|Polk County Enterprise - Local News
Stories Added - September 2009
Copyright 2008 - Polk County Publishing Company
PCSPCA wants partnership in county animal shelter
Polk County Enterprise - September 2009
LIVINGSTON – In an average year it costs the county $20,000 to operate the animal shelter where lost pets are reunited with their owners — an expense the Polk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCSPCA) believes it can reduce significantly. The PCSPCA wants to partner with the county to provide a better service for the county’s four-legged friends waiting to be adopted or reunited with their owner. PCSPCA directors believe this partnership could be a win-win situation for both their organization and the county.
“We want to help the county have a really nice shelter,” PCSPCA volunteer Penny Glienke said. “And I think we could probably save them some money doing it.” The PCSPCA would benefit by having a new facility where it can better care for the animals it rescues. Having the shelter would also open up new avenues of funding which it currently does not qualify for. The county would benefit because it would no longer need to staff the facility, freeing up its animal control officers to patrol the county. “Their animal control officers will able to do just that, control the animal population,” Glienke said. Anderson County has a similar situation in that it does not operate a county animal shelter. Instead the local chapter of the Humane Society takes in all animals given to them in exchange for budget money each year.
“We give them $25,700 each year,” Anderson County Judge Linda Ray said. “In turn they take in all county animals. But they are always running short on money. They came to us this year to request more money, but with the economic hardship hitting us all we had to turn them down.” Judge Ray said Anderson County has had this arrangement for as long as she can remember. “As you know, it’s better to outsource than to own the business,” Ray said. In addition to no longer having the worry over the day-to-day operations of the shelter, the county could forego the expense of providing food and medical care for the animals, and the disposal costs of euthanized animals. PCSPCA would pay for all care of the animals from its adoption and rescue fees, grant monies and charitable donations.
With a shelter in place, PCSPCA could begin applying for grants it would otherwise be ineligible for alone. BY CHARLES K. FRANKLIN Staff Reporter CharlesKFranklin@gmail.com “Teaming with the shelter opens up new funding avenues,” Glienke said. “The county can’t qualify for the grant funding because it’s not a 501(c)(3). Technically we can’t get it because we are not yet a shelter.” The PCSPCA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization but it currently does not have a shelter. The facility it has on Hwy. 190 just west of Livingston is rented and temporary at best. Having the county animal shelter, which is currently under construction in Leggett, would give them that permanent home and make them eligible for a significant amount of grant money. Glienke said the group can handle all of the shelter responsibilities for the county including euthanasia of unwanted or unadoptable pets.
It’s the dirty little secret most every shelter would rather not talk about. Glienke said most experts will say the U.S. disposes of approximately 6.8 million dogs and cats every year. Even one of the most well known animal advocates, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), destroys a great number of animals each year while promoting the benefits of a vegan diet. It is hard to say for sure what the actual number of animals put down each year is since there have been very few nationwide surveys. Only a few shelters are willing to discuss the issue at all. “The thought of it will eat you alive if you let it,” Glienke said. “You can’t put that on yourself. You are cleaning up someone else’s problem. God gave us dominion over animals and the state gives us the right to euthanize when we need to.”
She believes the situation can improve if people become educated about what it means to not have the family pet spayed or neutered. “We need to educate the public over time, beginning with the 5 year olds,” Glienke said. “As they get older, something we said to them, something we taught them made sense and it changed their behavior.” There are alternatives to euthanasia, however, like a no-kill shelter where great numbers of dogs, cats or even farm animals are housed, but the question is whether or not it is a fiscally responsible and humane option. “That dog deserves to be running and playing with a little girl or boy,” Glienke said. “He does not belong in a cage. How fair is that?” One such no-kill shelter in San Jacinto County called Save The Animals Rescue Society (STARS) has more than a hundred dogs and simply cannot take any more. The STARS shelter is so crowded Director Jackie Cloud no longer tells people where the facility is located. She is afraid people will drive by and toss their animals over the fence. Several have already arrived that way.
The STARS shelter was founded by four women who had been donating their time to the Shepherd animal shelter. The four decided an alternative was needed when they saw just how many pets were actually destroyed each year. “None of us have any kids,” Cloud said. “These animals became our kids and the situation in the animal shelter simply became unworkable because so many were euthanized. It was like watching one of our kids die each time.” One of the ladies has given use of a couple acres of land to STARS to house its rescued animals. She used her own money to have a mobile home moved onto the property, intending it to be used by volunteers as an office and clinic for the animals. It has become a home for many, though. Each room has an exit leading to a small outdoor area where the dogs can run around outside before going back to the comforts of the air conditioned house. “We just had to buy two new air conditioners.” Cloud said.
“We try to get swimming pools when we can afford it. We do fundraisers and beg or buy what we need to survive. We are getting ready to build four more kennels.” Every dog has a name and Cloud knows most of them, calling to each one as she stops by to give them a pat on the head and some one-on-one human time. As she makes her way through the house, Cloud allows the dogs from one pen to move into the next. Each dog has an assigned pen and she doesn’t worry much about the dogs getting mixed up. “They pretty much know where they are supposed to be,” Cloud said. “You tell them where to go and they go.” Cloud worries about the future of these dogs. She is 72 years old and knows that she won’t always be able to offer the same level of care she is providing now.
Cleaning the house is a daily chore for her. She uses bleach on the floor of the mobile home each day to be sure germs don’t take over. Cloud said STARS is always in need of constuction materials like fencing, fence posts, plywood and corrugated metal sheets for roofing. The same is true of the PCSPCA. “We are always in need of quality flea meds from a vet,” Cloud said. “not the kind from Wal-Mart.” Cloud said one of their mostneeded items is dog food. The shelter goes through 125 pounds of food in a day. She cautions not just any food will do. She would prefer to keep them on the same brand they are on now. “When you change their food they get diarrhea,” Cloud said.
“Can you imagine 100 dogs with diarrhea all at once?” They can both use concrete pavers and Cloud said she is in desperate need of concrete for kennel floors. The PCSPCA has concrete donated for them already but they can’t use it until they find a permanent site. No matter the philosophy of the shelter workers, the reality is we are left to control the animal population in the best way we can, or to choose not to control it at all.
“There isn’t really a no-kill shelter,” Glienke said. “If we get one that is sick or injured we can spend our whole budget on one animal. It is better to use that money instead where you can benefit more animals.”
Here are some practical solutions for reducing the euthanasia numbers from the American Humane Assoc:
• Be sure your pet wears an identification tag, rabies license, and city license. Include your name, address, phone number, and pet’s name.
• Keep licenses current as they help shelters locate pet owners. If you are willing to pay a reward, put it on the tag. • When moving, put a temporary tag on your pet. Include a phone number of someone who will know how to reach you.
• Don’t assume that your indoor pet doesn’t need tags. Many strays in shelters are indoor pets that escaped.
• Purchase special cat collars with elastic bands to protect your cat from being caught in trees or on fences.
• In addition to ID tags, consider getting your pet tattooed or microchipped. Donations for the STARS no-kill shelter can be made to Franklin’s General Store in Coldspring.
Here is the address: 14960 State Hwy. 150 W Coldspring, TX 77331 936-653-5668 Anyone wishing to donate to the Polk County SPCA can mail a check to: P.O. Box 1403 Livingston, TX. 77351 Make check payable to SPCA of Polk County.