The following article appeared in the Johnson City Press on Thursday, May 12, 2016 and is reprinted with permission.
Animal control is an essential public service and local governments have a responsibility to treat it as such. That includes Johnson County, where elected officials are now considering creating a much-needed animal control program in their county.
There will be the usual push back from residents and politicians who argue taxes should not be raised to build kennels and hire a dog catcher. That’s an inaccurate and outdated perception of what a professional animal control program is about.
It is not some feel-good charity. It is an important health and public safety service that deals with many diverse issues, such as rabies, abandoned animals and abused pets.
It’s OK to ask animal lovers to help with the implementation of an animal control program and shelter, but the cost of the entire service should not be placed on the backs of private donors.
And we must not forget that more than 4 million unwanted, abused or aggressive dogs and cats were euthanized last year in the United States. These deaths would have been unnecessary had pet owners spayed or neutered their animals. That’s another issue that a professional animal control program must tackle