Irresponsible pet owners a problem that is hard to fix

Special to The TelegraphNovember 26, 2012 

First, I want to thank Macon’s City Council for recognizing a serious problem and its willingness to take the steps needed to improve the lives of Macon’s animal population and The Telegraph for your many articles about Macon’s animals. It is my hope that one day other communities will use Macon as an example of how to care for animals.

On the surface, an ordinance to require spay/neuter does appear to be the solution; however, deeper research reveals that it does not adequately address the core problem of irresponsible pet owners. I encourage the City Council to research failed mandatory spay/neuter programs in other cities. One source is Nathan Winograd’s website, (www.nathanwinograd.com), providing statistics on the failure of other attempts and the reasons they have failed. The more animal control laws that are passed, the more animals are killed.

Already people complain that there is no one to respond to reports of animal abuse and neglect. In a time of financial difficulty, how will Macon be able to enforce the ordinance, and if it is enforced, the fact is that many people will turn their pets over to Animal Control rather than pay for the operation. Animal control will be overrun with more animals that will be destroyed, and children will be brokenhearted at the loss of their pets. Irresponsible owners can easily find another pet for little or no money, and the children will learn a lesson. Loved ones can be easily cast aside if they become inconvenient and a replacement can be found. Do we really want children to have that impression?

It is proposed that a person who feeds a stray for more than 14 days will be considered the pet’s owner and will be responsible. Will this include people who feed feral cats? Feral cats play an important part in our ecosystem by controlling the rodent population, and many of the people who do so much to help the strays have stretched their own budgets to feed the ferals. They shouldn’t have the added stress of being fined for their good deeds.

Macon-Bibb County’s Recent $100,000 PetSmart Grant is a positive step. I encourage increased efforts to write grants to fund spay/neuter programs. Financial support of local organizations such as Cheryl Coffman’s Feral Feline Fixers is needed. She is an asset in the care and control of feral cats and needs help to continue.

The editorial about spay/neuter in the Nov. 19 paper concluded with “if we have to create a law to make sure people do the right thing -- so be it.” If only it were that easy, but everyone knows that laws against killing, theft, etc. have had only limited success. There is no reason to believe a spay/neuter law would fare any better.

Vickie L. Gingery is a resident of Byron.

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