Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Editorials

May 7, 2013

Spay-neuter ordinance — Counties must be afforded option

— Too many dogs and cats and too few homes for them have created problems in counties that do not have enough room in their animal shelters to handle the overpopulation. County shelter personnel and local volunteers have done a lot to find responsible pet owners to take these animals, but kennels fill up almost as soon as they are emptied. Irresponsible pet owners who do not have their pets spayed or neutered — and then allow them to run loose — keep the problem going.

One sad symptom of this problem was discovered recently outside of Bluefield. At least 10 dead pit bull puppies were dumped in the Grassy Branch Road area. An investigation into how these pups died and who dumped them is continuing. The Humane Society of the United States announced a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for this act.

Necessary action that could reduce the chances for such incidents is to allow counties to enact spay-neuter laws. If dog and cat owners prevented their pets from creating unwanted litters of puppies or kittens, fewer animals would be homeless and there would be less stress on county animal shelters. Euthanasia, an option disliked by many people, would be less necessary.

An effective spay-neuter law would reduce the homeless animal population. In some instances, animal rescue organizations move dogs and cats to areas where there are effective spay-neuter laws. These laws reduce the number of animals available for adoption.

Mercer County’s legislators have expressed interest in introducing legislation that would give county commissions the authority to create spay-neuter ordinances if they choose to do so. Counties could draft ordinances, conduct public hearings, or put proposed ordinances on public ballots so voters could decide whether to implement local spay-neuter rules.

An effective ordinance would reduce the number of homeless dogs and cats wandering our communities. Those homeless animals could catch rabies from wild animals and carry that dangerous disease to people, so limiting their numbers would improve public health. It would also reduce the population of homeless pets struggling to survive without the love or care of responsible owners.

Local legislators are ready to lend their support, so the communities of southern West Virginia should be ready to support spay-neuter ordinances, too. Having fewer homeless dogs and cats will reduce the strain on local shelters, better protect the public’s health, and stop the suffering of animals with no place to call home.

 

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