These articles are to highlight the political playground that our county animal control system is in the state of North Carolina. The ordinances are written for each shelter in each county with no provisions on adopting or saving animals as a part of the ordinance outside the normal shelter adoption process. The rescues and advocates being involved outside the adoption process are allowed access based on a county’s determination and not a universal procedure throughout the state.
The Animal Control system should be enforcement of animal welfare laws, intake animals that are stray, promote spay and neuter, and attempt to find homes for all adoptable animals that come into their care. However, the politics are so vile that county’s worry about fee income from adoption fees but will not publicly announce that they could provide rabies vaccinations and other types of vaccinations for a lower cost but they are restricted from making this information public due to upsetting the community veterinary practices in the community because the vets believe this is competition to their high price care. How can this be competition when these consumers are not wanted by these vets as customers because they are unable to afford the vet’s services anyway….
Another political aspect of the system, the political power of the administrative authority within each county. Wilson is the example in this instance . Some outstanding citizens in Wilson County do exceptional things and created excellent programs to work around the issues of the county shelter. For the Love of Dogs in Wilson, The Maggie Society, and Wilson Humane Society has become the organizations that they are today because of the situation in Wilson County. The animal control falls under the supervision of the sheriff. Here are some of the stories from the last eight years:
“For 50 years or more, the welfare of companion animals and animal control has been like the red headed stepchild. It has never been a priority of the county government. Few county commissioners, other than Roger Lucas, have been willing to stand up and speak up on behalf of the companion animals. He is still doing so today. Roger and I have not always agreed, in fact, we have had some very heated arguments, but still work together for the animals.
A new day did dawn for the animals when Sheriff Wayne Gay agreed to take over Animal Control. He formed a citizen advisory committee and sought public participation. The day to day operation of Animal Control was placed in the very capable hands of Mickey Wilson. New laws and ordinance were passed and enforcement was brought about. A new beginning occurred.
Currently three rescue groups operate in our county, The Wilson County Humane Society, The Maggie Society and For the Love of Dogs. None of these groups receive taxpayer dollars. They each support themselves and seek donations from the community. Of course I do not know the expenses the other groups incur, but I do know that For the Love of Dogs spends an average of $15,000 a month to operate the care of rescued animals and the clinic. The funds come from donations, fundraisers and our own pockets.
This past year we had 47 clinics and Dr. Derrick Pinney performed 826 spay and neuter procedures. This represents a drop in the bucket toward solving the pet overpopulation problem. The shelter and the rescue groups still face a very large number of unwanted animals. Spaying and neutering is the only hope of reducing the large number of animals.
It is important to support and encourage pet owners to spay and neuter their pet. One way to do this is to drop the pet fee for owners who do spay and neuter their pet. It is a pet owner’s right not to spay or neuter and should the owner wish not to do so, they would pay an annual fee of $100 or $200.
Whatever is decided, we must support those who cannot afford the high cost of this surgery. If we don’t then the problem will not be solved and animal control will continue to need more money. This year the budget for animal control is $630,000. Are these tax dollars being well spent? I don’t think so.
I have been requesting an opportunity to interact with the county commissioners for several months. The county manager stated this is not county business. If the spending of $630,000 of our tax dollars is not county business, then what is? If killing 98 percent of cats and 50 percent of dogs that enter the shelter is not county business, then what is?
By the way, the county does provide citizens with an opportunity to address them at the monthly meetings. You are given 5 minutes at the end of the meeting. You can talk but the commissioners are not suppose to interact with you. Only Roger Lucas refuses to follow this rule. Is this how a democracy is suppose to work? It is no wonder people are so angry and turned off to the government at each level. Please stand up and speak up on behalf of our furry pets. The only voice they have is ours. “
Max and Della Fitz-Gerald
For the Love of Dogs Animal Wellness Clinic
These series of articles will focus on the issues of our system in NC.