Friday, April 03, 2015

Planning for Dog Rescues -- Part One: Whose Job IS It?

Paddling the other day in Cadboro Bay, I heard a dog barking along the rocky side of the bay. Coming closer, I could see a large wet dog standing on a bit of rock at the base of the cliff below a house -- either he had swum there or slipped over the steep slope, fallen in, and scrambled up on the rock.
He was much too big and energetic a dog for me to offer him a ride in my little inflatable kayak, even though his barks communicated his interest in getting a human to come rescue him. Instead, I paddled along the shore to a construction site four houses down. There I waved over a young man with a chain saw.
We chatted for a minute about the barking dog, and the worker put away his chain saw and went to go knock on the door of the house above the stranded dog, to see if it was their animal.
The next day, when I went by there were big scuffs in the green scrubby plants on the cliff. It looked like somebody had gone to some effort to rescue the dog before the tide came in. Good!

The whole incident brought something to my attention: Whose Job IS It To Rescue Dogs?
On the water and shorelines, who do we call to rescue a dog? We certainly do NOT call 911 for local police, fire or ambulance. They rescue people. So who do we call? Is it the job of the Coast Guard, or local Marine Rescue? Could it be the job of the Pound? How about the SPCA?
There is no one answer. It's a darned good idea to find out ahead of time who you would call in your own area. In some cities, it is the duty of the Pound to rescue dogs; in others, the SPCA co-ordinates volunteers to rescue dogs. Some places have Search-And-Rescue programs which will rescue a dog. Start by calling the Pound, and be sure to dial the Non-Emergency number. Calls to the Pound are sometimes routed directly to the local police station.
Be prepared for nobody knowing the answer. You might have your call forwarded many times, or be sent on a wild goose chase, or in circles during your search. You might become part of a new committee in your community setting up a plan for animal emergencies.
Photo by Jeremy Cohn @JeremyGlobalTV
Often it's the local firemen who will come to a dog's rescue, as in this story from Brampton.
It's awfully tempting to try to rescue a dog in distress. But think carefully before trying to do so by yourself. Is your kayak big enough to hold the dog? What if the dog struggles? What if it scratches or bites you, just because it's in distress?

We know whose job it is to rescue marine animals such as a whale, seal or marine turtle -- that's the job of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. The DFO people have toll-free numbers to call in various regions across Canada. Check out their website page with hot links for reporting problems such as fuel spills or marine animals in distress.
We can also pause for a moment to review DFO regulations for whale-watching and for the safety of marine mammals and turtles. Check out their website, but it boils down to:
-Don't come any closer than 100 yards or metres to a whale.
-If a whale comes within 400 yards or metres, slow down and watch out for it!
-Don't get in the whale's path or follow it.
Bottom line is, we are the humans. We are the ones who can go many places and eat many things. We must make room for the whales to feed and travel where they need to be. New boat users must be helped by their friends and associates to understand that these DFO rules are for our safety as well as the safety of whales and other animals.

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