We hope the Daily News’ Sunday exposé about the Logan County animal shelter sends a wake-up call to citizens and elected officials.
Logan County government has mostly taken a hands-off approach to animal control within its borders, ceding that control to the Logan County Humane Society.
But it’s clear that control, which is dictated by state law, was more than just delegated – it was abdicated. It’s time for Logan County government to take back the reins and make sure the shelter is operated up to state standards, which means not housing dogs for years on end in tiny cages or in squalor.
Officials should determine whether current staff members are able to bring about changes.
From the outside, it appears they’ve had problems for years and don’t take responsibility for their work.
Doing this is just as important as the shelter housing fewer animals to prevent inhumane, overcrowded conditions.
The facility isn’t working, but that doesn’t mean it can’t. Logan County and the Logan County Humane Society, which has been bequeathed a rather large sum of money, should invest what it takes to fix drainage, ventilation and heating and cooling issues.
It also will mean either enlarging the facility or committing to keep fewer animals. There is money out there to help, as evidenced by the good work done by the Bowling Green-Warren County Humane Society at its shelter. Improving conditions is just as important as mandating fewer animals.
Saying the investment is unwise because Logan County government owns the building is foolish. Fixing the problems isn’t just a matter of cosmetics, it’s a matter of bringing the facility up to state standards.
The state’s standards are the absolute base. The shelter should aspire to provide animals with some basic freedoms recommended by the Association of Shelter Veterinarians:
•Freedom from hunger and thirst
•Freedom from discomfort
•Freedom from pain, injury or disease
•Freedom to express normal behavior
•Freedom from fear and distress
Community members need to step up, get involved and demand improvements.
When it comes to the shelter population, overseers need to take on a more positive attitude and set goals for saving animals, which goes beyond housing them indefinitely in inadequate conditions.
The county and humane society should establish a spay/neuter program or enhance partnerships with organizations such as Fix Foundation or local vets to provide low-cost spay/neuter for shelter animals and all Logan County pets.
They also need to work more closely with rescue organizations so that dogs do not live in kennels or on tethers until they become unadoptable. Those situations increase a dog’s chances at becoming aggressive or less socialized.
Threatening or believing a perceived threat that Logan County will return to killing adoptable dogs to maintain the population is unacceptable.
There are ways to save animals. One might not qualify as a no-kill shelter, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to kill 90 percent of your population instead of saving 90 percent. No one wants to see the shelter kill unnecessarily.
But it’s time to stop acting defeated and leverage the attention you have now to really improve the shelter.
The Logan County shelter – as do many others – relies on volunteers, and that won’t change anytime soon. Shelter conditions should be tolerable for the public. If animals truly are the priority, the shelter needs to accept volunteers to walk dogs and clean.
As Bowling Green-Warren County Humane Society director Lorri Hare said about her experience in Bowling Green:
If you put in the work, support will follow. Start with reducing current animal population and improving animals’ living conditions.
You need a staff that is dedicated to taking responsibility for these improvements and Logan Fiscal Court should ask itself whether current staff fits that description.
Finally, interested groups can help, including the Bowling Green-Warren County Humane Society, and Snooty Giggles, a middle Tennessee-based foster-based rescue group.
Much can be learned from their experiences.