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Control of animal abuse needs hard look

Posted: November 1, 2012 - 2:59pm

Recently, several locals shared their thoughts on animal control issues on the Peninsula with us, advocating for some sort of effort to address a spreading problem.

As the human population of the area grows and spreads into the rural areas, so does the population of animals and pets like horses, goats, dogs, cats and others, increasing the likelihood of animal abuse or neglect.

Thankfully, we have a core group of residents who have in years prior done what they could do to help — taking in animals left to the elements and raising a stink when there is a problem — but they aren’t the people who should have to bear this responsibility. Currently, that’s the job of the Alaska State Troopers.

But, as the unincorporated parts of the borough grow, the troopers are stretched thin and budgets only go so far. Like it or not, animal abuse and prosecution of abuse cases are simply not priorities in the area despite the problem.

We feel it’s long past time to make it — if not a priority — at least an area of concern.

The issue draws public attention every couple of years and nothing has been done. Yet, it is still a problem, as evidenced by recent court cases, and people still care, as evidenced by recent showings of support at the Borough Assembly chambers.

It’s time for someone at the borough level to start the discussions. We certainly would be hesitant to jump into the water with so many unknowns — cost, responsibility, magnitude and scope — but this problem won’t go away on its own.

We already have a group of people who have an idea for a solution — an emergency animal resource and response team — so maybe we can start there and find compromises. We’d also like for the borough administration to see just what it might cost to start an animal control program. That way we could know for sure what we were getting into when we talk about the cost.

The easiest thing we can do without official action is to support the efforts of those individuals who donate their time and effort to help troopers when there are animals suffering. There are non-profit agencies, such as the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals or the proposed emergency response team, that could receive donations from the public and accept supplemental funding as borough finances allow to assist with rehabilitation from abuse. It’s a positive step toward a solution to a growing problem.

In short: We’re thankful there are folks out there who selflessly donate their time and energy and open their heart and pocketbooks to help with the growing problem of animal abuse on the Peninsula. But those folks can’t do it alone and it is time for the borough to take a hard look at some sort of animal control program or find ways to combat the current situation. Ideas are out there, support and resources thankfully exist, but we just need to start the conversation.

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