The Herald Bulletin

December 21, 2013

Maleah Stringer: Christmas a time to remember kindness toward animals

The Herald Bulletin

---- — For me Christmas is, among other things, a time of reflection. I look at the good and the bad. And no matter how bad the bad has been, the good seems to overwhelm and fill us with hope. And gratitude.

This year has been terribly difficult for myself, my staff and volunteers at the Animal Protection League. In April we were faced with the horrors of the Summitville Farm abuse case that made national news. Over 200 animals dead and the 165 who were still alive were living in horrific conditions. I don't know that I or anyone else who was there will ever get the images of what we saw and experienced out of our heads — or the outrage.

But out of this abuse the wonders of generosity and kindness came shining through the horror and the sadness. People from all over the country donated money and supplies so that the Animal Protection League could provide needed veterinary care and food for the 165 animals. In six hours we were able to place all 165 animals in foster homes where they were fed, safe and clean. People were coming from all over the county offering help to care for and transport the animals to other locations. Hoosier Park stepped up with a large donation as well as the Madison County Farm Bureau to help with the high costs. Both donations were unsolicited. As soon as the animals became our property, we began the adoption process. We were able to place all the animals in homes. And out of this abuse case the ordinances concerning animal abuse in Madison County were completely rewritten and passed into law.

During the summer our hearts were broken on a daily basis with the high numbers of animals coming into our care. There were days that more than 25 kittens were brought to us. We got to the point there was simply nowhere else to put one more animal. We were overwhelmed. And in response, people stepped up to help. The Correctional Industrial Facility where we have our Fido, 9 lives and Saving Max prison programs, offered 10 additional spots for dogs and 10 additional spots for cats. This saved these animals' lives. Devonshire Veterinary Clinic gave us two kennels for dogs and four kennels for cats free of charge — again saving these animals' lives. Northwood Veterinary Clinic allowed us to put a cat tower in their waiting room with cats available for adoption. All this helped to open up space at the shelter. People in the community stepped up to adopt and foster our animals.

Animals in shelters must be cared for 365 days a year; this means that even on holidays, our staff goes to work. Volunteers brought the staff food on Thanksgiving to thank them for their hard work. So often this feels like a thankless job — and sometimes all it takes is a plate of cookies to let us know we are appreciated.

As I look back over the year, I acknowledge the terrible things we have seen that were done to animals. But what stands out is the overwhelming goodness and the random acts of kindness that has been showered on us throughout the year. Thank you and Merry Christmas.

Maleah Stringer is executive director of the Animal Protection League, 613 Dewey St., Anderson. She can be reached at 356-0900 or at