Whole Let the Dogs Out II12-14-11-publisher.jpg

Well, I don’t usually do sequels, but the more I read and learn about the problems Fayetteville and Cumberland County have trying to control and manage our animal population, the more I am convinced that a huge portion of the problem is of our own making.

From where I sit as a county taxpayer, the solutions to these animal control problems are easier than one might think. The problems Dr. John Lauby, the director of Cumberland County Animal Control, and his staff are facing seem to stem more from greed, petty county departmental politics and turf battles than from funding and staff shortages. As a resident bystander, the remedies seem pretty obvious:

1. We need strong county wide spay and neuter laws on the books.

2. We need active law enforcement to uphold the laws we have in place.

3. We need proper education addressing all aspects of animal care.

4. We need an ongoing initiative to investigate the backgrounds of people who want to adopt animals from the pound.

Personally, I think having an Animal Control Department in our county without law enforcement authority or capability is like sending Dr. Lauby and his staff to a gunfight unarmed. Come on, folks! This is ridiculous — and it’s within our power to fix.

Both the Animal Control Board and the Sheriff’s Department are county agencies. But that doesn’t mean that the city and county can’t work together to solve these problems. For heaven’s sake, I don’t want to oversimplify the solution, but why don’t they at least implement a “If you see something, say something” policy for when someone witnesses a violation of the animal-control laws? This way at least we could do something.

If illegal breeders are operating on Skibo Road, any Fayetteville Police officer or citizen should be able to promptly call Animal Control or the Sheriff’s Department to report the violators, who would immediately be given a citation. Not only would this mitigate the problem of animal proliferation and abuse, it would amplify the message that our community places a high priority on our laws and their enforcement. This, in turn, would mitigate not only our animal control problem, but our crime problem in general.

After all, who do you think it is selling and buying these dogs anyway? The good guys? Caring families? Responsible animal lovers? I don’t think so.

The bottom line is, we need to get serious about animal control in our community. This is not rocket science, and we don’t need to reinvent the wheel. The City of Austin, Texas is known for its animal control laws and department. They are featured on Animal Planet. Check out their website at www.ci.austin.tx.us/health/pets/protect_pet.htm. A visit to the website lets you see that they take this issue seriously. For example, pets can only be sold at the location where they were bred. Additionally, any person selling any dog or cat (including puppies and kittens) in the city limits, must provide the consumer information required by the city and have the animal micro-chipped. The seller must also either pay a $50 fee to the Animal Shelter or have the animal spayed or neutered.

When it comes to dangerous dogs, the city has very stringent rules in place, and, in fact, has a map of the community that shows where dangerous dogs live. They also encourage residents to report acts of animal cruelty or dangerous animals either through 911 or through 311, their animal control number.

Maybe we should take a page from the City of Austin’s playbook.

On another note, I know there are many well intentioned animal lovers out there who would love to see every dog and cat spayed or neutered. They argue that these services should be discounted for the needy, poor and low-income families. I don’t blame the veterinarians for not wanting to participate in such a program. Why should they subsidize a procedure for someone who shouldn’t even own a pet since they can’t afford to care of it? There is no reason why we should not have a law — like Austin — requiring all pets to be spayed and neutered, unless they are owned by a licensed and registered breeder. Let’s get it done. We need to stop paying lip service to this problem and start addressing it or our county will certainly end up going to the dogs.

Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

Photo: Oreo, a 1-year-old pit bull, gained national attention after she was repeatedly abused before being thrown off the roof of a 6-story building. She was euthanized as a dangerous dog because of her abuse.

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