The Humane Thing To Do

Posted: August 7, 2008 in Bureauacracy, Compassion, Government, Homeless Shelters, Homelessness, Politics, Stupidity

Well, Geez-o-pete!

I am really close to handing out another SLO Homeless Stuck On Stupid Award; this one to my own county.  

Yesterday I was going through the news feeds I get and came across an article, County supervisors want people to apply for task force that will help solve problems at animal shelter, in the SLO Tribune. It was about SLO County’s animal shelter. Of course, it caught my eye because of the word "shelter."

It was a small article, but as I read through it, and began to follow a thread of links beginning with one which pointed to the county’s report about an animal shelter task force, I had to shake my head in disgust. Here’s why.

In 2007, the SLO County Sheriff’s Department contacted something called the Animal Services Division by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). This is just one of what seems, like a never ending list of federal bureaucratic and "watch dog" agencies designed to monitor one thing or another – in this case, this agency monitors the way animals shelters operate.

Well, it turns out that the HSUS report – which is 205 pages long and which I took the time to read – had quite a number of "recommendations" of things which needed improvements at SLO County’s animal shelter.

Then I came to the last sentence of the news article,

"Animal Services has a budget of $2.3 million and a staff of 21."

Now, don’t get me wrong. I have no qualms with the fact that any animal at that facility be treated as humanely as possible. In fact, I’m a staunch advocate regarding the humane treatment of animals. However, I find it a bit disturbing that local animal services have a annual budget which is larger than the local homeless shelter does. Additionally, it has a larger staff.

And that started me thinking about the word "humane."

The dictionary defines the word humane like this:

Humane (a)

  1. Pertaining to or concerned with the humanities
  2. Marked or motivated by concern with the alleviation of suffering
  3. Showing evidence of moral and intellectual advancement

So how is it, that the SLO County Sheriff’s Department took the initiative to contact HSUS, and that according the news article,

"County supervisors Tuesday threw their weight behind a 7-member task of unbiased people who can work with others to solve the problems at the county’s animal shelter, and urged county residents to apply."

Yet, there doesn’t seem to be anyone who is "throwing their weight" to push for a "… 7-member task of unbiased people who can work with others to solve the problem" of homelessness in our county?

How is it that county officials seems so concerned about the animals at the animal services facility, but no one seems to care about the homeless men, women and children of this county? If they did genuinely care about the homeless in the area, wouldn’t they have already done something humane to alleviate the suffering of people who call the streets home? If they cared, wouldn’t they have done everything they could to increase funding to homeless support services for the implementation of programs and services that might facilitate the ability for the homeless to get off the streets?

To be sure, the SLO County Board of Supervisors is getting ready to implement a 10 year plan to end homelessness, but that plan will target only the chronically homeless – which is the smallest segment of the local homeless population – and does nothing to address homeless altogether. Moreover, there are no plans to expand existing services. Consequently, those who are at the highest risk – homeless children – will still be left out in the cold.

It seems to me that if this county’s elected officials genuinely wanted to find true remedial solutions to reduce the numbers of homeless, they would have already done so. All of their talk about ending homelessness is just that: talk.

It’s time the put their money where their mouths are at. If not, they should have the moral courage to step down from their positions and make way for those who are willing to do what it takes to help alleviate the human suffering of our community’s homeless.

Wouldn’t that be the "humane" thing to do.

  1. Cynthia Eastman says:

    Please contact me. I live in SLO & would like to be involved in the solution.

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