WHERE: Queen and Peter
WHAT: Wild at Heart's human chaining to protest dogs being left outside in the cold
WHEN: Sunday, November 26, 3 pm
Even though temperatures soared into the double digits last weekend, animal activist group Wild at Heart (WAH) wants dog owners to know that leaving their pets in the backyard in winter isn't cool.
To underline their message, the group of pooch lovers chained a human volunteer to a post for 36 hours - minus bathroom breaks.
"We're not talking about leaving dogs outside while you run into a store," explains WAH founder Kamila Monroe.
"We're talking about people who leave their dogs outside without shelter or toys and without food or water. We're talking neglect and abuse."
There is no municipal bylaw against leaving animals outdoors to freeze to death, but the city's animal services division can partner up with the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which has the power to investigate animal welfare cases on a complaint basis.
"We don't have the authority to seize an animal," says city-wide animal services manager Eletta Purdy. "What we can do is charge the person for not providing proper shelter if the animal is tied to a chain that is too short and restricts its movements"
She adds that if adequate food, water and shelter are available to a dog, then encouragement "is the limit of what can be done."
Wild at Heart is currently drafting a bylaw to present to city council that would make it illegal to maintain an animal outside without adequate supports. There are no statistics on the number of canine deaths from exposure, because owners don't report it. "If your dog died and you'd left it out in the cold, you wouldn't go to the police," Monroe says.
Meanwhile, Hillary Keirstead, the chained "dog," is complaining that even with the warm fall weather, she's feeling chilled after sitting around all day, and it gets worse once the sun sets. "I have on five layers, but dogs that get chained outside often have short hair, so they don't have a lot of insulation."
She has other problems, too - rowdy drunks. "Here, girl, want some food from my pocket?" asks a passerby. Seems the message is getting lost. All some folks can see is a chick chained on the street.