EDITORIAL: Animal progress

By NEMS Daily Journal

Expansion of the Tupelo-Lee Humane Society’s privately funded spay and neuter clinic’s service capacity this week enhanced the possibility that a still-growing population of abandoned feral animals can be managed, even reduced.
The North Mississippi Low-Cost Spay and Neuter Clinic – funded by a $35,000 grant from the Humane Society of the United States – enlarges the Lee society’s capacity for preventing the breeding of dogs and cats likely to end ownerless, feral and potentially a future cost to the society and Lee County for care or euthanasia.
The clinic’s enhancement is only one of two major developments in the treatment of unwanted and lost animals in Northeast Mississippi announced this week.
Heritage Development was chosen as the design-build firm for the $597,000 project to build a new shelter in Oxford.
Officials said contracts are being prepared, and ground could be broken at the McElroy Drive site by mid-spring.
“We would love to have (the builders) on the ground by May 1,” said Bart Robinson, Oxford’s director of public works. He said construction should take about six months.
The current shelter, with trailers and outdoor pens, is several miles outside the city in an unincorporated area, which is not convenient for the bulk of the population who would use a new shelter to leave dogs for adoption or euthanasia, or where feral dogs could be taken after capture.
Officials believe the new location will also discourage late-night drop-offs of animals.
The new Oxford-Lafayette Shelter culminates years of work and planning in a community where growth and a dog-friendly population have increased domestic animals and subsequently led to abandoned, eventually feral animals.
Still, more money is needed to equip and furnish the new facility, and two more fundraisers are scheduled – March 30 during a “Yappy Hour” at the Rib Cage restaurant and bar on South Lamar Avenue, and April 6 at the Library Bar and Grill (South 11th Street) for a “Paws for Art” event. (For more information, log on to www.oxfordpets.com or call (662) 202-4017.)
Fifty years ago, or perhaps more recently, animal shelter and animal control were not the issues and problems communities face today.
Growth in urban centers like Tupelo and Oxford and counties like Lee and Lafayette raise the animal population, and problems follow. An undeniably raised sensitivity to the handling of abandoned and feral animals makes callous disregard an impossible option.
The support of tax dollars in animal shelters and operations is justified because adequately addressing issues otherwise would be impossible.
The progress in Oxford and Tupelo is noteworthy.