Cats and dogs are loyal companions for many Homer residents. They accompany us on long trips, greet us as we return home from them, or nestle up with us in our homes during cold winters. However, pet owners need to be responsible for their animals, providing for them and serving the animal’s needs.
Homer’s Lend-A-Leash program attempts to help owners protect and connect with their animals throughout the public spaces in our town by providing leashes for owners to borrow. The City of Homer, Homer Animal Friends, and Alaska Mindful Paws of the Homer Animal Shelter created the program.
According to Mike Illg, Homer’s Community Recreation Manager, the program is a “proactive way to encourage the community to be better dog-owners.”
Lend-A-Leash makes “leashes readily available to borrow if you do not have one to use,” as stated on the City of Homer website. Lend-A-Leash stations are maintained at popular dog-walking locations across Homer, such as Mariner Park and the Poopdeck Trails.
According to Homer city code, all animals must be kept under control by their owners at all times in public spaces, whether by voice command or leash.
Without the use of a leash, conflicts can and do arise, which may lead to injured dogs or people.
Jillian Rodgers, the City of Homer’s Director of the Homer Animal Shelter, entirely directs her efforts towards protecting animals. Concerning the Lend-A-Leash program she said, “It’s working, but there’s still a long way to go.”
“If someone needs a leash, just take it,” she added, although returning the leash is preferable. “Dogs have to be under control.”
Further, she said that her “bottom-line” is “what’s in the best interest of the animal.” Rodgers believes this program can help pets.
With the Lend-A-Leash program, the idea is “education over enforcement,” said Rodgers. Understanding of the uses of leashing where there is activity, especially parking lots, will help the community avoid harm to animals.
Rodgers advises anyone who witnesses or is harmed by animal conflict to call the Homer Animal Shelter as quickly as possible. Contacting the shelter immediately allows Rodgers and her crew to contact the pet-owners in order to educate, provide resources, or relocate the animal, if necessary.
Rodgers said the objective is to keep animals in their homes and the Homer Animal Shelter has no intention of taking citizens’ pets, but that ultimately the well being of the animal is essential, and the Homer Animal Shelter will not hesitate to do whatever necessary to provide well being, with the Homer Police Department supporting animal wellness efforts, she said.
Using the Lend-A-Leash stations is a crucial first step to protecting animals and helping our community become a prosperous place for pets and owners. However, more can always be done to help the animals of our community.
Rodgers hopes that community members will contact the Homer Animal Shelter with any concerns or questions about pet ownership. The shelter has many resources and a great staff, and wants to help anyone who owns pets as much as they possibly can.
However, with calls coming in everyday from pet owners who no longer can care for their animals, the shelter is full and continuing to become overwhelmed. While the staff is resilient, and resources outside of Homer do exist and can be used, community donations to the Homer Animal Shelter (Alaska Mindful Paws) or other nonprofits are always beneficial. These donations help acquire things like cat food or litter which depletes quickly with such a huge population being cared for.
Moreover, vaccinating pets against rabies and licensing them within the city are both required by city code and helps the community protect animals. Spaying and neutering pets also helps to prevent procreation of an overwhelming amount of animals which practically cannot all be cared for properly.
The Homer Animal Shelter will assist with any questions concerning these issues.
Despite the difficulties of the animal situation in our town and nationwide, the Homer Animal Shelter is resolute in their mission of protecting animals. With one phone call the shelter is ready to provide direction or resources to pet owners.
“I want to help,” said Rodgers.
The Homer Animal Shelter and Animal Control can be reached at 907-235-3141 and is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m, Monday through Friday, as well as 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the weekends. For any conflict which needs to be reported when the shelter is closed, the non-emergency phone number for the Homer Police Department is 907-235-3150.
For more information or to donate, the Alaska Mindful Paws Homer Animal Shelter website can be found at https://www.alaskamindfulpaws.org/