Whidbey's wayward pets need better treatment | Editorial

Navy officials have given the city until next summer to move all the animals out of the dilapidated building that has served as the city’s animal shelter for much too long.

The small building is woefully inadequate to house a dog-and-cat pound for a city the size of Oak Harbor. Whidbey Animals’ Improvement Foundation, or WAIF, has done an admirable job running the shelter under a contract with the city, but the situation is untenable. Cages of cats are literally stacked like cordwood inside the shelter. It doesn’t have proper ventilation or sewage service. In the summer the building gets oppressively hot. It’s located on the Seaplane Base, which can cause access problems for members of the public and WAIF staff.

Closing the building was the right move on the Navy’s part and hopefully will spur city leaders to make a decision on an issue that’s been put off for years. City officials plan, unfortunately, to put out a request for proposals in the hopes that a business or group will somehow provide a shelter. The idea is a misguided attempt to save money.

Oak Harbor needs its own animal shelter. With less than a year to go, city officials should look seriously at the options now, and decide whether WAIF or another group will manage the facility in the future.

Years ago, a city committee looked into building a new animal shelter on city-owned land off of Goldie Road. The idea went nowhere because of the cost, and that same concern persists today – especially with the economic climate.

Yet the shelter doesn’t need to be an expensive, new structure. It could be located in an unused, empty building or even rented space. The facility just needs to be something that can provide lost and abandoned pets a proper, healthy home. It should be easy to find and a pleasant place to visit. Perhaps the Navy base and the city can continue to partner in the venture to offset costs.

Oak Harbor residents love their dogs and cats. They would certainly support a plan to adequately care for homeless pets.




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