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According to the American Pet Products Association, 68 percent of American households in 2016 had some sort of pet. The most recent U.S. Census estimate, dated 2018, indicates there were 6,283 people living in Luce County. This means there are potentially 4,272 pets in Luce County. And since some households have more than one pet – ours has three – it could actually be much higher than that.

Where we got those pets is anyone’s guess because there is currently no pet store or animal shelter in the county.

There are dog breeders, and some accidental litters, for sure. But there is no place for pet owners to relinquish animals, or for family members to send grandma’s three cats when she gets moved into a nursing home. We do our best to privately rehome animals that will otherwise hit the streets, or worse. Hasn’t every pet owner been begged, at some point or another, to take in just one more animal?

It doesn’t always work. Homeless animals do roam our streets. I know one man who feeds and cares for 16 stray cats in Newberry. Some are too wild to be pets, but he finds homes for others. And he has a completely unrelated day job.

That’s the best thing about this situation – we do care for animals. We want them to be safe, warm, and healthy. We open our homes up as much as we can, but we do need an animal shelter.

A new shelter has actually been built and is completely ready to operate. Pet Pals has been fund-raising for ages and have constructed a building east of the prison. It’s got everything except operational funds and staff. Luce County may operate the shelter one day soon, but the funds will likely need to come from us, the taxpayers.
Obviously, there are other urgent needs in the area. The Tahquamenon Area Schools buildings have been in disrepair long enough that some fear they’ll be condemned within years. Taxpayers have been asked to shell out for that, too, but so far a majority have declined.

It’s not this or that, it’s this AND that. We need to fix the school and we need an animal shelter.

Fortunately, the animal shelter situation appears to be less complex than the school and it’s certainly less expensive. The building is already standing, and it’s paid for. A portion of a mill, or potentially up to one mill, would be all it takes to operate it. It could mean as little as $10 extra dollars in taxes per year.

The existence of a local animal shelter will be very helpful for people who need to give up a pet, or who want to adopt one. And it’ll make a world of difference for each animal whose life is saved. If a vote for Pet Pals comes up, let’s support it.