EDITORIAL: Help ‘stop madness’ at RGV animal shelter

As many youth head to beaches and sunny spots this week for spring break, we praise those who are selecting a week of service in the Rio Grande Valley, instead.

Namely those young volunteers who have come to the Palm Valley Animal Center in Edinburg this week to help during a massive disinfecting of the animal shelter’s facilities.

After receiving national criticism on social media recently for overcrowding and poor conditions at its facility, the board of the Palm Valley Animal Center has rightly reached out to other nonprofit organizations and volunteers for help. That’s not always easy to do, and we commend their actions. Allowing others to come in and “clean house” requires humility and objective thinking.

But as Keely Lewis, board vice-president of Palm Valley and The Laurie P. Andrews PAWS no-kill Center wrote in a Sunday column for The Monitor: “Let’s come together as a community to solve a problem that belongs to all of us.”

Yes. Let’s.

In 2017, about 19,000 dogs and cats were euthanized at the shelter because they were not able to be adopted or sent to other rescue organizations.

The massive dumping of unwanted animals in Hidalgo County must stop. Residents here must be more responsible pet owners. They must spay and neuter animals to control the unwanted pet population. Those who don’t, and who repeatedly produce unwanted animals on their properties, should be held accountable. Backyard breeding must end and flea markets should not be allowed to sell pets.

Fines should be imposed on those who repeatedly drop off animals at the shelter overnight. Cameras at the facility should record them and bills should be sent to those who irresponsibly leave animals in overcrowded overnight pens.

Round-the-clock employees should staff the shelter to quickly process, separate and treat animals, also.

Lewis wrote that in 2017 shelter staff handled more than 40,500 animals, including 30,000 dogs and cats “most of which were tested for diseases and vaccinated.”

This costs money. Lots of it. And much of it from taxpayers via municipalities, like Hidalgo County and various area cities, which help to fund this nonprofit. Nevertheless, the shelter is woefully underfunded and operates on an annual budget of $3.8 million. San Antonio’s facility, which takes in about the same amount of animals, has an annual budget of $14 million.

Frustration is rightly mounting from animal supporters locally, and nationwide, who are to be commended for helping to expose this situation.

We also thank those who are helping by fostering hundreds of displaced animals this week as shelter staff and volunteers strip down and disinfect the facility in the hopes of stopping the future spread of diseases.

As Lewis wrote: “Let’s stop the madness!”

We all must do our part.

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