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Glenn Eckhart to state: "Gimme shelter!"

The animals have a strong supporter in County Commissioner Glenn Eckhart. Read about it below. Better yet, get involved in a delicious way. Louie’s Restaurant on 31st Street in Allentown has teamed up with Peaceable Kingdom for a great fundraiser. From Jan. 24 through Jan. 28, Louie B. is donating 20% of your check (excluding alcohol, tax and tips) to Peaceable Kingdom “to help save puppy mill rescues and homeless cats.” You need the flyer to participate but Louie indicated that if you identify that you heard about this on the news, he’ll honor the donation. So, print this page, take it to Louie’s, identify yourself as a supporter of PK, eat far too much Italian food at reasonable prices and help the animals!!! It applies to lunch, dinner and take-out so party down! Pass this on to other pet lovers. I am a person supporter of PK and I love the food at Louie’s so I am not suggesting anything I would not do myself.

Back to the story:
Surrounded by a dozen or more of the four-footed friends he is striving to help, Lehigh County Commissioner Glenn Eckhart held a news conference on Jan. 23 to announce the introduction of a resolution aimed at ensuring that there is “a competitive alternative to the Lehigh County Humane Society.” Eckhart made the announcement in the Whitehall Township home of Peaceable Kingdom. Since Peaceable Kingdom uses the cages in the cat room to store cat blankets and such, the press conference was complete with cats chewing on tripods and bag straps. You note that difference between PK and LCHS immediately. The cats have the run of their room and you can see how much they enjoy the freedom. One looked so much like my Dulcinea, herself a PK cat, that I thought she followed me there.
Eckhart was the one who started the attack on LCHS last year. As Eckhart explained, early last year, the Lehigh County Board of Commissioners considered a routine resolution to provide matching funds in the amount of $22,500 to the Lehigh County Humane Society, a non-profit agency that is not associated directly with the county. Passage seemed likely with the only issue being Eckhart’s request that the contract for animal control services contain language concerning painless euthanasia.
When the bill returned at the next meeting for final passage, Commissioner Dean Browning expressed alarm at a nearly $2 million “rainy day reserve” at LCHS. Gloria Hamm provided bi-partisan opposition when she expressed concern over the lack of transparency by LCHS as to the disposition of the several thousand animals they take in each year.
 LCHS continues to refuse to say how many thousands of animals they kill in a year. They even refuse to respond to requests from townships that contracted with them to make an accounting of strays that were picked up. Lynn Township supervisor David Najarian has filed an open records request noting that LCHS is performing a government function. LCHS has refused to comply and claims it is private. Najarian, a legal bulldog when you tell him no, is pursuing the appeal. 
Last year, the county funding was denied. “We decided it wasn’t in the interest of Lehigh County to be funding animal control,” Eckhart explained. There is little doubt that if LCHS would be honest about the number of animals destroyed that private contributions would dry up. I again ask anyone who loves animals to contribute somewhere else until LCHS makes its records transparent.
There are many worthy shelters, perhaps none more so than PK which jumped in with both feet when Eckhart and others looked for an alternative to LCHS.
With LCHS trying to make up its lost funding and then some, PK was able to secure contracts for animal care services with 10 municipalities and has one or two more pending, giving it a large geographic footprint in the county. In a departure from LCHS practice, PK only charges the municipalities for stray dogs.
Feral cats are taken in under a trap, neuter and return program where they are released back into the wild. Jones explains that the cats are much less likely to roam at that point as they are no longer “looking for action.”
The efforts of PK were dealt a setback in December when the state denied their application to be certified as an animal shelter which could take in strays. As a result, PK would need to contact the dog warden to take away and place any animal brought to it by law enforcement officials which could not be quickly returned to the owner.
One of the grounds mentioned by the Department of Agriculture in denying PK’s application was the presence of another shelter, the LCHS, in the county. For Eckhart, the monopoly is whay he is trying to avoid as he exclaimed “It is important in Lehigh County to have competition.”
As a result, Eckhart drafted the resolution as a way of “asking the state to reconsider Peaceable Kingdom as an animal control shelter.”  
“This is not just for Peaceable Kingdom,” Eckhart said. “It is the fact that there is competition.”
“Peaceable Kingdom is the only alternative that will step up and provide animal control services,” Eckhart noted. Although noting “it is always nice when people think nice of you,” Jones also called for an effort beyond PK at the press conference. She said the state’s animal control law “is starting to fray and decay.”
The PK executive director wants reform in the animal control law similar to the recent reforms concerning puppy mills. PK received and placed several dogs after recent seizures from breeders.
Ironically, the success of PK in finding foster and permanent homes for dogs worked against it in the application with the state. The state’s denial letter noted the small number of dogs on hand each time they inspected and questioned if PK could handle higher volume.
Last year, PK found homes for over 1,000 animals and another 1,500 were handled under the TNR program for cats.
Jones noted that “as the human population increased, so did the animal population.” She declared “There is a need for more than one shelter.”
Jones also noted that PK is continuing to look for a suitable permanent home. She continued to lobby Eckhart for use of the former juvenile detention facility in South Whitehall Township. If it was up to Glenn, he’d make the space available. Maybe County Executive Don Cunningham, who has been so kind to Pip the Mouse would step up and provide space for the cats and dogs of the county. Heck, with all the extra space available in the courthouse they could let PK relocate there. C’mon Don, what better use for that Juvenile Detention Facility? What better way to serve the animal lovers in our county? 
In a perfect world, the customers of LCHS, the remaining cities and townships, would be the ones looking for a larger permanent home for PK, a non-profit where even the workers are not seeking to profit. Animal control by those who care for animals is the most humane way to go. The PK model will work and can work on a larger scale if the funds and facilities are made available. 


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