I read with interest Barry Paschal's August 27 column concerning the views of Tom Mercer toward the rescue groups and the Columbia County Animal Care and Control. I believe I am uniquely qualified to comment on the article as a sitting member of the Columbia County Animal Advisory Committee.
I have unfortunately learned over my many years that newspapers are chock full of semi-truths and untruths. This is the case in this column, which takes the word of one commissioner and runs with it without meaningfully seeking the truth.
First untruth: "This year, county officials put representatives from the rescue groups on the Animal Control Advisory Board so everyone could work together." In fact the only member on the board that is directly connected with any animal rescue group is Linda Evans, president of the Columbia County Humane Society, and she has been on this board for a number of years. All the appointments are made by the commissioners, and to my knowledge no single other person is a member of any of the rescue groups. Any citizen can come to these open meetings and it is the citizenry, not the board members, who are dissenting. I have been known to side with the rescue groups, though I have never been a member or volunteer of any group.
Second untruth: "Yet Mercer also believes rescue groups have a financial motive in complaining that the county is too quick to euthanize animals." While this misguided commissioner may indeed think this, it is a laughable misconception and these groups, which are all registered with the IRS and the Secretary of State as non-profit corporations, would not be able to function without outside donations to sustain their efforts. Rather than demean these groups, they should be applauded for their tireless efforts on behalf of the animals.
Third untruth: "Some of the rescue groups want the facility to become a 'no kill' shelter." I have never heard any rescue person utter these words. They are practical people and realize every animal cannot be saved.
Fourth untruth: "Mercer contends the shelters want the no-kill policy not to just save animals, but to save animals for them." To my knowledge this has never been suggested or proposed to my committee and this is just a gross exaggeration intended to inflame the public.
Fifth untruth: The rescue groups have never sought nor asked for the county shelter to operate as "foster care" for the unwanted animals. All they ask is before euthanizing that they be given a chance to rescue the animal. I have heard countless stories of requesting an animal be kept until the next day just to come back and find out that animal is no longer in life. This happens to both rescue groups and to the general public on too many unfortunate occasions.
Finally, the crux of the editorial is that Mercer contends this is all about money. This is the biggest untruth of all. In fact, I decided to get involved due to irregularities and rigid policies of the animal shelter that did not aid the adoption of pets from this shelter.
I hope you will publish my rebuttal as I think this will result in many stories from the citizens of both Columbia and Richmond counties that will be most enlightening.
Jeanne D. Harrison
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