The “Hamilton Animal Control - Stop the Killings” (HAC-STK) group on Facebook begs for a better name and slogan perhaps, but its purpose is undeniably clear. Members of the group mainly comprise of rescuers, fosters, adopters, pet owners, volunteers, animal lovers, advocates, educators, students and like-minded residents who have come together in the hopes of helping all of the animals at the Hamilton Animal Control to be given the opportunity to live, and find forever homes.
2979 animals, to be exact, were put down at the Hamilton Animal Control last year, as reported by Jim Gillis, Supervisor of Municipal Law Enforcement, to the Hamilton Spectator newspaper on December 3, 2010. Regardless of where HAC-STK group members and affiliates individually stand on the animal euthanasia issue, everyone shares the mutual desire to see the killing numbers significantly brought down.
Unfortunately, the Hamilton Animal Control, with its limited space and finite resources given to them by the City, cannot realistically achieve this kind of goal without high levels of community support.
And that’s where we come in. This is why we are here.
The HAC-STK group protested twice in 2010. The city’s animal control department responded to growing community concerns in December by implementing a low-cost speuter at the Hamilton-Burlington SPCA for qualifying low income earners, and by considering an adoption service for the HAC in addition to the limited program currently being offered by the SPCA. Problems finding or making space for the second service, as well as the budget for it, presently prevent the department from moving past the consideration stage. The animals that end up at the HAC, therefore, are still only adoptable exclusively through the HB-SPCA or via the HAC's four selected rescue groups.
Since the last protest held by the HAC-STK, interested members have been regathering, talking and sharing again for many months. In a perfect world, there wouldn’t even be a need to run a petition or hold a rally. In an imperfect world, here is an opportunity for us to be a part of HAC-STK’s collective voice asking for continued reform, and to include our say within that voice as well.
Among the group’s items being forwarded to the City are the following requests: that the decision of euthanization be taken collectively by senior staff at the Hamilton City pound and not left in the hands of one person; for a change in bylaw, allowing for more than two pets per household; for a change in the bylaws so that the picking up and killing of pets found roaming outside be stopped as well; that a cost effective trap, neuter and return (TNR) program be implemented in place of scheduled killing for the ferals; that a low cost spay and neuter be made available to the general public to help contain the pet population; that the opening hours of the pound be extended past working hours to encourage a higher percentage of owner retrievals; that pet retrieval fees (http://bit.ly/jdmFbH) be reduced; and that the pound be opened up to the public and to all rescue groups for adoptions.
In order for the HAC to be able to achieve these and other long-term, life-saving goals, they will require the unwavering commitment of its community members to assist them at all levels, starting with maintaining responsible pet ownership at home, up to organizing and participating in ongoing adoption blitzes city-wide.
Are you ready and willing to help? If you would like to be a part of what is happening right now, consider getting behind the petitions and the June 25th afternoon rally at the HAC. Until the next action is started or shared, the petitions and the rally are your two obvious running options to act on behalf of the HAC animals at present - but by no means are they the only ways you can help.
Continue to discuss, debate and share your recommendations and ideas with the HAC-STK group as you have been doing so far. Write letters and emails asking for investigation and expressing your concerns to your mayor and city councillors. Represent, and attend the municipal meetings, and share the information you learn with the HAC-STK group. Conduct your own rally or protest. Work with local rescue groups to help the animals at the HAC find suitable forever homes. Volunteer to build community awareness by sharing the HAC-STK group information and its related links to the petitions and the rally with the people on your networks who share your love and concern for animals. Take good care of the animals in your home, and practice, and preach the importance of, spaying and neutering pets.
We are glad that the HAC-STK's unapologetically inflammatory slogan, “Stop the Killings,” has gotten your attention. Directly or indirectly, leading or following, together, or on your own, continue to help this important cause to move forward in each and every way that you can. We are grateful to everyone for their invaluable contributions on behalf of the thousands of animals waiting for us silly humans to get it together so that they can get their chance to live long and fulfilling, happy animal lives.
Join the conversation and the movement today at "Hamilton Animal Control - Stop the Killings," http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_94769408781.
ORA-Organization for the Rescue of Animals