Thursday, August 28, 2014

Responding to Animal Abuse - the social media backfire

Over the past few months, I have deliberately disconnected from various social media sites that primarily report on violence against animals.  It is not that I do not care about the topic, but that I do not care for the vitriol in the comments of those responding to the posted reports.  And so I close my computer and chant my new mantra:  “Not my circus.  Not my monkeys.”

Don’t get me wrong – violence against any sentient being is not, in my opinion, to be tolerated.  And therein lies the rub.  When many of those people commenting on a violent act are themselves proposing violence as a solution, often in very graphic terms, we as a society move not one step closer to a nonviolent world.  In fact, we move away from it.

Today, our local paper(1)  reported the judicial decision of a local animal abuse case, which brought the futility of such comments to the forefront.  In a case where a dog owner was alleged to have punched and thrown a dog, the man was acquitted on all charges.  The judge’s decision, in part, was based on his perception of the key witnesses’ character as viewed through the evidence of their Facebook posts, comments, and ‘likes’. 

I have no knowledge of the case other than what I read in local papers and therefore will not offer an opinion of the acquittal.  But if you have ever written or 'liked' a violent suggestion in response to an alleged animal abuse case, please read the first article referenced at the bottom of this post.  

The judges reasons for his decision clearly demonstrate how the comments and even the 'likes' you post on social media may influence the court's opinion – and not always in the way you might hope. 

Note:  There is a caveat which needs to be underlined:  I am not talking about points of law here, but character.  Judges are required to be impartial on points of law - ie, whether an action was or was not a criminal act.  If the law says it isn’t, then the court cannot find the person guilty even if 95% of the population thinks the act should be criminal.  But when a person comes before the court and his/her character as an honest person is in question – whether as the defendant or the witness – comments he/she makes on social media can be used to help assess that character.]

There are clearly unintended consequences of promoting violence as a response to violence.  It incites a mob mentality, it encourages vigilantism, it advocates against a peaceful society with nonviolent problem solving, and perhaps most of all – it speaks to the morality of the person making the comment more than the morality of the alleged offender.

This is a timely issue given the comments I've seen in reaction to the recent video of another alleged dog abuse case - this one in an elevator in a five-star Vancouver hotel.  In the case in point, the video and the man’s apology(2) provide some measure of certainty that the accused treated a dog in a manner many consider immoral. The comments on at least one social media  page dedicated to the issue(3), however, are proposing actions equally as violent as the images in the video.  Do calls to treat Mr. Hague in the same manner as he is alleged to have treated the dog solve anything?  No.  That does nothing to move us toward a society in which violence becomes unacceptable.

So what action can we, the viewers of the video, take in response to the alleged animal abuse by the CEO of Centerplate?  

While Centerplate has imposed penalties of its own(4), those penalties have little or no long term impact on either Centerplate’s or Mr. Hague’s bottom line.  It was corporate damage control.  But there are ways to make your opinions known and to influence long term change. [I will focus solely on British Columbia here, though the same principle may apply to venues in other locales]. 

Centerplate is a catering company contracted by BC Pavilion Corporation (PavCo).  PavCo is a crown corporation responsible for operating BC Place and the Vancouver Convention Centre – both huge venues hosting hundreds of events and over a million patrons a year.  And who is responsible for said crown corporation?  The Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, Todd Stone.  An elected official.  Who elects members of government?  We do.  You and me.  Ordinary people. 

When it comes to long term change, politicians are more accountable to the public than are private catering companies.  As the taxpaying public, we have the right to ask that the Minister address the deportment of the CEOs of companies to which his ministry grants contracts.  It is not reasonable to demand that all those contracts be cancelled – events are planned years in advance, contracts are signed legal documents, and event holders would be the ones that suffer.  But crown corporations can certainly set in place policies that guide which companies will be eligible for future contracts. I believe they also have the ability to discipline an individual or organization that violates existing policy or law.  Furthermore, animal abuse laws are, in part, the responsibility of the provincial  government. The government can be held accountable on many levels, and we certainly should expect our politicians in turn to hold accountable all companies and individuals who, directly or indirectly, are recipients of our hard-earned tax dollars.     

So voice your concerns to Mr. Stone(5) .  Let him know Mr. Hague’s alleged actions are not acceptable.  If you believe the penalties imposed by Centerplate are not sufficient, ask that PavCo also impose penalties. If you are unhappy that an alleged animal abuser is the CEO of a company on the government’s contractual payroll, ask that future contracts with Centerplate not be renewed if Mr. Hague remains their CEO.  Ask what policies govern the integrity of those applying for or holding government contracts. Request Mr. Stone’s personal support to lobby for tighter laws, greater enforcement, and stricter penalties for animal abuse. 

But keep it respectful.  Every time we write or ‘like’ a violent comment on social media, we promote violence.  And that is counter-productive.



(5) Contact info for Todd Stone:

Monday, August 25, 2014

Eddie's Big Day

Today (or maybe yesterday by the time I post this - August 24th) was Eddie's eleventh birthday.  He's  the baby of the household.

