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Letter from the editor: Pets are a community responsibility

by R. HANS MILLER
Managing Editor | February 2, 2024 2:30 PM

As a community, we’re still struggling in the Columbia Basin to take care of the animals in our communities. While some progress has been made as funding becomes available to establish a new shelter for Grant County Animal Outreach, funding to ensure the operations of Adams County Pet Rescue are still a bit up in the air. 

Last night as I was taking my trash out to the alleyway, a fluffy little spaniel mix of some sort ran out from behind a restaurant across the alley and headed toward Basin Street. I tried calling the animal over to see if it had a collar or if I could otherwise connect it with its family or a shelter that could take care of it. We’ve already got three dogs, the maximum number allowed under Ephrata city ordinances. Two of those were adopted from ACPR and another from Austin Pets Alive, a Texas-based rescue. 

As a community, we need to realize that these animals not only need to be cared for but present a safety hazard to all of us. Feral dogs can become violent and nobody wants to be the one that hits someone’s pet or a stray which can lead to expensive veterinary bills, car repairs and a variety of other stressors. 

We need to get our pets responsibly. 

Most weeks, a few times a week, we see someone selling or giving away puppies at various parking lots in front of big box stores in Moses Lake and elsewhere in the Basin. These animals are adorable, whether they’re Huskies, beagles or mutts. I get why we want to see those animals get into homes; why we might fall instantly in love with one of them (or more); and why that might be an easy way to get a dog.

But it’s not responsible.

Puppies and other pets found at these swap-meet style sales and giveaways are usually not spayed or neutered. Additionally, it’s hit or miss whether or not these animals have had proper veterinary care or even if they’ve been properly weaned from their mothers. Some have, I’m sure, but after speaking with a variety of rescues that serve the Basin, most aren’t. 

Lack of veterinary care such as vaccinations increases risks to community pets and can lead to poor quality of life for the pets themselves. Weaning too early can cause a puppy to fail to thrive, just like a human baby not getting the right nutrition might fail to thrive. 

Often, behavior and health issues in these animals can lead to families abandoning them. Those pets inevitably end up on the streets or in shelters, making the stray pet population worse and further straining guitar-string tight animal rescue budgets in both Adams and Grant counties. 

If you want to adopt a pet, that’s a wonderful idea. Draco, Cinnamon and Pepper, our three dogs, enrich our lives every day. I’d get more dogs if I lived in the country and had the acreage to ensure their quality of life. I just think we need to remember that we owe it to the pets that enrich our lives to be mindful of their quality of life as well. Adopt from a shelter or rescue with a good reputation and solid care practices for animals. 

And, like Bob Barker always told us, “Help control the pet population — have your pets spayed or neutered.” 

It’s just the right thing to do.

R. Hans “Rob” Miller
Managing Editor