Animal problem has simple solution

Published 1:00 pm Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Being a high growth county can have its downsides. One such downside currently facing our community is dramatic overcrowding at the Shelby County Humane Society.

County service manager Reggie Holloway requested earlier this week that the Shelby County Commission consider requiring cities with more than 5,000 residents begin paying to support the local humane society.

Current state statute requires cities with a population of 5,000 or more either help fund the local humane society or create their own facility to care for stray dogs and cats. That statute is not currently enforced in Shelby County, but should be.

State statute outlines how and at what rate cities are required to contribute, so implementation locally should be simple enough.

If the county commission adopts the humane society-funding plan, such a change would not take effect until October of next year. That is a good approach as it gives municipal governments, who already have tightening budgets, time to prepare for the added expense.

Each city in the county, regardless of population size, should also be asked to pay their fair share, which is part of Holloway’s plan should the plan be implemented. That, too, is a good approach, as we all know stray animals are not just a big city problem.

Changing the way our humane society is funded is just a first step toward solving its overcrowding problem.

Ultimately, the only solution for overcrowding at the humane society is to spay or neuter stray dogs and cats or those that are simply allowed to roam the streets by irresponsible owners.

While likely to be unpopular with some pet owners, a mandatory spay or neuter program county-wide for animals found unleashed or unfenced would solve overcrowding woes here, just as it has done other places.