It’s been less than four years since Pocatello city leaders heralded the opening of a new city shelter, designed to accommodate more animals, include an outdoor dog exercise area, provide a space for a future spay/neuter surgical area and dramatically reduce the numbers of euthanasia casualties. Since then, the shelter has gone through four different directors, several high level firings, the discharge of many volunteers and a severe workforce shortage. In addition, the acting director, a Pocatello police officer, is not scheduled to be replaced until the fall.

I volunteer for a local animal rescue group, PAWS. Our handful of volunteers donate their time, homes and money 24 hours a day for the sake of abandoned, orphaned, lost, neglected and abused animals. We operate on a budget funded only by donations, a few modest private grants and our individual purse strings. PAWS has been solely responsible for the prosecution and conviction of several area abuse cases which otherwise would have been ignored. We work alongside many local and regional rescue agencies to alleviate animal issues relevant to our urban and rural society.

We are a handful of volunteers. Our staff cannot provide all of the necessary services for this community and the region. Spring is upon us and the need for a fully functioning animal shelter belongs in the forefront of city and county administrators, not on the back burner. Collective community involvement is essential to ensure that adequate city funding is appropriated to the shelter in short order. If Idaho Falls, Twin Falls, Hailey, Boise can successfully operate minimum and no kill animal facilities, why can’t we?

George Deeb,