Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad For-Profit Animal Shelter?
St. Louis is, George; St. Louis is.
The plan to contract out the operation of the animal shelter to Stray Rescue has been canceled. The Suburban Journals has the story on the new plan here, which still involves Stray Rescue and many other animal rescue groups. Another plan had been offered by a local vet to operate the shelter as a clinic/shelter on a for-profit basis, as has been done in Kansas City. It is one thing to reject the vet’s plan, which was submitted after the deadline, when another plan involving Stray Rescue was already going forward. It is quite another to continue to disregard the vet’s idea now that plan no. 1 has crashed and burned.
I attended the news conference when the program cancellation was announced last week. I asked a health department official there if the veterinarian’s privatization proposal would be revised. She said she would be willing to talk to him, but (and this is an exact quote) “I am uncomfortable with for-profit groups.” So, in other words, the proposal — no matter how great it may or may not be — is off-limits because the veterinarian has the audacity to possibly earn some type of profit from the care of lost, sick, and abused animals.
This fear is perfectly reasonable of course, given that the for-profit bid for the animal shelter was coordinated by Drexel Burnham Lambert as part of a thinly disguised hostile takeover of the shelter, which would then be cannibalized and sold off piecemeal to enrich the financiers at the expense of the kittens. Oh, wait — you say it was actually proposed by a local vet with a long history of taking care of animals in the city of St. Louis? Well, then maybe the city should reconsider the idea. …
Seriously, only someone who has spent their entire lives working for the government could say something like, “I am uncomfortable with for-profit groups.” I am sure that the director has accomplished many worthy things during her public service, and I am sure she is a fine person, but the knee-jerk opposition to any group that might earn any type of profit is unseemly, albeit not surprising. For too many government employees, P.J. O’Rourke’s words about John Kenneth Galbraith apply:
[…] and, after 97 years of comfort and achievement in a free market society, still believed that a free market society is wrong.
The city should undertake to reconsider new proposals for the animal shelter, and for-profit ideas should be given just as much consideration as any other. Taking care of animals and making a profit are not mutually exclusive.