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Let breeder’s permit ordinance stand

My Opinion
Ross Schulz, Staff Writer

The Harrison County Board of Commissioners, at least the two newly-elected ones, are on a path to repeal the breeder’s permit ordinance put in place in November.
If they do so, it would be a mistake.
The general public may not see animal control as a problem until it effects them, their children or pets of their own. But ask any of those involved in the field, whether it be Animal Control Officer Bruce LaHue, spay-and-neuter coordinator Tanya Tuell, local veterinarians or the previous District 1 and 2 commissioners James Goldman and Carl (Buck) Mathes, respectively, who fielded calls on the subject asking them to do something about it, and they leave no doubt that overpopulation of dogs and cats is a problem in the county.
For the farmers who expressed concern about the ordinance, both Mathes and Goldman are farmers and they had no problem with the ordinance and voted to put it in place.
When it was put together, LaHue basically told the commissioners that farmers and other responsible pet owners will not have to do anything different after the ordinance takes effect (slated for July 1).
At the very most, if their animals are ever in question, all they will have to do is visit the auditor’s office and obtain a free breeder’s permit.
How the debate went from that to saying it’s a mandatory spay-and-neuter program is hard to understand. There’s absolutely nothing mandatory about it. No one is telling residents they can’t allow their pets to breed anymore.
A large group of folks attending the most recent commissioners’ meeting expressed concern and asked for the repeal of the ordinance. A few were farmers, who have nothing to fear, and another was a 4-H representative worried that students would not be able to participate in certain events because of a lack of puppies or kittens. Again, nothing will hinder those families from breeding their dogs or cats.
Others pitched their opinions and ideas as to what the commissioners should do. But they’re late to the discussion.
Last year, the Harrison County Council advised LaHue to form a committee to come up with a plan to combat animal overpopulation. The committee was made up of one representative each from the sheriff’s department and prosecutor’s office, along with a county councilman and commissioner, veterinarians and rescue shelter workers, among others.
In one of the meetings with the committee, LaHue showed a slide of photos of barrel after barrel of euthanized dogs. LaHue said the images were too graphic to show at county council or commissioners’ meetings, but that never-ending line of euthanized dogs, of all breeds and ages, is at the heart of the animal control problem.
Maybe he should show those slides at a public meeting.
The breeder’s permit ordinance gives LaHue a tool he wouldn’t otherwise have to punish irresponsible pet owners.
For those who want to put an end to or slow down the couple of thousand animal euthanizations a year in the county, it’d be a good idea to show up at an upcoming board of commissioners’ meeting in support of the breeder’s permit ordinance.
The supporters wanting to repeal the ordinance stood for a moment during the last meeting to show their support.
It’s time for the other side to stand up as well.