COLUMN: All pets deserve loving homes

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By KATHY KLEEMAN, Guest Columnist

This is in response to Rex Robinson’s recent letter. Perry County does need an animal-control officer. We had a very good one in Rhea Gehlhausen. I can tell you from the experience of working with her, that the last thing she wanted was to have to issue a fine or take anyone’s animals. She tried every other option available to her to assist, not punish owners.

A lot of times, she helped the owner keep their pets by assisting with food or shelter. And she worked many more hours than her salary called for. I called her on Thanksgiving about a dog running on Indiana 37 and she left her family dinner to go get the dog and return it to its owner. It takes a special person to be this dedicated to helping animals that can’t repay her in any way other than the wag of a tail or a lick on the face.

She worked well with the law enforcement in the county, took time away from her family and she had much compassion for these helpless creatures.

It didn’t matter if it was a mutt or a purebreed. Many times she took animals home with her that needed that extra reassurance of trusting humans. If I was a dog that had heard only harsh words or heavy hands from the very human they must depend on for their very life, I wouldn’t trust another one.

But dogs don’t have the vices humans do, such as revenge, hate and judging people. They unconditionally love us and we are their families. To see a dog in a pen that gets no human contact except a kick or harsh words at feeding time breaks my heart. Dogs are social animals.

What he must think after the puppy newness wears off and all of a sudden there he is as far from the house as possible, jumping for attention from anyone passing by. We choose to have pets and we should not get one unless we are prepared to care for and love it for many years.

It’s a long-term commitment.

As for inspecting our dogs’ living area and medical records, I welcome anyone to check.

The old saying is if you have nothing to hide ... . It is also a state law that all dogs be vaccinated. Mr. Robinson states you shouldn’t have to take your dog for checkups. Well, it seems that anyone who wants a dog healthy so she can produce healthy pups would want to do so. You say how much it’s going to cost hunters. I didn’t hear you complaining about expensive GPS tracking systems and collars or entry fees, travel fees and motels for your sporting hounds. I was raised in the South where most men have a picture of their hound in their wallet but not their wife. So I have been around hunting dogs all my life.

My dad had black and tan hounds and was an avid hunter. But he took good care of them. And as far as our police and sheriff departments go, sure they are capable of handling disputes, but they have much more important duties and cannot always pick up strays and transport them.

They have always been there to assist and I’m sure they always will. Some go beyond the call of duty. Officer Heather Glenn took a cat that had been beaten so badly its back was broken, on her own time, mind you, knowing it was going to amount to costs she could not afford as she has four cats and a dog already. It would have been easy to just take the cat to the vet to be euthanized at the county’s expense.

She only felt compelled to help this pitiful cat that had a strong will to live but was left for dead by a careless person. Thanks to Jim Carter and the Humane Society, who upon hearing the story, offered help paying some of the vet bills. But officer Glenn had already paid some bills because she did not want to ask for help as she chose to save Gracie’s life as first priority.

And by the way she’s doing fine and is still happily with Heather after having her leg amputated.

And you state $170,000 would be left over after paying animal control $30,000 a year, raised by fees and fines, for the commissioners to do with as they please.

You’re right. There are 18,000 residents in Perry County. In that number are children, babies and the prison population at Branchville Correctional Facility. Do your homework before making accusations and predictions such as that.

The people you refer to as sneaky low-life radicals are folks just like me. And I take offense at that as I’m sure my fellow animal lovers do. Our city has grown, thanks to our mayor.  We have a greenway and the riverwalk to enjoy with our pets. They are dog friendly and there are waste-disposal stations with bags.

That’s what responsible owners do. They take care of their pets.

We also have a dog park. That shows how many pet lovers are in Perry County. I don’t know where you got the idea that we animal rights advocates, as you refer to us, are trying to ban hunting as a dog sport.

The reason proposals are presented is so they can be discussed and changes made if need be. And as far as animal control being needed, keep in mind the job is more than picking up strays.

It’s educating the public and helping owners when needed and assisting law enforcement responding to complaints involving animals.

And I think Jim Carter does a job nobody would want. But he does it for the love of animals we share the earth with.

I could not do what he does. Imagine every phone call you get involves animals in need or complainers about other’s animals.

He helps so many and is always there when needed. In closing, sir, I agree we have the right to do as we please with our spare time and money. But if our choices involve living, breathing creatures, we are responsible for their well-being.

I think dogs were created by a higher authority than humans and dog spelled backward is God.

Kleeman lives in Tell City.