Augustans looking for some leadership from Mayor Larry Sconyers finally got it this week when he ordered the Richmond County Animal Control shelter to dismantle its gas chamber and employ lethal injections to put down unwanted pets.
Understandably, many readers were terribly distressed at recent Chronicle news stories revealing that the shelter was gassing to death abandoned dogs and cats by the hundreds each year.
Although Sconyers did the right thing, it was dismaying to learn that the chairman of the City Commission's Public Safety Committee, Freddie Handy, didn't even know the shelter came under his panel's jurisdiction. Duh!
Even so, it's not commissioners or animal control employees who deserve condemnation for these hundreds of animal tragedies -- it's the heartless, irresponsible people who buy or adopt dogs and cats, then when the novelty wears off, abandons them or leaves them, confused and frightened, at the pound.
Often stray pups or kittens are the offspring of animals that should have been neutered or spayed, but weren't -- another indication of irresponsible pet ownership.
Maybe the city should be looking at tougher measures to encourage pet owners to be more sensible and humane; however, that won't be easy. The overburdened shelter serves a 21-county area.