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Leaders, please step forward

Jackie Carpenter, Managing Editor

Now more than ever in our lifetime is a time for calm, rational thought, in light of the 9-11 terrorist attacks on our nation and the challenges that lie ahead. Admittedly, while the age-old animal control issue in Harrison County should have been put to bed years ago, some pro-animal “shelter” forces have, in frustration, taken to name calling and refusing to see beyond the obvious. Some persons calling “Live Wire” have been most voracious in their attacks against our officials.
In Harrison County we sometimes lag behind others in our actions, especially when it comes to an animal shelter. We are, after all, one of only two counties among the 92 in Indiana that do not have an animal control/shelter/pound center. Of some sort.
That is still no reason to rush blindly forward, but can 90 Indiana counties be wrong? Even if we built a shelter tomorrow, we could hardly be accused of rushing into anything. The need or lack of need for an animal shelter has been debated here for decades.
Places with animal control shelters, ones that routinely put animals “to sleep,” meet with rising anger from animal rights advocates who believe euthanasia should be outlawed for all animals except ones that are a threat to society.
Proponents fear a roving pack of dogs will maul a child. Others are simply fed up with loose dogs that get into their garbage cans. Proponents also include persons who believe the public needs a place — and an animal control officer — to call for help when they’re faced with a vicious animal or a stray animal that needs a home.
Some opponents don’t want to spend the money, period. After all, how can we provide a home for animals when we can’t even buy school books for our youngsters?
At the latest juncture, the Harrison County Board of Commissioners is preparing for a third trip before the county council. Ages ago, it seems, the council rejected the first plan as too expensive. The plan involved renovating a building owned by the county in industrial park, one bought with an animal shelter in mind.
That plan carried a $561,000 price, including $101,000 already spent to purchase the building. It was deemed too expensive, too elaborate. It had to be, because there was a room in it for “education.”
Someone asked: “How educated does a dog have to be?”
(We’re not even going there.)
And there was this ultimatum from the council: Bring us a plan for $300,000. Translation: a two-room pole barn, with an intake area and an “out-go” area (incinerator and/or freezer).
The commissioners (not the current board but the one before) sent the plan back to the architects to trim, where possible.
Days turned into months. The architects finally came back with another plan, smaller but not much different in price. It would have cost $460,000. Again, rejection. Too expensive.
Now there’s yet another option on the drawing board. This one calls for a land swap and sale of the existing building, which has been appraised at $129,000. This plan would cost $479,500 less $129,000 (at least) for a new price of $350,000.
The commissioners have sent the new plan to an expert for advice on whether these latest plans would meet Harrison County’s needs. But it doesn’t matter much what the expert says.
The council has said it is willing to spend $300,000. The way the political game has played out lately, it seems more important to embarrass someone than to get the job done.
What’s needed here is leadership. Someone needs to educate the public as to what is needed and then get the job done. Someone needs to stand up for their convictions.
If we don’t need an animal shelter, why not? If we don’t need animal control, why not? Hiding behind the price is no longer a valid reason. Because of Caesars’ revenue, we have more money than we could ever have dreamed a few years ago. And as for operating costs, we also have a long list of volunteers ready to help defray expenses.
If we do need an animal control center, or shelter, tell the naysayers why. Bite the bullet.
The overwhelmingly successful spay/neuter clinic that took place here last week is an example of what can be accomplished. We need to take that concept a step further.