My first piece of legislation finally passed out of committee today, My second piece of legislation has already been enacted. This particular legislation is to do away with euthanasia by gas chamber in favor of lethal injection of animals.
There was no controversy in Council when this first came up. I think most all of Council has signed on as a co-sponsor. All the opposition came from the Mayor’s Office. That office is worried about the budget year. Because there were so many animal control ordinances put forward, the Chairman of the Public Safety Committee created a subcommittee on animal control to consider the legislation.
During the subcommittee investigation, the head of Animal Control said he needed about $150,000.00 to get lethal injection up and running. Curiously, on his inventory list he said he would need stethoscopes. Rabbi Schlesinger, on the subcommittee, asked why they did not have them already. Animal Control is required to check each animal before disposal.
The head of Animal Control admitted that Animal Control in Macon does not do that. He said they pile all the animals in the pin together, lower them into the gas chamber, and then raise them up. They make a visual inspection to see if any of the animals are alive. They then leave the animals for a dump truck that carries them off to the landfill.
The animals are not sedated. It is not uncommon for animals in such a situation to tear each other apart in a panic.
One of the ladies from the Humane Society told how on several occasions animals that had been euthanized had been recovered from the land fill still alive.
Over the course of several meetings, the head of Animal Control lowered his initial cost estimate to roughly $50,000.00. To address the Mayor’s concerns about putting this into the already tight 2009 budget, the subcommittee recommended that this legislation not go into effect until July 1, 2009. That would give more than a year to prepare for the transition.
Today, the legislation finally made it back to committee. The Mayor’s Office informed the committee that, while the Mayor views animal control as a priority, he will veto the legislation. The Chief of Police chimed in and said that if the legislation passes and there is no funding in one year he will shut down the pound.
The City Attorney chimed in and said — get this — that passing this legislation was committing future revenue to future events. He made it sound like this is highly unusual. Last week the City Council voted to spend $2 million over several years beginning in 2010. It seems to me all the committee was doing was stating that the method of euthanizing animals must change. Sure there will be budget concerns, but that is no different from any other legislation.
In the end, the committee voted 4-1 in favor of the ordinance. Yet again, Larry Schlesinger and Tom Ellington were the grown-ups, both speaking in favor of the ordinance. Those two always have this annoying habit of saying more in one sentence than I can say in a paragraph. Ha!
It’s amazing to me that the Mayor could find $15,000.00 to move a model of a boat to City Hall, but given one year and one month and a full time grant writer he does not think this self-proclaimed priority of his is worth signing into law.
This is not an issue I ever cared about until people in the community raised the concern. As Rabbi Schlesinger said, the community really does want this. And I believe I have the votes to override the veto.