By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Reducing pet overpopulation
Placeholder Image
The Stanislaus County Animal Services Department has been the subject of much scrutiny during the past few years, to the extent that the Civil Grand Jury issued a report recommending the construction of a new shelter, along with various other changes and improvements. Local groups concerned with the welfare of animals have also voiced concern about various aspects of the county's animal services operation.

The concerns of the various parties with regards to the shelter are largely valid. The shelter facility is operating far beyond its capacity and there are other problems that, over the years, have contributed to the situation as it now exists. Representatives of the animal shelter, as well as other Stanislaus County employees who have responsibilities in connection with the Animal Services Department, are quick to agree that there are major problems requiring timely attention.

The problem is not just that of local government alone. State laws pertaining to the care and disposition of animals have increased the cost of animal sheltering as well. Specifically, dogs must be held for six days and cats for three days; and certain efforts must be made for the possible adoption of the animals, thereby increasing the cost of handling animals and placing additional stress on animal shelter and control employees. The problem seems to get worse each year as the county's human population grows.

The pet owners in this county are really the ones with the ultimate responsibility for solving the pet overpopulation and strays problems we now face. A new animal shelter is an absolute need - there is no way around that. However, residents here must change their ways in order to reduce the number of unwanted animals and help the county manage the overall animal population.

The first and most important management tool is that of licensing dogs. It appears that the percentage of dogs actually licensed is woefully low as compared to other counties in this state. Dog licensing is the primary tool that animal services personnel can use to ensure that dogs are vaccinated against rabies. Licensing also generates the revenues needed to manage and track the dog population. Without it, the problems with strays, vicious and sick dogs increase. All dogs, even police dogs, must be licensed to stay compliant with the law. Spayed or neutered dogs costs less to license than those that are not.

The pet overpopulation problem is severe in this county, which is one of the contributing factors to the animal shelter situation that the county is facing. Cats and dogs should be spayed or neutered to help curb the problem. Irresponsible pet owners often have unwanted litters of animals and simply let them loose along some country road. Many of these animals end up dead along side a road, and many others get picked up as strays. Because of a low adoption rate in this county, the large majority of animals end up euthanized after being held in the shelter for the legally-required period. The way animals are handled in this county reflects the fact that a large percentage of the human population is either apathetic towards the problem or people simply need to be educated about the problem and the fixes for it. It is probably a case of both. For Ceres alone (representing about 11 percent of the total animal population picture in Stanislaus County) the projected cost for animal-related issues is approximately $500,000 annually. Even if animal welfare is of no concern, the cost of dealing with them should motivate the average citizen/pet owner to have their pets spayed or neutered, licensed and to provide proper health care for them.

The failure to properly handle animal welfare in this county over the long term has led to the very problematic situation we are now in, and it should be corrected as soon as possible. We can no longer afford to allow the unwanted pet population to keep growing, for both humane and economic reasons. A good start will be for all pet owners to have them spayed or neutered, dogs should be licensed and all animals should be given the applicable vaccinations for rabies, distemper, etc. In more general terms, a society's degree of civility can often be measured by how it treats animals. Let us correct this county's shortcomings in a timely fashion as our animal services program reflects directly on everyone living here