Editorial: Humane Society funding boost due to human problem

The Bartholomew County Humane Society will get a significant boost in funding from the county this year, as county commissioners agreed to raise the amount paid to shelter abandoned animals by 38% over 2022 funding. The county has agreed to pay the Humane Society $125,000 this year compared to just over $90,000 last year.

That sounds like a big jump — and it is — but it’s necessary. And while we are grateful for the excellent work of the local Humane Society, it’s a shame that as a community, we continue to fail so many animals.

As The Republic’s Mark Webber reported, Commissioner Tony London negotiated with the Humane Society, but there really wasn’t all that much that was open to question, according to London.

“They had asked for that amount, and we thought it was appropriate,” he said.

The reason for the increase is due to the increasing number of animals the Humane Society is taking in — and has taken in — as well as the rising cost of everything, including food, medicine and vet care.

As London explained, the amount of money the county has provided to the Humane Society has remained the same in recent years even as the number of dogs and cats brought to the shelter, including by county animal control employees, has continued to rise.

You could therefore argue that the county has, in a sense, been short-changing the Humane Society for some time. There has long been a crisis of abandoned pets in this community brought on by economic uncertainty, the pandemic and other factors.

According to the local Humane Society, it was sheltering 733 pets as of Sept. 30, 2022. That shelter does remarkable work even under such stress, saving more than 93% of animals it receives, according to statistics on its website.

Last July, as Webber also reported, both local shelters pleaded for the community to consider alternatives to abandoning their pets at local shelters, with Columbus Animal Care Services general manager Nicohl Birdwell Goodin saying at the time the city shelter was the fullest she had seen in her nine years working there. “We are bursting at the seams,” she said at the time.

Every Saturday, The Republic features just a sampling of adoptable pets that need homes. Providing this service on behalf of the Humane Society and Columbus Animal Care Services is one way we can focus attention on this ongoing problem. We’d also like to think these features have helped at least a few adorable pets find loving, caring forever homes. Many of us have been blessed with the good fortune to experience the incomparable affection and joy that a rescued animal provides.

We thank the staff and volunteers of the shelters who donate time, money, energy and talent to care for these animals.

This is, however, a human problem that begins and ends with responsibility. Responsible pet owners spay and neuter their dogs and cats, and we implore all pet owners to do so. It’s the simplest thing you can do to control the local pet population, and free or low-cost options are available.

Otherwise, the number of animals abandoned to shelters will only rise, along with the cost that taxpayers will have to pay in years to come.