Our recent story about Manitoba’s Animal Care Act, which noted transporting unrestrained dogs in the back of pickups gives law enforcement officials cause to stop a vehicle and ticket the operator, has prompted a few calls and letters from readers.
The complaints fall under three categories:
Use of the word “hillbilly” by a provincial government official in reference to people who flout the regulations and transport their dogs in this manner;
The sentiment that government has no business telling farmers how to look after animals;
Ranchers should be allowed to transport their dogs in the back of their pickups so they don’t get muddy pawprints in the cab. Some owners say they can’t tie them into the back because they might try to jump out and choke.
Since 1998, Section 5 of Manitoba’s Animal Care Act specifically prohibits the transportation of a companion animal in the open back of a pickup truck “in a manner or in circumstances where the animal is exposed to a high risk of injury, and on a highway… as defined in the Highway Traffic Act except with a proper restraining device or in a closed cage.”
Under the Highway Traffic Act, a “highway means any place or way, including any structure forming part thereof, which or any part of which the public is ordinarily entitled or permitted to use for the passage of vehicles.”
It’s worth noting that although these regulations mention pickups, which farmers tend to drive, they are not focused on farmers. There are people from all walks of life who drive pickups, presumably some of whom would also be affected by these rules.
We suspect this is more likely to become a problem if the vehicle is travelling at highway speeds on a major thoroughfare than if it is going from the home place to the pasture, but the fact remains, choosing to ignore the regulation at any speed could result in a ticket.
We don’t doubt that this intrudes on some people’s modus operandi, be they ranchers, hunters or folks on their way to the family cottage. But we wonder how these inconveniences compare against the safety issue.
The Manitoba Public Insurance Corporation doesn’t keep track of the numbers, but officials confirm based on interviews with tow truck operators that there have been accidents in which unrestrained pets are thrown, resulting in death or injury to themselves and others.
“Every year in Manitoba, pets and their owners are injured because the animal was not properly restrained in a vehicle,” says Clif Eden, manager of road safety with Manitoba Public Insurance in a release.
“Unrestrained pets can be a major distraction to drivers and can cause vehicle collisions,” says Eden. “In a crash, pets become flying objects that can cause serious injury to themselves and others. A 50-pound pet, when travelling at speeds of 50 km/h, can cause serious injury to itself and humans.”
Dogs riding in the backs of pickup trucks are particularly at risk for injury, the MPI release says. It advises owners to transport the dog in a secured pet carrier in the back of the truck bed.
The Animal Care Act does not prohibit people from carrying dogs in the back of a pickup, only that for the animal’s safety and the safety of others, the animals must be transported in a kennel or otherwise restrained.
You would think ranchers who have invested time, effort and money into good working dogs would want to protect them from injury anyway. A kennel carrier for the truck would seem a wise investment: it will keep the cab clean, the dogs safe and the lawmen off your tailgate. And while you’re at it, buckle up.
“Mums” The Word In CWB Election
This year’s Canadian Wheat Board elections in the odd-numbered districts have been quiet – a little too quiet for some.
Much has been written lately about the decision by five candidates to steer clear of the single desk versus open market issue – a decision that looks suspiciously strategic, given that these individuals have in the past been strong advocates for dual marketing.
There are two possible explanations. Maybe these candidates have had an epiphany and discovered that a dual market is essentially an open market. And if there’s an open market, it’s going to be pretty hard having a wheat board. Just ask Australia.
The other possibility is they are hoping to quietly tip the balance of power on the board of directors, which currently sits with eight of the farmer-elected directors supporting the single desk. Such a change could set the board up to work co-operatively with the federal government towards removing the single desk. Under the present government, while the board is banned by cabinet order from advertising in support of the single desk, you can bet it wouldn’t be restricted from a campaign to end it.
It will be up to farmers voting in these elections to decide whether these candidates represent their interests. [email protected]