Dog-theft allegations against Janet Olson and others divide opponents and supporters outside Surrey courthouse.

Dog-theft allegations against Janet Olson and others divide opponents and supporters outside Surrey courthouse.

Media embrace inhumane laws


Re: ‘Witch hunt’ claimed as charges mount, April 3.


Re: ‘Witch hunt’ claimed as charges mount, April 3.

Janet Olson, by her own admission, has taken what she believed to be at-risk dogs, including an apparently emaciated German Shepherd chained outside a Maple Ridge residence during a cold snap in 2006.

While many of us agree this is considered vigilantism and therefore ill-advised, the RCMP and the press would be wise to examine the causes of these desperate actions and not merely jump all over the symptoms of a topical story that helps sell newspapers.

The mainstream press seems to love to compartmentalize sensational stories without bothering to dig even a little to inform the reader of the ‘bigger picture’ behind the news item.

For example, Canada’s animal-cruelty laws date back to 1892 and are probably inappropriate for a more enlightened 21st century consciousness.

Janet OlsonWhy do we still regard most animals with the same arrogance as we did two centuries ago?

Back in 1999, the Liberals introduced Bill C17, which became Bills C15A-B in 2001; Bills C10A-B in 2002; Bill C22 in 2004; Bill C50 in 2005; followed by Bill C373 introduced in 2006. Astonishingly, all these bills were stalled by the Senate or died in the Commons, and all the time and money spent by successive governments to bring these bills forward was shamefully wasted.

No wonder, then, there are some very concerned citizens who say to themselves, enough is enough.

Enough of the seal hunt to adorn ourselves; enough of the factory farm animals suffering inhumane lives before the slaughterhouse; enough of the spent race horse, the inconvenient black bear, the scrumptious crab or lobster boiled alive. And enough of ignorant neighbours treating pets like disposable “personal property.”

Many of us have had some experience contacting the SPCA when we see an animal neglected. Sometimes the SPCA responds; often they have neither the time nor the inclination.

So, along comes Olson, a reputable pilot with no prior criminal record, who feels it is her moral duty to save a few of these dogs she believes should have the right to a decent life.

Perhaps we should be thankful there are people like Olson, who is that passionately committed to put all she has at risk and obviously does not need to do it for the money.

While we all witness numerous news stories of drug gangsters, sexual predators and murderers, it is remarkable that a woman who rescues reportedly neglected pets is being relentlessly pursued by the RCMP and Crown – my goodness, her trial date is already set! (Editor’s note: So far, trial dates have been set only for three charges of breaching court-imposed conditions.)

Meanwhile, it seems Olson has in effect been tried and declared guilty in the court of public opinion by the media, even before she has had the opportunity to defend and prove her innocence.

If nothing else, this story should prompt more of us to demand that our government finally enact proper laws to protect animals from the thoughtlessness of people.

At that time, we will no longer need animal rescuers.

R. Thomson, West Vancouver