Letter to the Editor: Ferron’s Cat Population



“Some people try to be tall by cutting off the heads of others” – Paramhansa Yogananda

Recently there was a town hall meeting in Ferron to discuss, educate, and inform the citizens and town council of humane and economical ways to help curb the unwanted cat population in Ferron. The program is fully supported and encouraged by myself (Glen Jensen, DVM) and my staff. Unfortunately, part of the meeting turned into a bashing and mudslinging event. This is not the first time that this type of activity has occurred. In the past, I have stayed quiet, turned the other cheek and looked the other way.  I realize uninformed people will often use a knee jerk reaction and immature ways to lash out with lies and name calling, believing they understand the problem. I always hope that most of the people will see through it and realize how absurd the accusations are. The reality is that this type of talk is destructive to individuals and to communities.  When negative, slanderous talk is allowed to continue, then repeated enough, many people will believe it. It is time for some facts. I would ask everyone to learn and understand before you speak out in a destructive way. What you say and how it is said does matter. Please stop and take a breath, use cognitive reasoning and facts, and including some real research, before hurting others. When there are problems, let’s look for solutions together and build our communities rather than destroy them.

The county animal shelter is housed in the veterinary office, Emery Animal Health. We are paid a fixed sum each month to cover the costs of caring for these animals. The money we receive has to cover the cost of that portion of the building which houses these animals, the employee’s time to care for them, the time to work with rescue groups, to answer phone calls and to assist the public, and also for the food and equipment these animals need. The sum we receive is less than one fifth of what Carbon county’s budget is for their animal shelter. Every month we save Emery county taxpayers a lot of money while providing an excellent service. The number of euthanized dogs has gone from nearly 100% when we first started with the pound to less than 10% today. Most all dogs are housed much longer than required by law, adding to more expenses and without additional compensation from the county. My staff has done an excellent job to help make great things happen. The additional time and efforts that have been put into improving the outcome for these animals has never been reimbursed.

Helping with the cat concerns has been more of a challenge. There are no cat rescue groups and housing all the cats that come in would be impossible, even with a much larger shelter. Most cats come in unvaccinated and some carrying diseases. These diseases easily spread to other non-vaccinated cats. The problems and expenses start to compound the more cats you have in a confined space. We do what we can but with few adoptions, and way too many cats, the county definitely has a problem. There has been over 200 cats euthanized during the last year with questionable improvements to the overpopulation. These cats are predominantly brought in through individual city animal control officers. We report these numbers to No More Homeless Pets voluntarily. As we have been working with No More Homeless Pets, we have been able to come up with a possible solution. The solution cannot be accomplished by only us; it takes community involvement. This was the purpose of the meeting in Ferron. The program that was presented creates the ability for government animal control to bring cats in, have them spayed or neutered, then turn them back out where they were trapped. This program has been shown to be as effective or more than trapping and euthanasia. Currently, their budget cannot support the feral spay/neuter program for citizens. This program allowed anyone with a feral cat to have it spayed or neutered. No matter how we go about trying to do good, it owner did not intend to end up with a pet cat. When this occurs, the money cannot be used as it was intended. In turn, the program loses its effectiveness.

We have also made many other efforts to help decrease the number of unwanted cats and minimize the number of cats that must be euthanized. Last February, we sponsored the entire month to surgically sterilizing, then releasing cats. February was chosen in hopes to get as many cats spayed or neutered prior to the spring kitten season. We have obtained several live traps and have them available at both of our locations in Price and in Castle Dale. These are available for the public to use. We also have low-cost vaccinations available for feral cats. We are the first veterinary clinic in this area to sponsor and publicly encourage this program through a dedicated promotional month.

Veterinary medicine is often very stressful. The profession has also become one of the highest rates of suicide causes of death in the US. This often stems from unfounded and unfair accusations from others. When bashing does not lead to suicide, it does lead to increased financial stress. People will quit going to a doctor, that for any reason, they are not sure if they can trust. I have personally felt and seen these many times.  Rumors and lies do destroy. In this case, as with many others, we try to do something positive, honest, and good through implementing programs that will improve the lives of animals in our communities and it turns into a bash. People do not take the time to understand, their innate resistance to anything of change and/or not understanding kicks in. For some, they turn the opportunity into a time to make themselves appear more important or intelligent at the expense of someone else.

In the US, there is a shortage of veterinarians in rural areas. It is the lowest paying of all the areas within the veterinary profession. Communities thrive when they have healthy businesses and the expertise available to help implement positive changes within the community and in individual lives. Animals and our special relationships we have with them, from barrel racing, to delivering newborn calves, and snuggling up close to a pet all create a better, happier, and a more fulfilling life for us. Let’s not diminish our communities by allowing a few individuals to destroy it for all of us.

Glen L Jensen, DVM
Emery Animal Health

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