizational meeting was held and Kelso was elected secretary.

“At that time” he recalled, “there were only six public drinking fountains for horses in Toronto, and three of them were owned and controlled by saloon keepers.” Securing hundreds of drinking fountains for the thousands of working horses in the city was one of the Society's first priorities.

From its beginnings on Bay Street to Wellesley Street (formerly St. Albans St.) and now River Street, the Society has had a 125-year journey and continues to demonstrate its commitment to the humane treatment of animals, with an adoption centre on Victoria Park near Van Horne.

* * *

Last night's Annual General Meeting was slick, professional and thankfully largely absent from the nasty undercurrents of last year's meeting, when emotions ran high, and anger and anxiety culminated in some ugly behaviour, exacerbated by meanspirited letters from both sides sent during the weeks leading up to the elections.  The change of venue helped, bolstered by the slide show, regular meeting materials and a strong leadership which clearly delinated acceptable behaviour and the consequences of indulging in unacceptable behaviour.

Candidates, for the most part, kept to their 3-minute guidelines and with a notable exception, more or less successfully concentrated their speeches on why they would be a good choice for the Board of Directors.

Scrutineers were increased to five from last year's two and judging by the wait we are all experiencing to see the results of the election, votes are being carefully and thoroughly tabulated before results are posted. 

A fairly respectable percentage of THS members made the effort to have their voices heard - 700+ proxies were legally provided to the Scrutineer by 5 p.m. last Friday, and apprxoinately 179 people turned up in person at the Primrose Hotel to exercise their right to choose the direction the THS will take.

More on this once the results are in.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

THS Elections..tonight at Primrose Hotel

If you're a member, don't forget to be at 111 Carlton Street (Carlton/Jarvis) and vote.  Meeting starts at 6 p.m. but if you planned on giving your proxy to someone, you're SOL. Proxies were due LAST Friday at 6 pm. to Scrutineer Sandy Cardarelli at WeirdFoulds.  So you have to get your own butt down there and vote in person if you want to be heard.

Hard to believe that yet another year has passed. 

Various rants came to mind, several of which revolved around the incredibly erroenous two mailings sent out by He Who Shall Not Be Named - and then I reconsidered and thought SCREW it - why bring attention to the ravings of a sad, unbalanced mind.

What I will say is that I'm catiously optimistic about what I'm seeing at 11 River.  Yeah. With my own eyes ... not through a grapevine, conjecture, gossip or heresay...

  • I'm seeing lots of animals making their way through - at the speed of light - adoptions are legendary and quite wonderfully bountiful.
  •  I'm seeing some very hurt (physically, emotionally, spiritually) animals getting the care they need to be given a new lease on life from massively expensive operations to caring, specialized staff who know how to deal with behavioural and emotional issues. 
  • I'm seeing a TNR (Trap, Neuter, Release) program second to NONE which has successfully treated more than 1000 feral cats that are now healthy, happy and won't be reproducing. 
  • I'm watching the progression of the soon to open low cost THS spay/neuter clinic (a particular cause of my own as I don't happen to think only rich people should be able to afford pets).
  • I'm seeing a successful partnership with Toronto Animal Services, who themselves are working hard at becoming a kinder and gentler facility.
And that's just some of what I'm seeing.

Exercise democracy. Turn up. Vote and what will be, shall be.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Bill 16 - down but not OUT ....

The Liberals are again sticking their collective heads up their ass and in their alternate Liberal universe ignoring the science for the myth.  On May 9, the Bill 16 committee met and despite ALL the evidence shredding the mythology surrounding the Liberal's mythical "pit bull breed", voted NO to all amendments. 

It is beyond infuriating that despite all the hard facts presented showing the ineffectiveness (among other things) of BSL, they continue to hold fast to their fantasies.

Brindle Stick aptly tells us the best way to pick up the lance and strike ... so go here and do it, PLEASE.

I have asked with a meeting with one of the worst proponents of Bill 16 - Lorenzo Beranardetti (unfortunately, my own MPP) - and will report verbatim when and if I hear back (as he has already ignored several of my queries via email).