Daniel Suddeath

Daniel Suddeath

Some of the finest folks in Floyd County work at our animal shelter.

It’s a downright thankless job, and there are heartbreaking stories about how animals are mistreated and abandoned. But the New Albany-Floyd County Animal Shelter has saved thousands of furry friends through the work of its paid employees and volunteers.

I’ve been adopted by two cats, both strays, during my time in New Albany. The first, Daisy Lane, is a bit of a pretentious tortoiseshell. The second, Matilda, is a red and white tabby who showed up a few years later when she decided to birth her kittens under the porch of an abandoned house next door to my place.

Long story made short, the neighbors who said they were taking care of Matilda moved. She and the kittens remained. It turned bitterly cold a few weeks later, and the feline family decided to take up residence in the crawl space under my duplex.

With the help of a friend we found homes for the kittens. Mom still prowled around the neighborhood, skinny and exposed to the elements. At the least, I didn’t want her to have another litter.

This may surprise you, but a journalist living by himself doesn’t have a lot of disposable income. I couldn’t afford to get her spayed, so I called the shelter director, David Hall.

I had no intention of keeping Matilda, I explained to David. I asked if the shelter had programs for spaying alley cats, and he said a nonprofit partner helped with such situations. The only catch was I had to provide a safe place for her to heal for a few days after the surgery.

After her recovery time had lapsed, I opened up the kitchen door and let her out. I expected that she would dash away after being held captive, and that I might see her on occasion moving forward. About 20 minutes later I opened the back door and she sprinted and pounced on my porch and ran right past me into my home. Daisy Lane begrudgingly approved, and I decided to keep her.

David called me a few days later to ask how it went. I explained I had decided to let her stay. He laughed and said “Yes. I thought that might happen.”

I don’t really care if you love animals or not, but funding shelters is about what stance we take on helping the vulnerable. The Floyd County and New Albany governing bodies have twisted a simple issue for too long. Both entities have plenty of cash to fund the operation without this annual song-and-dance approach that takes place.

Neither side has lived up to the joint agreement. The county hasn’t funded the department accurately based on the approved budget. The city hasn’t met with the county to approve that budget, which was a cost of about $375,000 for each entity in 2020.

Floyd County doesn’t even use taxpayer money to fund the animal shelter. Instead, it has footed its portion in recent years with gambling proceeds from riverboat funds. And while New Albany officials haven’t griped about the cost, they’ve been less than stellar about acknowledging the fact that the agreement is outdated and should be scrapped.

Floyd County officials need to also be truthful in that for years, its governing bodies haven’t exactly been the best partners when it comes to living up to contracts. That’s why we have two parks departments. That’s why a unified government is a pipe dream.

New Albany Mayor Jeff Gahan and the city council should hold a joint meeting with the Floyd County Council and Floyd County Commissioners and iron out a new agreement. Floyd County leaders should commit to funding the shelter appropriately.

A new agreement should include commitments as to exactly what funding source each entity will use to pay its share. The county method of waiting until budget time, looking at what’s available in the riverboat account and then throwing a number out isn’t good management.

This issue has remain unsolved for too long, and it’s an easy fix. But it will take some concessions and the realization that neither political parties or county versus city politics will resolve the problem.

If nothing else, do it for the animals.

Suddeath is the editor of the News and Tribune. He can be reached at 812-206-2130, or by email at daniel.suddeath@newsandtribune.com.

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