Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: A better way on stray dogs, cats

Hillsborough County is poised to take a step this week that could help find loving homes for thousands of dogs and cats. A package that goes to county commissioners Wednesday would retool the Animal Services Department to bring a new sense of energy and focus. The measure also includes a forward-looking experiment to sterilize a small number of free-roaming cats and return them to their habitats. It's a good package, and commissioners should embrace it.

The 60-point plan brought together by a county task force is a humane, balanced strategy for making the 20,000 dogs and cats taken in at the shelter every year healthier and more suitable for adoption. The department will expand its hours and the use of online and social media tools to better market the dogs and cats, and it will expand programs for volunteers to improve the health and temperament of animals who are available for placement.

One controversial element calls for sterilizing up to 2,000 stray cats brought to the shelter every year and returning them to where they were found. Critics say the move would create public health risks and a danger to the bird population. But those fears sound overblown. These same cats are already roaming freely; the county would not be adding to their numbers. Only healthy cats would be eligible, and all would be vaccinated before release. Over time, reduced litters should help curb the stray population, estimated at 200,000.

Animal Services has been one of the county's success stories in recent years — adopting out more animals, driving down its kill rate and aggressively targeting cases of abuse and neglect. The new approach that director Ian Hallett has outlined will keep the momentum going and help curb the 80 percent kill rate for the 10,500 cats taken in every year. Only a more robust community plan and further outreach on responsible pet ownership will significantly cut the stray cat population. But this measure is something the department can build on, and it calls attention to the need for a comprehensive, sustained and humane approach in dealing with domesticated animals.

Comments
Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

A substitute teacher at a Plant City elementary school berated a class of fourth graders — and then the school principal. Another compared a student to a stripper. Others were caught napping, hitting children, making sexual remarks, giving students b...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

For the longest time, injured workers in Florida were basically at the mercy of the whims of employers to treat them fairly. A 2003 law aimed at reducing the cost of workers’ compensation coverage for businesses had the desired impact, but it also di...
Published: 01/16/18

Another voice: Why just Florida?

Cynicism has always been a part of politics, but rarely are politicians so brazen and self-serving as President Donald Trump and his interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, have been over the past week. First they announced a new offshore drilling plan that ...
Published: 01/16/18
Editorial: King’s legacy still relevant in digital age

Editorial: King’s legacy still relevant in digital age

Today’s holiday honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. couldn’t be more timely. At a moment when the nation’s civic dialogue is choking on personal and political division, it is hard to remember an earlier time when role models were role m...
Published: 01/15/18

Another voice: 38 minutes of fear in Hawaii

In 1938, Orson Welles panicked the nation with a false alarm about a Martian invasion in the radio broadcast The War of the Worlds. That was farfetched, of course. But what happened on Saturday, sadly, was not so hard to imagine — or believe.Authorit...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Editorial: Florida’s chance to make it easier to restore civil rights

Editorial: Florida’s chance to make it easier to restore civil rights

As it has for decades, Florida stubbornly clings to an inhumane, inefficient and indefensible system of justice that permanently sentences more than 1.5 million residents to second-class citizenship. This state automatically revokes the right to vote...
Published: 01/13/18
Editorial: Speak out against Trump’s vulgar remarks

Editorial: Speak out against Trump’s vulgar remarks

President Donald Trump’s vulgar outbursts during a White House meeting on immigration are racist and indefensible no matter how he parses them. They are not presidential, they undermine U.S. foreign relations and they do not reflect America’s values....
Published: 01/12/18

Editorial: Pinellas commission stands up for accountability

The Pinellas County Commission has gotten the message that it should not be a rubber stamp. Commissioners sent a clear signal this week they will demand more accountability of local agencies by refusing to approve nominees for the board for CareerSou...
Published: 01/11/18
Updated: 01/12/18

Editorial: Progress on Tampa Bay graduation rates

Tampa Bay’s four school districts all reached a significant milestone last school year: achieving graduation rates over 80 percent. It’s believed to be the first time Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco and Hernando counties all surpassed that threshold, a...
Published: 01/11/18
Updated: 01/12/18

Take deal; build wall

President Donald Trump says he is optimistic a deal can be struck to shield "Dreamers," the young undocumented immigrants whose lives he put in jeopardy by stripping them of work permits and deportation protection, beginning March 5. His price, and t...
Published: 01/10/18
Updated: 01/11/18