Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Groucho Marx, Eat Your Heart Out

"I would not join any club that would have someone like me for a member." said Groucho Marx. In a situation that is essentially a reversal of this sentiment, the Ottawa Humane Society has refused memberships to three vocal critics - who have in turn gone whining to the CBC.

I've commented on these publicity hounds before, here and here. In a nutshell, they found a stray dog, took it to the Society where it failed temperament testing and was euthanized. They had apparently wanted to adopt the dog and were so angered by the euthanasia decision that they set up an anti-OHS campaign.

Local media loves this kind of story and doesn't let facts get too much in the way, so naturally there were lots of heart-string pulling stories, and the OHS was forced to initiate a review of the temperament testing policy. Not that that's necessarily a bad thing. However for two people who have never owned a dog in their lives to set themselves up as some kind of experts on aggressive behaviour, is a little rich. Although they have managed to get the media walking obediently on leash behind them...

The media repeatedly talks about dogs 'being poked with sticks while eating' - which is rubbish. The temperament test is designed to look for food aggression, by placing a simulated hand in a food bowl while the dog is eating. Nobody pokes the dogs with a stick. The Reform the OHS campaign is certainly a master of misinformation.

Having thus devoted their time to promoting damaging and false media stories running down the OHS, they then try to join the OHS, and they're acting surprised that they weren't successful. For me the question is why would they even want to join? They clearly don't like the OHS, but more importantly, the review of temperament testing and euthanasia policies that was their avowed goal is already happening. What other agenda did they hope to take with them into the organization?

Or is it possible that the underwhelming response to the Reform the OHS campaign meant that they needed another excuse to get back under the spotlight?

For the record, I have no connection whatsoever to the Ottawa Humane Society. I just love dogs, and I want to see responsible dog ownership. Sometimes the responsible thing to do isn't nice, warm, cuddly and fluffy; sometimes the responsible thing to do is to let dogs go. It's sad and very hard to do, but it's right.

I should end this post with another Marx quote: "Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read."