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COLUMN: Ordinance strives to be fair

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By JAMES CARTER, Guest Columnist

After reading Mr. Robinson’s articles and his concerns about his obvious confusion concerning the proposed animal ordinance, the Humane Society needs to clear up some misconceptions.

The first and foremost misconception that Mr. Robinson has is his lack of understanding of why the commissioners agreed to have a committee form in the first place.

The Perry County News first reported the information of the committee Jan. 31. 2011, and in that article it states clearly why a new ordinance is needed, and that among the members of the committee there would be other concerned citizens.

So why did you not get involved then, Mr. Robinson? You are concerned with the fact that only cats and dogs are involved with fees or tax, you asked if anyone can explain to you why this is fair. Well it’s actually simple Mr. Robinson, in 2010 the shelter was given through its two contracts with the county approximately $56,500.

Now you divide that with the approximately 7,200 households in Perry County and you get close to $8 paid by each household in the county.

And what is being housed in the shelter? Dogs and cats. There are no horses, mules or donkeys being housed in the shelter.

So why do you want to tax or set fees for animals that are not the problem, Mr. Robinson? You stated in your first letter your concerns about property rights and mention the Constitution several times.

Well, we agree with you that a person’s rights should never be violated, but your opinion of what is a right as opposed to what is a privilege has been discussed in animal-abuse cases many times. We suggest you consider looking at court records instead of the dictionary for guidance in the future.

In your second letter, you stress that your pets are property, in your opinion, and tie that in with your rights. If that is true, then why don’t the property owners who have pets in the shelter come forward and claim their property?

Proper identification of the true owner is vital to solving the problem at the shelter. Because the problem is growing, the shelter is asking for $5,000 more for the 2012 budget. Mr. Robinson, the Humane Society feels that pets are much more than “just property.” We feel they are entrusted to our care by a higher authority and we should consider ourselves guardians for that higher authority, not just property owners.

In your letter, you mention the $100 dog tax going to Purdue University and then allude to the money being used in a contradictory way. We agree with you again, Mr. Robinson, but because it’s a state law, that requires the tax to be implemented before a local ordinance can be enacted.

The committee had to include the state tax. It’s our understanding that if we create an education committee, we get that back.

Would you volunteer for that committee? We also want to address your concerns about the poor people in the county. So far this year, the Humane Society has given out 133 vouchers, mostly to the less fortunate. We have helped the elderly and disabled vets pay for medical costs that they could not afford themselves. All of our funds are from donations and do not cost the citizens through taxes a penny.

Mr. Robinson, by being critical about everything concerning the proposed ordinance and assuming that the Humane Society is going to financially benefit from it only hurts those very people you think you’re defending. Yes, I am perplexed when you state you can’t afford a yearly checkup. It’s my understanding that the prized coonhound of yours is worth more than $1,000. Of course ,we all have our priorities perhaps you should reevaluate yours.

Mr. Robinson, we also agree with you that there are options concerning the animal-control officer and your support of having the sheriff’s department oversee that officer.

If you had come forward in January, you would have known that the sheriff had been approached about that in December of 2010. The problem is that the sheriff wants a fully trained officer capable of performing all duties that would normally be required, so their services can be fully implemented. Also, there is the question, “Should the animal-control officer be a county employee?”

Trying to find a qualified individual who is willing to work at all hours for low pay is not as easy as you think.

Again, if you would have become involved, you would have found there are no easy answers, and the commissioners are the ones who have come up with solutions.

Mr. Robinson, you stated in your first letter concerning the proposed ordinance, “I read all 39 pages of it four times. It took that many times to fully understand what all is hidden in the lengthy jargon.” Then in your second letter you state in part “ Page 11 section 8, (iii) of the ordinance plainly states” so which is it? Are you still confused or is it plainly stated?

In closing, Mr. Robinson as you must know, the Coon Club members through their appointed spokesmen have had their input into correcting the major problems that their members were concerned with. The changes are now being addressed and the commissioners will decide the fate of the ordinance. Saying that, be advised that the ordinance may have to be adjusted again in the future. The Humane Society hopes you take your concerns, reconsider your position and become a valued part of the solution for the sake of all our citizens.

P.S. If you are in need of help concerning the medical cost of your dogs, yes we are here to help you, too.

Carter is president of the Humane Society of Perry County.