Here is one of these reminders that bugs the hell out of me
because apparently it is still needed from time to time, but here goes —
“livestock owners, feed your damn animals!”
And here is a second reminder, which is just as frustrating
because it is still needed sometimes, but here goes — “farmers seeing cases of
suspected livestock neglect in their community, do the next right thing and
call someone who can help correct the abuse — or at least check it out.” (Alberta’s ALERT line logo at right)
I had an email New Year’s Eve from a retired farmer, who in
turn had been talking to another producer and the other producer was disgusted
with a neighbor who apparently had 100 head of Angus cows that had been on the
same pasture since September “no hay, no bedding, and he cuts a hole in the ice
once a day so they can drink.” That’s it. That, apparently, was this person’s
winter feeding program. Unfortunately these two producers who were discussing
this perceived case of animal abuse, had also thrown up their hands in
hopelessness about reporting the situation — “what’s the point, no one does
anything about it anyway” I heard. And that thinking isn’t right either.
Anytime I hear or read about animal neglect cases my first
thought is “what in hell is wrong with people?” There is no excuse. In the best
case perhaps the cattle are owned by an elderly or disabled farmer who doesn’t
have the ability to feed them, and in the worse case they may be owned by some
Whatever the reason, situations like this need to be checked
out and dealt with. There are no good excuses in any aspect of this issue.
People need to properly care for their livestock, and people suspecting there
may be a problem, have at least a moral obligation to report it. This needs to
be addressed, first and foremost, for the sake of the animal, and also for the
sake of the livestock industry.
And there is all kinds of help that is just one phone call
away. If you as a producer, for whatever reason, can’t manage things call and
ask for help, it is available, and there’s no shame in that. And if you as the self
described “concerned neighbor” see something that legitimately alarms you about
proper animal care, call and report it. Every province has an anonymous,
confidential reporting system. No one, other than the person answering the
phone, will know who called and you have done your part.
Personally, I don’t know who effective farm animal care and
SPCA hotlines are in dealing livestock neglect and abuse cases. The information
I receive is that all calls of concern are investigated. Maybe they lead to a
remedy and maybe not. But as the often said on the old Law and Order TV series,
“the justice system isn’t perfect, but it is only one we have.” Overall I
believe there are a lot of well-intentioned people who do their best, in what
probably are difficult situations.
It is bad enough that someone has such poor management that
animals suffer, but at the same time there is that old saying, that anyone who
sees an injustice but does nothing about it, is equally guilty.
Here’s where you call:
In British Columbia — call the BC Farm Animal Care Line at
In Alberta — call the Alberta Farm Animal Care ALERT line at
In Saskatchewan — For producers recognizing they need
help call the Farm Stress Line at 1 800 667 4442; to report concerns call the
Saskatchewan SPCA 1-877-382-7722; and for a wide range of information on proper
livestock care, the Farm Animal Care Saskatchewan office at (306) 249-3227.
In Manitoba – call the Manitoba Agriculture Animal Care Line
at (204) 945-8000 or toll free 1-888 945 8001.
Lee Hart is editor of Cattleman’s Corner based in
Calgary. Contact him at 403-592-1964 or by email at [email protected]