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DOG – GONE Part Two

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The Appalachian Ohio Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (AOSPCA) continues its assault on the Harrison County Dog Pound and the Harrison County Commissioners.  Now, Robin McClelland of the AOSPCA, with Hollywood actresses in tow, is demanding that the dog pound be closed.  Using the Internet to spread their message, they claim worldwide support of their cause for the dogs.

As of the latest news reports, an animal rescue group from California has adopted all the dogs, Dog Warden Chris McMillion has been suspended pending possible termination, and the sheriff has requested state officials to investigate.  The Harrison County Commissioners continue business as usual, with Tina DeWalt serving as interim Dog Warden

What a mess.

I have always admired people who throw themselves wholeheartedly into their cause, whether it is advocacy for the poor, veterans, children, animals or an ideal, like freedom.  It shows a commitment to something greater than ourselves, and generally brings out the best in people, even if some label them “extremists”.  Barry Goldwater once said “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.”

However, if you are going to advocate for a high ideal, you must do so with actions that are above reproach, else you lose the moral high ground and thus your credibility.

The AOSPCA has done many good things for animals, and as an animal lover, I applaud them for their acts.  Their crusade against the pound is not one of them.  They have lost the moral high ground.

Robin McClelland indicates that she wants to close the current pound and open a new shelter somewhere, run by a non-governmental committee of animal welfare officials and advocates.  The current pound has a lot of private donations built into it.  If it is closed, donors I’ve spoken to said they likely would stop giving if their gifts are uselessly cast away in such a manner.  As far as opening up a new shelter, go for it, AOSPCA! Build a nice one, heated and roomy.  You don’t have to shut down the pound to do it.  Nor do you have to destroy people’s lives.

During the last few weeks, I took an informal poll among as many of the citizens of Harrison County as I could talk to.  I found almost universal support for the dog warden and dog pound. The consensus seems to be the county commissioners and the economic conditions are the real reasons for the problems at the pound.  To my surprise, there was also unanimous disapproval for the AOSPCA’s role.  Nobody I spoke to approved of what they were doing.  Not one.

I was also surprised to discover that many of the protesting animal rights activists are not part of the AOSPCA, and indeed view the AOSPCA as being part of the problem.

An article in the Times Leader on 12/16/10 quotes Ms. McClelland saying that the pound is being operated as a “warehousing death camp for animals” where the dogs are at the mercy of the elements and “whims of their captors.”  I’ve got some breaking news: the people who work at the dog pound are not Gestapo wanna-bes.  They are decent people trying to take care of the dogs the best they can with what they have to work with.  The AOSPCA should be supporting their efforts, not trashing their good name.  It is an outrage and the members of the AOSPCA should be ashamed of themselves for this act of moral cowardice.

Elsewhere in the same article, Ms. McClelland is quoted as saying “donated supplies, since 2008, have grown legs and walked out the door.”  The implication seems clear: someone working at the pound took the supplies.  What is not mentioned is the fact the pound has been broken into and ransacked several times during this period.  Isn’t that little fact relevant?  Isn’t it possible that the intruders are responsible for the missing supplies, and not the employees?  But that doesn’t fit the AOSPCA’s story line, so it is left out.

The actions and accusations of the AOSPCA have so thoroughly poisoned the atmosphere in Harrison County that any solution is going to be very difficult.

The County Commissioners also have much to answer for.  Ms. McClelland is right about her assertion that against all common sense they refuse to accept help or donations.  Over the last year or so, I have heard of several genuine, substantial offers of help for the pound being turned down flat.  Since I posted “Dog Gone Part One” I have been informed of many more.

I don’t know if it has to do with issues of control or anything else, but the Commissioners aren’t coming off looking very competent.  Now they have been stampeded into suspending Dog Warden Chris McMillion, and may be thinking of terminating her or even charging her with crimes.

Better not.  From my informal survey, she has widespread sympathy and support in the county.  Most of the citizens of Harrison County know she is only guilty of doing the best she can without much to work with.  If the Commissioners throw her under the bus in order to deflect criticism from them, I predict that it will be remembered on Election Day.

As a citizen of Harrison County, I find it discouraging that the County Commissioners seem unable to manage the dog pound.  The coming natural gas boom will have issues infinitely more complex than this, and if the commissioners can’t even handle this problem, the drilling companies are going to run circles around them.  Hopefully, newly elected Commissioner Don Bethel will provide some leadership to solve the Dog Pound issue.

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Larry Bertolino

Larry Bertolino

Owner at myLocalPCpro
Larry Bertolino is a 31 year old, U.S Navy Veteran and currently sitting on the board of Directors for the Harrison County Chamber of Commerce, as well as Harrison County Rural Transit.
Larry Bertolino
Larry Bertolino

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Posted by on January 13, 2011, 10:16 am. Filed under Featured, John Lovejoy, Politics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry