GUIZERIX: Bickering over shelter only hurts innocent animals

Published 4:00 am Wednesday, July 21, 2021

I’ve lived in a city that couldn’t find solutions to its animal shelter woes — and seen how ugly things got before any negligible improvements were made.

Here’s a cautionary tale for Vicksburg.

Over the last decade, Oxford’s animal shelter saw many iterations. Two different nonprofits contracted with the city and Lafayette County to provide animal shelter services, and both were overrun with problems and eventually disbanded. The latter was disbanded due to allegations of abuse, lack of record-keeping and overall neglect of helpless animals.

Oxford prides itself on excellent amenities and facilities for the public. Its parks, sidewalks, community centers and more are beautiful and an asset to the city, but the animal shelter was a shame.

It took the deaths of more than two dozen animals due to neglect — and vigilant watchdogs asking the tough questions — for the city to step in, and finally devote the necessary funding to provide state-of-the-art facilities for homeless animals. Now, after millions of dollars were spent, the animal shelter there is up to par.

This is a scenario we don’t need to see in Vicksburg. For years, advocates of the City of Vicksburg Animal Shelter have spoken out about the issues the shelter faces, including risk of overcrowding, outdated facilities, issues accessing care for animals and more.

Vicksburg’s shelter workers have a heart for animals and want them to receive the best care possible. It’s up to everyone else to help them achieve that goal.

Recent comments by Mayor George Flaggs, Jr. were disheartening to me, as someone who’s seen the worst of what can happen when local governments and animal advocates struggle to agree on the best course of action. That’s not to say I can’t see the perspective of those on either side of the issue; I can.

Flaggs is clearly frustrated, and advocates feel their cries are either not being heard or that the wheels of change aren’t moving fast enough.

However, at the end of the day, the bickering and back-and-forth between parties doesn’t help those who need it most: the voiceless animals.

The public has been reassured by those on both sides of the issue that, with a little patience, Vicksburg will eventually be home to a state-of-the-art animal shelter. We want to be optimistic about the issue, given Mayor Flaggs’ commitment to improving so many other facets of life here in the River City.

It will take time — a commodity that, hopefully, we can spare.

Often, in situations that involve defenseless beings, we feel powerless, like there’s nothing we can do to help. While we wait for the shelter issues to be resolved, there are plenty of things the public can do to support the good work our shelter workers are doing in spite of the odds.

Adopt an animal, apply for fostering programs and donate money and supplies to local shelter organizations. We’re still waiting for the new animal shelter that was promised, but in the meantime, let’s all try to put our differences aside in the name of animal welfare.