Most residents of Atascosa County already are aware there is a problem with animals—not the pets, of course, but of the stray or feral animals that are abundant in unincorporated areas as well as in city limits in many cases.
Animal Control officials or police have their hands full already, and not much time for stray animals, but law enforcement officers have had to deal with livestock on the roads and highways. If hitting a deer is bad, hitting a horse or cow is really bad.
Living near Pleasanton we had a family of feral cats that shared our property with us. We appreciated them because they helped deal with other less welcome animals such as mice, rats and snakes. When we moved, we had a problem: what to do with these cats, which were almost pets?
Stray dogs and cats can be a major problem for any number of reasons. One obvious one is they breed. Puppies and kittens grow up to be more dogs and cats and more problems for the human population.
The cats were a problem. What were our options? One was to let local animal control handle them. This would likely mean trapping them and having them put down. A friend who volunteers with Atascosa Animal Rescue helped us come up with a better solution. Our feral cats could be trapped and then neutered and made available for adoption. Neutering is important because it helps reduce the growth of animal population. They also should be immunized against common animal diseases, especially the dangerous ones.
Atascosa Animal Allies is a group of people who love and care about animals. Oftentimes they pay out of their own pockets to get the shots or spay/ neuter services the animals need. They are not taxpayer supported.
What can we citizens do to help? To the extent we can, we should try to manage animal populations in or around our homes. Spay/neuter is an important service. Part of loving animals is controlling their population and health. Epizootic diseases like rabies are a threat to human safety as well as animal health, but overpopulation causes other problems.
One website helping manage cats is http:// straycatadoptions.com, but caring citizens can help in other ways, like donating time and volunteering to help care for these critters around us.
Check it out!!
WARREN DOMKE is a columnist for the Pleasanton Express.