Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Toronto-Based Zoocheck Helps Change The Way People Think

Toronto-based Zoocheck helps change the way people think

Giving a voice to animals. Zoocheck ensures all animals in captivity are being treated well. Stock Photo
There are countless rescue organizations that invest in the welfare of our companion animals, the most visible of the animals that share our every day lives. However, shining a light on other wildlife - whether they inhabit local areas, reside in zoos or other parts of the world - can sometimes be more challenging.
Zoocheck Canada is a charity organization based in Toronto that focuses solely on the promotion and protection of these animals and since 1984 has been their voice, creating change in how our wildlife, captive and otherwise, are treated in our country.

Rob Laidlaw, founder and executive director of the organization, said he was inspired to launch Zoocheck after working with other groups and not being satisfied with the results. Often in the animal field, it's difficult, or a long time coming, to see whether you've had an effect. "I was looking for an issue where I thought at the end of the year I could say 'I achieved this'," he said. He found that issue after visiting a zoo in Wasaga Beach where a range of native and exotic wildlife was kept in substandard conditions. "I decided this was an issue you could focus on, this was an issue that could be dealt with," he said. After finding out there were no laws in Ontario governing these types of operations, Laidlaw decided if there would be any change, he'd have to be the one to make them happen, and he's been doing that for the last 25 years.

You probably never heard of Zoocheck Canada and Laidlaw said this is because rather than fundraising, they focus on changing bylaws and legislation and activism, a part of the equation of change that a lot of people miss. "Sure, it's hard work. Sure, it can be aggravating and frustrating. It can cost money, but ultimately if you think something is wrong and nobody else is doing something about it, I think you have to make a decision to be that person," he said. While zoo issues have been the core of their work, Zoocheck Canada is currently working on several wildlife campaigns including a cormorant campaign. Cormorants are a fish-eating bird that has faced persecution in Ontario in recent years. "They used to be very populace in North America, but because of pesticide use and human persecution they were almost completely annihilated," he said...

For more of this article, visit Inside Toronto

Tomorrow Could Be A Historic Day For Animal Welfare Throughout Ontario

On Thursday November 18, the provincial government will be debating and voting on a private member's resolution, introduced by MPP Frank Klees, which calls for provincial oversight of The Ontario Society For The Prevention Of Cruelty To Animals (OSPCA). Klees first tabled the motion back in May, after public criticism toward the OSPCA exploded in light of the organization's plan to euthanize roughly 350 animals at its Newmarket shelter as a result of a ringworm outbreak. According to Klees, “This was a clear example of inappropriate action and lack of oversight on the part of the government over the OSPCA.” Since May, over 70 petitions supporting Klees' resolution have been read before the legislature by MPPs across the province. Tomorrow, the issue put forth by Klees will be addressed :

"That, in the opinion of this House, the Ontario Legislature should call on the Government of Ontario to review the powers and authority granted to the OSPCA under the OSPCA Act and to make the necessary legislative changes to bring those powers under the authority of the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services to ensure that there is a clearly defined and effective provincial oversight of all animal shelter services in the province, and to separate the inspection and enforcement powers of the OSPCA from its functions as a charity providing animal shelter services."

For more information on this issue, visit MPP Klees' official website.

As always, post your thoughts below. Are you in favour of the motion put forth by MPP Klees, or do you feel that the government should leave the OSPCA to manage its own affairs?