Bay County animal control in Michigan is perpetuating the paradigm of the animal shelter blame game.
Let's be honest, the root problem of animals in shelters is pet ownership/guardianship itself. No pets, no animals being dropped off at shelters or killed. The elimination of dogs/cats as companions isn't going to end soon, and if *I'm* honest, I'll admit to not wanting it to. A world without Mina-dogs? Pshaw, not worth it!
Okay, root problem not fixable right now.
Bay County Animal Control blames irresponsible people for them killing dogs and cats. Irresponsible people are, according to the shelter, people who don't castrate and license their animals. They want you to know this so badly they're plastering the "spay/neuter" message on billboards! Taxpayer's dollars being used to tell taxpayers they're a problem.
That's not helpful. As understanding as I am of the frustration felt by shelter employees, the blame game modus operandi hasn't been great for dogs and cats, it's time we try something else out.
Here are a few suggestions for Bay County Animal Control:
* If you want to display billboards, encourage adoption not spay/neuter.
* Work with local grocers, veterinarians and pet supply stores to offer easy-to-understand, affordable licensing forms for folks to fill out. Add a coupon for dog food or vet services to boot! Put it online.
* Accept Visa and debit cards.
* Open your shelter up on Saturdays and Sundays. Change your week-day hours of operation from 11-8 pm rather than 9-6 pm. If you have to be closed two days, do it during the week, not weekends.
* Fund or coordinate low-cost spay/neuter clinics with local vets. Coordinate it with low-cast vaccine clinics too.
* Post and promote all your animals on Petfinder. Right now, Bay County has 7 animals listed. Seven!
* In addition to ads, work with your local television station and ask to do a weekly "adoptable animal" psa.
* Go door-to-door with information on licensing and spay/neuter. Don't criminalize anyone, don't hand out citations. Coordinate efforts to occur when there are spay/neuter and vaccine clinics and go to neighborhoods within walking or public transit distance.
* Actively encourage fostering and volunteering on your website and at your shelter.
* Stop blaming people. Just stop. Being positive and pro-active will do more for animals in one month than the blame game has done in the past 30 years.
Bay County Animal Control, you can make a difference for dogs and cats. YOU can! You'll feel so much better by focusing on all the awesome, great things you CAN do rather than what you can't do. You can't make people do much of anything, but you can encourage them to do things they know will be beneficial to non humans and, well, themselves. You can create a more compassionate, kinder world by implementing a few changes in how you run a shelter.