Take animal abuse seriously

I made the mistake of watching the Magnotta video. Police hadn’t confirmed that the video was real at that point. They had just released the suspect’s name, the video was a rumor, and I was curious, so I googled it. I found it right away on Wednesday afternoon. It’s awful stuff. I felt shitty after watching it, to say the least. It also made me mad.

And then all this other stuff came out about Magnotta. Most disturbingly, that he was the (alleged) asshole who was torturing and killing kittens a few years ago and posting the videos online. That made me very mad. I’ve blogged in the past about how much animal abuse infuriates me, especially this online bragging bullshit. I had written about the Kenny Glenn case, and it was fairly similar. Well, up until about 2 weeks ago it was similar, anyhow. With Magnotta, the online campaign to identify and locate him was pretty impressive, but clearly it wasn’t taken seriously enough by authorities. And we now know what that can (allegedly) lead to.

The thing is, it’s not like we didn’t know that it can lead to murder. This isn’t a surprise.

For many individuals, animal abuse escalates unless something or someone intervenes. It’s been documented in research and is apparent in many legal cases. Just this year, it was revealed that Tori Stafford’s killer (McClintic) had microwaved a puppy when she was a child. It starts there. And the internet is making it easier for these fucked up individuals to share, to inspire, to brag, and encourage others.

But it’s also making it easier to find them. And people are willing to volunteer their time to do so, as Magnotta’s abuse videos demonstrated.

This asshole killed a bunch of kittens – and judging by a bunch of photos of Magnotta with terrified-looking dogs – he probably killed a bunch of dogs too. And who knows what or who else he’s harmed. It’s time to take it seriously.

Law enforcement, policy analysts, teachers, parents, social workers, peers, random people watching videos on the internet – everyone needs to take animal abuse seriously.

They’re not “just animals”. This abusive behaviour is a serious red flag. Quit fucking around and use it as such.

Kinmount Shoe Tree saga continues…

The outcry over the Kinmount Shoe Tree removal has apparently made a few folks at the Kinmount Committee for Planning and Economic Development nervous. Or something. They recently asked the author of the website I had linked previously to remove her Shoe Tree info page on Kinmount.ca. Pretty lame!

You can read about it in her new blog at  http://kinmountshoetrees.blogspot.com

And if you’d like to share your opinion of the shoe tree removal with the man who decided to do it, by all means, fire an email in Ward 3 Councillor Dave Hodgson’s direction: dhodgson@city.kawarthalakes.on.ca

or Ric McGee, the mayor: rmcgee@city.kawarthalakes.on.ca

No More Shoe Trees

This has been a rough week for a lot of us, myself included. I’ve been out with a bad ear infection and on antibiotics, and Dear A has been picking up the slack around here. Bo (our new puppy) is teething like crazy and is unhappy I’ve been in bed and not around to play. I’ve been sad about Scarlet on top of everything else, stressed about missing work, and annoyed about several other things. This is one of them.

Last week, I got a tweet in my Twitter stream from The Minden Times, linking to this article. I got mad, then pouted for a bit, and then moved on because everything else was bothering me (see above). Now that things have kind of calmed down,  I’ve got a few things to say about this.

This is probably one of those ideas that look OK on paper. It appeared rational, an act in response to “safety” and something that supposedly “reflected badly on the community”. I haven’t heard from many people who share this opinion, that of Ward 3 Councillor David Hodgson, but now we can all rest assured that we are free from the menace that was the Kinmount Shoe Tree(s). They have all been cut down and replaced with a NO LITTERING sign.

I wrote a blog about the region’s shoe trees last summer. It was a positive blog. As a former resident of Minden, I’d always been a fan of these shoe trees. They were a surprising and mysterious thing to come across while driving along a wooded highway. I loved them as a kid and continued to love them into adulthood. They reminded me that there were people out there who liked the same slightly odd stuff that I did, who had come together to create these installations of art, often without really understanding the history or reason why. And yes, I considered the trees pieces of art.

A few weeks ago, I received a comment on that original post, and I’ll reproduce it here. It’s from the grandson of the man who started this movement:

Hello,

Yes it was Bill Boland and Betty Boland that started the “Shoe Tree” in Kinmount. – They moved there in the 70′s after they sold there business in Wallaceburg ont. My grandfather died 26 years ago of colon cancer.

