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People have feelings, too

Local editorials

The Humane Society should make sure its procedures are respectful

The Southern Oregon Humane Society is a private organization and free, clearly, to handle adoptions as it chooses. Just as the public that supports it is free to go elsewhere to adopt pets or make donations.

Both are part of the reality surrounding the nonprofit society, which has been in the news this month after a handful of would-be adopters came forward to complain that society staff treated them unfairly.

Let's be clear, first, that the Humane Society does a lot that's good. It is devoted to saving dogs and cats, and successfully finds homes for 600 to 700 pets annually. It also advocates responsible pet ownership ' from spaying and neutering to making suitable matches between people and animals.

But it also is increasingly obvious that in its attempts to protect animals, the society sometimes treats humans with less regard than it should.

People whose applications for dogs were rejected told a Mail Tribune reporter that the society staff could be arrogant about the application process.

— Others say the staff can go overboard in an attempt to protect animals, and that its application process can be arbitrary and biased. It's not like you can do a credit score on someone who wants to adopt a dog, one said.

Well, no. And it's worth noting that any application process that requires subjective judgment is likely on occasion to be perceived as unfair. That alone doesn't make it bad.

What has the potential to be trouble is an approach that takes for granted the community ' donors, volunteers and pet lovers ' that allows the society to continue to exist. People won't continue to lend their support where they're not appreciated or respected.

The Humane Society, an organization that depends on the community's support, is entering its biggest fund-raising season of the year.

That may be the most pressing reason for it to pay attention to the recent signs of trouble, but it's not the only one.

Priced out

In case you hadn't noticed, affordable housing is becoming difficult to find in the Rogue Valley. Three out of four houses in Medford ' because of economic factors and booming real estate markets ' are considered not affordable.

The information is contained in a report titled You Can't Eat the View: The Loss of Housing Affordability in the West, produced by the nonprofit Rural Collaborative.

Medford's problem is so bad that the city's housing is less affordable for its residents than for residents of Seattle, Portland, Santa Barbara, Oakland or San Jose. Medford home prices have increased 40 percent in five years, and the number of Medford families paying too much for housing has risen 39 percent since 1990.

This situation doesn't just affect those in the lower income brackets. It affects everyone, as workers move farther and farther from their jobs to find housing they can afford, increasing the miles they drive and affecting traffic and air quality.

The report suggests a range of solutions. Local government leaders should waste no time examining those suggestions, adding their own, and implementing what they can.