The most positive animal welfare improvement in Columbia-Boone County history

COLUMBIA, Mo 11/14/13 (Beat Byte) --  A ballot initiative to build and maintain a Columbia-area animal shelter may soon appear before area voters. 

Since nearby Jefferson City opened a $2 million, 10,000 sq. ft. city-operated animal shelter last year, local animal advocates have been asking why Columbia and Boone County continue to rely on the poorly-funded, private Central Missouri Humane Society (CMHS) to shelter, feed, and care for unwanted and stray dogs and cats.  

Animal control and welfare is a duty city and county governments traditionally handle.   Local humane societies help, but -- unlike CMHS -- are rarely asked to bear the burden alone.  

The ballot initiative, which proponent Ann Peters said "came forward from the visioning process on companion animal welfare," would replace the humane society's role as
primary animal caretaker.   Supporters say it would be the most positive pet welfare improvement in Columbia and Boone County history. 

Voters would be asked to amend Chapter 5 of the City of Columbia code by authorizing the city to "build and maintain a municipal companion animal shelter for the humane care of sick, injured, diseased, abandoned, relinquished or impounded animals." 

The new she
lter would emphasize adoption over euthanasia, and answer to a 9-member governing board appointed by the Columbia City Council.   

Five years ago, the Columbia Heart Beat broke a story that CMHS was failing financially and in imminent danger of shutting its doors.  A series of Heart Beat stories and interviews about the Society's troubles followed, setting off an avalanche of concern and assistance.  

Two teenagers, Amanda Huhman and Libby Burks, rallied the community to convince ZooToo, a non-profit animal welfare group, to donate money toward desperately-needed shelter renovations.   But the problem of space and adequate facilities has never gone away, and ballot initiative supporters hope the time has finally come for Columbia to have a proper, fully-funded shelter.  

"I do think it's up to the city and county to come together on this with adequate funding," Northern District Boone County Commissioner Skip Elkin told Morning Meeting radio show listeners in October 2008.   "I also think we should build a new animal control facility.  It's basically an issue of public health and it's long overdue."