Sheba a symptom of the long-neglected animal welfare system in St. Thomas

Pound dogShe has been christened Sheba, after being found abandoned last week in a corn field just outside St. Thomas. Missing much of her fur and blind at this point, the sadly neglected dog “is why we are so concerned about having available funds for vet care for lost pets that come into the city pound,” stresses Lois Jackson, chair of the city’s animal welfare committee and founder of All Breed Canine Rescue.

Jackson authored a pair of committee reports received as information Monday by city council. But, like Sheba and other abandoned or neglected pets, the fate of those reports dealing with adoption fees and after hours pick-up of stray animals is what concerns Jackson.
“I know the reports are going to staff,” says Jackson, “and then a staff report will come to council, I guess.”
Jackson is less than optimistic on the outcome of her recommendation dealing with the need for higher adoption fees, “to maintain consistency with other municipalities, as well as send a message to the community that animals are not ‘cheap.’ The low adoption rates could attract animal brokers, collectors, puppy mill operators, and adopters who do not realize that pets are costly to care for.”
The city currently charges a $50 adoption fee plus the cost of an annual licence, with a $75 rebate once the dog is spayed or neutered. The animal welfare committee is recommending a $190 fee with a $100 rebate valid for 90 days for vetting, including spay/neuter and free licence.
By comparison, the fee in London is $205 and includes spay/neuter, microchip, vaccines including rabies, flea treatment and licence.
Jackson would also like to see St. Thomas Animal Services provide after hours pick-up of healthy lost dogs or cats.
St. Thomas is the only one of the five municipalities served by the city’s animal services department that does not provide after hours pick-up of healthy lost dogs or cats.
The animal welfare committee believes the residents of St. Thomas should receive the same services as the residents of Southwold, Malahide, the Town of Aylmer and Central Elgin, stresses Jackson.
“It’s sort of a subject that no one has looked at forever,” suggests Jackson. “Council looks at this stuff and they have no knowledge, no experience and no feelings for it. So they just go on surface impressions. I know some members like (councillors) Joan Rymal and Linda Stevenson mean well, but for dogs and cats that come in, being spayed or neutered is the least of my worries.
“Some of them are in such bad shape. You have to do blood work and deal with bad teeth and urinary infections.”
Such is the case with Sheba.
Pound dog 2
“After a few tests, we are hopeful Sheba is recoverable,” writes Jackson in an email. “She has bad skin from a yeast infection so her fur has fallen out. Her eyes were glued shut so she cannot see, hopefully antibiotic drops will help that. Her feet are frozen and inflamed. She has ear infections and other issues.
 “As a rescue, we are happy to help. We need city and community support. Animals should not be destroyed simply out of convenience. They do deserve a chance. And we are here to make sure they get that chance.”
Forget the spay and neuter for right now, argues Jackson, and find a way to provide adequate care for recoverable animals.
“For so many years it has become a ritual – spay neuter, spay neuter. It’s such a quick answer for a complex issue . . . but I know Joan, Linda and the mayor are trying to help out and I need to encourage that. I need to inform them, but not to the point where they are sick and tired of hearing from me. If I screech too loud, they will privatize it. But if I don’t do anything and retire, they will euthanize them.”
This year, 2017, is “my year,” advises Jackson.
“I’m putting an aggressive agenda together. If you choose to ignore it, or screw with it, you are on your own.”
The next meeting of the Select Committee for Animal Welfare, which is open to the public, is 1 p.m., March 16 in Room 204 at city hall.
To be continued Saturday in City Scope.
Questions and comments may be emailed to: City Scope

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