Who’s responsibility is animal control?

Dusty Rose was lucky. She survived living in a dumpster on the streets of Harrisburg thanks to a kind soul and a policeman who didn’t have the heart to shoot a dog…an option that a Dec. 10th memo from Capt. Annette Books gave him. The Humane Society of Harrisburg Area, the only public intake shelter for strays in the area requires a contract between municipalities in order to receive dogs…hey everything costs money folks and that means feeding and vetting the thousands of animals that come through HSHA’s doors every year. The City of Harrisburg had not paid their bill from 2011 and began 2012 with no contract. No contract, no animal control, no place for Dusty Rose and others like her to go.

What do you do when a municipality such as the City of Harrisburg decides not to pay, or renew their contract with HSHA? Outraged citizens decided to take this story to the local media.  All three local television stations and the capitol city’s newspaper, The Patriot-News carried the story, putting pressure on the city and HSHA to expedite a contract for the sake of the animals. To date, the City of Harrisburg made payment to HSHA in the end of December, but fell short by $800. A family from Arizona graciously donated the balance. The contract for 2012 has yet to be signed, but according to HSHA that could come any day now. Was paying the balance of a bill for animal control really the responsibility of a family as far away as Arizona?

Amy Kaunas, Executive Director of HSHA was on Witf Radio Smart Talk to discuss the situation regarding the contract with the City of Harrisburg and what she thinks is a best case scenario. You can listen to the podcast here.  While some may think HSHA should take the animals regardless of contract, a contract is necessary and should be taken seriously, as one would any professional service. It’s time the rest of the public takes animal welfare and animal control just as seriously.  The animal control issue is not exclusive to Harrisburg, every municipality in Pennsylvania struggles with animal overpopulation, stray and unwanted animals. Who should bear the responsibility for paying to care for all of these animals?

Humane PA’s Vice President, and Executive Director of the Humane Society of Berks County Karel Minor offers his shelter’s plan for animal control that could serve as a statewide model for animal control where the cost is shared among state, county and local government. This plan is worth a read and worth adding permanently to our Focus Issues.

The animal control issue obviously needs to be addressed on a much larger scale. Hopefully, through awareness and attention to stories such as Dusty Rose’s, we can work together to solve this statewide crisis. Be sure to subscribe to this blog to get updates on this and all Humane PA issues.


Categories: Uncategorized

Author:Brett Miller

Animal Welfare Advocate


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