Animal-welfare efforts commendable, unfinished

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By The Staff

Perry County's response to animal-abandonment, -neglect and -cruelty problems, woefully inadequate not too long ago, has been developed over recent years into what can be described as a solid foundation. We have a state-of-the-art shelter, an animal-control-officer position and regulations he or she can cite in doing the job.

The work that has been done up to this point has been commendable, but it's not finished. It won't be complete, of course, until no more dogs or cats are dumped onto the street of our cities or into the relative wilderness outside their borders. We can't rest until abandonment, neglect and abuse are relics of the past, but those are responsibilities borne on the shoulders of each of us who brings an animal into our care.

Among the latest of our communitywide solutions is the county commissioners' consideration of a suggestion to move the officer's position under the umbrella of the Perry County Animal Shelter Inc. Under a current agreement, the officer reports to the directors of that organization, which brought us the shelter and pushed for an animal-control ordinance. That agreement made sense when it was drafted, and we feel the proposed move is a logical one.

Another development, one that occurred almost behind the scenes as the county's responses to domestic-animal problems were being assembled, needs to be nurtured as much as possible by everyone aware of it:

The Humane Society of Perry County and Perry County Animal Shelter Inc. became allies.

The distinction between those running the shelter and the Humane Society was never clear in the minds of many county residents. People talking about the shelter often called it the Humane Society, but the two have been distinct organizations for quite some time. They remain distinct, but are now working together.

Neither organization offers its members riches. They're drawn to the work they do by their concern for the well-being of animals who can't speak up for themselves against abuse or abandonment. We humans benefit when large numbers of dogs no longer roam our neighborhoods, endangering us and our loved ones. Animals are better off when they're secure in loving homes, and don't have to fend for themselves or join others in roving packs.

Jim Carter, president of the local Humane Society chapter, has appeared before the county commissioners several times to press for more or quicker action on animal issues. In his latest visit, he noted the Humane Society has been paying veterinary bills of animals hit by cars, and asked the county to share that financial burden. The standard response from the county leaders, he noted Thursday, is to ask, "where's the money going to come from?"

The commissioners have a duty to control spending, but problems don't simply disappear because funding their solutions may be difficult.

We suggest a better response is, "that is a legitimate problem - let's look into how we can corral community resources to resolve it."

The commissioners opted to suggest Carter talk to the shelter organization's board of directors, who are scheduled to meet at 6 p.m. May 21. We assume that board's members were moved to service by the same concern for animal welfare that inspires Carter to action, and trust that meeting will be fruitful.

Perry County Animal Shelter Inc., the Humane Society of Perry County and many other community members are doing much more today for Perry County's domestic animals than has been done in a long time. We look forward to seeing a continuation of the momentum they've generated.

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