By BOB PALMER,
Jefferson Police Chief Gary Amburn was emphatic. “We can’t do without a shelter,” Amburn said Tuesday. “We have to have something.”
Kari Alexander, Marion County Chamber of Commerce executive director, worries about the impact stray dogs roaming the streets of Jefferson would have on tourism. “I think that would be very unpleasant,” Alexander said. “That would be bad for our tourists. We need the shelter.”
If the 80 dogs found at the Humane Society shelter last week had not been housed at the shelter, they would have been strays. Amburn notes the problem is growing. “There are 6 to 15 dogs in town that need to picked up,” Amburn said. “JPD really doesn’t have a responsibility to this.”
In addition to operating the shelter Caroline Wedding also served as the Jefferson animal control officer and in emergency cases for Marion County. The Humane Society of Marion County relieved Wedding of her duties last week.
Rural residents could also feel the impact if the shelter closed. Stray dogs can join packs attacking livestock and chicken houses. They can also be carriers of disease. A no-kill shelter such as the one HSMC seeks to operate does not necessarily mean what many people think. A leading national organization, Best Friends of Animals Society, explains the role of a no-kill shelter on their website, www.bestfriends.org.
“At Best Friends and in many animal welfare organizations throughout the country, euthanasia is defined purely as an act of mercy. Euthanizing a pet is considered only when veterinary or behavioral experts determine that an animal’s condition is untreatable, and the animal has little or no chance of an acceptable quality of life.
“This is why Best Friends and other organizations purposefully describe themselves as being dedicated to no-kill. No-kill organizations euthanize animals who are suffering irremediably. They do not kill healthy animals and label it “euthanasia” to make it more palatable.
The no-kill movement started as a radical notion, but today it is becoming mainstream. The goal is to correct our collective failure to value and protect the lives of homeless pets — lives that matter. “Those dedicated to no-kill want to end the killing of animals in shelters. To be considered no-kill, a shelter must be saving 90 percent or more of the animals it takes in.”
Meanwhile, Amburn and his officers will do what they can. “I don’t really have a solution,” Amburn said. One person familiar with agricultural industry with a Ph.D. in agricultural economics suggested rural residents may be forced to return to earlier practices. “When I was a kid, if we saw a dog running loose, we shot it,” he said.
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