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Abandoned cat

A sign outside the Porter County Animal Shelter warns that dropping off animals after business hours is a crime under Indiana law.

Pets are not disposable.

It's an appropriate message Porter County commissioners sent this week in approving more than $10,000 in camera equipment to installed at the Porter County Animal Shelter, 3355 Bertholet Blvd. in Valparaiso.

Specifically, commissioners hope the cameras will put an end to people who improperly dump unwanted animals outside the shelter.

"Nobody's stealing or vandalizing the animal shelter, but people are dropping animals off in ways that aren't safe for the animals," Commissioner Laura Blaney said.

The problems have been happening after hours, when the shelter is closed.

"People have left pets outside or they've chained them to the gate," Blaney said.

In one case last summer, a cat was left in box in the hot sun outside the shelter.

"It was already hot and in distress, but we helped it. And it has since been adopted," shelter Assistant Director Darrin Biggs said.

Getting word out about the new parking lot surveillance at the shelter should serve as a deterrent to the improper dumping of pets there, supporters of the move say.

And anyone who is caught on camera chaining dogs to fences or dumping cats in boxes should be pursued by law enforcement and prosecuted.

The Porter County Animal Shelter is a relatively new facility that opened about two years ago, replacing a dated and problematic facility.

The shelter took in 840 animals last year, including 122 animals surrendered by owners. That was more than double the number of surrenders two years ago — a credit to the new, larger facility.

The increase in animals surrendered by owners is believed to be the a key reason the number of reported stray animals in the county was down by 104 from two years ago, from 706 to 602.

And in its first year, the shelter reportedly set a record of 500 pet adoptions, moving the needle for the good of any animal that ends up there.

Now the commissioners have taken the quality of the facility one step further.

The surveillance cameras are an important addition to improving conditions for unwanted pets and represent money well spent.

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Members of The Times Editorial Board are Publisher Christopher T. White, Editor Marc Chase, Deputy Editor Kerry Erickson, Assistant Local News Editor Crista Zivanovic and Regional News Editor Sharon Ross.