The 83rd Annual Meeting of the United States Conference of Mayors met in 2015 and adopted the Creating Healthy Pet Communities initiative in June. The resolution outlines 14 points of action to be taken by municipalities to positively impact the humane treatment of companion animals in their communities.
Rochester Hills leads the charge
The City of Rochester Hills leads in this Healthy Pet Community initiative with public support of the work of the Michigan Humane Society (MHS). MHS is a recognized as the largest and oldest animal welfare organization in the state of Michigan and so it is a natural choice for Mayor Bryan Barnett to recognize MHS as a partner in the initiative. The hope is that the Mayor will be a uniting force not just between the big players in Oakland County, but will reach out to smaller operations in Oakland County as well as those in surrounding counties and that best practices will be shared to lift up the state as a whole.
Making real change for pets
The points range from raising awareness of pet adoption, responsible pet ownership; enforcing ordinances, carrying out laws to fight animal abuse to education around animal issues. What the specific animal issues that need to be addressed will vary from place to place and to ensure that progress is made these issues will have to be teased out and the work tailored to meet the public’s needs.
This is a good start however the proof will be evident in such things as the numbers reflected in the Annual Shelter Reports put forth by the Michigan Pet Fund Alliance, the news reporting on the prosecution of animal abusers, the funding of school programs to teach pet safety, animal hoarders brought back into the world through established therapy and support programs and the elimination of breed bans in the state just to name a new.
The data is what will show if communities that embrace this Healthy Pet Initiative are champions or just using the program as a part of their marketing campaign. How much time will it take for communities in Michigan to really put their teeth into such a great priority? What amount of money and manpower will follow their points of action? The progress made will be a point of pride; however the work will never be truly finished because as we address some of what seems to be the most fixable and create workable solutions around owned and homeless pet more weaknesses in the system will show itself and will need some thoughtful consideration by all of the stakeholders. Not one volunteer, not one shelter, not one administrator can carry the burden of a system that is fractured or ignored. The Healthy Pet Communities is a vehicle to begin this work.
Now you can follow up
Contact your local city or county leadership and ask about the initiative and how they are participating and also inquire as as a citizen how can you help support and further the difference that can be made. Your concern, time and talent can make a difference to the pet’s in your own home, those on your block and beyond.
Healthy Pet points:
- Raise awareness of alternative approaches for reducing animal homelessness through incentivized licensing and spay/neuter programs.
- Working to promote local ordinances for both dogs and cats featuring differential licensing fees for sterilized animals.
- Promoting low-cost spay/neuter programs for low-income pet owners via outlets such as local cable television, community newspapers, newsletters, websites and other media as appropriate.
- Working to help reunite lost pets with their families by creating and/or promoting resources to find lost pets including links to both city sites and local shelters.
- Promoting easy access to license information when a lost pet is found.
- Taking an active role in enforcing local and statewide animal laws and ordinances.
- Prosecuting accused perpetrators of crimes against animals to the fullest extent permitted by law.
- Encouraging public education on animal issues.
- Promoting adoption as the primary preferred source of companion animals.
- Partnering with local shelters to provide local cable channel programming regarding appropriate pet care.
- Encouraging “partner pages” on city websites that link the community to local shelters and other useful services/resources for animals.
- Working with local shelter groups to post and publish annual statistics regarding how the community is doing with regard to caring for community animals.
- Encouraging a “safe haven sheltering facility” for the community’s lost or surrendered companion animals either by contract or directly.
- Promoting the adoption of shelter animals.