Thursday, 31 July 2008

Irony: What's wrong with this picture?

Barking Mad welcomes the CCAC. They "take a fresh approach to solving animal management issues", argue against 'quick-fixes' and advocate using high quality evidence based information. We LOVE using facts instead of political point-scoring! However, we can not tolerate double standards.

This lovely photo, found at 'about us' on the Centre for Companion Animals in the Community website depicts a normal day-to-day action of many carers for children, yet in NSW it is "against the law". Why? Well, pooch is just too close to a child's play area, and yes, the fine is at least $330.

This is a stupid law; it discriminates against the largest demographic of dog owners - families with children. Are we being trite? No way. Dogs are shown in television shows and advertising on the beach, yet Sydney councils claim they have a right to declare 'no dogs on beaches', Lotto used a border collie on a beach pushing a lotto ball to advertise our gambling culture. It goes on and on. Dogs are used in real estate and home furnishings advertising, yet try to rent with a pet and see how you are treated. Take you dog to an open house and see if you are welcome inside! The value of a companion dog is not in marketing or advertising; the value is to the loving owners and a community that experiences their loyalty and companionship. We need this value to be recognised in policy so we don't get stupid laws that say Mum can't can't toddler and dog to the local park.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Killing Good Aussie Dogs - a whinge.

Is Barking Mad next? To those who support Barking Mad with your free membership or your $25/$40 memberships, I thank you. To the three million other dog owners, to the hundreds of people at Sydney dog parks who think Barking Mad is great, but haven't joined, to the vets and big pet shops that won't join as a member, why?

WHY? The cost of owning a dog is $500 - $1000 a year. A bag of dog chow costs more than a membership to the lobby group challenging stupid laws that say no dogs on beaches, no dogs in rentals, etc. Yet, you won't join. You want to get your dog park in your area, but don't see that each time you win a campaign in your area, no precedent is set. Some other area will be doing the exact fight at the same time with no sharing of resources. One more dog beach might satisfy the big dog owners, but terrify some small dog owners because of the concentration of dogs in just one area. One area is not ok - 30 - 40% is because that's how many ratepayers have dogs. We asked each member to sign up five others - only the member in the Tweed who came up with the idea did such. That's it. It's not enough. We need 10,000 members - paid or surveyed, to get our amendments up. I need a P.A. or I'll be back in the hospital with stress. I would like an income.

I'm called constantly to help people present a strategy for a pet-friendly workplace, or to mitigate a dispute with a neighbour, or to help change by-laws in a unit. I offer this service as a consultant and that's the end. They won't even join as a member, let alone pay for a service or even transport costs. They want it for free but won't work to find a sponsor for us. And by the way, we haven't lost ONE legal matter we have worked on with members yet.

Today I received a PhD survey about pet ownership with lots of questions about registration, microchipping, dog health and cost. Then bang - it asked about how you think you will be affected when your dog dies. WELL somewhere around 25% - 35% of dog owners won't see that day because THEY WILL SURRENDER THE DOG FIRST. Why? Because they don't have a car and can't use public transport with dog, because they do have a car and its too expensive to drive to the only good dog park, because they leave dog at home when cafe owner says dog can't even join them at an outdoor table, because they move to a unit that says no pets, they buy a pet friendy unit that then changes the by-laws, the decide to travel around the country and can't find accommodation that welcomes their dog. It's Barking Mad!

We HAVE a compromise position - train dog and guardian to a high standard and give US more access. My tail is between my legs and I am sad, and tired. I'm working on educating NSW transit authorities who continue to refer to the 'no pets on transport' in the regulation, when the Director General changed that in 2002! Only two people have signed up to help in our upcoming events. We have local government working to submit the user-pays dog license to the local government conference. Guys, I don't walk on water. This organisation needs help to survive.

Friday, 25 July 2008

Six Years of Hiding our Right to Public Transport

"Just thought you’d be pleased to hear I was successful yesterday in taking my dog on Newcastle buses for the first time. I had the support of a letter dated 14/2/2002 from Michael Deegan, Director General, Transport NSW advising that 'companion animals are permitted to board bus or ferry services. … at the discretion of the operator, keeping in mind the safety of other passengers, the cleanliness of the animal and whether the animal is restrained.' The driver was somewhat sceptical but acquiesced nonetheless."
Ian McKenzie
Councillor (Greens)
Newcastle City Council
Barking Mad Comments: YES, that is a letter dated 2002 - what other rights do they try to keep hidden from responsible pet owners? How about Council's lack of authority on beaches as stated in a plan of managment?

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Manly - We're IN Dogs Day OUT August 10

To quote Council: The aim of the Dogs Day Out is to be a fun and informative day and to promote responsible pet ownership. We say there is a profit motive in there as well due to the commercial stalls at last years' event!

