Steuben community has become complacent about animal shelter

To the editor:

The Community Animal Shelter of Steuben County is overrun with cats, with a consistently higher population than ever before seen. At the same time, revenue is down considerably from previous years.

It’s clear that, once the ribbon cutting ceremony was over and the excitement at the success in raising a new animal shelter with a paid mortgage subsided, our community has become complacent. People must think this beautiful shelter on the hill will run itself forever into the sunset with no further attention from them.

OK, so you have your mortgage paid off. Do you no longer need any money to live? What about medical bills, heat and air, food, clothing, transportation and gas, insurance, grounds maintenance, trash/recyclable disposal, laundry facilities, and in the case of a business, salary for staff? A debt-free building doesn’t take care of these expenses and 85% of the expenses to run this wonderful animal shelter is dependent on contributions from the public.

It is the express job of the board to bring in funds to ensure our shelter has what it needs to function and, while we have now established an endowment fund for this purpose in the future, the present is a month to month concern for us.

Our shelter takes in animals that are strays, ones that are no longer able to be cared for, when people become displaced and can’t take them along, domestic abuse situations, any number of reasons. The staff provide medical care, ensure the animals are fed and kept as comfortable as possible, all the while believing they are readying these animals for placement in loving homes. That’s the way it’s supposed to work. Dogs and cats are not meant to live in cages long term and it is always the expectation that each cat and dog will be wanted by somebody and receive a forever home. While they are waiting, however, there is considerable expense to spay/neuter those not fixed, treat illnesses, work desperately to halt the spread of disease, and keep the stress level of the animals at a minimum. We rely heavily on volunteers to walk the dogs and read to the cats in order to provide socialization and stimulation to these precious animals.

Our board is a working board and we are often taking cats and dogs to offsite adoption events. We need mobile display cages, tons of litter and scoops, food and water dishes, blankets and pillows, trash bags, and volunteers just for these events alone. Our director networks with other counties and states, there is give and take, and she finds ways to send animals to places more ready to place them than we are.

Unfortunately, our community is not very good at getting our pets fixed and we can’t seem to stop the bleeding of unwanted animals being turned in on a daily basis. There are more coming in than going out and, hence, the cost to house these animals to adoption becomes increasingly higher. Yet there are so many “specials” offered for free or minimal cost adoptions in order to alleviate the overcrowding at the shelter that this operation is at a loss and, obviously, this cannot continue or we won’t have a shelter any longer.

My reasoning for writing is to put our plight back in front of our community as a reminder that these cats and dogs do not arrive unwanted at our animal shelter by themselves. People and irresponsibility put them there. As such, people need to take care of them. Giving Tuesday is Dec. 3 so please log on to our website — chssteubencounty.org — for further information and to see how you can volunteer or contribute.

Anne Jacquay

Board member

Community Animal Shelter of Steuben County

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