If holiday shopping leads you to the pet store this season, some folks are asking you to consider Lubbock's huge animal problem first. According to Animal Services, Lubbock has far more stray animals than a city this size should have and that means more are being killed too.
Jamey Cantrell was hired as Animal Services Manager in July, and his goal is to lower the number of animals that turn up stray in Lubbock, in turn lowering the number euthanized. However, the process is a slow one, and it involves changing some of the city ordinances that allow animals too much freedom. "They call us animal control and that's wrong, we don't respond to animals we respond to people. People are the underlying cause of every problem that we deal with," Cantrell says.
Jamey said there are many responsible pet owners in the Hub City but there are also owners who let their animals roam freely, multiplying strays. "A city this size should not have to have a shelter that holds 300 to 400 animals like we have."
More than 18,600 animals have been picked up this year in Lubbock and more than 10,000 of those have been euthanized. A number, equaling 50 animals killed per 1,000 citizens. And Cantrell says the change needs to start with the ordinances. "The ordinances are really a first step to hopefully change peoples attitude to look at what's best for the animals and for the people who live here. And it's not going to be a quick fix, nothing ever is when you have a problem of this magnitude," said Cantrell.
With the holiday season upon us, often times people consider giving a pet. But before you go out and buy one the animal shelter wants you to remember two things, adopting and making sure the owner is responsible. "The most important thing people need to understand is that a pet is not like a toy, when you get tired of playing with it you can't put it in the closet. For the rest of it's life you have to be responsible for caring for it," says Cantrell.
The outdated ordinances are being addressed. Cantrell has made a proposal to the City to encourage greater owner responsibility. He thinks the current ordinances are to blame for the high number of stray's.
One of his suggestions is for cats to be restricted to the owner's property. Other suggestions involve animal sales, and the containment of wild animals.