Last updated: March 18. 2014 1:00PM - 798 Views
By Travis McMullen Contributing Columnist

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There is a standard agreement that exists between a human and a domesticated animal: they give us love, warmth, affection and maybe even a little protection, and we agree to make them a part of our households for the rest of their lives and pay for the supplies and procedures that come with pet ownership. A pet is not something we should take or give lightly. It’s a serious commitment — one we must extend to making sure that the animals don’t reproduce if we’re not prepared to deal with a litter of critters.

But people are losing their jobs and being cut off from their food stamps and forced to deal with other harsh financial realities — the economy is recovering, to a certain degree, but it is still going to be awhile before the people on the bottom are going to get a little relief from that crushing thing called the economy.

It is easy to point at the traitorous humans and say, “Look, this person is abandoning their pet!” but it is harder to blame them when we consider that some of them are being forced to choose between their furry companions and paying their rent, or buying enough groceries for the month.

Of course, there are some who ditch their dog or their cat at the first sign of trouble and have a nasty habit of treating their animals as though they are disposable. There are some people who seemingly like to use the Sedalia Animal Shelter as a place to leave their living financial burden during the bad times. When the work comes back in, maybe I’ll go and pick him back up. Maybe I’ll give another beast a temporary home for a while.

And those are the reasons why the Sedalia Animal Shelter usually operates near capacity. They are, have been and seemingly in the future will continue to be full pretty consistently.

“It’s gotten to the point that our even our animal control officers can’t take animals there because it’s full and that’s a problem,” City Administrator Gary Edwards told the Democrat’s Emily Jarrett in a recent story. “We need a larger facility, that’s pretty clear.”

There are more neighborhoods and properties around Sedalia that have animal control problems than you realize and I know at least a couple addresses that are home to a pack of stray cats. The fine people with the local animal control have a tough job, and like any enforcement officer they need a receiving area so that they don’t have to drive around a vehicle loaded with furry perps.

And people come up with the obvious solution: the shelter should just lower their adoption fees. Many people have an inherent bias against shelter pets. “If I’m going to pay good money for a dog or a cat I might as well bring the budget up a little bit and get one from a breeder.”

But it’s not like the shelter arrived at their standard pricing on a whim and they can’t really just decide to arbitrarily raise or lower it on a permanent basis. Even when you consider the occasional volunteer assistance and the occasional donation it is still a pricey undertaking to house and feed a large number of animals and prepare them for adoption. There are standards that need to be achieved so that the adopted animal won’t contribute to the unclaimed animal problem.

And it’s kind of the first test of a new pet owner. If you can’t afford the adoption fee, you probably won’t be able to afford pet ownership in general.

Yes, the shelter could slash adoption fees, and find quick homes for their animals — but this would eventually leave them without the proper income to continue operation. And when some of those quick homes don’t work out, these animals won’t have a shelter to go back to.

The Sedalia Animal Shelter can always use your donations; they can be contacted at 826-5816. And if you might be in the market for a pet you can always stop by their relatively new Facebook page, facebook.com/SedaliaAnimalShelterPhotosOfAdoptablePets, where they put up pictures of animals that are up for adoption. Be warned, just like the URL says the pictures are adorable and you might find yourself falling in love at first sight.

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