To the Editor:
I am writing in response to an Athens NEWS article (Jan. 24) that recognized my efforts to bring spay/neuter services to ALL pet owners of Athens County.
My effort is a small piece of the pie. Friends of the Shelter Dogs efforts are a small piece of the pie. We will help these pet owners and the animals one by one but it will never solve the horrible epidemic proportions of sick, unhealthy, unwanted, abandoned domestic animals in Athens County.
What will solve this problem is to, NOW, while our individual efforts are going full throttle, have the county commissioners work full throttle to create a mandatory spay/neuter policy at the shelter. Any dog adopted from the shelter will be spayed/neutered before leaving the shelter. This is a huge piece of the pie.
The argument of people paying $160 to adopt a fixed animal is TOO much and people could not afford it? Well, my statistics are showing that many people who adopt cannot afford to have the dog spayed/neutered after adoption anyway. As the article stated, most (71 percent) of the pet owners at the last clinic could not afford the low-cost fees of the clinic.
The argument that the shelter offers "vouchers" to adopters to take their adopted pets to local vets? This is a very small piece of the pie as well. A clinic registrant had acquired an "unaltered" shelter dog from an "adopter" who was not responsible enough to use the voucher. A year later, this new owner needed 100 percent assistance to spay four different generation offspring (two of whom were pregnant again; two of whom had just had litters). Vouchers may help a few adopters, but the shelter policies need to adjust to reality.
The argument that this fee will make it impossible for rescue groups such as Friends of the Shelter Dogs to rescue dogs? This policy does not apply to temporary "rescue" withdrawals; it would only apply to people applying for permanent adoption. Modifying the forms a little to accommodate this policy would be a minor responsibility of the commissioners.
A majority of Ohio's 88 counties has or is in the process of implementing a mandatory spay/neuter policy at the shelter level. It is embarrassing that Athens County, which is so progressive in many ways, is still adopting out unaltered animals into a community where there's an obvious critical need for spay/neuter services.
This is a serious community problem. It does not belong solely to "private" individuals who have chosen to take action.
I am hoping that our new county commissioners will take this seriously and take the time to research how Athens County can catch up with communities all over the United States by implementing a sound mandatory spay/neuter policy at our local shelter. Time is of the essence. Make it a priority on your agenda and in the job descriptions of the shelter employees for the county representatives to join these "private" operations in aggressively working for the public toward a healthy animal population in Athens County. This is one of many problems, but now is the time to see it as a serious one. Since February is "Spay/Neuter Month," I would like to invite the commissioners to accompany me to the communities where I hold registrations for The Andy spay/neuter clinic. And I also invite you to volunteer at a clinic for an hour or two. Thank you.