To the point week of 12-31-09

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AS WE CLOSE OUT ANOTHER year, I can’t help but think about the kindness and caring that this community shows towards one another. From people who are suffering from sickness getting financial and emotional support from friends, neighbors, and others; to those who suffer the loss of their home also feeling the support of their community – we are blessed to live in such a special place.

The morning of Christmas Eve I stood in the middle of Main Street while watching firefighters – volunteers themselves – working to save the burning home of a local family. Just before I got there law enforcement officers and others raced into the home to save Christmas presents that had been placed under the tree for the family’s children.

I saw firefighters from different companies all around the county pull up to the scene and simply offer to do whatever was needed. One group worked to bring items out of the home; while another put water on the neighboring home to keep it safe. Another company was in the back yard trying to control the flaming upper story of the home; while still more were filling in here and there to help with firefighters who needed a break from fighting the flames.

Emergency Medical personnel were also at the scene, making sure that not only the family was safe and healthy; but they were also monitoring firefighters and law enforcement officers to make sure that they were safe in the cold, wet conditions.

Across Main Street, a large group of friends, neighbors, and members of the community gathered. They weren’t just there to watch the flames, but instead were there to offer whatever support and comfort they could to the family. In some cases people were literally willing to give the coat off of their own back, and other outpourings of generosity soon followed.

As tragic as Christmas Eve was for Lowell and Missy Reynolds, if there was any comfort in the situation it was found in the caring nature of their community.

You simply don’t get that in very many other places.

We are so blessed and lucky to live in a place like Switzerland County, and as another year draws to a close, I wanted to share just how much I appreciate the giving spirit of the community in which I am proud to call “Home”.

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For those who may still be in the “giving spirit”, why not consider adopting a dog or cat from the Switzerland County Animal Shelter?

There’s not much else that can make you feel the way you will when you pick up that kitten or dog and carry it out of the shelter, knowing that this animal now has a chance at a happy life in a loving home.

Terry Scudder and Keli Hall and the others at the county animal shelter work very hard to get animals out of bad situations and try and connect them with families who will love them and care for them and see to their needs.

Sometimes they find those families right here in Switzerland County; while other times they find those families halfway across the country thanks to Internet agencies.

You would be amazed at the selection of animals that the shelter currently has: big dogs, little dogs, house dogs, outdoor dogs.

There’s plenty of kittens, too, if you’re a “cat person”.

The main thing here is that our shelter has done an excellent job of working to help control the stray population here in the county – which a couple of years ago was one of the biggest problems in Switzerland County.

With the shelter being able to take animals and find them a home that would have otherwise been abandoned; along with the county’s spay/neuter program that makes sure dogs and cats going out of the shelter don’t contribute to the overpopulation problem; the Switzerland County Animal Shelter is providing a valuable service to the residents of this community.

Say you want to help, but don’t want to take on the long term responsibility of pet ownership? Call the shelter and ask about how you can become a foster parent.

There are sometimes so many animals that the shelter cannot adequately care for them; or there are animals who need special care. The shelter utilizes foster families whose job it is to take these animals in on a short term basis and provide for their care until a permanent home can be found.

Personally, I think this would be a wonderful program for a family with small children who might be considering getting that first family pet.

Take an animal in as a foster animal, and see how your children adapt to it and care for it and play with it, etc. If they all get along, make your foster arrangement permanent. If it doesn’t work out, then you’re not tied into a long term situation. Just continue to care for the animal until the shelter finds it a permanent home.

No matter what the situation is, above all make sure that you take pet ownership seriously. Far too often people who are looking for a Christmas present for their kids suddenly find themselves picking up a puppy from the back of a truck; only to watch the cute puppy grow up into a huge dog that doesn’t fit into the family plan.

It’s at times like those that the job of our animal shelter becomes even more difficult; because far too often people either dump the unwanted animal at the shelter – or, worse – along some roadway.

So be careful about adopting a pet, and also be mindful that a very important department of county government is working on your behalf.

And on behalf of those pets who can’t take care of themselves.

Consider helping them out.