Members of the community met on Thursday at City Hall in Cairo to discuss possible avenues of dealing with the prevalent stray dog problem in the city. The issue has been a source of debate for several months on exactly how to handle the problem as well as whether the responsibility falls on Alexander County or the City of Cairo.
Cairo Mayor Tyrone Coleman made the city council aware that he has been meeting with The Humane Society in Cape Girardeau in regards to finding an affordable way to curb the animal control issue. Coleman stated at a recent city council meeting that the possibility of having a year’s worth of the needed resources paid for by The Humane Society.
At a meeting between Police Chief Snelson, Coleman, and a group of concerned area residents, a list of needed actions to prepare the city for a new animal control program were presented by Lorrie Hesselrode. The list included repairs to the existing kennels, getting the water turned on at the pens, and a thorough cleaning.
The responsibilities and scheduling of of a prospective were also discussed at length.
“This is something that actually needs to be a full-time position but we just don’t have the money to support it,” said Hesselrode.
The importance of keeping expenses at a minimum was stressed throughout the meeting. The possibility of starting an animal control network with Tamms is an idea considered by Coleman.
An agreement between the City of Cairo, Illinois, Municipal Corporation and The Humane Society of Southeast Missouri lays out the framework for a program that will house domestic animals picked up by the City Health Officer and assistants.
The agreement states that the Society will house picked up animals for a five-day holding period as required by the State of Missouri. After the five days have passed, the animals will become the property and responsibility of the state. If the animals are observed to be suffering from illness or injury beyond recovery at the time of impoundment they will be released to the Society to be humanely euthanized.
Another stipulation of the agreement is that at least one pen will be set aside for suspected rabid animals. Animals suspected of carrying rabies will be held for ten days, as required by law. If the animal is too vicious to house for the ten days it will be euthanized and sent off for rabies testing.
The term of the agreement will be for one year, running from March 1, 2014 to February 28, 2015. Cairo will pay the Society a fee of $2,500.00 in advance for the duration of the contract.
Coleman stated that he has also been in touch with individuals from the community who are willing to devote their time and resources to remedy the problem. Citizens in the area have already begun transporting strays to animal shelters on their own.
“It’s a serious matter for the community and a safety issue as well,” said Coleman. “There’s volunteers out there that want to help but including them is a very involved process.”
The city is now accepting applications for individuals who would like to volunteer their time and abilities to the new animal control program.
Alexander County Sheriff Timothy Brown had debated Mayor Coleman in the past on whether it is the county’s responsibility to handle animal control. When asked about the new program Brown remained optimistic.
“It sounds like it could be a pretty good deal,” said Brown.
Linda Swoboda has converted her personal car into an animal transportation vehicle as a means of helping the area combat the stray animal population. The act of volunteering her skills to help animals came as second nature for Swoboda
Using an app on her smart phone, Swoboda coordinates rides for animals between shelters in Illinois, Indiana, and Missouri.
“I can sign up to transport an animal in just a few seconds if I’m available or if it’s convienent for me to help,” said Swoboda.
The use of volunteers is an exciting prospect for Cairo which would keep costs low, however, the qualifications for volunteers will need to be established and reviewed.
“If I can say one thing to the residents of the area it is to be patient,” said Mayor Coleman. “We’re working towards a positive resolution but these things take time.”
George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen