• 72°

Debate over new animal shelter must be resolved with compromise, partnership

The debate involving the city’s need and the public’s want for a new animal shelter has grown a bit out of hand and the ultimate goal has gotten lost through the back and forth, the arguing and impending protests.

There is no argument that the current animal shelter is antiquated. It has lived well beyond its shelf life and is no longer in a position where future investments by the city — or private donors — is money well spent.

There is also no argument that the city of Vicksburg is not in a position — especially in a year when the local economy was trampled by the COVID-19 pandemic — to provide a blank check not only to buy property for a new shelter but spend the hundreds of thousands of dollars to either build or upgrade an existing building into the facility we need.

There is also no argument that those who are advocates for a new animal shelter are passionate, dedicated and driven. And, they are not going to let this long-debated topic go anytime soon.

But while debates have turned to arguments and one-time partners have turned to adversaries in this ongoing process, it is our opinion that there has been no better time for compromise.

Through the pandemic, Vicksburg’s economy has thankfully remained stable. Even though the local tourism industry — one of the main driving forces in the local economy — was seriously hurt in the virus-related shutdowns, sales tax revenues in the city of Vicksburg have been as good and better than previous years.

That is why the city should not slow down its efforts to find a suitable location and move forward with this project.

But even in moving ahead, new shelter advocates must understand why city leaders are so cautious during a time when so much has happened.

We are all a bit jumpy, worried and skeptical of what tomorrow, next week or next month may hold.

The city of Vicksburg needs a new animal shelter. Our city’s animal control department deserves new facilities to provide a better home for those animals sheltered and for the public to come, visit and adopt.

Recently, city leaders said the city currently does not have the $1.5 million it says is needed to buy the property and build a necessary facility. That is understandable. But, city leaders also need to remember that the full burden of the facility — while ultimately city-owned — will not be the city’s alone. Private investors, donors and advocates must be a part of this project, offering not just their time, but their money.

More than any other topic on the table, the best solution possible is for the public and private sectors to come together and work together; anything less will lead to disappointing results.