Letters to the Editor

DOGGED PURSUIT

To the Editor:
As difficult as "Dead Dogs Walking" (RFT, April 7) was to read and the photos disturbing to look at, it is the sad truth. We have domesticated dogs only to abandon them to the streets to fend for themselves. I am a volunteer for Stray Rescue of St. Louis, and I have seen my foster dogs go from sad and lethargic or skittish and defiant to happy, healthy dogs. It's a beautiful process to watch.

I found out about Randy Grim and his good work through an article written last summer in The Riverfront Times. I called him sobbing and promising help. Since then I have been an active volunteer and a friend to Randy. That was the best call I ever made! My friends called me a sucker and told me, "You can't save them all." No, I can't, but I can save this one, and the ones after that.

Fostering isn't easy work. You put all this effort into a dog and hand this housebroken, crate-trained, sweet little wonder over to its new family. You do the work; they get the payoff. People tell me all the time that they could never foster because they could never give the dogs up. I've shed plenty of tears when a dog I put so much heart into goes out the door, but I've never regretted it. It hurts, but the joy of knowing you changed the course of a life and gave someone a new best friend is worth the sadness of letting them go.

Thanks for sharing the plight of homeless dogs with your readers. If the story moved you, consider fostering for Stray Rescue or Pound Pals or any other of the worthy rescue groups that are fighting the uphill battle. The more foster families we have, the more dogs we can save.

Maryanne Dersch

To the Editor:
I was just sitting at the Bread Company across the street from your office in the Loop, having a spiritual experience over an espresso while reading Melinda Roth's stray-dog article. As I read the piece I chuckled. First, I thought it was a truly wacko subject to take on at all. But as I got into it I connected emotionally with Randy Grim and his quest, feeling this unexpected parallel with my own motivations for working with homeless folks and welfare moms. Don't get me wrong -- the people with whom I work are not stray dogs! But some cynics think my passionate care is absurd. I laughed more and more as I read. (People started noticing!)

Then I was swept up in this tremendous sense of gratitude for Melinda, Jeannette Batz and Ray Hartmann, and what your whole team does every week in the RFT. Thank you for persistently featuring compassion, care, commitment -- in whatever form and focus! And, of course, I know you all do it because you are the same kind of wonderfully crazy people. The RFT feeds me (and my work) more than most of the devotional stuff I get through my liberal church circle. I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate this paper and all of you.

Rev. Mark Harvey
Kingdom House

To the Editor:
Thanks for the well-written article on Randy Grimm and Stray Rescue. We got our dog, Ginger, from Stray Rescue, and she is a sweetie.

Violence in the family is one of the major causes of dog abuse and neglect. In some states there are laws which require that when a dog is found abused, the address automatically gets reported to the child-abuse hotline because animal abuse is a primary indicator of child abuse. By the same token, people raised in abusive homes are much more likely to abuse their pets.

Several years ago there was a troubled family living behind us. The man of the house was an active alcoholic who abused both his wife and their children. One day when we were gone, the children from that family went into our yard, got our little dog and put her inside the fence with their German shepherd, who was vicious. They held the gate shut so our dog could not get out and watched as their dog mauled her to death. Children really do learn what they live.

When there is peace in the home, there will be peace in the streets. When human beings are no longer abused, they will no longer abuse their pets. May we all work for that day to come.

Geri Redden

To the Editor:
I left a gas station over a month ago not realizing my dog, Alphie, had jumped out of the car. I am still looking for him. The article "Dead Dogs Walking" made me aware that packs of dogs gone wild are still with us, adding to my fears. Since every lost dog found helps with the problem portrayed in the article, perhaps anyone spotting Alphie could contact me at Alice's Vintage Clothing. He is a long-haired shepherd/border collie, all black except for brown paws and eyebrows.

An owner searching for a lost dog often finds a different bureaucracy every time the dog crosses a road. Stray-holding and disposal policies differ. Readers who wish to help can call in a description to the Animal Protective Association and the Humane Society if a stray dog is around for long. If you are reluctant to turn an animal in to a shelter, you may wish to hold it long enough to let the agencies check their databases for an owner. The agencies told me there is no substitute for my searching the shelters personally and regularly. Alphie's collar had a rabies tag and two phone numbers, but a collar can come off easily. Microchip implants are cheap, and vets and shelters quickly scan for them, but ID helps.

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