We made a little bit of a mess last week, and feel obliged to tidy it up.
While reporting on the county Board of Commissioners retreat, we highlighted a comment by Commissioner David Edge that, while accurate, was easily taken out of context. The result has been that Edge has come under attack by what we consider the most determined of advocates, people who love animals and work tirelessly to ensure they do not suffer needlessly at the hands of humans.
Edge was elected as a county commissioner at least partly on his reputation as a businessman and his campaign as a fiscal conservative, someone who could find fat in the budget and trim it away to save taxpayers their dollars. That was at the front of his brain as he questioned a state law that requires the purchase of temperature control gauges to be placed on Animal Control vehicles so that when animals are transported, the climate is no cooler than 50 degrees and no warmer than 85 degrees.
Edge correctly pointed out that school buses don’t have climate control — and that children are transported to and from school throughout the year in temperatures that don’t comfortably fall within the 50-to-85 degree range. His question was one of priorities, asking why the state would have a law ensuring comfort for dogs and cats but not children. Part of that answer has to be expense; it would likely be prohibitive because of the high number of school buses compared with relatively few Animal Control vehicles.
So his position, we believe, becomes clearer when placed in context — and perhaps even more so when part of the calculus is that he is a commissioner in a county that ranks No. 1 in the state in poverty where residents are saddled with a high property tax rate, and that he wants to make sure dollars are not wasted.
We think it’s a mistake to conclude that Edge’s comment suggests he doesn’t care about the welfare of animals, although that is clearly the conclusion some have made — no surprise given the lack of context. In fact, he tells us that he grew up in a family with pets and is a pet owner himself.
History tells us that today’s Our View will more likely put us on the hook than take Edge off of it. We’ve been there before even though this newspaper has a decade-old history of aggressively giving voice to critics of the animal pound, coverage we are confident has led to improved conditions there, a higher number of animals being spayed and neutered, and fewer by thousands of animals that have to be euthanized each year.
Animal advocates have every right to decry Edge for his comments, but that should happen only after they have a fuller understanding of what he actually said.