PEORIA -- With the Peoria City Council dumping management of the Peoria City/County Animal Shelter into the lap of the Peoria County Board, an opportunity has occurred to improve animal care and management.
The shelter reportedly now kills more than 5,000 unwanted animals a year, a huge number. A group of animal advocates connected with Peoria Area Voices for Animals met on Dec. 28 to discuss how to improve this situation.
The ultimate goal is a no-kill shelter. For that to occur, a transition needs to take place involving the recruitment of many people to provide foster care for unwanted cats and dogs until they can be placed in permanent homes. At at the same time the unchecked breeding must end with an aggressive spay/neuter program, these advocates said.
Other places in the US have accomplished these goals, they said, and Peoria can with the right leadership.Ways to limit unchecked breeding also include licensing backyard breeding businesses and requiring them to vaccinate and computer-chip their animals, namely dogs. Fines could be imposed for non-compliance. The goal is to make this type of breeding unprofitable.
Low cost spay/neuter clinics, some of which already are taking place, could help other people, especially cat owners.The group said opponents are likely to include some veterinarians, who would see their business drop, and kennel club members who object to government regulation. But this would help limit the oversupply of dogs, at least in Peoria County, the advocates believe.
A business tax on breeders would also provide funding to help run the shelter.
Additional funding for a no-kill shelter might be available from Maddie's Fund, a California-based organization that gives out millions in grants.
The first step is to contact County Board members to see what they are planning. Luckily this is an election year. Stay tuned.-- Elaine Hopkins
UPDATE 1/3/10: The Peoria County committee involved with the animal shelter meets at 4 p.m. on Wed. Jan. 6 at the Peoria County Courthouse, in the County Board room on the 4th floor.