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Recently, I was talking to Joel Hinson, director of Lancaster County Animal Control. Hinson said the time is near when the animal shelter’s needs become even more critical.
Hinson said when children are out of school and bored, their minds turn to having pets, not realizing how much of a responsibility it is to own take care of a pet.
In a 12-month period there were 5,262 animals taken to the animal shelter. Of those, 1,651 were brought in by their owners – owners who could no longer afford the upkeep of a dog or cat. There were 1,205 pets reclaimed by their owners, adopted by new owners or given to shelter by rescue groups.
More than 3,000 animals were euthanized last year at the local shelter.
None of these circumstances will change until Lancaster County Council becomes more aware and concerned about the needs of the animal shelter. The shelter was built in 1993 and is now 20 years old.
The shelter desperately needs a spay/neuter chamber. There is a small room at the present location which could be remodeled to house a table, sink, refrigerator, cabinets and a cage or two. Hinson says some veterinarians are willing to help out at low costs to save some good dogs and cats who would make great pets.
Some veterinarians have already talked with Hinson about helping because of their love for animals and their willingness to help the county out of a tough spot.
I asked Hinson if council members had ever been to the shelter to see its accomplishments and its needs. He said only Rudy Carter and Larry Honeycutt have been there during his 19-year tenure.
That means at present there are five council members, who have not visited the shelter. I realize that since the last election there are now three new members who are just getting started in taking care of Lancaster County’s needs, but that makes it even more important that council take time to visit the shelter and talk one-on-one with Hinson to see the needs.
Council members, I know you are busy and it may be difficult to schedule a visit with Hinson at the shelter, but you really need to see the shortage of runs, the rotting doors and the desperate need of a spray/neuter room. Spending the money now on these needs will result in future savings. Having a spay/neuter program in place will reduce the numbers of unwanted animals.
There will always be some mean-spirited dogs and cats that cannot be retrained and will have to be euthanized. The shelter is having to put down dogs and cats that could be retrained, but possible new owners don’t want the responsibility of having an animal spayed or neutered. They want that problem already taken care of.
Figure the numbers out for yourself, as the numbers of spayed/neutered dogs and cats go up, the numbers of dogs and cats euthanized each year go down.
The good-spirited dogs and cats of Lancaster would be willing to give County Council members a sloppy dog or cat kiss if council is willing to meet these needs.