Letters to the Editor week of 03-13-08


Good deed

To the Editor:

With the recent heavy snowfall and the state of emergency, I am certain that there are many stories about the more able providing assistance to the less able. I have a story that I would like to share with the readers.

On Saturday morning, March 8th, I received a call from a friend and neighbor who is elderly and who lives alone in a fairly remote part of western Switzerland County. He wanted to know if I had a four-wheel-drive vehicle since he had taken his last dose of one of his medications for diabetes and it appeared that there would be no way for him to get out and get it for several days. Unfortunately, I do not  have a four-wheel-drive vehicle but I told him that I would try to find a way to get his medication.

I called the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department and the Switzerland County Sheriff’s Department. They were willing to help but they were overwhelmed with the events of the day. I am sure, with further pursuit, that they would have found a solution to the situation.

Enter Dr. Scott Frede. Dr. Frede lives in the same area as my neighbor. Upon finding out about the situation, Dr. Frede went to my neighbor’s home and he analyzed what needed to be done. I will add that Dr. Frede lives in a rugged area and I am sure that he was having his own problems getting around. He used his ATV and other arrangements that he had made to assist a person at a time that the person couldn’t provide for himself.

The end of the story is that my neighbor had his medication before nightfall on Saturday. This did require a considerable effort on the part of Dr. Frede and I would like to recognize him for his effort.

Virgil L. Imel


Caring for animals

To the Editor:

Hi Shadow. Girl Dog here.

My people person, Pat, is writing this for me. She’s been my new mom for about six weeks now and, oh boy, do we love each other.

You remember me, Shadow. You new me as Priss and we had lots of fun together. Your neighbor saved me as a stray off the streets of Patriot and then your people persons, Mike and Jade, were kind enough to foster me until I ended up in my new home. While I was at your house, Swiss Friends of Animals ran an ad in Animal Watch to try to find my previous owners and when it became obvious no one was looking for me, SFA helped pay the cost of having me spayed. So I was a little surprised last week when I thought you were throwing stones at SFA which is where my mom works as a volunteer. But Mom says that’s just the name of your people person’s column and it doesn’t mean you really throw stones. I didn’t think I remembered you that way.

My mom reads the Indianapolis Star, too. Mom was worried, too, when she read the first article about the Humane Society of Indianapolis no longer accepting strays. But Mom says there was a later article in that paper that told the advantages of the new plan for the Humane Society and the Marion County Animal Care and Control shelter to work together to coordinate their resources instead of overlapping and that the hope is it will make more efficient the care of unwanted animals and ultimately reduce the number of euthanized dogs and cats. (See Indianapolis Star, March 7th, 2008, “City Set to Unveil Plan to Cut Euthanizations.”)

Mom says you are right. This does parallel Switzerland County. The Switzerland County Animal Shelter was opened last fall and Swiss Friends of Animals did quit its dog rescue program. But just as the Humane Society of Indianapolis and t he Marion County Animal Care and Control shelter will now focus their efforts jointly, Swiss Friends of Animals and Switzerland County Animal Shelter are coordinating their efforts and are working in a cooperative spirit to support each other.

Mom says when people contact Swiss Friends of Animals now about a stray, the volunteers are able to say yes there is a kennel available at the new shelter unlike before when a shortage of volunteer foster homes and lack of resources often forced SFA to say they were sorry they could not help.

Mom says you shouldn’t be seeing more and more strays on the streets. Prior to the shelter opening, SFA helped 128 abandoned dogs in 2006 and 90 in 2007. SFA did not have a program for stray cats. In the first four months of operation of the shelter, the staff there has received 167 dogs. Mom says that means you should be seeing fewer on the streets overall.

Mom says the number of vouchers for spaying and neutering has seen a significant increase in the past six months. Mom says some of the referrals to SFA for these vouchers come from the personnel at the Switzerland County Animal Shelter. Mom says the shelter personnel and SFA are currently discussing a proposal for spay/neuter certificates to be given out with each adoption from the shelter.

Mom and I are both very glad I ended up in my new home, but we wouldn’t be afraid if I had been taken to the shelter. Mom says the statistics at the new shelter show a concern and effort to save as many lives of these unwanted animals as possible. Mom says through the coordination of SFA volunteers and shelter staff, four shelter dogs are on a rescue transport today to New England and two more shelter dogs are going on a rescue transport on Friday to northern Indiana.

Mom says even if I had been at the shelter and not been one of the lucky ones to be adopted out or sent on a rescue transport, I would have been treated kindly, sheltered and fed until the hard decision would have come to have me humanely euthanized. Would I have chosen to die? Of course not. But unfortunately we animals don’t get a choice in our final fate. It’s up to responsible people like Mike and Jade and the volunteers at SFA and staff at Switzerland County Animal Shelter to help us along t he way.

Without a shelter that euthanizes those animals that are not adopted or rescued, the kennels would be full immediately and continuously and like SFA used to have to do, would be forced to turn animals away. Mom says that is what would lead to an ever increasing population of strays as these animals would be left to fend for themselves, continue breeding, having more unwanted litters, and spreading disease.

Mom says we are fortunate to have a private non-profit corporation and a public shelter willing to work together.

Mom sure does talk a lot (Dad thinks so, too), but I love her anyway. You may remember Shadow, that I’m not perfect either, but Mom loves me, too. Come to think of it, I don’t remember you as having a perfect reputation either (remember all those suddenly flat tires), but everyone knows Mike loves you. So, while SFA and the new shelter may not be the perfect solution, Mom says (there she goes again) since perfection isn’t possible, you make the best effort you can to help and hop for the support of the community.

To sum up the Indianapolis situation, which also fits Switzerland County, the Indianapolis Star editorial staff on March 8th, wrote in part, “our position: A public-private team effort could be a lifesaver for dogs and cats in the future . . . . Ultimate success, of course, still rests with individual pet owners. They have reduced euthanasia drastically in recent years by sterilizing their animals and choosing adoption over commercial breeding. They have a long way to go before this ongoing tragedy diminishes to the point where the community can call itself humane.”

Hey Shadow, ask Mike if he wouldn’t consider renaming his column “A Bone’s Throw.” That stone throwing makes me nervous.

Girl Dog (Pat Hillis)

(as told to Pat Hillis)

Near Vevay