It was nice to see more than two dozen people come together on Friday at the Richmond County Animal Shelter in order to recognize North Carolina Humane Lobby Day. The event served as a forum that allowed people from a variety of backgrounds to come together for a single goal — to meet with elected officials about animal protection issues in North Carolina.
We’re hopeful the day accomplished more than meet-and-greets with state Sen. Gene McLaurin and Rep. Ken Goodman. The organizations managing animal control and advocacy in Richmond County have experienced significant changes in the past 12 months. You can bet that whenever people and pets are involved, emotions are high and atmospheres are tense. It’s no different here.
Since Richmond County government assumed ownership and control of the animal shelter — and even before then, when one person left the employment by the Richmond County Humane Society and began her nonprofit, Richmond County Animal Advocates — individual personalities have played far too large a role, and had far too large of an impact, on the lives of animals.
We’re not pointing fingers. We’re not naming names. We’re hopeful that all the stakeholders involved are past that point as well. Instead, we ask each person to look themselves in the mirror and ask, “is there something I can do better to help the cause I’m already working so hard on?”
We’d like to see the continued evolution of the changes move forward to have a positive benefit for the animals. There are significant animal-related issues facing Richmond County — those who own pets and even for those who don’t. So pay attention.
Putting personal squabbles aside, let’s hope the varied organizations that all claim to be putting animal welfare at the top of the list start focusing on just that, starting with improved education and outreach efforts with existing and future pet owners.
* We need increased awareness about the importance of spaying and neutering pets. The Daily Journal has offered a regular space in the newspaper to multiple groups involved with animal advocacy, education and outreach and so far there are no takers. We think it’s a great way to reach several thousand readers and pet owners — and potential volunteers or donors — all at once. That space is still available.
* Leash law education. This is to benefit the pet owners but, more important, to save the lives of the animals. Too many well-cared for cats and dogs are ending up dead in the middle of Richmond County roads, in and outside of city limits.
* Pet insurance. The owner of a puppy visited our office recently and seemed astounded at the price of a single visit to the veterinary’s office. The puppy had a medical issue, and the owner was trying to determine if it was worth the money to try and save the dog or put the dog down.
The newspaper is not the place that residents should be visiting for such advice. We’re hopeful that, through a collaborative effort, the Richmond County Humane Society, Richmond County Animal Shelter, Richmond County Animal Advocates and the Humane Society of the United States, people will begin to know where to go for information and feel comfortable doing so.
If that happens, it’d be a win-win for taxpayers, the animals and for the animal advocates as well.