When is the time to prevent a human from being shot, a victim of our outdated borough animal control policies? Before or after it happens?
All residents of the Kenai Peninsula who live outside the city limits of Homer, Seward, Soldotna or Kenai face the possibility of accidentally being shot every time we step outside our homes. Sound unreal? Sound ridiculous?
It is true.
We live in a borough that recommends "shoot, shovel and shut up" when it comes to stray animals. One of our current borough assembly members is on record stating, "Those who want animal control should move to where it is provided." That says a lot about his opinion of public safety.
In his defense, 200 years ago, when very few people lived on the peninsula, some 17,000 square miles, it was a fairly safe practice. In 2005, it is simply dangerous. There are too many subdivisions and communities throughout the peninsula, Anchor Point, Cooper Landing, Nikiski, Ninilchik, Sterling and countless others, where shooting stray animals is impossible to do safely. Modern ammunition travels hundreds of yards, some up to a mile. How many houses are less that a mile apart near you?
Over the years reports of snowmachines, four-wheelers and even a child's bike (parked in front of his home) have been hit by bullets intended for stray animals. How long before someone is shot here on the peninsula?
The popular argument is, "It will cost the taxpayers too much money," but the fact is there is already $150,000 available for animal control (according to Gary Superman) in the budget. Is public safety not worth that much? The cities of Kenai and Soldotna spend an estimated $75,000 to $80,000 per year each on animals from outside their jurisdictions.
Alaska's Extended Life Animal Sanctuary has proposed a long-term contract to our borough Mayor Dale Bagley. He claims to have thrown it away, unread, and "will do the same" with anything else concerning animal control for the borough. The animal sanctuary can do it for $150,000, a few scheduled to be auctioned vehicles from the borough and the state troopers' help. Seems too good to pass up? That's what we thought.
Under Alaska State Statute 29.35.210, the Kenai Peninsula Borough, as a second class borough has jurisdiction over animal control. Let us demand that they do their jobs to bring the Kenai into the 21st century, before it cost us our lives or our loved ones.
Copies of the animal sanctuary proposed ordinance and the proposed contract are available on request.
T. J Colbath, founder, Alaska's Extended Life Animal Sanctuary in Nikiski
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