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Posted 8/14/19 (Wed)

By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

What to do with all of the stray and abandoned pets that are turning up in Watford City and McKenzie County?
That was the question that many animal lovers were asking over the past few years as they saw hundreds of dogs and cats being discarded by owners, who decided that they could no longer care for or had grown tired of their pets. The number of abandoned pets that was turning up running around apartment complexes looking for their owners was alarming. But it was even more heartbreaking during the winter months to see these once-loved animals being dumped around the county to fend for themselves.
For most people, a pet is more than just a dog or a cat. These animals become forever members of the family. So the concept of having someone be willing to simply abandon a pet because they have become inconvenient is difficult to understand to say the least.
But the city’s and county’s abandoned pet problem grew as thousands of new residents moved into the area seeking work in the Bakken.
For years, the Watford City Police Department, the McKenzie County Sheriff’s Office and the Watford City Veterinary Center worked together to rescue injured and stray animals and tried to find these animals a new home. But without a local shelter to handle these abandoned animals, the only recourse oftentimes was putting these pets down.
Fortunately for the animals, help came this past winter in the form of Krystal Lapp, who formed the Barkin in the Bakken animal rescue group. In the short six months that the rescue group has been operating, hundreds of abandoned animals have been rehomed and a spay/neuter program for cats was created.
That was the good news.
But the bad news is that just as the rescue group was finally getting its feet on the ground, Lapp announced that she is moving to Alaska.
As the driving force behind Barkin in the Bakken, one has to wonder just how well the much needed rescue will operate in Lapps’ absence. Even with all of her good intentions, managing a rescue shelter from 3,000 miles away in Alaska will be a herculean task for Lapp.
Watford City and McKenzie County needs a viable animal rescue shelter. Barkin in the Bakken proved that a rescue group could help rehome many of the pets that were being simply abandoned across the county.
The big question that many people in the county are now asking is, “What happens if Barkin in the Bakken can no longer remain viable?”
The problem of abandoned pets is not going away.