Friday, March 10, 2006

Time to practice what you preach, H-T.

Last Friday, the Herald-Times editorialized that "Herb Kilmer needs to get over himself and vote for the long-awaited re-write of the county animal control ordinance." That landmark of civility in journalism was followed by a news/editorial piece by Kurt Van der Dussen on Monday and a more reasonable editorial yesterday.

We hear from the H-T editorial board over and over about civility in this community, but the paper never seems to apply the same standard to itself. Opening up the "quick views" short editorials by saying an elected official "needs to get over himself" falls far short of the established standard at 1900 South Walnut.

There are people with legitimate concerns over proposed amendments to the county animal control ordinance. Kilmer, as the only non-city resident on the board of commissioners, wants to make sure rural citizens are represented and have their voices heard. The concerns of those rural citizens deserve better than to be dismissed by an arrogant and condescending H-T editorial board making the smarmy comment that Kilmer "needs to get over himself".

My chief concern here is the inspections of the Rescue Farm in Ellettsville. The Rescue Farm has a statement on its Web site about the proposed changes:

(C)hanges to ch. 441 are excessive for two reasons. First, inspections of an "commercial animal establishment" beyond an annual inspection, with the exception of complaint-driven inspections, is both arbitrary and a waste of tax-payer's dollars. Secondly, a home-based 501c3 nonprofit animal welfare organization should not be subject to the same standards of care that the Federal Government requires for research facilities and wholesale breeders. More appropriate standards can be found in the existing code of the City of Bloomington, the combined Indianapolis/Marion County code, Hamilton County code, etc...

The Rescue Farm is a no-kill shelter that has taken in many animals that would have been destroyed by the government-run Animal Shelter. A true labor of love, the Rescue Farm exists to make the world a better place for animals. The Farm's owners are concerned they will have to shut down if subjected to the stricter standards in the proposed re-write of the Animal Control Ordinance.

Whatever one thinks of the rules limiting how long a dog can be tethered and governing under what circumstances a dog can be off-leash while outside, the County Commissioners, the animal control commission, and the Herald-Times all need to be very careful that this ordinance does not harm the ability of the Rescue Farm to serve and save animals in Monroe County. Any change to existing law that does that is extremely counterproductive, and an infinite number of uncivil editorials by the H-T will not change that reality.