Upgrades at animal shelter and additional personnel should help protect pets and people | ParkRecord.com

Upgrades at animal shelter and additional personnel should help protect pets and people

Summit County has an animal problem — and we aren’t talking about the bear with a penchant for Dumpsters at five-star hotels. It’s the creatures we live with, hike, bike and ski with, the ones who ride in the front seat with their ears and tongues flapping in the breeze.

Unfortunately, our best friends are also getting away with a lot of behavior that would put our kids in juvenile detention for the rest of the year.

Summit County needs to get serious about animal control and it’s taking an important step in that direction by investing in improvements to the existing Animal Control shelter in Wanship.

The Wanship shelter hasn’t seen a significant upgrade since it was built more than a quarter of a century ago. At the time it was a huge improvement over the previous facility but it’s now woefully inadequate.

Summit County’s population has grown from just under 16,000 in 1990 to over 38,000 today and it is safe to assume the number of household pets has grown proportionately. Unfortunately, one side effect of that growth is an increase in lost, abandoned and unwanted animals. The current shelter is bursting at the seams, forcing shelter at times to double up on kennels and to put sick animals uncomfortably close to healthy ones.

The county council is planning to invest $800,000 in the shelter to nearly double the number of kennels, better separate dog and cat facilities and upgrade the ventilation and heating systems. Considering how much Summit County residents care about their animals, it seems like a good investment.

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Last year the council also added money to the budget to add personnel in animal control.

Hopefully, with new facilities and additional staff, the county will feel empowered to more diligently enforce existing animal-control regulations. That would go a long way toward mending the current rash of conflicts between unleashed dogs and their unfortunate victims at the county’s otherwise idyllic trails and open spaces.