New Minas Paws for Laws demonstration calls for anti-tethering legislation

John Decoste
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More than 70 Valley residents, from West Hants to Annapolis County, and their pets took to the streets of New Minas Feb. 1 to raise awareness of the need for changes to the Animal Protection Act, and particularly the issue of 24/7 tethering. It was one of eight similar walks held throughout the province on the same day at the same time. - John DeCoste, www.kingscountynews.ca

Animals have rights, but they can’t speak for themselves. They need people to do that for them, and lobby politicians on issues such as doing away with practices like 24/7 tethering.

That was the message behind a peaceful demonstration Feb. 1 in support of changes to the provincial Animal Protection Act.

More than 70 people, many of them dog owners, and their pets took to the streets of New Minas for the event, armed with placards. It was one of eight similar walks held at the same time throughout Nova Scotia.

“We’ve been lobbying for a long time for changes to the act,” said Scott Saunders, a member of the lobby group People for Dogs and one of the organizers of the New Minas event.

Among the concerns the walkers wanted to focus attention on were “24/7 tethering, convicted animal abusers being still permitted to sell animals,” the need for new legislation and proper enforcement of the current regulations.

Saunders said the provincial government is in the process of drafting new legislation, which is why participants in the walk were encouraged to “come and support our agriculture minister.”

Minister Keith Colwell “has already said he will end 24/7 tethering by legislation.” In doing so, Saunders pointed out, Nova Scotia will become the first province in Canada with provincial legislation.

 “We’re glad the minister is giving the issue the attention it deserves. It’s long overdue.”

Another of the organizers was animal advocate and rescuer Nahleen Ashton, who made reference to “the amazing turnout” for the event.

“It’s an amazing sign,” Ashton said. “Hopefully, we’re within reach of the legislation that’s needed.”

She said it marked “the start of so many things that need to be done. We can only hope the government is listening.”

The walkers included Debbie Gaul, shelter manager for the Kings County SPCA.

“I’m here to support this great cause. There are lots of important issues out there that need attention, but today is about the tethering issue,” she said.

“There are walks like this going on all across the province. It’s a great day, and hopefully, it will make a difference.”

Also walking were Kings South MLA (and dog owner) Keith Irving and his Nova Scotia duck-tolling retriever, Fenway.

“(Agriculture minister Keith Colwell) has been listening to the advocates for this issue. Hopefully, we’ll be able to address some of peoples’ concerns,” Irving said.

“There’s always an issue with enforcement, but without legislation, there’s nothing to enforce. Certainly, the laws need to be strengthened. The level of concern is evident in the turnout here today.”

Irving was pleased at the tone of the demonstration, and the acknowledgement that the government is doing something.

“People were encouraged to ‘come out and support the Minister’,” he said. “That’s what it‘s all about – citizens and politicians working together.”

Organizations: Kings County SPCA

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, New Minas, Canada

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