There are few things in life which seem to elicit passion like a debate over an animal shelter and its policies regarding euthanasia of the animals taken in. Most people have fully formed opinions on what should be done for those animals, and are not shy about voicing those opinions, sometimes in less-than-helpful ways.
Thus it is with the current controversy over the Surry County animal shelter, and its more than 90-percent kill rate of animals coming through its doors. We would suggest, however, that breaking shelter policy, engaging in social media attack campaigns against county staff, and the like, will do little to bring about change. On the contrary, such behavior by some in the public could force the county and its employees into a more defensive stand.
On Monday night, the county board of commissioners spoke out on the issue. Chairman R.F. “Buck” Golding made several salient points, not the least of which was the fact that whatever policy the board enacts, whether it be regarding the shelter or any other facet of county work, taxpayer money is involved. It is incumbent upon the board to consider ways to keep from spending taxpayer money at every turn.
Commissioner Paul Johnson noted the staff members at the shelter, beleaguered as they are, continue to work every day, doing perhaps the best they can in a trying situation.
Both men, along with their colleagues on the board, asked for patience from the public and suggested anyone interested in true change attend an Aug. 9 meeting to be held with the state director of the North Carolina Humane Society to see what improvements might be made to the local shelter and its process of taking in and getting rid of animals.
We would echo both of those requests by the board, for the public to be patient and to attend that meeting. That gathering, we suspect, will become the first step in what hopefully will be a process to make some major changes in how stray animals are handled in Surry County.
At the same time, we urge the board to strongly consider the offer by Rachel Hiatt of Mayberry4Paws to help the shelter increase opportunities to adopt animals out to the community. Here you have an established organization of individuals who are willing to put their experience to work, in a volunteer capacity, to reach what seems to be a goal for many in the community, that of decreasing the number of animals being killed at the shelter.
And while patience is a virtue, we would ask the board move with some speed on this issue. Several members of the board said they would not be forced into a “knee-jerk” reaction on this issue, which is understandable. However, if, as Hiatt said at Monday’s meeting, last year she and others were assured the number of animals being put down was decreasing, recent figures would seem to indicate the opposite is happening.
We are more than half-way through 2012, and if some level of discussions have been going on since last year, this swell of support for change is anything but knee-jerk. It is overdue.
Again, we echo the commissioners’ call for those wishing to find a positive solution to attend that Aug. 9 meeting. We urge the board members to be there as well, with a mind open to making changes, even if unconventional, if those changes promise to alleviate the problem at the county animal shelter.