For many years, the rate at which unclaimed dogs and cats were being put to sleep at the Pasco Animal Services shelter in the Land O’ Lakes area was a scandal, at least among animal rights advocates who want “no-kill” shelters. For years, county officials insisted the euthanasia was needed to prevent overcrowding at the shelter, which could lead to disease outbreaks and other costly problems. Two years ago, however, the County Commission decided to reverse course and told Animal Services to start moving toward a 90 percent live- release rate for shelter animals. Last week, Animal Services Director Mike Shumate told commissioners the shelter has managed an 80 percent live release rate for the first six months of 2014. Shelter personnel have been able to take steps to prevent overcrowding problems after greatly reducing the number of dogs and cats being euthanized with extra money coming to Animal Services after commissioners increased the dog license fee. Now, however, Shumate wants the commission to do something it has balked at for decades: licensing cats. Noting that Pasco is the only area county that doesn’t require feline licensing, Shumate says he is “pretty serious” about getting this request.
Dog licensing is paying for the county’s trap, spay-neuter and release animal population control program, so cat owners should help pull the weight, Shumate says. Animals Services estimated Pasco has some 115,000 pet cats and another 110,000 feral felines. We’re sure there are people who have what they consider well-founded objections to licensing cats, but if other counties can make it work, we don’t see why Pasco can’t, too.