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NEW FEATURE: Sunday feedback: Humane Society funding request hasn't been justified

1:50 PM, Feb. 6, 2013  |  Comments
Olivia Zimmerman, an employee at the Humane Society of Marathon County, interacts Tuesday, May 31, 2011, with a dog at the shelter in Wausau. (Karina Gonzalez/Wausau Daily Herald)
Olivia Zimmerman, an employee at the Humane Society of Marathon County, interacts Tuesday, May 31, 2011, with a dog at the shelter in Wausau. (Karina Gonzalez/Wausau Daily Herald)
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Each Wednesday afternoon, we post online a draft version of the next Sunday's editorial. We want to know what you think of it! Leave us your feedback in this story's, on our Facebook page, via Twitter by tweeting to @WDHOpinions or by emailing opinion@wdhprint.com.

We'll incorporate your feedback into the final version of the editorial, and we'll publish selections of the responses we get on Sunday. Share your thoughts by the end of the day Thursday for consideration.

Find the draft of our Sunday editorial below. We'll look forward to reading your reactions.

Humane Society hasn't justified funding request

The Humane Society of Marathon County has requested an additional $168,000 in county funding to continue to deal with the region's stray animals.

The Humane Society provides a vital service, and one that no other local institution does. We need the Humane Society to be successful and healthy.

But a $168,000 increase? Its total funding from the county last year was $132,000. The agency is asking for an increase of more than 127 percent in one fell swoop.

In the absence of very specific information about new initiatives, and outside of a detailed plan to address the county's underlying animal control issues, that request seems impossible to justify.

If Marathon County has a problem with strays - and we agree that it does - then let's address the problem of stray animals. If the problem is that pet owners don't pay required licensing fees, then let's devise ways to get more of them to pay.

Simply increasing the organization's county budget doesn't move us forward in addressing the underlying problems. It doesn't reverse existing trends. Policymakers should be looking toward solutions to the underlying problems.

The test for any increased public funding cannot be whether or not the organization does good work. (The city of Wausau learned the complications this can create in December, when it granted a no-strings-attached $25,000 to the Boys & Girls Club of the Wausau Area, leading to accusations of favoritism and inconsistency.) Government needs to be more hard-headed than that.

We are open to the proposition that the Humane Society needs more funding. But the public hasn't been provided with nearly enough information to justify its $168,000 request.

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