Our Opinion: Police act to defuse controversy at animal control

The Jefferson City Police Department may have found an effective resolution to a controversy that has erupted at its Animal Control division.

The solution is role reversal regarding supervisory authority at animal control.

Controversy about the use of a gas chamber to kill animals escalated in the aftermath of the departure of the shelter’s veterinarian. The parting traces to differences between the shelter Director Karen Jennings and the veterinarian she supervised, Dr. Amanda Dykstra.

The police department on Tuesday announced the hiring of an interim shelter veterinarian, Dr. Corey McCann.

More significantly, it announced the veterinarian now is in charge of the shelter operations.

A police department news release reads: “In the course of reviewing all elements of the program, it became readily apparent that a licensed veterinarian should hold ultimate responsibility for the operation of the animal control program.”

The release continued: “Karen Jennings will continue to supervise the animal control officers but will now report to Dr. McCann in his overall administrative capacity.”

We believe the move is a good idea and certainly worth a try.

Lining up on opposite sides of the gas chamber controversy were critics who found the operation cruel, and defenders who argued the shelter is not a tax-supported, “no-kill” humane society.

We understand that some city residents may resent subsidizing the care and feeding of pets whose owners disregard the leash law.

But the new animal shelter on Hyde Park Road was financed in part by a public appeal by a nonprofit Friends group.

The word “shelter” and the involvement of a Friends group both carry connotations that humane treatment and pro-adoption measures will be guiding principles.

Although the gas chamber may be a safer option for feral, diseased or dangerous animals, its use “will only occur at the direction and with the authority of Dr. McCann,” according to release.

The release adds that the veterinarian “will conduct the euthanasia of animals by the process of injection,” which we favor as a more human method.

Credit the police department with moving swiftly toward a solution that minimizes use of the gas chamber and emphasizes humane treatment, adoption and returning lost pets to their rightful owners.

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