DAN CEARNS The Standard
NORTH DURHAM: Like her last name would lead you to believe, Jessica Pett, an Uxbridge-Scugog animal control officer, is an animal lover.
“I've always loved animals. Originally, I thought about going into the veterinary profession, but I switched my focus once I got a summer student job here at [the Uxbridge-Scugog Animal Control Centre], and I saw what it was like. I was more interested in this line of work, so I decided to focus on animal control.”
She explained to The Standard what her job involves on a day to day basis.
“To start, we always come in and we take care of the animals. Usually we have more cats than dogs. Sometimes we will have some small domestic animals like rabbits, we've even had chinchillas before. So we'll take care of them, we'll clean all of their cages, we'll feed them, medicate any of the animals that need medication. That's what we start with, and once that's all done, it really depends on the calls we get each day. It can vary. We will go out for sick or injured wildlife, so if we get a call about that, we'll go and take care of them. We also deal with complaints under the animal control bylaws,” Ms. Pett said.
She elaborated on the types of complaints they receive and respond to.
“Things like excessive barking, dogs running at large, we'll deal with aggressive animals as well. Anything under the animal control bylaw is what we deal with here. There's a few provincial acts that we deal with as well. The Dog Owners' Liability Act is one of them.”
If the Uxbridge-Scugog Animal Control Centre receives a complaint about an aggressive dog, there is a certain procedure they follow.
“If we get a complaint about an aggressive dog acting [out] towards a person, we go out and we like to talk to the dog owner beforehand, just explain what the complaint was and let them know how to remedy any violations that have been occurring. We do like to get both sides of the story” Ms. Pett said. “And then we do have options to put things like orders to restrain on dogs, and that just puts further restrictions on a dog owner. Public safety is our main concern, so we don't want to take dog aggression lightly, but we don't want to accuse anyone either.”
She also explained how they deal with injured animal calls.
“It really depends on what the call is like. The first thing we do when we get a call about a sick or injured animal is we try to get as much information from the caller as possible, and then we'll go out and assess the situation. If we need to, we can take the animal to the vet, we can also bring them to the shelter. It just depends on the call and how severe it is.”
Ms. Pett noted, the Uxbridge-Scugog Animal Control Centre works closely with the veterinary clinics in the two Townships.
“They'll do the veterinary work for any of the animals that get put up for adoption. When we get an animal in the shelter, we have to keep them for at least five business days before they can go up for adoption, just in case they are someone's animal, that they're missing. We want to make sure we can get lost pets home before we put them up for adoption, but if they are not claimed we will get them into the vet [clinic] and get their vaccinations done. We'll also get them spayed or neutered if they are old enough, and then we de-worm them, and we microchip them here. So that all gets done before they get put up for adoption.”
If there is a lull during the day, Ms. Pett said she spends that time giving the animals at the shelter some attention.
“We give them lots of attention, lots of socialization. Sometimes animals can be here for months at a time before they are adopted, so it's really important to keep them stimulated,” she said.
Ms. Pett said it can be tough sometimes to see an adopted animal leave the shelter after she has spent a lot of time with it, but added she knows “that they are going to a good home, so that makes it worth it.”
To be an animal control officer, you need to be in good shape Ms. Pett said. “You are dealing with large dogs at times. Sometimes we get calls about livestock, so you do need to be in good physical shape,” she said. “Sometimes you will have to lift dogs if they are hit by a car,” she added.
Liking animals is important as well. “You definitely need to like animals to be in this line of work. You deal with them every day, so if you didn't like animals, I don't think you would last very long in this type of profession.”
Ms. Pett also stressed the importance of dog owners licensing their pet. “A lot of times people aren't aware that all dogs in the municipality do need to be licensed, and the licenses do help the dogs get home if they ever get lost.”
With progress continuing on the New Animal Shelter for Uxbridge-Scugog, Ms. Pett said she is hopeful they will be able to be in the new building, located at 5500 Lakeridge Rd., by spring 2019.
“We are very excited about that,” she said.
After being off on vacation for a week, I have returned to The Standard’s office revitalized.
After a couple years of going to the same location, my family and I decided to do something different this year. As avid readers of this column will know, in the past my family and I have spent a week of vacation at Blue Mountain Resort in Collingwood. However, this year I spent a couple weeks of vacation in two different spots.
For starters, in July we spent a couple days in Midland. The time over there contained many different and interesting experiences, including just touring around and seeing the colourful and creative murals on the sides of buildings in the area, learning more about the history of the area at the Huronia Museum, and touring the serene Wye Marsh and even helping to row a canoe for the first time there. It was fascinating to me to see how Midland has embraced arts and indigenous people’s culture.
Moving on to my second week of vacation, as I wrote above I was off last week. Most notably during that time, my family and I spent a day visiting Niagara Falls. Some of our fun while there included finding our way through a challenging maze attraction, touring through a wax museum featuring statues of movie stars, checking out the interesting, and somewhat disorienting, Upside Down House, and, of course, seeing the falls.
I think what I enjoyed most about these two weeks of vacation was simply being able to tour around, and experience the unique cultures of the areas, at my own pace, not having anything specifically scheduled to do. As a reporter, I am constantly scheduling times to interview people or specific times to take a photo, so being away gave me the chance to escape that structure for a little bit and just do whatever I would like to do, during the warm, sunny days I was on vacation.
Personally, I think all people should allow themselves some time every year to “stop and smell the roses” as the old saying goes.
However, that being said, I am happy to be back reporting on the great communities in The Standard’s coverage area.
Premier Doug Ford surprised many recently when he announced he would be introducing a bill to cut the size of Toronto council and to cancel Regional Chair elections in multiple areas, including Peel, York, Niagara, and Muskoka. I think these decisions are ill-advised and rash.
Let’s start with the decision to cut Toronto council. For those who don’t know what the decision is on, it is cutting the number of Toronto City councillors down from 47 to 25. First off, I think the timing is wrong for this decision. As many know, there is a municipal election upcoming in October, a bit over two months away, which does not leave municipal staff much time to implement the ward changes.
As well, having covered council meetings in North Durham for a few years now, I know whenever decisions are made on changes to the ward boundaries, there is usually a process where a consultant researches the area, makes recommendations to council, there is at least one public input session held, and then council ultimately makes a decision.
Multiple news sources have reported Toronto council did go through a lengthy process before choosing the new ward boundaries that were going to be implemented for this municipal election, until this decision by the province changed them. Unlike the Toronto council’s decision, the PC government’s decision was announced quickly and did not include any public input.
This decision has been opposed by many politicians, and puts the Ontario government at odds with the Federal government, as Liberal MP Adam Vaughan recently told CTV News, the Federal Liberals will do whatever they can to “make sure the city of Toronto is protected” in the future, and he added they will work around Queen’s Park if necessary.
So, let’s move on to the decision regarding the cancelling of Regional Chair elections. For a party that’s campaign slogan was “For the People”, this decision takes any say away from voters in these four areas. The Regional Chair position will still exist, but the chairperson will be appointed rather than elected. This decision is undemocratic, no longer allowing the people in Peel, York, Niagara, and Muskoka Regions not running in the election for a Regional council seat a chance to vote on who they want to lead their region, and should be offensive to those registered voters who the government doesn’t seem to trust to elect a Regional Chair.
Just as a sidenote to those readers who live in Durham, there will still be an election for the Regional Chair in Durham Region.
I think the Ontario PC government should hold off on pushing through these decisions.
Is a reporter for The Standard Newspaper, so if you see him, feel free to say hello. You can follow Dan on Twitter at @dancearnsy