Response to Indio City Council Re: Animal Services
Posted on 6 Mar 2013
By Dr. Lori Kirshner:
(links to the original Desert Sun article and Dr. Kirshner’s response are below)
In a recent Desert Sun article concerning the fate of the City of Indio Animal Shelter, a proposal to award the contract for animal services to Riverside County was described. Unmanageable costs in keeping the current shelter operational were cited as a key factor moving the City of Indio in that direction. Recently, Advancing the Interests of Animals, the non-profit animal welfare organization which I lead, along with a number of other individuals, filed suit against the City of Indio and a number of City employees in their official capacities, in a final effort to get the shelter to comply with State laws.
Our position is that Indio’s animals, citizens and residents and would not only benefit much more by having a well-functioning animal shelter in the City, but that this is achievable, even given the City’s finances. By abdicating responsibility, Indio would give up a fabulous opportunity to enhance the quality of life of its residents, and to improve the conditions for the animals in the community. Look at the example of Palm Springs. In just a few short years, and also in response to a lawsuit, the Palm Springs Animal Shelter was transformed, and now enjoys strong community support. Friends of the Palm Springs Animal Shelter, a not for profit organization, is responsible for virtually all the operations of the shelter. There is an animal foster home program, long, accessible hours of operation, training and grooming, and a host of campaigns to promote adoptions. The community strongly supports the shelter, sponsoring fundraising parties and events. There are literally hundreds of volunteers associated with this wonderful shelter, which did not exist just a few years ago. Palm Springs saw what could be and should be, and worked hard to achieve that goal. The result is a well-deserved source of pride for Palm Springs.
In terms of the City of Indio’s finances, the article only addressed costs, but did not consider the array of other methods of fundraising that would be available to an improved Indio shelter, such as private donations, fundraising events, and institutional grants.
The plaintiffs entered legal action only after years of failed attempts to improve the Indio shelter. We look forward to working with the City of Indio on a roadmap as to how to modernize and improve all the elements of the shelter. Coming to an amicable resolution would not only yield far-reaching benefits to the community, but would also permit the city to avoid a protracted legal process.
I would like to encourage Indio residents to call the members of City Council and the Mayor and encourage them to maintain, reorganize and modernize the shelter. The first step should be to hire an independent consultant to give an objective assessment of all matters concerning the shelter.
In a recent KESQ segment, a tearful shelter employee said that there was no alternative to euthanizing many animals that enter the Indio shelter. We emphatically disagree! Let a qualified consultant come to Indio, to show the way toward a better future for the community. Although transferring responsibility to Riverside Country may seem expedient, and perhaps less expensive in the short run, the residents and the needy animals of Indio would benefit much more by having a modern, quality animal shelter in the City.
The original Desert Sun article published on 02/14/13:
Dr. Kirshner’s Response published on 03/05/13 under Valley Voice:
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