Time for AC at the shelter
An editorial on June 30 supported providing air conditioning to Wallingford’s animal shelter. This was far from a controversial position. In fact, since the issue came up in the middle of the night during a Town Council meeting there has been general support for AC at the kennels. It became a political issue during a June heat wave, with Republican incumbent Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. drawing criticism.
That it became a matter of politics in the way that it did was unfortunate, because dogs and cats do not get to vote. Dickinson said he would await the recommendation of the new animal control officer.
That recommendation was made in August, and the Record-Journal obtained the reports recently through a Freedom of Information Act request. The details were reported by the R-J Thursday.
Mitch Gibbs, the animal control officer, has recommended that the town install air conditioning, at an estimated cost of $20,000, to keep animals safe. The recommendation should not come as a surprise.
“Keeping the ambient (kennel) air temperature below 80 degrees allows for the dogs to exhibit more natural behaviors and reduces the risk of dogs exhibiting signs of ‘kennel stress,’ which can pose potential risks to the staff as well,” wrote Gibbs in an Aug. 10 letter. Monitoring during 25 days in July and August showed temperatures went higher than 80 degrees Fahrenheit 11 times and reached 79 degrees four times.
Kennel stress, as Gibbs wrote, can “lead to more significant negative behaviors” which can make dogs more aggressive. “This poses significant risk to employees and the general public,” wrote Gibbs.
Wallingford’s Town Council controls the animal control shelter trust fund. The Town Charter gives control over administering the funds to the mayor. A spending authorization was unanimously approved by the council in August.
What should happen next is straightforward. The recommendation has been made and the mayor should follow through. It’s simply the right thing to do.