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Inaction council impacts our local pets

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Mary Reimers

I have been reading and watching Lancaster County Council’s 1-cent tax debacle and all I can say is it is a fiasco from start to finish.

It seems the county is playing “Johnny come lately,” as is their usual mode of operation. Wait until the problem is so severe that only a rushed-through agenda with a poorly thought-out plan is their only way out.

Then put a commission in place to study the problem, give them the shortest amount of time to find a solution and complete the task, ask for citizen input, then totally disregard the citizens and commission recommendations, and go back to the drawing board yet again in the 11th hour. That is par for the course.

Yes, roads are very bad all over the county and in need of repair or replacement. I have been dealing with pothole alley for 16 years now. So, I know firsthand just how bad they are.

And yes, the police, fire and EMTs need a new radio system. What they have now is no better then a string and a tin can. No one is disputing that fact.

Libraries are important, too, but the Dell Web Library is comparatively new, so why should the council even be considering giving them more than $63,000?

I can think of a much better use for those funds. The county has had a bigger problem that has been ignored and placed on the back burner for years now. They are always saying they have no money, but this is a chance to rectify that problem, but yet again, it is totally ignored and that is the Lancaster County Animal Shelter. Although why anyone insists on calling it a shelter is beyond me. A shelter is a place of safe haven, a sheltering place out of harm’s way. This is anything but.

We, the rescue groups in this county, have been warning council for years now about the overcrowded conditions.

The ever-expanding population, especially in the Indian Land area, with a population increase of almost 20,000 in 10 years in the county, and more than 2,000 in the city itself, is only adding to the problem. The longer they waited to fix it, the more it will cost. But hey, we are only on the front line here and see it every day, so what do we know?

Council members, we, animal rescuers, know plenty. We see firsthand the huge volume of pets coming into that shelter. With only 24 runs for dogs, which are often doubled up, if possible, and about 20 cages for cats, the shelter is at code red almost every day. I have seen perfectly adoptable, beautiful, sweet and loving pets come in only to be put down sometimes immediately due to lack of space. And with the continued growth of Indian Land and proposed growth for the south end of the county it can only continue to get worse.

This is not the fault of those staffing the shelter. They do the best they can with what they have, but they have very little. The euthanasia rate has gone down, but no thanks to council. It’s the tireless efforts of many rescue groups from both inside and outside of the county.

Don’t you think it is high time for council to stop hiding behind the rescue groups and relying on them to fix the problem and to step up the plate and take responsibility for the welfare of those who cannot speak for themselves? The pets are the ones who suffer due to a complete lack of empathy from our leaders.

I personally have gone before council many times about this. I have pleaded, begged, argued, placed facts in front of them, all to no avail.

Most council members do not even know where the shelter is, let along have ever set foot in the place. It’s too depressing. Of course it is, we all see it and those who work there are challenged every day to harden their hearts and make the difficult decision as to which ones will live and which ones won’t. Then they must go further and be the ones who must, up close and personally, put down beautiful animals whose only crime was to be born and then discarded to fend for themselves.

I challenge every member of our council to visit that shelter and to go beyond the front office, to walk through the shelter and stop in front of each and every run and cage, to look into the eyes of innocence and see the fear and dread. Make no mistake, they know why they are there.

If you have done all that and can still look me in the eye and say, “there is no need,” then I will stop my crusade to save them or at least give them a fighting chance.

As bad as my road is, I have lived with it long enough that another year or two won’t matter to me. But the animals are out of time the second they enter that building. A year or two matters very much to them.

Can council really live with that?

Mary Reimers is president of the Humane Society of Lancaster