Let's just call it a 'misunderstanding' that Council found Barking Mad material on our web "in conflict with Council's policies" so therefore unable "to be displayed at our stall". Maybe they just talked to Warringah whose unelected top dog administrator uses funds from the 40% of his rate payers who own dogs to publicise that dogs and beaches don't mix. (A page in the Manly Daily costs $4000 and this is where this was published).

We asked Manly how a not-for-profit organisation that:
  • promotes a safe and pet-friendly community is in conflict with Council policies?

  • exposed the positive climate-change policy of our legal right to travel on public transport with our pets in conflict with Council policies?

  • has assisted your residents to (rightfully) keep their beloved and well-behaved pets in their units is against Council policy and would council rather support rescue organisations than the causes of pet surrenders?

  • has Federal government recognition for raising the profile of the domestic dog as a 24 x 7 health care worker is in conflict with Council’s policies?

We didn't receive an answer.

We reminded Council that they are only a regulatory authority and don't make the laws. In fact, at last years' event the rangers used their statutory discretion to let dogs play with their families in the playground - the mum's and bubs were NOT fined $330 for having a fun time together.

Thanks to the intervention of Independent Councillor Mark Novak, the misunderstanding has been resolved and we will be attending Dogs Day Out. Mark says "for 4 years I have frequently been a lone voice on this Council appealing for change. Following this Council election, the change agents must be in the majority." Mr. Novak is standing for mayor in the upcoming Council election; I support him and hope you can too.

Manly also let us know that they are also working to support pets on public transport, and wrote to the relevant ministry after the bus arrest in February. Even better, we're slowly gaining support for a Salty Dogs' Day Out on a section of the beach - just like a surf club event. We would love to do with working with Council.

Will you help us on the stall on Sunday 10th August?

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Super Dog Registration?

Barking Mad has a draft ‘user-pays’ companion dog policy. This policy may best be explained by a comparison to your driver’s licence. A ‘normal’ licence requires a certain test and fee. To obtain further privileges such as driving a heavy vehicle or riding a motorcycle, additional training and financial contribution is required. In other words, you earn and pay for those privileges.

The ‘dog debate’, unlike many environmental issues, does have edges on both sides of a line. One edge is ‘no dogs as pets or companions in my town’ and the other is ‘dogs anywhere on a lead’. These edges give us a defined area in which to work to achieve our goal of a safe and pet-friendly society where companion animals and their utilitarian values are recognised and utilised. A middle ground.

We are conducting ongoing research from dog owners; in asking the question ‘Are restrictions on where you can take your dog fair?’ our response to date has been:

Yes 2%
Fair? We’re 2nd class citizens 25%
It MUST change 44%
No 29%

Community expectations and tolerance of dogs in urban Sydney has changed dramatically in the last thirty years. (Barking Mad notes a greater tolerance in other cities and states). No longer are we tolerant of the off-lead dog visiting us during the day or of dogs on our beaches. Barking Mad accepts that we have to work with the community expectations as they are today. (Take the dangerous dog provisions of the Act and substitute with dangerous youth and you may be enlightened at how our need to blame has shifted to the domestic dog).

A dog user pays policy would involve training for the dog and owner to a certain standard, an additional fee paid, and would provide an ID for dog and owner. Should the dog change owners, the ‘privilege’ would not transfer. Should the owner obtain another dog, the training process would have to be completed again for that guardian/dog partnership. The recent achievement of unifying the microchip database provides the technical capabilities for this system of identification to be implemented now.

The ID would provide regulators (rangers) with a level of confidence and mitigate the effects of dealing with the constant complainers each council encounters. An additional part of the ID would be requiring proof of vaccination (as is the case with any dog school) and also insurance (which is not yet required, but often in existence).

The Local Government Act has provisions to accommodate this user-pays system such that it does not discriminate against the economically disadvantaged. Barking Mad does not advocate for this system; rather we recognise that it may be a way to ‘earn back’ our rights as dog owners even if those rights were taken away unfairly. Our research shows that:

  • 88% of dog owners would attend training if this would allow them greater access with their pets.
  • 66% would pay more for registration if this would allow them greater access with their pets.

Please add your comments...

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

One member's view - and question

WHY ARE DOGS NOT ALLOWED? It is always a pleasure travelling through Europe with your pets; you can enter airports, hotels, clubs, pubs, restaurants, boats and maybe I've left a few things out. That was our life before returning back home to Australia.

Now it's a nightmare. You can find lovely accommodation to stay but, and that's a big but where to go? In some places you can have a coffee, but go back when the staff has changed and the rules have also.

We are so backward regarding enjoying travelling or just going out for a coffee with ones pet. There will come a time when it shall be accepted. TOO many so called do gooders and rule makers.

Lets wake up. Stop using our fears. If someone takes their pets out for what ever reason they must care. The RSPCA has enough unwanted animal don't you think so?
We keep hearing we are the best in the world, leaders or everything. Well how do we rate with animals? Think? And answer with truth .

Monday, 21 July 2008

Diamond IT Doggy Day Out:Sept 21

Join us where Barking Mad is most welcome. Cooks Beach Surf Club Fundraiser. Sunday 21st September 2008.

