Over the last week or so, Chiva and I have made visits to four animal shelters/control facilities in the upper peninsula of Michigan. Thanks to your online donations I have been able to contribute $2000 to shelters across the nation thus far. It feels good and is needed so please continue to do so! I really want to get these numbers up.
I am glad the Tour de Dog is "inspiring" many people as I like to read in the Guest Book. My goal is to continue to bike with Chiva and to run this website to raise awareness for all the problems and challenges animal shelters face. We need your involvement.
The primitive Luce County Animal Control Facility visit in Newberry, MI, has been the most eye-opening stop in the Tour de Dog.
About thirteen years ago, a Puerto Rican woman named Denise Erickson moved to Newberry. Once she learned about the animal control policy of the time she knew she had to get involved. Since then, she has worked tirelessly to revolutionize animal control in Luce County.
Her biggest accomplishment in her mind was halting the use of the gas chamber that was used to euthanize animals. In the picture below, Chiva is seen in the gas chamber. Pipes were hooked up to car exhaust and the animals were left in the dark to suffocate. Chemical gas chambers are still used today in the United States to euthanize animals. I personally feel this is extremely unfortunate, unfair, and depressing. I also feel with a little bit of work it can be changed.
Because no records were ever kept Denice has no idea how many animals were put down. She did know the control policy payed $5 for each animal killed. Some kind of animal control, huh?
When talking with Denise, it is clear how passionate she is for loving and caring for animals. In fact, she has dedicated her life to it and has received very, very little recognition. She is the lone animal control officer, and at her home has ten dogs, six cats, four horses, a donkey, a goat, and two ponies. All are well cared for.Her goal is to replace the current facility built in the 60's (if it can even be called a facility) with a new, much improved one. Pet Pals, a group that was formed to help Denise, is working hard to raise funds for facility improvements. There is no heat in the winter (remember this is harsh winter country where temperatures plummet to negative 30 degrees) and only this year are they able to receive hot water. A washer and dryer are just thoughts.
The new shelter may just be a dream because come November Denise may not even have a job. The county is voting on whether or not to keep the animal control facility. With no animal control, the dog and cat population will skyrocket, animal diseases will flourish, and the environment will become more dangerous. Animal chaos!
We all love our pets and animals in general. They give us 100% and drastically improve our lives. They need our help. Please, please get more in tune with the problems and challenges animal shelters face. Get involved. If you have a pet, you should feel responsible to give back. Let's not settle for such inadequate and unfair conditions.
If you want to help Denise and all her efforts, please get in touch with her: firstname.lastname@example.org. I ask you to save some happy hour money today or this weekend and help Denise. She needs donations, and she needs encouragement. Just because the animal shelter is not in your community does not make this okay. It is still in the United States, your country.
Thank you to Denise and Pet Pals for all your efforts! Chiva and I and many other thousands of animals and people appreciate all you have done.
Corrected on August 24, 2008