Common Sense Comes to Town!

Common sense is the most fairly distributed thing in the world, for each one thinks he is so well-endowed with it that even those who are hardest to satisfy in all other matters are not in the habit of desiring more of it than they already have. (Descartes)

Moving Beyond the Berger Blanc Scandal

Posted on | April 25, 2011 | No Comments

The Twittosphere, the Blogosphere and Facebook are harassing me lately with urgent warnings concerning a company called the Berger Blanc. I’ve stopped counting the petitions calling for a boycott of this organization and the pure and simple cancellation of its contract with the City of Montreal. But more than images of mistreated cats and dogs, it’s the image of an ostrich which springs to mind when I think about it… our collective consciousness sticking its head deep in the sand, refusing to admit that there is an equally important shared, collective responsibility.  

Lets summarize the facts: an episode of the newscast Enquête on the French CBC tv channel revealed that the Berger Blanc, mandated by the City of Montreal to manage stray animals, does not respect the terms and conditions set in the contract and uses unauthorized and cruel methods for euthanasia.  

Companies like the Berger Blanc are made necessary by the high levels of stray cats notably, as they amount to more than 400,000 in Montreal only. While there is no apology for the company’s dubious methods, we should also wonder about the reasons which cause so many homeless cats to wander about the metropolis.

 We won’t have to questions ourselves too long. Many owners simply do not care enough about their pets to make sure they find new living quarters should they move, develop allergies or simply get bored with them. Letting a cat, naturally autonomous and independent, run away is an anonymous and easy gesture. Yet it is a symptom of our deep indifference towards these animals. Mostly, it indicates that we still rely on the State (or its subcontractors) to manage their welfare or deal with them in any other fashion when we no longer want to be involved.

Is this indifference justified? Is it, morally speaking, a problem? It seems that many now feel guilty or ashamed about this. How many people who abandoned one of their pets in the past signed the petition requesting the Berger Blanc to cease its operations? Truly, the cruelty of the euthanasia performed by the company’s staff is totally unacceptable. But this cruelty has its root in our collective apathy. So I’ll say “Yes”, go and shut down the Berger Blanc – but only if we go through a public examination of conscience.

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