COMMENDATION EVENT OF THE YEAR – The Diamond IT Doggy Day Out event was inspired by the Year of the Lifesaver. The event brought together business, government and the broader community in an attempt to recruit new members to the volunteer services the lifesavers provide. The event has generated the potential for growth and the attraction of tourism. Furthermore the events contribution to the community included support for other charities involved in pet services.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Dad - and even more . . .

In memory of my Dad and all the other pet-rescue people, lets sing “Out in the Catskill Mountains” from the Garrison Keillor CD "Songs of the Cat"

On an afternoon in the month of June,
A wistful cat sat cryin
For her owners were not good to her,
A cousin of the lion.
On her plate was glued some dried-up food
She cared not to examine.
And as she wept, she sat and dreamt
Of the land of milk and salmon

Oh the fresh cat fish in the china dish
Where the cream flows from a fountain.
On the high plateau where the catnip grows
Out in the Catskill Mountains

Out in the Catskill Mountains
The land of the big feed trough.
The couches all are comfortable
And no one kicks you off.
The dogs are tough to honor cats
As beautiful and holy.
And the birds are found right on the ground.
And the mice run very slowly……..

Friday, 18 July 2008

Dad - more . . .

Cancer took another friend July 15. This gentle man, volunteer for Save-A-Pet, humble lover of non-humans, was one of "the last boy scouts," David Zey was a light in every dark room and my heard can hardly beat knowing what a sad loss this is for our communities. David was not about ego, power trips, accolades, limelight or the shallow places we sometimes find ourselves in. he was just a quiet generous man who work up at 5am every week to help other volunteers to drive 20-25 cats to a spay neuter clinic in Buffalo on this time, his dime, because it helped relieve the suffering of animals. What a gift he was to us.

I can remember my first Pick-a-Pet show. I was transporting a cat that was scared and had done her business all over herself, the pet taxi and me. Running over to help me was David. He cleaned everything up, calmed the cat and then me. He was doing what he did the best - selfless regards for others; always the boy scout.
Our small contingent of volunteers at Save-A-Pet have a black hole of grief. In his honour, if you read this, please spay and neuter your pets. Understand the beauty of being kind rather than rights. I need the community to know David Zey indeed was here. Deborah Keller, Medina.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

My Dad

My dad rescued cats. He rescued HUNDREDS of cats. Not everyone understood, some thought him nuts, obsessed or some other psycho-babble. At times he was fostering more than 10 cats at his trailer-park home. But the fact is, he was an immensely compassionate and caring man. He had time for animals and time for people who were kind to animals. But he was also a very angry man; full of pain and anger about people who let their cats have kittens, angry at people who did not see kitty as a life-long responsibility and enraged at people who were knowingly careless or cruel.

Like many of us, he chose to 'do his bit', to do what he could to alleviate the suffering dished out to felines from 'human stupidity' (his words). Of course, he would also take cats who outlived their guardians. Now there are four cats he was fostering that need homes, as his last four have outlived him and gone back to save-a-pet.

My Dad lost his appetite after the sudden death of his brother (and only sibling) a couple months ago. After an MRI he received a diagnosis and did not elect treatment - just like he said he would. I LEARNED stubborn from him! His last time out of bed was to feed the cats one week ago. When he knew his cats would be safe, he moved to Niagara Hospice and after a stay of just 5 days, passed on. If all our pets go to the Rainbow Bridge when they leave us in sickness or early death, is that where their family goes too?

My Dad was really frustrated with stupid pet laws (no mandatory de-sexing, discrimination against renters with pets, too easy to get a pet etc.) and 'idiots' (his word). He chose to alleviate his frustration with the daily loving care of discarded pets. I too am frustrated with stupid pet laws and I choose to keep only my 15 year old cat and border collie Pema and work politically to make it easier to keep a pet, and make it harder to obtain a pet.

My Dad always told me he was proud of me and that makes me happy. I am proud of my Dad, and he has taken his caring one huge step further. He dedicated his body to medical research at the Uni of Buffalo. He always joked that they would fight over his fit body when they got it at the lab. My Dad worked in surgeries for years, and I bet, right now, as his body is disassembled for the benefit of other people, he is a happy and satisfied soul - and I bet he is purring.

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Return Shane to the Front Page

Shane Warne had as big a run with photos in the Herald as have Belinda and Co. We now know who they all are. How come we have a court MAGISTRATE, Pat O'Shane pleading guilty to drink driving after months of denial and no photos with her nickers on the washing line, or her walking into work, etc? It would take a reporter just a morning or two at Downing Centre local court to observe her demeanor while at the bench (not a public servant and not answerable to parliament), and without doubt leaving Belinda’s alleged short-temper and abusive language fading into nothingness when compared to the words of Ms. O’Shane. People DIE from drunk driving, do they DIE from providing customer service in a restaurant? No, they don't. The media is a powerful and fickle lover.