Animal advocacy group plans informational meeting this month

An animal advocacy group will outline their past endeavors and future efforts during a public meeting later this month.

Organizers at Change 4 Bartholomew County – Animal Advocacy have adopted a mission statement to cultivate a humane community, advocate for animal welfare and promote responsible pet ownership.

Their two-hour informational meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 19, in the Blessed Life Fellowship Church, located at Suite #316 in the Roviar Building, 1220 Washington St.

Group administrator Nancy Ray expressed a need to go over some basics matters during the meeting.

“There is still confusion about the Bartholomew County Humane Society and the Bartholomew County Animal Control Department,” Ray wrote on a social media post promoting the event. “This is one of the misconceptions we will address at the meeting.”

There is also a misconception on the part of the nonprofit group.

In promoting the meeting, Change 4 Bartholomew County states one of their goals is to “reinstate a county Animal ‘Welfare’ Commission.”

That is a group that never existed.

Before it was dissolved in late 1998, there was a county Animal ‘Control’ Commission intended to “provide private citizen representation as a forum to ensure the equitable enforcement of animal control regulations.”

All three Bartholomew County commissioners say there is a significant difference between animal control and animal welfare.

  • Animal control fulfills a public health and welfare function that refers to the enforcement of ordinances relating to the control, impoundment and disposition of animals.
  • Animal welfare is a veterinary commitment that encompasses all aspects of an animal’s well-being, both physical and mental.

Since Columbus Animal Care Services has a substantial budget, seven full-time employees, 11 part-time employees and many volunteers, they are better able to provide animal welfare services, the commissioners said. In contrast, Bartholomew County Animal Control has much less manpower, a substantially smaller budget and a much larger area to cover. The commissioners say the county lacks the resources to provide countywide animal welfare care.

However, the county does have a contract with the Bartholomew County Humane Society to house and care stray and homeless animals. Two years ago, the commissioners gave the Humane Society an 89% increase in funding. In addition, restrictions on large-scale dog breeding kennels, as well as approved trap and release programs for feral cats, have been approved for the county in recent years.

Nevertheless, all three commissioners (Tony London, Larry Kleinhenz, Carl Lienhoop) are on record that they will not consider changing current animal control ordinances nor reinstating a county animal control commission. Lienhoop says rural families have different standards of animal care than urban pet owners.

For over a year, Change 4 Bartholomew County has maintained a regular appearance at the commissioners’ weekly meeting to show their commitment to their goals.

During the upcoming meeting, the nonprofit is expected to advocate their definitions of humane tethering, adequate shelter and extreme weather precautions. That has been an occasional matter of discussion between the group and the county.

“With all due respect, this is not a political gathering,” Ray said about the upcoming meeting.

Nevertheless, the group states that this year’s elections will be discussed and the group will “reflect on the history of our current public servants.”