Solving the animal shelter’s problems is in our hands

Van VanDeWalker, the much-beloved, tireless worker for animals at the Bibb County shelter has called it quits. VanDeWalker may have been a victim of his own success at keeping euthanizations down at the shelter. Unfortunately, he worked under a prior leadership structure that was found lacking. VanDeWalker was tarred with that same brush of administrative failure. VanDeWalker had a lot of people in his corner, but in the end, how they asked for him to be named director may have ultimately led to his resignation.

No one in this county is happy with the number of animals we have to kill, but if we just look at the shelter, we are not looking deeply enough. We should look at the community that brings boxes full of puppies and kittens to the shelter because, as owners, they failed to have their pets spayed or neutered. Some have pointed to the fees charged for adoption. On one end of the spectrum one could say the $80 adoption fee and the refundable $50 fee to ensure the pet is neutered or spayed is excessive. At the other end, one could argue that if you can’t afford to pay for the adoption, you can’t afford to care for a pet.

As the county tries to get a handle on this vexing problem, the community has to show patience and action. A new shelter will not be constructed overnight, and a new facility will not solve all of our animal problems Shelter employees and animal rescue groups can’t impact the number of animals the shelter intakes, nor can they assure that each pet has been spayed or neutered. Only we can do that.

-- Charles E. Richardson, for the Editorial Board