He would of appericated the support from everyone – He was very upset when the lady burnt the tree down…

Thanks.
Braydon Boland
grandson of bill boland

I was excited to get the comment, but didn’t really follow up, because, honestly, I’m kind of lame like that. I didn’t realize that this thank-you for support was indicative of the shit going down with the City of Kawartha Lakes. I try to keep up with local politics in my hometown, but it’s difficult from a distance. It hurts now to realize that perhaps I could have voiced some support, despite what appears to be David Hodgson’s overt power-tripping to have the shoe trees destroyed.

No one asked me if I wanted to remove these trees, and apparently a lot of other people didn’t get to have their say either. No polls, no votes, no discussion – just small town politics.  I don’t even know if there was a warning.

I don’t really understand what these supposed issues were with the shoe trees. I’ve driven past them numerous times and never had trouble with people parked to take a look or to take photos. It’s not like those roads are ridiculously busy. Throw a few “caution” or “pedestrian” signs up along the highway. The only potential issue I could see is that the shoes often got wrapped around the nearby power lines, not necessarily on purpose, but by people trying to throw shoes into the tree branches. That could have been a hazard, but isn’t that Ontario Hydro’s beef? No mention of them.

It seems that the main motivation, at least from articles I’ve read, has been the “eyesore” factor. Seriously? Remove a piece of living art & history because it’s an “eyesore”? You can’t just destroy things you personally find ugly or disagreeable. That’s not a valid reason in the slightest. That’s just small-town bullshit.

Quite frankly, those shoe trees were something that put our towns on the map. As lame as it may sound, it was true. Kinmount, Minden, Haliburton – they’re beautiful little towns, but they’re not exactly the number one destination for a lot of folks. I spent 19 years of my life there, so I’m allowed to say it. People drive through these towns or pass by on the way to somewhere else, and if anything makes people stop or even remember the town, isn’t that something to hold on to?

Not according to some, I guess. And I disagree.

I hope everyone ignores David Hodgson’s NO LITTERING sign and builds more of these shoe trees. Get your neighbours together, collect some old shoes, find a suitable tree, and go to work.

And if you’ve got a good roadside location, maybe even make a shoe tree on your OWN property, so Hodgson & Company will have to keep their paws off it.

Please follow Lynne Kilby’s blog about the Kinmount Shoe Trees, as it is much more up-to-date and closer to the source than I am! She’s now operating a blog at blogspot.com, as Kinmount.ca made her remove her infosite there!

École Polytechnique Massacre

On December 6th, 1989, a man entered the École Polytechnique in Montreal and murdered 14 innocent women.

Geneviève Bergeron (born 1968), civil engineering student

Hélène Colgan (born 1966), mechanical engineering student

Nathalie Croteau (born 1966), mechanical engineering student

Barbara Daigneault (born 1967), mechanical engineering student

Anne-Marie Edward (born 1968), chemical engineering student

Maud Haviernick (born 1960), materials engineering student

Maryse Laganière (born 1964), budget clerk

Maryse Leclair (born 1966), materials engineering student

Anne-Marie Lemay (born 1967), mechanical engineering student

Sonia Pelletier (born 1961), mechanical engineering student

Michèle Richard (born 1968), materials engineering student

Annie St-Arneault (born 1966), mechanical engineering student

Annie Turcotte (born 1969), materials engineering student

Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz (born 1958), nursing student

He murdered them because they were women.

An anniversary

I can’t believe it, but it’s been a year since I saw that man get hit by a car at my bus stop.

Remember that? If not, I’ll wait and let you read about it. I wrote that blog a few hours after it happened.

I didn’t know then how much it would affect me.

I can only begin to imagine now how people deal with witnessing serious trauma to those they know and love. I didn’t know the man who was hit, but I still think about him a lot. In my mind’s eye, I still see him across the road through the morning rain, just as the bus was arriving. I still hear the awful thump of him hitting the car, and then the punch of his head hitting the back window of the bus. I still remember rushing out of the bus and seeing his body lying on the ground with his head gashed open, bleeding on the pavement. I remember him just lying there, while people tried to help. I remember directing traffic in the rain with my umbrella. I remember making the statements to the police and OCTranspo. I remember finally breaking down and crying, hours after it happened.  I can still see the spray paint they used to mark where the vehicles had stopped.  I remember having to go to the same bus stop and wait for the bus at the same time of day,  almost every day,  for the next three months.

