With the brutal May 1 killing of a pet dog by two pit bulls running loose in their neighborhood, we have once again been reminded of the serious need for an animal control facility in the community.
Proposals to construct a shelter have been floated around for the past few years, but money concerns and political realities always serve to put the brakes on real progress. Tragically, it's probably just a matter of time until dogs running free attack a child, a jogger, or someone out for a peaceful stroll.
Now, before that happens, is the time to get some plans off the shelf and into action. It's also time to mount an awareness campaign to educate owners about the need to keep their dogs and other potentially dangerous animals behind a secure fence.
Further, it's time our law enforcement officers were given the tools they need to make a real difference. Currently, the police are hamstrung by a lack of animal control capabilities, and limited options on what to do with a vicious dog even if they are able to locate and catch it.
Alpine Veterinary Clinic makes room for problem animals when they can, but that generous assistance ought not to be taken for granted or abused with excessive requests. A shelter is needed somewhere in the western end of the county, and at the very least, a part-time, on-call animal control officer needs to be hired, trained, and equipped.
It's high time Klickitat County, the city of White Salmon, and the city of Bingen pooled their resources to get an animal shelter built. Cutting the costs three ways -- for example, the county could pay 60 percent of the cost, White Salmon 25 percent, and Bingen 15 percent -- would be a reasonable way to keep costs low enough to ensure there is no undue burden on any of the jurisdictions.
The county has emergency funds available for vital needs, and this surely qualifies. The situation is no longer one that can be postponed or treated as a low priority. The unprovoked attack on a dog while it was inside its owner's fenced yard was a horrible warning, and the county and the cities need to treat it as such.
In the interim, be careful when you go out for a walk, and stay close to your children -- even in a fenced yard.