A new shelter shouldn’t be the city’s priority

Marshall has a need for a new animal shelter or to upgrade the existing one. The city budget is very tight at this time. There have been articles written advancing the idea that the shelter needs to be built now. But at what cost?

I believe that the shelter is not nor should be the top priority for our city. Marshall has many problems which require money. The budget at this time cannot fund a $1 million-$2 million animal shelter.

Memorial City Hall is still under renovation and has been swamped with monetary overruns. The Civic Center and Visual Arts Center are in need of improvements. The more important city facility that the city ought to spend money on is the arena. The arena is the city’s largest revenue producer. It hosts first-class events there. However, the facility needs upgrades. The parking lot is horrible and the building itself needs work.

We have to be honest with ourselves and accept the fact that the money for a new animal shelter is not in the budget and that the citizens in Marshall will have to pay for a certificate of obligation to fund it. Fiscal responsibility should be priority.

If the animal shelter proponents persist in wanting to spend money that the budget cannot afford, then I say put the decision in the hands of the voters of the City of Marshall.

— Leo Morris, Marshall

It’s past time to build a new animal shelter

I’ve been pondering the objections to building a low-kill animal shelter in Marshall, and many of them boil down to this: it must be animals or people. This is what’s known as a false dichotomy. The truth is that when you help one, many times you wind up helping the other.

Over half the households in the U.S. have pets. You might have noticed that even some homeless people keep them. A common reason for not taking advantage of a homeless shelter is the anti-pet policy of most of them. The homeless will also miss critical appointments because they have nowhere to take their pet. A low-kill animal shelter can help. In some places, people with financial difficulties are even able to turn their pets over to their animal shelter for temporary care while they get back on their feet.

To those who say that this is a “people problem” (implying, I suppose, that an animal shelter won’t solve it), there’s no denying that animals are homeless because somewhere along the line people have failed them. That failure is very stark in this area. But people who dump their animals, leave them chained up and exposed to bad weather, or fail to spay/neuter do not do these things, I believe, due to innate cruelty. Rather, they learned that this is how you deal with your animals. There is a crying need for an organization to educate people here about their responsibilities as pet owners. Maybe some never will un-learn that earlier lesson, but animal shelter programs can foster change in their children.

Having compassion for one species does not make it unavailable for another, and accusing animal advocates of caring only about animals and not for people is absurd. If that sometimes seems to be the case here, perhaps it is because the plights of both Marshall’s animals and its employees at animal control have been shamefully neglected for far too long.

There are programs available at the local, state and federal levels to assist people in need. Indeed, Marshall receives hundreds of thousands of dollars annually in a block grant from the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to help its needier citizens. But if Marshall won’t provide a humane solution to its animal problem, who will? Even grants that could be made available to help the city develop shelter programs will not be awarded while it maintains its high-kill rate.

I doubt that anyone would argue that everything that could be done to aid homeless people is being done. I will argue, however, that one issue cannot take such precedence as to crowd out the others, particularly when one of the others is a core city responsibility. It is way past time to build a low-kill shelter, Marshall.

— Linda Harber, Marshall