Taking care of unwanted animals is a challenge

By PAT BROWN,

Our community is faced with a dilemma when it comes to unwanted pets.  When people commit to welcoming an animal into their homes many times they do not realize it is for the lifetime of that animal.  People say, “It was so cute as a puppy or a kitten and before we knew it they had grown into adult pets that inconvenienced us,” and they have required more of a commitment than their owners anticipated.

  You may or may not have followed the plight of the pup we rescued this year. We changed her name to Gladys Knight.  She was taken in by Rescue Revolution.  For awhile she was recovering and beginning to enjoy life a bit but her health was so degenerated that she had a heart attack and did not survive.  It really is a wonder that she lived at all.  But Kelly Collins of Rescue Revolution, said Gladys had gotten to the point that she was playful and fun to be around.  At least her final days were not so bad.  Sure beats the condition she had been in, almost starving, living in literal squalor. 

  We also have feral animals to deal with.  Magee used to be plagued with homeless cats downtown but I believe they were poisoned, unfortunately. We have the same with litters of pups being abandoned all over the county.  

   So the problem is that  housing and rehabilitating unwanted animals  costs money.  Sure, everyone says they want to treat animals in a humane manner but ask them if they are willing to have their taxes increased to help animals, and it is different story, according to county officials.  We had offered to come up with a plan and the Board of Supervisors  was more than willing to listen, but it was going to cost them some funding. 

   The catalyst organization behind getting a functional shelter in Simpson County was a great bunch of folks that were operating under the Save Our Strays name.  However, some of those folks had already gone into great personal debt to help correct the problem. 

    To operate a real live shelter you must have a paid staff and a strong support network.  You must have a business plan and if you are going to operate on donations you have to have that network in place also.  That does not include the cost of the building itself. 

    The City of Magee leadership indicated their willingness to work with the group but all the other pieces never really seemed to come together.  To be successful you don’t just go out and say you are a shelter.  Many decisions  have to be made.  One of the biggest questions is whether you going to be a no-kill shelter.  But the truth is that eventually some of the animals must go to make room for new ones.

   Not only is there cost for operating the facility, which includes electricity and water bills, but there are staff costs.  The plan to use volunteers to do the work seven days a week, 365 days a year plays out pretty quickly. 

  Many other costs are associated with a shelter.  The medical treatments just to make sure the animals are safe are expensive, not to mention treatments for heart worms and simple things like fleas.

   There is not a simple answer to this complex and sad problem.