Holcomb should keep future animal control needs in mind.

The need to provide an adequate facility to hold dogs and cats has been a familiar issue in Finney County.

Before a new city-county animal shelter opened in 2010 in Garden City, advocates of replacing the outdated, dilapidated shelter faced challenges, not the least of which were a number of stubborn county commissioners who doubted the need for a new facility.

It was needed. The old animal shelter was cramped and deteriorating, and a poor setting for animals, workers and visitors.

Now Holcomb officials must address similar concerns.

While the Holcomb Municipal Pound is much smaller than its Garden City counterpart, it still has big problems.

Holcomb police impound on average some five to seven animals per week. With just four 8-by-4-foot pens for dogs and three cages for cats, two dogs must be jammed into one pen at times a potentially dangerous situation for the animals, and in violation of state regulations.

The facility also falls short when it comes to regulations requiring eight hours of natural sunlight a day. Other shortcomings include a lack of running water and insufficient ventilation.

One remedy would be remodeling the existing 24-by-10-foot structure. But before making such a decision, officials should explore the feasibility of a new facility that addresses all concerns.

Holcomb officials also should consider the community's potential for growth. A remodel of the existing facility may not meet future needs as well as a new shelter that's simply a functional and adequate setting for animals, staff and people who visit.

Holcomb also could use a license to offer pets for adoption, and lower its rate of animal euthanasia. But it's tough to encourage adoptions at a dingy shelter.

Above all, allowing helpless animals to languish in unfit conditions sends the wrong message. Providing decent shelter for abandoned and stray animals speaks to the heart and compassion of a community.

Impounded animals aren't always unwanted strays, after all. Some are family pets, and many others are adoptable.

Holcomb officials should keep that in mind as they craft a plan to improve the situation at their local pound.