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On animal welfare, is there more community can do?

Posted: August 14, 2014 - 4:00pm

This week’s rescue of 35 dogs just outside of Soldotna highlights a question the Kenai Peninsula Borough has been struggling with for years: How much, if any, animal control is needed — or even wanted — outside of city limits?

Fortunately, the situation on Knight Drive had a positive outcome. Concerned citizens heard about the situation via social media, contacted the owners and offered to help. As it turned out, the animals’ owners were willing to accept assistance, and volunteers collected the dogs and transported them to Alaska’s Extended Life Animal Sanctuary in Nikiski. Once healthy, the sanctuary will begin the process of adopting the dogs out to new homes.

It would be nice if that were the end of the story. Unfortunately, it’s one of many animal welfare cases across the Kenai Peninsula. Sometimes it’s reports of animals lacking adequate food or shelter, other reports involve loose or stray animals exhibiting aggressive behavior toward people or wildlife.

While the peninsula’s incorporated cities have animal control officers, the borough has never established animal control outside of city limits where enforcement of state regulations falls to Alaska State Troopers. In the past, troopers have told the Clarion that reports of animal neglect are common, but seizure of animals is rare.

The borough assembly has taken up the issue periodically, but residents in the borough’s unincorporated communities have generally opposed additional government regulation. Peninsula voters will have another opportunity to weigh in on the October municipal election ballot, which will include an advisory measure asking whether the borough should exercise limited animal control powers in unincorporated areas, and if properties outside of cities should be assessed a mill rate of 0.002 to pay for domestic animal rescue and care services. The borough would contract with an organization such as Alaska’s Extended Life Animal Sanctuary to provide those services.

It’s an issue borough voters should consider seriously. There comes a point where the cost of doing nothing outweighs the cost of taking action. Tim Colbath, of Alaska’s Extended Life Animal Sanctuary and a proponent of limited animal control, told the Clarion the cost of this week’s rescue effort will exceed $15,000, including food, medications and spay/neutering expenses. The sanctuary is seeking donations to help defray those costs. Perhaps some of that expense could have been mitigated, had there been a mechanism in place to address the issue sooner.

In the meantime, we’re grateful to have a community of concerned citizens willing to help where they see a problem. It’s up to voters to determine if there’s more that we, as a community, should do.

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MSeavey 08/15/14 - 12:12 pm
I seems "Community"

I seems "Community" functioned just fine here. More Government isn't going to do better. Even "limited" it would only add unnecessary cost and burden to the vast majority of animal owners. And we all know how "limited" looks like after a while, were government is concerned.

If, as stated, "reports" to the troopers result in few confiscations, then either other remedial measures are being taken or the reports may not be valid. "Tattling" on the neighbors can be a favorite tool in an over-the-fence feud.

I say let "Community" function and let the troopers step in if necessary, as they have done numerous times before.

Thanks, Alaska’s Extended Life Animal Sanctuary.

Peg Snyder
Peg Snyder 08/18/14 - 05:14 pm
Animal Welfare

An answer to MSeavey... In reading your remarks, I want to tell you WHY there are "few confiscations" where borough wide animals are concerned. THE TROOPERS DO NOT RESPOND TO ANIMAL CRUELTY CASES! As a member of "Domestic Animal Protection League" who has been working to pass the prop up for vote on Oct. 7th... after MANY meeting with the troopers, they admit they DO NOT have the time or manpower to do the investigation or documantion needed to seize ABUSED~ ABANDONED~ NEGLECTED or STARVING animals in our borough. AND if they did, WHERE ARE THEY GOING TO TAKE THE ANIMALS? They are unable to tie them up out behind the cop~shop! The "Alaska Extended Life Animal Sanctuary" can only take so many. This rescue nearly overwhelmed them! This time we got LUCKY! The people in this situation were "willing to surrender" the animals... ALL cases are not so lucky. Have you read the letters to the editor of late, OR been to a borough meeting to hear testimony about abuse and neglect in our own back yards? This will NOT "add unnecessary cost or burden to the vast majority of animal owners"... a mill rate of .02 or $3 on every $150,000 of assessed personal property value, will be the cost. $3... that is not even the cost of a slice of PIE! Animals are STARVING and DYING in this borough. As a musher and animal lover Mr. Seavey, I would think you would be behind this 100%. Please go to our web page and contact us if you would like the "WHOLE STORY" on this issue. Peg Snyder "Domestic Animal Protection League".

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