11/19/05 — Along with new shelter, owner responsibility is needed

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Along with new shelter, owner responsibility is needed

The process is beginning again on plans for the construction of a new Wayne County Animal Shelter.

Last week, representatives from local humane societies and concerned citizens met with members of the county’s Animal Control Advisory Committee to look at proposed designs and to talk about a timetable for the project.

And that is a positive step forward after what has seemed like a pretty long wait for action.

Anyone who visits the county animal shelter will be shocked at the conditions there. The building, which is 50 years old, is simply too far gone for repairs and a real eyesore for the county.

Add to that the fact that people do not like to come down to a smelly, depressing and crowded building to look for a new family pet, and there is no surprise that this county euthanizes so many animals each week.

Building a new shelter with proper facilities for the animals is not a matter of choice; it really is a necessity.

There will be much talk about funding over the next few weeks and the logistics of building a new shelter. And that is a responsible way to address the issue of what’s next. There will have to be a way to pay for this project, and county officials can certainly use all the input and support they can get.

But as the construction talks continue, so, too, should discussion about what to do about another legitimate problem — owner responsibility.

Building a new animal shelter to fill with more unwanted animals is not the answer to eliminating the problem in Wayne County.

An active spay and neuter program and aggressive owner education and adoption programs will turn what was once a place stuffed full of unwanted animals into a great place to go to look for a family pet.

And that is a commitment that needs to be made by the very groups and citizens right now who are rallying for the new shelter. This new shelter will need volunteers and people willing to give their time to make changes in the way animals are treated in this county.

Some of these people are already doing a fantastic job bringing attention to the issues surrounding unwanted pets, and taking care of as many as they can.
With that kind of organization and expertise, this new shelter project could turn into a chance for a community to solve a real problem and to make a facility of which we can all be proud.

And while we are at it, the rules and penalties should be strict, too, for those who violate humane laws or who continue to behave irresponsibly with their dogs and cats.

Cruelty and neglect cannot be tolerated. On that we can all agree.
With a little cooperation and a determination to see this project through, Wayne

County could soon have one more “to do” item checked off its list.
And that would be a very big positive and another step forward for this community.

Published in Editorials on November 19, 2005 11:21 PM