Mayor signs contract, ends Harrisburg's animal control crisis...we hope

Mission accomplished for animals in the Capital city?

Frankly, given all the fits and starts, misinformation and excuses from both sides, I am reluctant to share news reports that Harrisburg's animal control contract is signed, sealed and delivered.

After more than three months without contract, Mayor Linda Thompson signed the animal control contract with the Humane Society of the Harrisburg Area, according to the Patriot-News of Harrisburg.

The humane society says everything is good to go and all it was waiting for was Thompson's signature to begin taking animals again.

Nevetheless, late last week a sticking point cropped up over a $250 contract fee charged by the humane society. A local realtor and City Councilman Brad Koplinski volunteered to write a check if it would resolved the dispute.

But in the end Thompson inked the paper.

So, unless there's another snafu - which is not out of the question - Harrisburg strays will again have a place to go.

It's not to say they had no defenders in the interim.

During the time the two sides were locked in a dispute over the city's debt from last year and terms of the new contract, the Central Pennsylvania Animal Alliance, an all-volunteer group, stepped in to protect the animals.

At last count, rescuers picked up a total of 17 dogs, provided vet care - some of it very expensive - and farmed the dogs out to fosters and rescue groups. Three dogs required behavior assessment and none was claimed by an owner.

Two of the last dogs taken in deserve mention. One Boxer/pitbull mix suffering from burns on his body - clearly an abuse victim - is getting veterinary care thanks to the group.

The second dog, a female pitbull, was finally caught in a trap after three years of roaming the streets - yes, three years.

CPAA president Zella Anderson said people had been feeding her in different spots but had been unable to catch her. Finally last week they lured her into a trap and whisked her to the vet, where they found out a few things: one, she was micropchipped with a Georgia phone number that was disconnected and two, all she wanted - after three years on the streets - was love. Anderson reports she put her head on a volunteer's lap on the way home from the vet.

We hope the mystery girl from the South finds a very happy home soon.

The CPAA deserves accolades and donations for its humane work during a time when life on the streets of Harrisburg for unwanted animals was made worse by an unnecessary contract dispute.

The CPAA, a coalition of rescue groups in the Harrisburg area, is a model of animal welfare activity. They hold a stream of fundraisers for their successful ventures such as "De-Sex in the City," a free and low cost spay/neuter/vaccination program and Hounds of Prison Education (HOPE), a pups-in-prison program that matches inmates with problem shelter dogs to prepare them for adoption.

We hope the city doesn't let this terrible situation happen again, but Harrisburg residents should be grateful that CPAA was there to help them.

There's so much more that could be done to improve the lives of city animals and ensure there will always be a place to take them.

Very few residents license their dogs, which has led to a shortage of revenue that could help pay shelter bills. The CPAA suggests it could partner with the city to do a spay/neuter day and check for licenses among those who participate.

Anderson points to a fund in Pittsburgh that with an extra dollar tacked on to licenses, raised enough money to build a new shelter.