The July 13 show of giving everybody a voice with the hope of influencing the vote of the commissioners on the new Animal Control proposal turned out to be only a show. The decision to vote for the proposal had been decided prior to the meeting with only four commissioners included in that decision process.
Then, unbelievably, a casual comment was added to the proposal that they were not going to consider the revised ordinances on which so many people had worked long and hard.
An attorney well versed in animal rights issues was hired to draft the ordinance and her services were at no cost to the county. We had been told by Commissioner Brown there might have to be some compromises, but even he was astonished that we were not even given the courtesy of having the new ordinance discussed and placed on the agenda for a vote. He had more faith in his fellow commissioners than was warranted, it seems.
Comments by several commissioners seemed to be made to only further stun those of us who were so deeply disappointed in the way things were handled. Mr. Rousseau said we should have shown up at budget meetings. Thursday night’s proceedings show that our voice was not likely to have influenced any outcome.
Mr. Ognio, made an unnecessary and inflammatory statement that he thought a shelter only half full instead of 75 percent would be reason enough to put animals down.
Mr. Oddo then made the unbelievable statement that rescue groups should work together for change. He seems to have no idea or did not care how much work had gone on between rescue groups to produce the proposed new ordinance that was so callously discarded.
When Fayette Humane Society went before the commissioners in October 23, 2014, it was recognized unanimously by the board that TNR (trap, neuter, return) was the most cost-effective way to deal with the feral cat population, which had only continued to grow under the catch and kill policy of prior years.
We worked hard for that approval, showing the results of test sites we were asked to work and report on. The ordinance was never changed, however, to make it legal (because one citizen complained). We few trappers have made a huge difference in the kill rate at the shelter due to TNR and the efforts of two of our volunteers to find places to relocate cats trapped and brought to the shelter. This saved many dollars the county would have had to lay out to trap, house and kill these same animals.
We did this all with the “go ahead” nudge of the then-Commission with nothing done to make us legal. At least one of these volunteers, out of frustration, has stated she will no longer trap in Fayette County but will concentrate on other areas. Fayette County just lost valuable free labor.
I will continue to work in Fayette County because the cats, which seem to be the most persecuted of all animals, cannot help what happened in Thursday’s meeting.
It was acknowledged that the shelter could not operate without volunteers, but many of those volunteers were among those speaking to deaf ears Thursday night. I hope they will not be discouraged enough to stop because the animals still need their compassion, probably more than ever since they won’t be getting it from four of our commissioners.