Primary Election, Mayoral Candidates and Animal Welfare
Bloomington Mayoral Candidates and Animal Welfare With the primary election just days away, and so far little notion given to the stake of animals in our community in recent debates, MCHA has reached out to each candidate and offered the same five questions regarding their position on the state of animal welfare in our community and where their beliefs and policies lie. Responses have been captured, and listed in the order they were received.
Darryl Neher* *These responses were captured from a conversation. What is your assessment of the state of companion (dogs/cats) animals in our community? I think the relationship between the City shelter and MCHA has proven to be vital to the community, in addition to other groups stepping up to be more proactive with resources. There are things that the City sometimes can't provide, and luckily low-cost spay/neuter, humane education and other resources are available through other providers, supporting the positive trends at the shelter. I think the city has made excellent progress, and I'd like to see it stay on the same path. What makes our situation unique is that Bloomington has become more of a hub for resources for area counties that don't have the same access to resources and that's a situation we can't ignore. What growth potential and benefits do you see for companion animals in our community? I'm aware that there has been some need and requests for renovations and updates to the facility (City Shelter) as it stands now. I think there's an opportunity for the shelter to begin moving towards the next level of being a progressive shelter and working to keep more animals in the home, and what that looks like right now, I don't know. It could be more aggressive spay/neuter, or outreach and assistance. What detriments do you feel still face our companion animals in our community? Animals are still being surrendered, and we're still dealing with the affects of animals ending up in our community from some of the doughnut counties that don't have the same resources or benefits. What is your position regarding both the urban and rural deer proposed overpopulation problem in our community, and what is the approach you would advocate for? I believe the issues of urban (deer in neighborhoods) and wild (deer in more wooded areas) deer are separate and have to be treated as such. I'm eager to see the results of the Ball State Study and see how that can offer insight into what the next steps look like. I will definitely advocate for more of a conversation (that begins with professionals), and am open to allowing a count of the deer population to help provide more insight into solutions. While at my heart I'd like to make a decision based on morals, I will trust the science and the data that is provided. I'm hopeful we can have more conversations with HSUS and other humane organizations to address all opportunities of population control. What growth, benefits, or changes, would you foresee happening at the local Animal Control shelter and adoption center under your guidance? I'd like to see the facility (City Shelter) addressed physically and to make sure that the shelter stays as progressive as it's been, even with a change in leadership that will come since Laurie (Laurie Ringquist, current BACC Director) has chosen to step down.
John Hamilton What is your assessment of the state of companion (dogs/cats) animals in our community? Bloomington has an amazing collection of nonprofits and volunteers committed to animal welfare in the city, but they can always use more support. As mayor, I will welcome learning about how the city could be a better partner with the community, by ensuring that pets that are adopted are going to permanent homes, for example. A necessary component of this is making sure people that adopt are prepared to properly train, vaccinate, and care for all the needs of that animal. Pets are a critical part of our community that bring enjoyment and what growth potential and benefits do you see for companion animals in our community? Pets play an important role in many homes and as mayor I'll support city policies that make our parks and public spaces pet friendly. I understand there is strong public support for the construction of a dog park at the new Switchyard park when it is created, and embrace that, as well as policies to make downtown more pedestrian and pet friendly. What detriments do you feel still face our companion animals in our community? I think our community has a substantial population that approaches adoption as a temporary measure. Every year, many animals are abandoned in the summer when their owner no longer feels prepared to care for them. This causes strain on our shelters and organizations striving to protect animals. We especially need to support nonprofits that provide low cost or free spay/ neuter operations to make sure that the dog and cat population stay low enough to ensure likely adoption. We do not want to have to turn away unfortunate animals from our shelter because we fear they are not adoptable or be forced to euthanize them due to lack of space. What is your position regarding both the urban and rural deer proposed overpopulation problem in our community, and what is the approach you would advocate for? The debate over how to handle the city's deer population is important to many citizens. I believe there are two separate problems in the deer debate: what to do with the deer in the city, and what to do with deer at Griffy Lake. As mayor, I will follow available science to protect Griffy nature preserve for the long-run, so that families can enjoy it for generations to come as we do today. In the city, neighborhoods may vary in their reasonable approaches and the City Council is the best venue to evaluate and accommodate those differences. I look forward to working with the Council in that process. Based on my experience leading the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, I know that government action can greatly impact environmental protection. As mayor, I will do everything I can to protect the natural beauty of our city. What growth, benefits, or changes, would you foresee happening at the local Animal Control shelter and adoption center under your guidance? I will look forward to considering plans and possibilities for the shelter and adoption center. At this point in time, I can't forecast any specific changes, but certainly welcome proposals to improve our effectiveness and humaneness in our operations. In this regard, and in all answers above, really, I would look forward to learning best practices in other communities - are they doing things better than we are? How can we improve, and learn from what they are doing? I believe reviewing the most creative and innovative communities around the country and what they are doing in this regard is an excellent step.