Yip yip hooray!

Tara Seel

The Province of Manitoba just received major kudos from the Animal Legal Defense Fund (based out of California) for having the best laws for defending animals. Our strengths include stiff penalties of possibly both fines and jail time for animal abuse; we recognize that psychological abuse of animals is often just as harmful as physical abuse; and Manitoba veterinarians are required by law to report cases where they suspect animal cruelty. Yay, Manitoba! We are an animal-loving locale. And Portage la Prairie is showing its fur-loving side as well with a proposed bylaw amendment.

An off-leash dog park could soon be a reality in the city. City Council has listened to a group of citizens who proposed the venture, and after coming up with some very reasonable regulations that would be required, the proposed amendment is going to second and third reading at the Aug. 13 council meeting.

I am thrilled to hear that peppy Portage pooches will have a place to go and run like the wind, chase balls and birds, and sniff away at . well, whatever they like. This is a positive step forward for the city, and helps us live up to Manitoba's highly ranked animal-loving reputation. What has also impressed me is that a group of citizens cared enough about this to start navigating their way through the bureaucratic maze of City Hall. Even better, City Hall is listening and acting. For a political junkie like me, it is invigorating to see government working the way it should.

This story has all the good news elements: animals (our furry friends always pull on heartstrings); proactive citizens (it takes a huge commitment to follow a venture such as this all the way through); receptive council members (with all the issues brought to their desks, it is great to see community-initiated proposals move forward); international recognition (Manitoba, in the middle of the country, can often be an afterthought, but here, we lead the way - it's something of which to be proud); and ultimately, the desired result is just plain good - nature, activity, community.

Congratulations to the citizens who took this on and to the council members who are working with them. I hope to see the dogs of Portage running freely in the near future!

Tara Seel is a contributing columnist to The Daily Graphic.

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