Animal welfare dollars not going to the dogs

November 5, 2013

If there’s anything to be learned from the Safe Haven saga, it’s that it takes a lot of money to care for abandoned animals. The new, energy-efficient Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary is a telling monument: Years of planning, millions of dollars and the work of hundreds of volunteers were not enough to save every animal or to keep the lights on - even after Save Haven won the dog-control contract for Kent County.

Meanwhile, as the debacle unfolded, state legislators established an Office of Animal Welfare whose director will earn an annual salary of $66,000 to $99,000.

Since the state apparently has money to throw around while Safe Haven goes under, surely establishing an animal welfare office means the state plans to take over dog control.

Think again. The job of the Office of Animal Welfare is to reunite lost pets with owners, establish standards for shelters, and, lest we forget, make a recommendation about what level of government should be charged with dog control.

In other words, taxpayers are paying for yet another layer of government to tell us what layer of government should take care of dogs.

Taxpayers in Kent and Sussex last year paid more than $1.5 million for dog control, and as Sussex County Council just learned, that wouldn’t cover the cost of responding to bark­ing dog complaints.

Towns and the state already have police of­ficers to enforce laws. Dogs who hurt people or bark all day are disturbing the peace. Why not rely on the officers we already have to issue citations and make arrests? Give state police the dog-control contracts and let them hire the necessary officers to enforce the laws.

Delaware has competent animal welfare organizations in all three counties. Let them assist state police to enforce dog control and manage the care of abandoned animals.

Animals should be properly cared for and treated humanely. At the same time, state dol­lars are limited.

A state Office of Animal Welfare is a total waste of taxpayer money unless the state takes back dog control and learns to control not only the dogs, but also the costs.

  • Cape Gazette editorials are considered and written by members of the Cape Gazette editorial board which includes Dennis Forney, publisher; Trish Vernon, editor; Dave Frederick, sports editor emeritus; Laura Ritter, news editor; Jen Ellingsworth, associate editor; and Nick Roth, sports editor.

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