Animal overpopulation is a human problem

September 25, 2013 

There are a couple of inalterable facts of life: Those who are born will die, and while we’re here, taxes will be paid. However, there are other facts of this nature we don’t think about. No matter how huge Bibb County builds its Animal Shelter, it will never be big enough to handle the number of unwanted dogs, cats and other animals.

Millions more dollars could be spent on staffing the facility and keeping it top shelf and it would still be overcrowded and animals would still have to be put down. Why? Humans. While some animal behaviors are unpredictable, humans have the animal kingdom beat by a mile.

It is really simple to mitigate overcrowded shelters and needless euthanizations, but for humans it seems too difficult a concept to grasp. Councilwoman Nancy White has been trying to get a mandatory ordinance that would require pet owners to have their animals spayed or neutered for almost a year. Monday, it moved one step closer to passage when the Public Safety Committee approved it on a 3-2 vote. It will now go to full council.

The proposal gives certain exemptions to qualified breeders, service animals for the disabled, search and rescue animals, animals belonging to part-time residents, but pet owners would be required to have their animals fixed. An ordinance that has no teeth isn’t likely to work, so owners of unaltered animals would have to buy a permit. Those pets would also have to be tagged and microchipped. Violators could be fined up to $500.

Of course there are dissenting opinions. Councilman Henry Gibson said it just added more responsibilities on poor people who want to own an animal. No matter a person’s economic strata, owning an animal is a responsibility. Requiring spaying and neutering should go hand-in-hand with making sure pets have the required vaccinations and are fed regularly.

Will this ordinance solve the problem? Of course not. Pet overpopulation is a human issue this community has been unwilling to help solve. Council will decide on the ordinance next month and it should approve it. If someone can think of a better path, speak up.

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