Owners root of animal control issue
The implementation of a dog and cat tax or animal licensing program has again been thrown into public debate.
Commissioner Carl (Buck) Mathes and Animal Control Officer Bruce LaHue support the idea, which potentially would charge pet owners an annual fee to register their dog or cat.
Funding for LaHue and the animal control facility is certainly needed, but the ‘tax’ is not the most reasonable solution.
The county council has approved most, if not all, additional appropriations involving the animal control facility. This is an easier, more transparent way to secure funds of the facility than a tax, which may drastically fluctuate from year to year, if it produces significant money at all.
The annual dog tax used to be mandated in Indiana, that is until people decided not to pay it. The dog tax was, and if implemented again will be, nearly impossible to collect.
With the former state-mandated system, township trustees were responsible for collecting the money. But, as to be expected, not too many people paid the easily avoidable tax.
In 2006, legislators shifted the responsibility of having a dog tax to county officials. And so far, Harrison County has yet to impose the tax.
In 2005, the tax brought in nearly $5,000, of which only $770 stayed in Harrison County for animal control or humane society use.
So, if more funding for the operations of the animal control office is the main reason to approve such a tax, the end doesn’t justify the means.
If approved, the collection of the tax would be enforced by animal control and state law enforcement. It would most likely lead to another position for animal control with the added work.
As it is, LaHue said he’s overwhelmed with cases and is sometimes two or three days behind.
The dog and cat overpopulation and at-large animal problems can only truly be rectified by the pet owners in the county. As long as there are irresponsible pet owners, the problems will persist regardless of how much money the county decides to throw at the issue.
So, the best and only real solution to the animal control issue is not government action but responsible pet owners.