Thursday, July 18, 2024
86.0°F

EDITORIAL: Paws for thought

by R. HANS MILLER
Managing Editor | October 18, 2023 1:34 PM

Late in September, Adams County Pet Rescue announced that, without an influx of funding, it would need to shutter its doors and stop serving the people and pets of Adams County.

Over the last few years, despite the attempts of volunteers and the administration of Grant County Animal Outreach to replace the current, overly-aged facility, no solution to replace the current Grant County shelter has come to fruition.

Both shelters, as well as other shelters and rescues serving Grant and Adams counties, are at about double their set capacity to house animals – if not more.

This animal control crisis has a lot of moving cogs.

Policy at the county level could be stronger when it comes to animal control and strays. Both county administrations are working to mitigate the issue as much as they can, but the blunt fact is that caring for animals is expensive – especially if they want to maintain a no-kill classification for both of those shelters.

Replacing GCAO’s shelter has hit some unique roadblocks, not the least of which is the presence of endangered ground squirrels on a plot of land that was to host a new facility. Other, more universal issues are things like inflation driving up the cost of supplies for both day-to-day operations and potential construction.

The main problem though, is in the communities of both counties.

In speaking with the people who run the various rescues, Columbia Basin Herald staff members have come across a wide array of reasons pets find themselves in a shelter’s kennel rather than a happy home. Sometimes, a pet is surrendered for situations outside of its family’s hands, but way more often, an owner surrender can be avoided by reaching out to the community for resources. Owning a pet is a long-time commitment, for the life of the pet. Not until it’s inconvenient. Not until the pandemic is over. For the life of the pet. Rescue workers are seeing a lot of exceptions to that concept. As a community, that should be unacceptable to us.

Getting a pet from a responsible shelter or breeder is also vital to improving this situation. Where we get our pets matters. Paying hundreds of dollars or just grabbing a free puppy off the back of a truck in a parking lot isn’t responsible. Those animals are often not up to date on vaccines, not microchipped and are neither spayed nor neutered. Pets obtained in such a way often lead to increased problems with increasing pet populations and diseases rising in prevalence in the area’s dogs and cats.

If you’re looking for a pet, visit the shelters. Every pet available for adoption has been properly vaccinated and spayed or neutered. Additionally, consider events such as the Oct. 21 adoption event for GCAO at North 40 Outfitters or the event on Oct. 28 at The Home Center – both in Moses Lake. A cat and kitten food drive for Hands ‘N Paws Animal Assistance will also be happening from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. as part of Soap Lake’s Merchant Shop-a-Bout event.

This isn’t an issue that can be fixed overnight, but it is one we can all work together to get right. Whether it’s donating to a shelter or rescue, volunteering or simply making sure to pick up after our pets and get them spayed and neutered, little steps can go a long way to fixing the Basin’s stray pet crisis. We need to address this problem prior to situations like Kennewick saw in September wherein 65-year-old Billene Cameron died after getting mauled by stray dogs.

Yes, the shelters are asking local municipalities to contribute more to their operations, but counties and cities only have so much revenue and raising taxes to pay for solutions is a lose-lose scenario. By taking personal responsibility in each of our daily lives, we can make a dent in the ongoing problem.