Funding Animal Control

In an ideal world, an Animal Control program would be funded by the people who cause the need for the program to exist.  For that reason, communities create pet licenses to help offset the cost of controlling pets; the licenses also place a form of identification on the pet to facilitate their return to their owner.

The problem with using pet licenses are a funding source is that pet owners are horrible and licensing their pets.  In most communities, 20% licensing is considered good, but insufficient to fund a program.  Animal Control works like the police department, no one expects criminals to fund police patrols.  Any animal control officer will tell you that the bulk of the complaints that they receive are from neighbors of pet owners; so, the non-pet owning public is benefited by animal control services.

Animal control is a public safety organization and as such usually receives funding from the tax rolls.  I have always wanted to see a tax on pet food and pet products to fund animal control programs.  People who do not obtain pet licenses still have to feed their pet.  However, it isn’t an easy thing to tax specific products at the local level, as proven by States that offer animal themed license plates for vehicles.  Distribution of the funds become problematic. 

One option is to increase the fines associated with bad pet behavior.  The problem with penalties is that people who allow their pets to run at large are usually the ones who will abandon their pets when the are picked up; so now you have a shelter full of pets and no money to feed them.

The greatest battle that we wage is trying to prove that our services are necessary; it is a hard battle at budget times.  You will hear people saying that funding for animals take programs away from children.  So many times I have seen City/County Administrators offer up budget cuts to animal control before cutting anywhere else.  During those times, you have to hope that you have served your City/County Council well and they will protect your from your bosses.

Humane Balance

It is not uncommon in our profession to see a person taking on a “lost cause.”  These are the animals that under, most considerations, would be euthanized.  Some people have a knack for these causes; however, with these causes comes risk.

One of the offices of the State Attorney’s Office had a close relationship with a local animal welfare organization.  An attorney from that office decided to make an example of a board member of another organization by prosecuting that member for failure to provide adequate care of one of  those lost causes. 

Looking at the animal, one might agree with the assessment that the animal was beyond care, but anyone knowing the amount of medical care given to the animal would ever conclude that the animal was not being provided adequate care.  This is a common charge against animal rescuers.  The animal was seized and euthanized. 

Fortunately the Courts exercised good judgment and the board member was found not guilty.  I think the judge recognized the conflict of interest by the attorneys, but no one could undo the killing of that animal.  Reasonable minds might say that the euthanasia was a kindness to the animal due to its condition.  We’ll never know if the medial treatment could have turned the animal’s condition around.

Incidents like these are at the heart of our profession: making life and death decisions based on observations, veterinary advice, and availability of funds.  We find ourselves constantly questioning the decisions that we are forced to make and there will be a gallery of people wanting to armchair quarterback those decisions. 

Service Animals Out of Control

The issue has gotten so far out of control with people claiming that there dog is a service animal that Idaho is considering creating  laws under Senate Bill 1312 of making the false representation a misdemeanor, calling it “unlawful use of a service dog”. 

Although this is a good step forward to stop this abuse.  I am afraid that once the Bill is implemented, the legislators will see that they were negligent in not including other animals.  Idaho animal shelters might see an increase in cat adoptions.

So you want to Surrender your Pet

People have all kinds of reasons for surrendering their pets to their local animal shelter.  We have heard them all, well most of them anyway and they are usually bad reasons that come down to the pet either taking too much of your time or costing you too much money.  If you feel guilty about giving up your pet, you should.

Many animal shelters will try to talk you out of your decision, not because they think you can become a better pet owner, but because they are over crowded and may have to kill another pet to make room for your pet.  I want you to feel guilty as hell, so that you will do the right thing.  When pet owners come to the decision to give up their pet, they usually don’t back down from that decision.  An animal shelter will attempt to talk you out of your decision and they think they made a breakthrough when you walk away with your pet.  But, most of you will just drive to another shelter and try different answers when undergoing the next interrogation.

If you are going to give up your pet, then give your pet a fighting chance at getting adopted.  Many pets do not make it to adoption because their previous owners were too negligent to provide basic veterinary care.  Well in advance of surrendering your pet (usually 30 to 45 days) have your pet examined by your veterinarian and have the pet given all of the regular vaccinations.  Explain to your veterinarian that the dog may be in a long term kennel environment.  Giving your dog the vaccinations and giving the vaccines sufficient time to become effect in the dog will increase the dog’s chances of staying healthy in the kennel.  The only thing that might diminish the dog’s chances is that if the dog is a pitbull breed or a history of aggression.  Having your pet first sterilized (spayed or neutered) will earn good points with the animal shelter.

Pitbull are not necessarily a bad breed, it is just that the breed makes up half of the dogs in any animal shelter and many, if not most, apartment managers restrict the breed.  Many home insurance policies exempt pitbulls as well.  Due to the problems associated with the breed, an owner of a pitbull is a fool to not have the animal serialized.   There are FAR TOO MANY pitbulls and they are difficult for animal shelters to find new homes.

Finally, to increase the chances of your pet getting adopted, offer to pay the adoption fees for the new owner.  This little financial encouragement might be the driving factor of a person picking your dog over another.  Offer to share puppy photos, so the new owner knows that the dog had a real family and was not just picked up as a stray.

If you decide that the time is right for another pet… make sure that it is the right thing to do and that you intend to keep the animal the rest of its life.

 

Service Animals

One of the greatest examples of where we have been as to what we have become is the issue of service animals.  As pioneers we crossed our great land in stage coaches holding our therapy chickens for the two week crossing.  Today, we feel the need to hold a peacock for a two-hour airplane flight.

The Americans with Disability Act (ADA) created a mess when dealing with the issue of assistance animals.  Since people were not required to prove that they were disabled and there were no programs for certifying assistance animals; people took advantage of the ACT to be able to keep their pets, when their landlord discovered that they were violating their lease agreement.

People pushed the issue for taking their pets on public transportation and now have reached the extreme by demanding that their pets be allowed on aircraft.  There seems to be a contest as to who can go to the greatest extreme as to the size and type of animal that they choose as a therapy animal.