What’s happened since?

I don’t know how the man ended up, although I’m sure he survived the incident. I don’t even know his name.

I don’t know if the driver of the car was charged with anything. The bus driver switched routes shortly after, and I haven’t seen him since.

In the spring, I got a phone call from an insurance company. They were representing the woman who had hit the man. I was asked if I would talk about the incident. I gave a taped statement, or more like a taped interview, since it lasted about an hour. We went step by step. I told them all I could remember. They asked questions to clarify points and I answered. It was pretty straight forward. The company representative chose his words very carefully, but essentially said that certain parties were seeking compensation. Well, duh.

Late this summer, I got a letter from the Ottawa Police, asking if I would consent to my statement being released to interested parties. I signed the letter, consenting, and sent it off.

And that’s where I am now. That’s the extent of my involvement. I don’t stay awake thinking about it at night, but it comes up whenever I hear of a pedestrian being hit. And when we drive down Fisher Avenue. And when I see someone get hit by a car in movies or on TV. And when I’m rushing to cross the street to catch a bus.

I don’t know if I’ll ever forget it.

OSPCA set to kill 350 animals

More than 350 animals to be euthanized by Newmarket  OSPCA

You have no idea how angry and sad this makes me.

I’ve had a link to the OSPCA at the bottom of my blog for a long time now, mostly because I’ve supported this organization in most of its decisions and appreciate the help they give to animals. I bought my Christmas cards from the OSPCA this year. Obviously I’m more supportive of the local Ottawa Humane Society, but these other organizations are on my radar too. I’ve personally adopted two cats from shelters, my family has adopted several, and they have all brought tons of love and happiness into my life. I don’t donate to many charities, but I am a member of the Ottawa Humane Society’s PAWs monthly donation program. I get flack for donating to animals before I donate to humans, but I don’t care.

It breaks my heart to hear that the employees of the Newmarket OSPCA were not responsible enough to deal with a ringworm outbreak before it became this serious. Further, I can’t believe that the only option would be to euthanize these animals.

It is a completely curable fungal infection.

The steps that need to be taken to cure the disease might not be as easy as just KILLING the animals, but for fucks sakes – set an example for the general public and show that these animals are worth it.

That’s what’s bothering me the most about this.  An organization that promotes animal welfare as their main objective is taking the easy way out and killing hundreds of animals.

Is it the time? I’m sure there are people out there who would volunteer their time to help out with this crisis.

Is it the money? I for one would gladly donate money to help the situation. I don’t have much time, but I have money.

I just heard about this story this morning. I haven’t heard anything about the Newmarket OSPCA asking for help with this situation. According to their website, they issued a news release yesterday about the outbreak, and today they’re saying that they’re euthanizing all the animals as a response. Seriously? I mean, I get that shit happens. They’ve admitted this outbreak was due to human error. However, there has to be a step in between “Oh shit, we got a ringworm problem” and “OK, let’s just kill them all.”

It’s completely unacceptable.

To the OSPCA, especially CEO Ms. Kate MacDonald –  Show the public that these animals are worth it. Do NOT euthanize these animals.

burning down the house

There was an apartment fire this morning in Ottawa, in the Glebe, near Bank & Fifth Ave. I woke up and saw smoke on the horizon, and turned on my iPhone’s police scanner to see what was going on. I love listening to my scanner.

burn

Anyhow, that’s what it looked like from over in the East End. I think I took that a bit after 8:30 AM? I can’t remember. Lots of smoke. Glad no one was seriously injured. I’d love to live in one of those pretty historic buildings, but every year it seems like another one goes up in flames.

RIP Kate McGarrigle

I was saddened to hear that Kate McGarrigle had passed away. I knew she had been diagnosed with cancer a few years ago, but honestly, hadn’t been paying attention and didn’t know she was so ill. I’ve seen her a few times, in combination with her son, Rufus Wainwright, and she’s always been a great performer, and a very funny woman. I took this video last summer, at the 2008 Ottawa Folk Festival, when she performed with Rufus. She comes in at the second song, at about the 4:30 mark (if you want to skip over Rufus’ version of Hallelujah.) They sang Somewhere Over the Rainbow together.