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Belle Plaine neeeds pet policy

August 2, 2011
Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald
Letter to the Editor:

General Respect and Compassion in Belle Plaine

...Beauty without Vanity

Strength without Insolence

Courage without Ferocity

And all the Virtues of Man

Without his Vices.

That is how Lord Byron started his epitaph to his beloved dog, Boatswain, and I believe it fits all precious animals - cats, dogs, horses, mules and more.

Some of us have a problem with animals being put down here in Belle Plaine for being lost of living as strays. They are taken by the police to Countryside Vet Clinic and kept for seven days, then destroyed if not claimed. One problem is that the police are not required to turn in a report every night and some people don’t know where to look (especially new people in town or people who have not had the experience before). Written notice of such events doesn’t show up in the newspaper for up to two weeks, too late under the above time line. Another problem is the adoption fees, which are typically about the double the adopting animals elsewhere.

I thought that it would be simpler and less expensive to have the officer transporting such animals snap a picture through the cage bars and have one of the clerks in City Hall print out a poster to be put up in public places in order to locate existing owners or new owners, in the case of the homeless. It seems like it would save on boarding and euthanizing fees for animals that are salvageable, not to mention the humane act of saving the precious lives of these animals. After all, I believe that the police already have a camera that they use to document nuisances, and the City Hall the equipment for making photocopies.

I was really surprised at the City Council’s reaction. One council member said he has a $2,000 fence, another that his dogs had never gotten out, and a third that he didn’t think that the dog that bit his wife would smile for the camera.


Before this matter came up in the council meeting, we observed the problems encountered by a young family with little children having water problems at their house. It was pretty sad, and we were puzzled by the smile on the City Attorney’s face until we saw plainly that she was texting under the table. This is how seriously we, the people of Belle Plaine, are taken.

People who trap cats to be picked up by the police should be aware that the odds are that these animals will be put down. There is, of course, a need to control the cat population, but sometimes we humans upset the balance of nature by trying too hard to “improve” it. Tinkering with the balance of nature may result in more gardens being eaten by rabbits and homes having more problems with rodents.

I don’t know the ideal answer, but expected the City Council to have some better ideas and perhaps support our idea that has practical aspects. When faced with a problem, their first reaction is to tell an anecdote of something that has happened in their own family.

That may sometimes contribute to a solution, but cannot be the only source for solving a problem. One member did have a suggestion about starting a non-profit organization, which we are looking into, but which takes time. In the meantime, what we are seeking is some general respect and compassion.

Jean Vopalka

Belle Plaine


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