Saving the life of a precious dog or cat, in my opinion, is a heroic act that cannot be ignored. Being an advocate for pets will win the hearts of many, and any good politician knows that, especially one that may be running for the office of county judge in the near future.
A new ordinance was passed by the Quorum Court that will affect every pet owner in Van Buren County. It was read in its entirety of 20 minutes or more before approval. It was a unanimous vote without any questioning besides the question of how much all these changes will cost us. The answer that was given was, "We have the money in the budget that we need at this time." The real answer is that these changes will cost the county plenty, maybe as much as $200,000 for the shelter’s budget in 2014.
Dale James thinks the shelter is not being run properly and wants it done differently. How will this be done? By the appropriation of funds from one part of the budget to another at a later date. It was almost like watching ObamaCare getting passed without any questions being asked about the details because it took so long to read.
For those of you that don’t know, Dale is also the head of the finance committee. Sit back and watch, and it will happen. Thank you Dale James for being an animal lover, but please do it with your own money, not mine.
Want your road in good shape? Elect a county judge who lives on your road!
If you doubt this, go to the lake via Burnt Ridge Road. This road is in excellent shape up to where New Road meets Burnt Ridge Road. From there to the lake, it is bad enough to actually be dangerous. There are holes you could damage your car in. I noticed a sign by each hold advising calling the county judge. It is no coincidence that the improvement ends where it does. The judge lives in Fairfield Bay and New Road is how he drive home.
I talked to an attorney who works for the oil and gas commission. He said part of the severance tax was to be used for roads, and the judge is the administrator of these funds. Are we not getting our part, and, if not, why not? Are we getting the money and it is being spent elsewhere?
Whatever the case, the shape Burnt Ridge Road is in is a perfect example of the get-elected-feather-your-nest mentality.
The Van Buren County Quorum Court passed a new animal control ordinance last week. I was honored to sponsor and author ordinance no. 2013-9. I would like to take this opportunity to clarify some pieces of this ordinance.
For most citizens, nothing really changes. Keeping your pet in a fence or on a leash was in the original ordinance going back to 2003. Why should we even have those rules on a county-wide level? Here is why. If your neighbor’s dog continually comes onto your property and spreads your trash, runs your cows, or eats your pet’s food, what are you to do? We have to have rules that protect us. If you haven’t been issued a citation since 2003 for an animal at large, chances are, you will not be getting one in the future. If your animals visit your neighbor’s property and your neighbor doesn’t care, then all is well. These rules are meant to protect and not to impede. Warnings are issued first and only upon a complaint issued. Of course, what your pet does on your own property is your own business.
The following are the key changes in the new ordinance:
· As per state law, every animal that permanently leaves the shelter must be spayed or neutered.
· If you are caught dumping an animal illegally, the fine will now be $1,000.
· The adoption fee from the Van Buren County Animal Control Shelter has been reduced to only $25 which includes the animal’s spay/neuter, rabies vaccination, and shots.
· You will soon see more help at the shelter. By this ordinance, the shelter must keep two individuals to keep the shelter and pens clean and as sanitary as possible. They will make sure the animals are fed and watered properly. There will also be two office employees to log calls, document all animals and adoption, and help you. All of these employees will be part time.
· The Animal Control Officer will do what an Animal Control Officer should. Pick up stray and nuisance dogs and cats as well as animals which show signs of rabies.
· A time line has been put on all animals which enter the shelter. The maximum amount of time an adult non-nursing animal will spend at the shelter is 60 days. The office employees will make every effort to utilize authorized rescues, other shelters, and humane societies as well as social media to find homes for all the animals at the shelter. Van Buren County has a low kill shelter and every effort will be made to stay low kill by adopting out all healthy animals.
· The Van Buren County Animal Control Shelter will no longer accept owner-surrendered animals. If you choose to keep your pet unaltered and your pet reproduces, it should not be the burden of every taxpayer in the county to pay for your litter. The shelter employees will help be more than happy to aid you with resources for you to find homes for your animals. The shelter will house stray and nuisance dogs and cats only. A Ferrell cat is, of course, a nuisance.
· The employees at the shelter will now be offered rabies vaccinations which can be very expensive. They can be as much as $800 per vaccination. Our shelter employees come into contact with suspected rabies cases constantly and occasionally those suspected cases are positive. We must protect our vulnerable employees at any cost.
· Organization and structure have been added to the daily operations of the shelter.
I will have an amendment ordinance ready for next month to allow for some things I inadvertently skipped such as an allowance for animals used for hunting. The amendment will cover several other items as well.
What will all these changes cost me, a hardworking taxpayer? The short answer is not much. The county is utilizing some help from a program called, "Experienced Works" which funds part-time jobs for qualified individuals. By limiting the number of animals the shelter takes in, we are minimizing expense to offset any additional expense. The changes are so budget neutral that it was not necessary to appropriate any extra money to fund them.
Shelter employees and volunteers are making a difference for the county. Volunteers are crucial and critical to a successful shelter operation. If you would like to volunteer, please contact the shelter anytime at 745-2121.
The Van Buren County Quorum Court meets every third Thursday at the Van Buren County Courthouse Annex (old hospital) at 7 p.m. Your attendance is always appreciated and encouraged.
JP District 2