The Garden City Telegram
2/6/2013
OPINIONS AND COMMENTARY

Pet plates

Program helps drive home need to address problem.

Many Kansas motorists like to share their interest in a cause with others.

They've done so by purchasing and displaying any of a number of distinctive license plate designs offered by the state.

And they have plenty of choices.

Kansans can show their support for such important causes as breast cancer research and preventing child abuse. Military veterans may display plates that call attention to their service and awards, and fans and alumni of the state's universities are able to flaunt logos of their favorite schools, among many other designs.

Add a pet-related plate to the menu of options for Kansas motorists.

Kansans have the opportunity to show their support for responsible pet ownership and also help Kansas State University veterinary students by purchasing and displaying the "I'm Pet Friendly" license plate.

The plates cost a one-time fee of $45.50, and an annual donation of $50. Proceeds support externships for students at K-State's College of Veterinary Medicine, as well as education on spay/neuter programs at animal shelters across the state — an initiative that should hit home in Finney County.

With a seemingly never-ending flood of stray and abandoned dogs and cats crowding the local animal shelter, far too many adoptable pets must be put down — numbers that soar well beyond what's expected in a community this size.

The Finney County Humane Society, a volunteer group striving to see more pets adopted from the local shelter, continues to fight an uphill battle because many irresponsible pet owners fail to spay or neuter their dogs and cats, and allow then to run loose and create unwanted litters.

The problem also drives up the community's animal-control costs.

The FCHS has made strides toward curbing the problem with low-cost spay and neuter clinics aided by local veterinarians and other contributions. But humane society volunteers know there's a long way to go.

Indeed, the problem is so staggering locally that it will take multiple strategies — tougher enforcement of pet-related polices included — to curb the problem.

To that end, count education and heightened awareness of the troubling situation among many key strategies. Every dollar devoted to as much has to help.