Misinformation clouding tense Moose Jaw Humane Society debate

Justin Crann
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City will seek alternatives to euthanasia

The City of Moose Jaw does not intend to be in the business of killing animals.

Moose Jaw city manager Matt Noble is pictured at the Nov. 25, 2013 council meeting.

"I know people are upset about the five-day bylaw, but that doesn't mean the automatic next step will be to put the animal down," Mayor Deb Higgins told the Times-Herald Wednesday.

"We will work with the humane society if there is room here. If there isn't, we will then try to look for animal rescue services like the humane society. … We will look for other rescue organizations to fulfill that role."

The mayor also said "responsible pet owners" would have their animals licensed, which would prevent any confusion if they get loose.

"A dog with licenses is very easy to track. We can — in minutes — find out who the owner is and begin the process of contacting them," she said.

Higgins is not the first city official to suggest Moose Jaw may not euthanize the animals it captures on and after Jan. 1, when the contract for pound-keeping services with the Moose Jaw Humane Society (MJHS) has ended.

Matt Noble, Moose Jaw's city manager, said on Tuesday the city would seek rescue services to take in the animals held in its kennels as their five-day stay nears its end.

Euthanasia will only be used if there is no other option, contrary to rumours that have been circulating since the story broke.

Noble said the rumours were just some of the "bald faced lies" that have been "creating controversy in the community" over the past day.

He added that some of the misconceptions have originated from the MJHS, including the belief that the city hasn't made any offers or attempted negotiations.

"We had meetings here, and I took a whole entourage of administrators to the humane society so we could tour their facility and understand what their challenges are," he said. "That isn't 'showing no concern.'"

But the problems may have preceded Noble.

The MJHS had attempted to open negotiations with the city when the prior contract was nearing its expiry, John LaBuick told the Times-Herald in September.

LaBuick, president of the organization's board, said in that interview the humane society had "not yet sat down with a city group, individual or any representative and done some serious negotiating."

At a rally of humane society supporters at Java Express Wednesday morning, Kristyn McEwen — the executive director of the organization — said that silence aggravated an already difficult situation.

"It was, for us, a sign that this wasn't a big deal. … We had given them notice, but continued on in good faith for an entire year. At that time, they hadn't recognized anything we had put out there," she said. "We weren't hearing anything back."

And the increasing hostility between the city and the public — which Noble suggested has been engineered or directed by humane society interests — has made the situation worse.

"It shows to me that they're not interested in doing the business of the society as much as they are inflaming the situation," he said. 

"And that's sad."

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Organizations: Moose Jaw Humane Society, Times-Herald

Geographic location: Moose Jaw

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Recent comments

  • Mike
    December 19, 2013 - 13:52

    Wow! I’m appalled at this to say the least! This is ridiculous! I don’t even have a pet but I do own a business and several properties in the city, so, as a taxpayer I feel well within my rights to make some comments. Quote from the MJTH "They know they have the media and public sentiment on their side, so they're willing to use the animals as pawns and bash the city to get money," said Noble, Moose Jaw's city manager. "That's my personal feeling." First off Mr Noble, who is the professional here? You are offering your personal opinions to the media? You are accusing the Humane Society of using the animals as pawns? In the Media? Without even getting into the nuts & bolts of this the first thing that has to occur is a little professionalism. As a City Manager you “don’t” offer your “personal” opinion, you don’t negotiate contracts in public, and you certainly don’t accuse the organization you are negotiating with of not doing their homework publically. This is “extremely un-professional to say the least! Again, who is the professional here? If you can’t negotiate a contract and come to some mutual ground on a contract like this there is something wrong. Stacy... Your absolutely right regarding who is responsible for the animals that are running at large, no argument here. That still doesn't solve the problem of the fact that there will always be people who don't follow the rules. Society will always be stuck picking up after the residents that choose to be irresponsible. You don't have to look far for perfect examples of this. Namely the petty vandalism and other crimes committed by young offenders on a regular basis. Is there a cost to the rest of society? Of course there is! But you still have to try and control it and it costs money! Is it fair that this is a financial burden on the law bidding citizens of Moose Jaw? No it's not but it's a fact of life in any community.

  • Stacy
    December 19, 2013 - 10:13

    The fact is, they are right. Responsible pet owners will licence their pets. The root of the blame lies with irresponsible pet owners who do not license, and further, who do not spay or neuter their pets. The taxpayers should not be held hostage by a charity that is only needed due to the lack of responsibility of people in Moose Jaw who have unlicensed animals. Licence your pets! Don't be angry when the city is trying to negotiate reasonable terms for taxpayers - many of whom do NOT own pets and are sick and tired of then blame not being placed squarely where it deserves - on irresponsible people.

  • Justin
    December 19, 2013 - 10:13

    "It shows to me that they're not interested in doing the business of the society as much as they are inflaming the situation" When, exactly, did it become the job of the City Manager to publicly comment on negotiations with a third party? It seems that, rather than respect that the public may have an actual concern and that it should be addressed, he'd rather blame the Humane Society for whipping up some sort of nonsense public froth. It's an insult to the intelligence of Moose Javians. I'd suggest Mr. Noble let the Mayor and Council be the public face of the city rather than trying to win the battle of public opinion. And, really, Times-Herald, is this headline accurate? Are you confirming that misinformation is clouding this debate? How, exactly, do you prove that? As the primary news-carrier of the city, wouldn't you be complicit in misinformation clouding the debate? Or are you just using the City's speaking points as your headlines? Be it because of the City or because of the Humane Society, or (most likely) some sort of combination of the two, this situation has become totally untenable and people in the city (and beyond) are rightly concerned. Instead of trying to vilify one another (again, not the job of the city's most senior administrator), perhaps it's time to find an actual solution. Bring in a mediator, lock yourselves in a room until you figure it out. Just stop embarrassing the city.

  • deb vande
    December 19, 2013 - 06:31

    And which Rescues have they contacted thus far? Does anyone know? Justin, you need to seriously follow thru with the comments made to write a complete story. This fails to show anything but one side. Go out there and follow though on their Claims, then write the Article

  • sn
    December 18, 2013 - 23:50

    It was clearly stated in the beginning that after five days euthanasia would be used. What I am wondering is what about the cats? Have you made any provisions for the cats? And, I understand that the kennels here have said no to your using those facilities. Where do you plan on putting the strays? Why not just swallow your pride and restore the pound to the MJHS, which did a wonderful job by the way, and sit down with them and compromise.

    • jordan
      December 19, 2013 - 21:15

      Bylaw was 3 days until about a month ago. MJHS never followed through, who's to say a rescue shelter wouldn't take the animals?