Dear Barb—For the Love of Dog

Dear Barb:

Hi, I enjoy reading your columns and find some issues really hit home, so I thought I would write.  My husband and our two boys just moved into a new neighbourhood.  When we viewed the house we noticed there was a dog in the yard next door and since we all like dogs, we didn’t see it being an issue.  However, after two months of living here the dog is definitely an issue and not for the usual reasons.  The dog doesn’t bark all day, or cause any noise problems, but rather is very quiet and seems unhappy.  The family rarely pays attention to the dog; sometimes it doesn’t even have water.  They leave it outside in all kinds of weather and it has no shelter.  If it’s raining it goes under the porch.  I can’t imagine what happens to the poor dog during the winter.  I was speaking to the neighbor on the other side and he doesn’t seem to want to get involved.  At times when it was quite warm out and the dog had no water, we filled up his water bowl.  I don’t want to have problems with my neighbors, but I am quite upset about the situation and so are my husband and boys.  I don’t know whether I should talk to the owners, or call the humane society and report them.  I can’t just leave the poor dog in that situation.  It is obvious it is not happy or safe.  Can you suggest something that I can do that will not lead to animosity between us and our neighbors?   Kim.

Hi Kim:

Animal cruelty and neglect is a very important issue that must not be ignored.  Leaving a dog outside unattended for long periods of time is not okay.  There are many hazards a dog could be exposed to such as weather conditions, either heat or cold, also it could be attacked by another animal and have no place to go for protection among other things.  Aside from these threats dogs are social animals and could become lonely or bored if left alone for long periods of time, which could result in destructive or aggressive behaviour.  You obviously are aware of these factors and are looking for a way to help this poor dog, without becoming enemies with your neighbor.

Sections 444 to 447 of Canada’s Criminal Code constitute Canada’s primary federal animal protection legislation.  The Code prohibits causing “unnecessary pain, suffering or injury to an animal or bird” and “causing damage or injury by wilful neglect”.

It is probably not a good idea to confront your neighbors.  Animal abuse or neglect can be reported to your local SPCA or Humane Society and if you request, your identity can be kept anonymous and your neighbours will not know who reported them.  More people need to come forward and report animal abuse, as someone needs to speak for those without a voice.

Email your questions to Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality; your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.
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