EDITORIAL: No excuse for animal abuse

Carole Morris-Underhill editor@hantsjournal.ca
Published on April 22, 2014

A Truro man was convicted this month of animal cruelty for failing to provide medical attention to his dog. As is the case with so many animal abuse files, the penalty was little more than a mere slap on the wrist.

Gregory Donald Peppard was fined $500, ordered to pay $2,500 in restitution to the SPCA, and was banned from owning an animal for five years.

The provincial SPCA seized Peppard's American Staffordshire terrier in November of last year. Daisy was suffering from one of the worst cases of mange the Nova Scotia SPCA's cruelty investigators had ever seen.

Peppard's case is the latest to go before the courts and garner media attention. But the truth of the matter is, we are failing as a society when we can't treat animals with the care and respect they deserve. We're failing more so when we can't find justice for such mistreatment.

Hoarding, neglect, abandonment — these are all forms of animal abuse. Yet, the penalties doled out to those caught and convicted of such crimes are pitiful at best.

We need stricter rules, better sentencing options and a justice system that has the backbone to aggressively pursue those who endanger the lives and well-being of companion animals.

Earlier in the month, the provincial organization seized 127 cats from a Dartmouth property. Three people are facing charges for “confining an animal to an enclosure or area with inadequate space, unsanitary conditions, inadequate ventilation or without providing an opportunity for exercise so as to significantly impair the animal’s health or well-being.”

The cats are up for adoption at the provincial shelter in HRM, as well as at the Kings, Colchester and Pictou county shelters. The estimated cost for taking in the animals has already exceeded about $15,000.

We need not travel outside of Hants County to find offenders. Last year, Our Mother's Keepers owner Leesa White took part in an animal rescue operation. Someone abandoned an adult feline who did not get enough nutrients and gave birth to sick kittens. One of those kittens died. Another one, Ivy, will forever be disabled due to malnourishment. She has osteoporosis and severe arthritis, and is still recuperating from a broken pelvis and two leg fractures due to her brittle bones.

In an interview with a Hants County SPCA rep earlier this year, the Journal was told that people seem to view animals — especially cats — as disposable.

Sadly, when you take into account the number of cases that make the news, combined with those that don't make the headlines, it's evident that the throwaway mindset is prevalent in our society.

On average, the Nova Scotia SPCA investigates about 1,500 complaints concerning companion animals in the province annually. In 2012, the provincial body looked into 1,632 cases — 69 of which were in Hants County.

The only way to reverse this trend of seeing animals as disposable is to better educate the public on proper care of companion animals, actively encourage residents to report suspected abuse or neglect, and seek stiffer sentences for offenders.

In this day and age, there is simply no excuse for animal abuse. We must stand up for what’s right. To confidentially report suspected animal cruelty, call 1-888-703-7722 or e-mail animals@spcans.ca.