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Solution needed to combat irresponsible pet owners in county

I was glad to read in the Oct. 30 issue of The Corydon Democrat that the Harrison County Council approved a much-needed increased budget for animal control. However, unless the dog and cat overpopulation problem is addressed, conditions will only get worse and more resources will be needed in the future.

Commissioner Kenny Saulman has said, “We don’t have an animal problem; we have a people problem. People don’t take care of their pets.” He is correct because there are those who refuse to have their pets spayed or neutered, but he offered no solution to the problem. Voluntary spay and neuter programs will not solve the problem, so the question is: How can we encourage those people to become responsible pet owners? The problem must be solved with local ordinances and assistance to those who need it. Introducing an ordinance to regulate/prevent unwanted litters is a necessity.

We had such an ordinance at one time. It started in 2012 when the county commissioners approved a breeders’ permit ordinance, which would require all dogs and cats in the county to be spayed or neutered unless a breeders’ permit was obtained. The permit would have been free. Failure to do so would result in a $100 fine. It was designed to encourage people to take advantage of the county voucher program to assist in spaying and neutering. The animal control officer of Hamilton County said a similar ordinance was very successful. Our ordinance was to take effect July 1, 2013.

Some people didn’t like that ordinance and, prior to the 2012 election, Protect the Harvest, a group in Crawford County against “animal rights groups that force their lifestyle on everyone through legislation,” took out a full-page ad in The Corydon Democrat in opposition to this ordinance and two new commissioners were elected. The first thing they did when they took office was to repeal the breeders’ permit ordinance. The people who were against this ordinance were not the people who dump their unwanted pets on animal control. Some people attending that commissioners’ meeting were PTH members from Crawford County, which was not affected by this ordinance. Those Harrison County residents in attendance said they were against “new regulations” and it infringed upon peoples “property rights.”

Flash forward to the present. The situation has gotten worse, and the people who objected to the breeders’ permit ordinance aren’t the ones who have to deal with it. Back in 2011, 88% of the animals were being euthanized and today, I have learned, that percentage has increased due to the greater number of animals being surrendered. Animal control and our local humane societies try to adopt as many as possible and encourage people to take advantage of the voucher program, but it’s not enough and will remain a problem until we elect commissioners who are willing to do something.

If the commissioners don’t like the breeders’ permit method, they should canvas the state to see what other counties are doing and come up with a solution.

Ray Wilson,

New Middletown, Ind.

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