Tuesday, December 2, 2008
A look inside our Shelter
There has been a lot in the local news about the Central Missouri Humane Society's situation. It has inspired a great outpouring of support from the community, from businesses, from individuals. Unfortunately, though, that won't be enough.
Conditions right now are rough. You can hear the annoying barking throughout the video. Seems like a crappy place for an interview, right? Consider those dogs can never get away from the racket. And because of the outdated layout, they're forced to be tantalizingly close to each other. For territory-geared animals that already feel abandoned or lost from their pack, it's a nightmare. And without funding, there's nothing the shelter can really do about it.
The part you really can't get is the smell. Because of the age of the building, the way it was built and all the cracked, porous concrete throughout, no amount of cleaning really ever gets rid of the grime. And they clean it religiously. They scrub morning and night. Add that they're nearly always at full capacity with animals. The smell never goes away. But it does turn off some otherwise good families or make it difficult to volunteer there.
Some people think that the Humane Society is tax-funded. This is a misconception. While the city does pay money to the shelter, that's only to share the building for Animal Control (who often turns the unclaimed animals to the shelter... not to mention other animal control units across the state and the Department of Agriculture). It does not share the cost of taking care of those animals afterwards, despite the obvious benefits to the health and safety of Columbia. Despite its vital role to the community, the Shelter isn't eligible for programs like United Way.
CMHS could probably be more active pursuing outside funding. For example, to my knowledge, they haven't hired a grant writer or anything like that to assist them (these writers are often only paid a percentage of money they bring in, so would cost the shelter nothing).
At the same time, the City of Columbia has been getting this service at basement bargain prices. Neither the city or the other animal assistance groups in Columbia can do what CMHS does. It's about time they paid something closer to retail. If they don't, the Shelter will truly collapse and the end cost will be gruelling... in dollars and lives (human and otherwise).
The Shelter is doing what they can with some really rough conditions and pretty much no budget. It's forced them to cut hours and it's made them consider diluting their values just to stay alive... just so they can continue cleaning the mess left by those unwilling to learn responsibility or treat animals with compassion...