When the press release from the BC SPCA came into my in box last week, detailing the abuse of a five-year-old lab-mix dog by the name of Rocko, my heart just sank.
The photo of the beautiful dog with a cone around its head and its big eyes looking up at me was just so sad.
Rocko was surrendered to our Sunshine Coast shelter on July 3 after the SPCA investigated a tip that the dog was in poor health and seemed to be in pain.
An alert member of the public saw the poor animal limping along the road. When SPCA volunteers received him at their kennel on Solar Road in Wilson Creek, more than half his fur was gone because of skin irritation, and he was suffering from allergies and fleas, which caused nasty wounds and scabs. And to make matters worse, Rocko would need an expensive surgery to be able to walk without pain. The bill was mounting - to more than $6,000 - and the SPCA turned to the public for help.
I'm pleased to report that as of Tuesday morning this week, more than $8,000 had poured in, thanks to the generosity of Coast citizens. Rocko will get the surgery he needs and be nursed fully back to health. And several families have come forward who are interested in adopting him and providing him with the loving and stable home he needs.
So there is a happy ending to this part of the tale, but it isn't the end of the story. To me this incident only highlights the need for tougher animal laws in our society.
I'm a dog lover and would love to own a dog one day. I'm a renter here on the Coast and my home does not allow pets, so I will have to wait a little longer for the day I can have a dog of my own. Growing up as a kid we always had pets and my sister and her husband are the proud owners of a Boston terrier by the name of Bentley. Uncle Ian certainly loves the B-Man! He's a great dog and has become a huge part of our extended family, so every time I hear of cases like Rocko my blood boils. How could anyone treat an animal like this? No one would want to be treated like this, so why take it out on a poor, defenceless animal?
The SPCA is actively investigating this case of animal cruelty and if they acquire enough evidence then hopefully they can lay charges and those responsible for inflicting the pain and suffering Rocko has experienced will be punished.
According to our online poll last week (asking "Is animal abuse taken seriously enough by our society?") 58 per cent of respondents said no, which leads me to a conclusion that there are many others who feel the same way I do - that animal abuse must stop and more accountability has to be put in place for pet owners.
I challenge our local governments here on the Coast to come together and bring some ideas to the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) convention in September. Be a leader and get the attention of other municipalities and come together to lobby the provincial government to strengthen animal abuse laws.
Sadly, there are going to be more Rockos out there until we all take a stand and draw the line.
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