EDITORIAL: Animal shelter needs revisiting

It’s time for Oak Harbor to take a fresh look at an old issue — its animal shelter.

In an era when enlightened animal shelter operators have a minimal kill or even no-kill policy, Oak Harbor is euthanizing too many animals. About 25 percent of the 1,000 animals brought to the shelterin last year and a half were killed, which is too high a percentage.

Shelter operator Terry Sampson isn’t to blame. He’s doing the best he can with severely limited resources. Not only is the kill rate too high, but he doesn’t have the funding to properly care for sick animals.

In addition, the facility itself is poorly located and substandard. The Navy is kind enough to provide the location on the Seaplane Base, but in the post Sept. 11 era, public access is too inconvenient for many. Civilian access is allowed, but first you must stop at the gate and show your ID and vehicle records. For people looking for a pet, it’s easier to read the want ads or visit the WAIF shelter near Coupeville.

No immediate, easy solution comes to mind, but a long-term solution is required. Oak Harbor needs an up-to-date animal shelter where the animals are comfortable and well cared for — the kind of place the public enjoys visiting and which the community will support through fund-raising efforts. The city may also have to increase its financial support for the shelter. Everybody wants lower taxes, but not at the expense of making animals needlessly suffer.

How about appointing a committee of concerned citizen to study the issues surround the animal shelter and make some specific recommendations for improvement to the city council? Once we know what the goals are, we can figure out how to reach them.

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