Nfld. & Labrador

'Heartbreaking' animal stories can lead to change: SPCA

A story about a dog taken through an automatic car wash in Labrador grabbed national attention this week, and it wasn't the only disturbing story about animals.

'Huge amount of really, really good things happening' too, says SPCA chairperson

SPCA chairperson Simone Brown says if you see or suspect animal abuse or neglect, the most important thing to do is report it. (CBC)

The story this week about a dog being driven through an automatic car wash in the back of a pickup in Labrador grabbed national attention. And it wasn't the only animal abuse story from this province to make the news. 

"That one is brand new to me," said St. John's SPCA chairperson Simone Browne, of the car wash incident in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

"But we do get brand new stories all the time … abuse, neglect … the reality is these kinds of things are happening around us all the time." 

"A lot of times people just don't know any better, are not thinking, are just missing something other people might think is common sense," Browne told CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show. 

"But the reality is in the age of social media we're hearing about these horrific and heartbreaking things where we never would have heard of them before."

More awareness, more improvement  

"That plays a very big role. Things that used to be looked away from, used to happen in the dark, are now being brought to our attention and I'm glad that in this age people are showing their outrage, their disappointment, their concern, because it causes changes."

The important thing I think when we hear these stories is to definitely feel outraged, but put that outrage into something, and remember if you see something report it, that's the message.- Simone Browne

Browne said updated legislation and more people willing to report suspected abuse and neglect are contributing to gradual change in attitudes in this province.

"So we have improved laws, we have more people who are out enforcing these laws now … there are people who are stepping up to the plate and really causing a lot of people to say, 'you're right, this has to stop and I will speak up.'"

'If you see something, report it' 

"The important thing I think when we hear these stories is to definitely feel outraged, but put that outrage into something, and remember if you see something report it. That's the message," said Browne.

The driver of a pickup that went through a car wash in Happy Valley-Goose Bay with a dog exposed in the back was charged after the business owner reported the incident to police. (CBC)

"These stories are taking us aback this week, but the reality is we have a huge network of volunteers, we have increasing numbers of adopters, there are countless kids who show up at shelters who donate their birthday money, so you know there's a huge amount of really, really good things happening."

Community issue, community effort 

Browne said making things better for both people and animals is the role of the entire community, and there are many things people can do — both big and small — to make a difference. 

Rescuers airlifted three teams of sled dogs out of Mud Lake, Labrador, on Wednesday due to flooding. Other pets were helicoptered to safety with their owners. (Big Land B&B/Twitter)

"Volunteer. You can drop by a shelter, give an hour of your time, give $10 of your money, put your back into the cause. We're always looking for resources, both people and cash, to continue making a difference year-round," she said.

"So I encourage people to keep caring. If you see something you're not sure is right, if you think an animal is being harmed call Crime Stoppers. You can be anonymous if that's a concern for you. Call your municipality, call the RNC, call the RCMP. Those people can put something into action, correct a situation and potentially save an animal."

With files from the St. John's Morning Show