Adopt a Solution

Options for the future of the Island’s animal shelter will be presented next week to the all-Island selectmen and to Dukes County officials. A dedicated group of animal control officers, selectmen and their representatives, veterinarians and others have been studying costs and different scenarios for the shelter since the MSPCA revealed they would cease operations here as of May 1.

The chief of the MSPCA met with Islanders last week. Along with belated responses to questions about how the Vineyard animal shelter got to the point of overwhelming deficit and sudden closure, Carter Luke promised that Vineyard animal advocates will have future use of the building that has housed the animals since shelter founder Katharine Foote left it to the MSPCA in her will decades ago.

Mr. Luke was frustratingly vague, particularly on the duration of this promised lease, but in general terms he promised the building, cages and good lease terms to future organizers of the animal home. It’s positive news, but a building does not a shelter make.

Now Island animal lovers’ efforts must gel into a plan to tackle this complex responsibility. The group so far has been exploring a shelter run and supported either by volunteers, by Dukes County, or by the county with town support. All options have been examined, even the idea of having no Island shelter at all. The Island committee has suggested collaboration with animal protection groups on the mainland. Promoting donations is central to their efforts.

The MSPCA’s exit comes in trying economic times, and there may be a temptation for elected officials to duck-shove the bills and the responsibility for this. But our public officials should listen carefully to this group’s conclusions, question them carefully and work assiduously to agree on a plan that can be widely supported by the community.