After taking Shiloh and Mitzi for their customary morning walks, Eddie and I strolled down to the beach checked out the action.

The first thing we saw was an alien being.  Or so Eddie thought.  A man with some huge contraption on his back, a  wooden propeller and gas tank attached.  Turns out it was some sort of gas-powered back-pack flying machine which, combined with a paraglider, was going to launch him over the waters and across the Salish Seas.  Having once been married to a glider pilot, I just had to hang around to watch!

Alien being walks the shores

Setting out the paraglider

Take off!

Oh-oh - the ropes get tangled,
the pilot gets whipped around,
and he's grounded!

I bet he hates it when people
see him mess up!

He struggled to get set up again, but the wind was dying down and there were too many boats in the bay, and so an hour later our intrepid motorparaglider pilot decided to pack it in.

Eddie and I headed back home, where the real festivities began.  First, of course, he had to choose his party hat:
How about this one?

Or this one?

It looks pretty good
when I hold my head up!

There's a bird on my head!

Rather flattering,
don'tcha think?

How about if I put on
my serious face?

He finally decided upon the traditional brightly coloured paper cone and proudly posed while demonstrating restraint as he eyed his present -  a box of delicious Organic Beef Kali Wags snacks, placed in front of him with a firm "Leave It!" command.  Such a good boy!

Happy Birthday to Me!

After being given the "Take It" command, he checked out the treats, gobbled down as many as I would let him, and headed off for a nap.  I checked out the garden - the flowers, the tomatoes, the goldfinches at the feeder:

Later in the afternoon, his friend Tanner dropped by.

Hey buddy, Happy Birthday!
Is this where the pawty is?

He brought his mom, Else, who brought beer for me and more gifts for Eddie - raw beef bones, cooked turkey meat, and a bag of Fruitables skinny-minis.


Eddie had to practice his "leave it" command once again - then the bones and turkey disappeared into the freezer alongside his frozen herrings and raw chicken backs.  I get one shelf in my upright freezer - the rest is all dog or cat food. He did get some of the skinny-minis though, to which he gave two paws up.

His friends went home, he had another nap and then dinner. And finally, of course, Eddie had to have his birthday cake - a small tub of greek yogurt decorated with dog cookies and hidden in the freezer for an hour or two.  This year he got the whole thing to himself, as Shiloh and Mitzi have recently recovered from tummy upsets and are not allowed anything but their regular foods.  They weren't impressed.

Whaddaya mean, no cake for us?

Eddie, on the other hand, said "All the more for me!" and dove right in.  To heck with "leaving it" so mom can get a photo!

Eddie's cake




Another walk in the evening, and his day was done.

He'd like to remind you, though, that Tuesday is World Dog Day.  He has a sneaking suspicion the cat is going to hide the computer that day so no one can blog about it.

Who wants to read about
World Dog day?
I think I'll see what's on TV. 

Happy Eleventh Birthday, Eddie, and happy World Dog Day to all my doggy friends.

Friday, August 8, 2014


Why has no one  wished me a Happy World Cat Day?
Sent presents?
Given me treats?

By Allie

Yes, you heard me.  It is World Cat Day.   You wouldn't know it around here though.  The person who used to write this blog seems to have disappeared from Blogland.  She's still around the house though - just moaning and groaning about the heat, taking long naps, growing weeds (no, not weed, you ninny - WEEDS - the stuff that chokes out the flowers and vegetables!).....oh, and walking the dumb dogs at some undogly time of the morning before the day gets too hot. 

Who in their right mind goes for a walk
at 6:00 AM?

As for me?  I like the heat.  I lazzzzze around in the sunbeams (when dumb human doesn't have the blinds closed so tightly that not a ray of sunshine can get in).  I eat. I sleep.  I play.  Eat. Sleep. Play.  Isn't there a book with a title like that?  By Elizabeth Catbert or something?


Anyway, in honor of World Cat Day, I'm writing the blog. Because lazy people and lazy dogs around here ain't gonna do it. You can bet it will be different on World Dog Day.  Which is coming up on August 26th.  What a lot of nonsense - every day is a dog's day. It's a dog's life.  In this dog eat dog world, you can be as sick as a dog or be meaner than a junkyard dog or be dog tired or be a dirty dog, and you can work like a dog (which, if the dogs around here are any example, means doin' nothing!) or drink the hair of the dog or look like the dog's breakfast, but at the end of the day, if you lie down with dogs you'll get up with fleas! So there!  And still they celebrate World Dog Day.  Go figure. 

Ohgawd,  what is the world coming to,
that dogs should need their very own day!
Every day is their day.  

So I'm gonna let the cat out of the bag (though I'd like to know what mean person stuffed him in there in the first place!) and make sure everyone of you knows this:  TODAY IS WORLD CAT DAY.   So grin like a Cheshire cat, and walk right up to that dog of yours (yes, I know you have one - or two or three or ten), look that silly fuzzface in the eye, make like the cat that ate the canary, and tell the dogs of the world that 


We rule, and don'tcha forget it!

And you can tell them that ALLIE SAYS SO!  If it is on the blog, it must be true!

Is she done yet?