At the end of August, the Humane Society sent out a legislative questionnaire to all individuals running for Calhoun County Commissioner, Prosecutor, and Sheriff, and asked that they fill out the survey, provide a photo and come in for a tour of our facility along with the opportunity to discuss important animal welfare issues in our community.
Our goals were to raise community awareness of local animal care and control issues and to educate local officials on important issues facing the animal care and control community. HSSCM will not endorse any candidate, but we want to share the information gleaned from the surveys and conversations with you, our stakeholders.
As of Tuesday, October 16, the following individuals had made appointments and came in to tour the facility and talk about animal welfare concerns:
District 1 Commissioner
(Battle Creek City Precincts 3, 4, 11, 20, 22, 23, Springfield City Precincts 1, 2)
District 2 Commissioner:
(Battle Creek City Precincts 7, 10, 12, 13, 19, 21, portion of 18)
District 3 Commissioner:
(Battle Creek City Precincts 1, 2, 5, 6, 8, 9, 14, 16, 17, portion of 15 & 18)
District 4 Commissioner:
(Bedford Charter Precincts 1, 2, 3, 4 Convis and Pennfield Charter Townships Precincts 1, 2, 3, Battle Creek City portion of Precinct 15)
District 5 Commissioner:
(Athens, Emmett Charter Precincts 1, 2, 3, 4 Leroy and Newton Townships)
District 6 Commissioner:
(Marshall City Precincts 1, 2 Burlington, Clarendon, Eckford, Fredonia, Marengo, Marshall Precincts 1, 2 Tekonsha Townships)
District 7 Commissioner:
(Albion City Precincts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, Albion, Clarence, Homer, Lee & Sheridan Townships)
*denotes candidate also submitted their completed Legislative Questionnaire
For the individuals who came in for a tour, we provided a printed copy of Animal Control and Projection Ordinance No. 6 from the Calhoun County, Michigan Ordinances (available online here), a copy of our most recent Critter Chronicles newsletter, information on our Low Income Spay and Neuter (LISN) program, and the 2010 and 2011 Animal Statistics Table for the Calhoun County Animal Center (online available here), as that is the shelter that holds the City contracts for animal control. We talked about our facility, our programs and services, and encouraged them to visit the Calhoun County Animal Center on Union Street.
“We will have to work with each municipal government to work on the problem [of feral/stray cat overpopulation].”
Do you have any pets?
Of those who submitted a survey, only Terris Todd and Teresa Phillips have not recently had pets. Jim Haadsma has a Welsh Corgi and a cat; Scott Brown has two chocolate labs and two cats; Dave Morgan’s mini dachshund has passed; David Gilbert has a cocker spaniel and two cats; Derek King has a lab mix; Harry Marshall has four cats; Chip Spranger has a Shi Tzu; Kathy-Sue Dunn has a English Bull Terrier; Matt Saxton has a schnauzer and a chihuahua.
.“Like everything else, there is never enough money [for animal control].”
Do you believe issues related to the population of stray dogs and/or cats negatively impact important development strategies in our community?
All candidates noted that stray animals are an issue in our community. Kathy-Sue Dunn and David Gilbert noted that stray dogs and cats can negatively impact neighborhood revitalization efforts. Art Kale, Matt Saxton and Terris Todd noted that stray animals can have impact on health and safety in our communities. Jim Haadsma and Harry Marshall both noted the costs for law enforcement and sheltering of these unwanted animals. Dave Morgan also brought up an important concern: stray or roaming cats having a negative impact on the local bird population.
“The resources to handle strays could be better spent to help in other animal areas/spay and neuter.”
Do you believe the current municipal animal control budget provides adequate funding for its overall responsibilities?
Almost all candidates noted that the funding for animal control services is short given the need in our community. Terris Todd noted that funding determines the quality of services provided. Derek King spoke of his area of service, noting that it is almost impossible to get animal control to respond in outer county areas. Jim Haadsma suggested that a partial solution may be the creation of a county advisory board, similar to Barry County, to assist with expertise and hands-on volunteering. He also noted that lack of funds can affect grooming and socialization in the animal shelter, which makes adoptions more difficult. Kathy-Sue Dunn noted that we need to live within our budget, and that includes making the most of the dollars available for animal control.
“We need to protect any and all animals from neglect and cruelty.”
Current County Ordinances allow cats to run at large. Would you support changing the ordinance for cats to match the dog ordinances?
Kathy-Sue Dunn said she would listen and entertain looking at a change of ordinance, but that controlling population starts with awareness and spay/neuter. Matt Saxton also affirmed that he would be interested in looking at different options. Jim Haadsma pointed out that cat licensing is impractical under current budgetary confines, but collaboration with animal welfare organizations to provide education would help the situation. Chip Spranger, Dave Morgan, David Gilbert, Teresa Phillips, Harry Marshall and Scott Brown would support changing current ordinances. Harry Marshall affirmed HSSCM’s opinion that inside cats live longer lives. Art Kale noted the difference between pets and farm cats.
“Overpopulation of animals can cause negative views of the effected neighborhoods.”
How would you handle the feral or stray cat overpopulation problem in our community?
Harry Marshall, Derek King, Terris Todd, David Gilbert, Dave Morgan, Chip Spranger, and Jim Haadsma all noted education and spay and neuter programs to be critical in addressing the cat overpopulation problem in Calhoun County.
“It is important to educate the public on issues relating to their pets, and how to manage them.”
If elected, would you support any form of canine breed restrictions?
None of our candidates would currently support any form of breed restrictions. Jim Haadsma noted the problem isn’t breed-based, but “backyard breeding,” with education being the key. Matt Saxton agreed, noting that the problem is often with the owners.
“Safety and public health are compromised by a burgeoning population of stray dogs and cats.”
If elected, would you support stricter penalties for animal related offenses such as neglect and abuse?
All candidates would support stricter penalties.
“We cannot condemn a specific breed…that would prove to have unintended consequences.”
At HSSCM, we hope that, by inviting in candidates for a two-way conversation, we can continue to affect animal welfare issues in our community. However, talking to individuals prior to an election is just the first step.
“I do not believe the current animal control budget is providing adequate funding for its overall responsibilities.”
The Humane Society will continue to work with local government officials, and will make sure that we share the information we receive with you, our stakeholders. In turn, we ask that you hold your local officials responsible for creating a more pet-friendly community, a society where every pet is a wanted pet. Make yourself knowledgeable on candidates and vote in every election. Write, call or visit your local governmental officials and make sure they know what is important to you regarding animal welfare issues. Together, we can make a difference in our community.
Links to pdf versions of candidate responses on the 2012 Legislative Questionnaire:
Kathy Sue Dunn
Harry J. Marshall
Chip H. Spranger