Owning a problem
Mayor says Springdale ought to own animal shelter
Do your local elected officials a favor by supporting spay and neuter programs. No, no, we don’t mean programs aimed at the local elected officials. Rather, we’re talking about the kinds of programs that can help reduce the burden on local animal shelters.
It seems operation of local animal control shelters is almost constantly prompting discussions among city and county decision-makers. The latest, just the other day, came up as Springdale leaders discussed hiring an architectural firm to design a new animal shelter for the city.
The city anticipates asking voters next year to approve a new sales tax-backed bond program for a variety of municipal needs — a courts/police complex, new fire stations, a new park, road improvements and a new city-run animal shelter. If approved, the program would continue a sales tax voters approved back in 2004.
Springdale’s current animal shelter isn’t sufficient to handle the local demand, at least not well.
It seems almost inevitable in such discussions that someone will use the opportunity to get out of the animal shelter business. Washington County officials had to build their own animal shelter a few years ago after the city of Fayetteville went all xenophobic, if that term can be used to mean “an intense dislike of animals from beyond the city’s border.” Maybe it’s xenocatophobic?
In any case, Fayetteville officials decided to focus money and time on dealing with the city’s own animal control issues and told Washington County to find another solution for its rural animals. The county built its own shelter, and it’s been a thorn in the side of some Republican Quorum Court members ever since. Every time a discussion about the budget comes up, someone chimes in with a desire for the county to eliminate or cut way back on its animal shelter. If a burlap sack was good enough for grandpappy, it’s good enough for us, right?
So it was worth a chuckle (and a head shake) to read how Springdale City Council member Colby Fulfer responded to talk of hiring the architect for a prospective new shelter to serve his city. He suggested Springdale work out a deal with, of all places, Washington County to use its available space to alleviate Springdale’s capacity issues. That, according to shelter director Courtney Kremer, amounts to about 2,500 a year.
Mayor Doug Sprouse offered up some doggone good advice: “I think there’s certain things you own and we’re better off owning this,” he said.
Hear, hear, Mayor Sprouse. Of course, he was talking about ownership of a facility, but he also could have been (and might have been) talking about ownership of a problem. Taking care of Springdale’s animal population in need is the city’s responsibility and its residents are best served by keeping control over that function, particularly given the sentiments one often hears out of Washington County leaders when it comes to the county’s own responsibilities and how to meet them.
It’s too early to say whether Springdale’s bond issue will be deserving of the public’s support because it’s still in the formative stages. But it’s promising to hear a mayor step up to face one of the challenges facing the city and take ownership of it. That’s how problems get solved.
And, oh yeah, everyone with pets can help ease the challenges for the cities and counties by having their pets spayed or neutered, especially those in the rural areas allowed to roam free.