This is in response to the Aug. 27 column by Barry Paschal, "Mercer puts paws down." I honestly do not believe I have ever read anything so ridiculous in my life. (Columbia County Commissioner Tom) Mercer has really put his foot in his mouth this time, and Paschal has clearly made public his position of unfair and unbalanced journalism for all the world to see.
Mercer's accusations that animal rescue volunteers do what they do because they realize financial benefits is utterly laughable. It definitively shows his ignorance about such things along with giving us a little more insight into his own character. Mercer could not last one week doing what animal rescue workers do. And how absurd is it that I must point out that licensed animal rescues are non-profit entities? By the very definition of non-profit, there is no financial gain in doing what we do.
In fact, if anyone at the county government palace cared to really examine the situation, they would discover that we dump tens of thousands of our own dollars into these operations. Why would we do this? Crazy, right? This is the concept that eludes Mercer: There are people in the world who serve causes larger than themselves. These animals that Mercer sees as a "financial burden" on the county, we find value in. Does he honestly believe that we make a profit rescuing animals? ...
It is absolutely stunning to me that the same man who sits in meetings whining about how they can't do anything to improve the slaughterhouse that is Columbia County Animal Control because it's all about the money has the audacity to accuse the non-profit rescues (who have volunteered assistance to Animal Control) of being motivated by avarice.
I challenge Mercer, Emergency Services Director Pam Tucker, Animal Control Manager Linda Fulmer, and all other members of Columbia County's own little "axis of evil" to get up at 4:30 in the morning, every morning. Spend the next few hours scooping litter boxes, feeding, watering, administering medication, cleaning up messes, walking dogs, syringe-feeding, scooping dog piles, holding, petting, socializing, loving and, in general, caring for the animals in our charge (something they would never receive at Animal Control). Then rushing to get a shower and get to work, because guess what? We actually have to work for a living. Then return from work at 6:30 or so in the evening, do the same process all over again and then fall into bed, maybe by midnight, if we are lucky.
Then comes the weekend - days off? Ha! We are bathing, scrubbing, trimming nails, loading animals, hauling them to adoptions, working all day to try to find these special pets forever homes, listening to terrible stories about people who have to "get rid" of their pet because it has become an inconvenience to them, and not understanding why they can't just dump it on us and leave. Then we pack up whoever did not get adopted, take them home and start the evening cleaning, feeding, socializing, etc.
Let's not forget the endless phone calls and trips to rescue animals that are hurt, lost, roaming or just abandoned. And let me repeat once more: we don't get paid for any of this! ...
When my time here on earth is finished and I meet my Creator, I would like something more to report than "Well, I brought the county in under budget!"
Mercer, Tucker and all those who so brashly criticize the animal rescues accomplish nothing but to demonstrate to the entire community their incredible ignorance about what we do. They would not last a week in our shoes! We care about these lives, even though they clearly can't understand that without a financial component. The lies from Fulmer and Tucker about how animals are treated and the cover-ups at Animal Control will not stay hidden forever. These types of scandals have ways of eventually coming to light. When that happens, perhaps we can have some county officials that serve more than their own personal agendas.
Erik Emmons, vice president
Heartsong Animal Rescue and Sanctuary, Inc.
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