Community stands tall for furry friends

Justin Crann
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Protest draws dozens to Moose Jaw City Hall

"We want what's best for Moose Jaw's pets!"

A woman stood with a sign above her head in frigid temperatures repeating her demand. Her shouts were echoed by other Moose Javians holding signs of their own or their dogs' leashes. Passing motorists honked their horns in approval.

This was the scene outside Moose Jaw City Hall on Friday as citizens who initially gathered on the Facebook group Stop City of Moose Jaw from Impounding Animals showed up by the dozen to protest the termination of the Moose Jaw Humane Society contract for pound-keeping services. 

All told and at its peak, at least 25 people and four dogs were present.

"You can see the support all around the community and on our Facebook page, of course," declared Shawna Bonnett, one of the protest's organizers. "There has been awesome support and everybody is very concerned about the animals. We want to reinforce that we're not trying to point fingers, but we believe people in this city truly love their animals, and we want to make sure they're well cared for."

The group has two primary goals, Bonnett said: either to advocate for the resolution of the issues between the MJHS and the city, or to release the details surrounding its own pound-keeping plans.

"It's really important to us. We want clarity," she said. "We want answers from the city. … The people who work at the MJHS work for pretty minimal wages and we know they really love what they do … We're hoping the city goes back to them, because we really feel they're the best equipped to deal with this job."

The protest wasn't the only physical outcome of the Facebook group. Members have also been circulating a hard copy of a petition to submit to the city showing the immense support they believe the organization has in the Friendly City.

That petition was being passed around to protesters at the rally.

Among the people who attended, there was nothing but support for the cause.

"The MJHS needs a new facility and more attention. They need a lot out there," said Penny Peterson. "They're caring, good people. They know how to handle animals. I've taken some animals out there and they've been very good to them. … We need people like that."

Peterson said she has lived in Moose Jaw for 35 years and has never seen the community rally behind an organization as strongly as it has the MJHS.

For Holly Moroschan, it was also about promoting animal rights.

"I think every animal is a being and nobody should be destroyed when they're perfectly healthy," she said. "It's absolutely ridiculous that there's the potential for healthy animals to die after five days, just because of an argument about money. It's unfathomable."

The protest was just another sign of the city's devotion to animal welfare, Bonnett added, and she intended to help maintain the peace to keep the message strong and focused.

"Everybody needs to remain kind, caring and respectful," she said. "We all live in this community, and we all care about what's best for the animals."

You can follow Justin Crann on Twitter or like him on Facebook.

Organizations: Moose Jaw Humane Society, Moose Jaw City

Geographic location: Moose Jaw, Stop, Friendly

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