Monday, April 26, 2010

Enough complaining about Animal Control

It’s said that the only two certainties in life are death and taxes. In Kern County you can easily add one more: complaining about Kern County Animal Control, which is done so often and with such ferocity that it might qualify as a professional sport.

Residents complain that KCAC is too slow to respond to safety issues such as loose dogs, getting homeless dogs off of the street or dealing with pets being attacked by other animals.

Rescuers complain that the system is too difficult for rescues to get the animals they want and that they aren’t given enough notice to coordinate a rescue plan.

There are complaints when the adoptable animals section looks too full, or not full enough. There are complaints if someone sees an animal that appears to have a runny nose or inflamed eyes, and complaints when animals are euthanized due to illness. People complain that aren’t enough resources for low-cost spay and neuter, then when options are introduced they complain that it’s too far to drive/held on the wrong day/still not free.

Enough already.

Changing the situation requires two things: more volunteers or more money; preferably both. Kern County is as strapped financially as any other county in California and will continue to carve more money out of the already dreadfully under-funded KCAC budget, leaving even less available for necessary services. Not that the budget deficit is what got us here, since even during the “boom” years of 2003-2008 no one was rushing to give KCAC an extra boost to help service the additional tens of thousands of folks who moved into the area.

You want more from Animal Control? Then do your part:
  • Get your animals licensed. I’m tired of hearing from people who complain about response times, short staffing and bad hours of operation who can’t be bothered to license their pets. Licensing, besides helping bring home the lost, provides critically needed revenue for Animal Control, revenue that can be used to provide the very services residents complain they aren’t getting. Even cat owners can get a $5 Identification Tag through KCAC. So do it, already.
  • Spay and neuter your pets. Animal Control is not the reason there are so many homeless animals on the street --- we are. If there’s anything about companion animals that people in Kern County agree on, it’s that there are far too many of them. Folks, KCAC didn’t bring them into this world. That’s squarely on the shoulders of the community, and we’re the only ones who can reduce that number though spaying and neutering.
  • Volunteer. Or donate. Or both. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. If you have time, give some of it. Being at the Animal Control facility too much for you? Volunteer through Friends of the Kern County Animal Shelters Foundation and help with off-site or fundraising events. Throw an extra bottle of bleach into your cart while it’s on sale and give it to the shelter. Donate gently used clothing to Kern Humane Society’s Thrift Store, which provides vouchers for spaying and neutering through the sale of their goods. Skip a trip to the coffee shop and give that $5 to Friends instead.
  • Find a way to make your peace with a tax to help Animal Control. In all the years I’ve been here, there hasn’t been one time when Animal Control proposed changing their fees that people haven’t responded as though we were asking you to give up your remote controls. I still dream of the day that every household gets a $5 per year increase on their property taxes to pay for Animal Control services. In just a couple of years we’d have the money to build a first-rate low-cost spay/neuter clinic with just that one little change. We get what we pay for, or don’t pay for, as the case may be, but we can’t have it both ways. We either have to pony up for the services we want or stop whining about not having them.
I’m not saying that KCAC doesn’t have its issues. It does. But we community members aren’t exactly innocent, either. Before grabbing those pitchforks and torches, let’s take a good, long peek to make sure that our own house is in order before calling to bring down theirs.

I know I still have a couple of weeds to pull. How about you?

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