At the St. Clair Times – and in the press at large – we can be very critical. Over the past six months or so, we have repeatedly shone a light on the Animal Shelter of Pell City, Inc., for their obstinate refusal to allow public audits or hold open meetings, even though they receive large amounts of funding from public bodies, like the St. Clair County Commission and the Pell City Council. We expect we will continue to be critical of those entities that refuse to be transparent.

In the grand sum of things, however, we can only laud the service the volunteers at the ASPCI provide. The shelter does more than take in stray dogs and cats in the Pell City area – it provides impoundment services for a number of municipalities across the county, not to mention the city of Lincoln, and provides spay-neuter certificates that help control the pet population at large. While their reluctance to submit to transparency has been a valid reason for criticism, no public official has ever been critical of the job they do or the service they provide. And we can find little fault with them in that regard, either.

For that reason, we can only applaud at Monday night’s agreement between Pell City and the shelter, in which both sides compromised – the shelter agreed to provide the city weekly reports, and open its meetings every quarter to the general public – for the sake of the animals in St. Clair County. It would have been a waste to see the ASPCI disappear, simply because public officials and the shelter board could not come together on relatively simple terms.

Following Monday night’s agreement, ASPCI president Barbara Wallace said, "It’s all about taking care of the animals." For their sake, we congratulate them.