To the Editor,
Six months ago county commissioners and designated employees seized operation of the Hancock County Animal Shelter. Before that, the Hancock County Animal Shelter Foundation successfully managed the shelter for nearly 20 years, and during its tenure it gained the confidence and gratitude of Hancock County, evident by the generous levies passed in favor of the animals and a humane operation. As HCASF evolved over the years, our mission was not just to operate a shelter, but to provide a safe place where animals would receive everything from basic physical needs to the love and care they deserve. We believe running a shelter based on numbers, time limits, and euthanizing for space or monetary purposes is inhumane and wrong.
The Foundation, its employees, and volunteers worked hard to promote the adoption of the animals with two (usually more) adoption events per month. We provided outreach programs and low-cost spay/neuter clinics which expanded to include cat TNR services. We held fundraising events, maintained a strong presence on social media, and because of our reputation, we were able to garner funds to supplement the money received from the county. The shelter operated humanely, our programs worked, all while being fiscally responsible with tax-payer’s money.
Last spring the citizens of Hancock County voted “yes” for a levy to provide taxpayer funding to the animal shelter. The levy passed with a record 72.5 percent, a clear message of the citizens’ satisfaction with the Foundation. Instead of being grateful for the Foundation and the success of the levy (since the county was cutting the shelter budget anyways), the commissioners presented the Foundation with a contract no humane rescue organization would agree to. We will never share the county’s beliefs of using euthanasia for population control by ending the lives of animals that deserve a chance to live and be loved.
Despite the promises made by the commissioners to the citizens of Hancock County to run the shelter as good as or better than the Foundation, recent operational numbers prove otherwise. Animals are being euthanized at a disturbing rate, many who most likely would have been adoptable after simple medical treatment. Hold times are short, the animal’s disposition and history are sometimes incomplete, or untraceable. The numbers do not match up. Their records indicate a disregard for the lives of innocent animals and are a poor reflection of our county officials. This is not what the citizens of Hancock County wanted their tax money to fund.
Please contact the Hancock County commissioners and ask them to increase their efforts to find homes instead of euthanizing. Demand that they comply with the wishes of those who allowed them the privilege of serving our county. Remind them that the people of this county voted with their hearts and not their wallets. They voted for compassion instead of indifference, to give the animals the gift of life and a loving home.
Board of Directors
Hancock County Animal Shelter Foundation