AS noted in stories in The Republic earlier this month, Columbus and Bartholomew County have made significant improvements in the field of animal control during the past 50 years.
There certainly has been an advancement beyond the days of the pound on Water Street, where stray animals were treated as garbage and subjected to
The community emerged from that shameful period largely through the efforts of a group of caring individuals who formed the Bartholomew County Humane Society in 1966.
Out of those humble beginnings emerged a new attitude about the responsibilities of the community to its animals. Before the creation of the Humane Society, those responsibilities fell on an understaffed animal control office that served only the city of Columbus.
Inadequate facilities coupled with a generally uncaring public attitude led to inevitable results.
The Humane Society can take a great share of the credit for not only providing more suitable facilities but also for changing public attitudes. A sense of professionalism and caring was brought to the Animal Control office.
In addition to the services provided by the city’s shelter and the Humane Society, independent nonprofit groups were formed to rescue and rehabilitate neglected or abused animals. Although these groups have not operated at variance with each other, there has been duplication of services and a measure of confusion because of the proliferation of groups and their missions.
For several years now, members of the Humane Society have been pursuing a dream of a new shelter, significantly larger than the current 2,400-square-foot facility. Fundraising for the project has been slow, and cost estimates have escalated.
Finally leaders of the Humane Society recently decided to move forward with construction, although the fund drive was significantly short of the $1.5 million needed. Organizers have put renewed emphasis on raising the additional money during the next six months.
There is no question that completion of the facility will be a tremendous benefit to the entire community. It will certainly elevate the level of animal care significantly. Now that organizers have elected to move forward, it is an effort that deserves the support of the entire community, both within Columbus and Bartholomew County.
But that is not all that is needed. It is important that the resources of all the organizations within the county dedicated to animal care and control be marshaled in a collaborative fashion.
Instead of pursuing their own paths, each of the entities that provide this service should seek common ground in areas such as philosophy and resources. Both city and county governments have a direct responsibility in providing animal care and should support it
A new facility will be an improvement, but an ever greater addition to the quality of life in this community would be a unified approach in controlling and caring for our animals.