Washington County animal shelter
Josh Warburton and Boba the kitten at PAWS Shelter in St. George. Boba is one of 15 kittens as well as 36 adult cats currently needing adoption.

There is no Washington County Animal Shelter. Washington County doesn’t have an animal shelter. Let’s just start there.

In county of around 160,000 people, that’s a sad fact.

For many years, it’s been talked about, but unfortunately we’ve seen very little action. Earlier this year, our current county commission finally put forth a plan to get it built. Since then, there have been but a few meetings and virtually no progress. This is at least partly because they’ve not come to the table with nearly enough funds to get it done. Currently, the county has committed to an initial outlay of $200,000 $250,000 of a $1 to $2 million project.

It’s been proposed that private donations and the local municipalities kick in the rest. The problem there is that the local nonprofits currently filling the gaps in care are already maxed out and are always looking for more donations to help take care of animals in need here in the county. I’ve been told that these nonprofits fear that if they encourage donations to the proposed Washington County Animal Shelter, they may not get their own much-needed funds to continue their work. So while most of them support a Washington County Animal Shelter from a philosophical point of view, there is concern that in the short term that fundraising effort may have a negative impact on them.

Similarly, the local municipal representatives I’ve talked to are hesitant to contribute any money from their already thin budgets. This has created a virtual stalemate for the project. On a long-term basis, agreements between the county and these municipalities can likely be worked out, where by my best estimates a mere 20 percent of the municipal shelter’s budgets contributed to the county would be more than enough to sustain it. That’s in exchange for what would amount to around 50 percent of their current workload being lifted by the county. The county would have the responsibility of medical care, inoculation, quarantine, housing, training, and rehabilitation while the existing municipal shelters would convert to being nothing more than intake facilities and adoption centers.

The reason for the immense savings are twofold.

Washington County animal shelterFirst, the economics of scale help to reduce overall costs of the care and training services by putting them all in one place. These services are currently spread out among five municipal shelters, and many costs are duplicated at those facilities.

Secondly, much of the labor at the proposed county animal shelter would be voluntary inmate labor from the adjacent Purgatory Correctional Facility. This type of program, utilizing qualifying inmates, has been proven effective to reduce operational costs and give the animals plenty of time and attention to get to where they are better housemates as well as give the inmates something to care for. Currently, stray and abandoned animals here are put up for adoption almost immediately and, sadly, often are not ready to be good additions to families.

With the proposed Washington County Animal Shelter in place, there would be virtually no time limit for rehabilitation and abundant inmate hours, so the proper attention and training could be given to each animal to bring them to their best state for adoption. Similarly, these programs, now widely used throughout the United States and beyond, are one of the most effective ways of giving inmates a goal to work towards and something to care and live for and helping them become productive citizens once released back into general population.

In summary, as a Washington County Commissioner, I plan to help bridge the gap in the current plan that is keeping this program from moving along by uniting private donors, calling on the municipals to step up, and — just as importantly — work at the county level to find the appropriate funds in the existing budget to get this much-needed Washington County Animal Shelter built.

Absentee and mail-in voting has now begun in many areas of Washington County. Click here to find your voting location and whether or not you vote by mail in your area. Early voting begins on Oct. 25, and Election Day is Nov. 8. Please support me by voting for me to be your next Washington County Commissioner, and let’s get this animal shelter built.

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  1. Congratulations you have used the oldest trick in the book to try and get votes. The use of babies and animals by candidates to make themselves look more caring and trust worthy has been around for ever. I still don’t think you would be a wise choice for a elected position. After my dealings with you I don’t think you have the intestinal fortitude and integrity to do the job of representing others. Just my opinion.

  2. David, you are out of touch with a real problem in this county. From your comment you are obviously unaware there is no animal control or shelter in the unincorporated areas of the county. The City Shelters do not intake animals from these areas and the Sheriffs department doesn’t have the manpower, desire or place to house them. Sooo David, these animals are at large, traffic hazards on our highways, they are packing, hungry, many injured and can be dangers to livestock and humans. Lost animals have no way of finding their owner. As taxpayers, we have paid for minimal animal services in the county for years and years and not received anything for our tax dollar. I personally applaud Josh for stepping up to the plate and addressing this issue.. He has my vote. David, go ahead and vote for the guy that will fill the pot hole in front of your house

    • I never said there isn’t a problem. All I said is that Josh is just trying to use this issue for selfish reasons. I know for a fact that he will change his mind on a issue and not give an explanation for why. And that tells me that he isn’t someone that should be “representing” others. Because to do that you have to be open and above board. He has the right to change his mind but he has to be willing to explain why. After my dealings with him I don’t think he has that kind of integrity and guts. I feel he will say anything so long as it will benefit him. He’s a follower not a leader. That’s why he is a walking billboard for the latest fads and crazes. In my opinion he’ll do anything if it well help make people like him and have them think he’s “hip and cool”. He’s basically a want to be hippy. Granted this is just my opinion but if you read what he has written about himself, or letters where he isn’t putting up his fake image (like the ones he has written to me) you’ll understand where I’m getting this from. I just don’t think he has the maturity and integrity to do the job.

  3. David, all politicians have their pet projects, at least Josh has the guts to work towards projects the county needs but aren’t popular with the current growth driven, slash and build regime. You think being against the pipe line is being a follower, hip and cool? If being a wanna be hippy includes conserving, realizing we are above spending billions foolishly on a pipe line, providing for displaced or abandoned animals that the county has ignored for my 50++ years in this county, then Josh has my golden roach clip

    • Let me repeat. I’m not saying there isn’t legitimate issues. I’m saying he’s not the one to lead. Talk is cheap actions are what make a difference. You can vote for who ever you want. All I’m trying to do is let people know there is another side to Josh that lacks integrity and maturity. He’s just too self centered to “represent” others. How well do you really know him? Don’t you want to know as much as possible before making your decision? You can take my information or leave it that’s your choice. Just as others can make that choice. Just don’t try to tell me I’m wrong. Because I have dealt with him and I base my opinion on those actual dealings. If you have some personal dealings with him you would like to share feel free. It’s a free country. I just don’t think a decision should be made “just” on the issues. Because those are the same issues for all candidates. You should be picking the candidate that can actually get things done. And I don’t think Josh can.

  4. Josh was in the trenches fighting along with us for reform at the St George Animal Shelter and has not waivers off any animal related projects since I’ve known him… and that goes back to when his first wife worked at the Washington City animal shelter. This isn’t the issue to say he will waffle

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