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January 21, 2012

Maleah Stringer: Saving Max program a rewarding reminder

ANDERSON, Ind. — Unless someone works at an animal shelter/humane society or volunteers on a regular basis, it is hard to understand the sheer volume of phone calls, of people coming through the doors for a variety of reasons, the animals, the sadness, the cruelty done to some of these animals and the stress involved in seeing and dealing with all this on a daily basis.

Often it is like standing in the middle of a cyclone. It becomes very easy to get overwhelmed, sad, depressed and angry — to get so entrenched in the bad that we miss some of the good things that can happen.

This is why the turnover rate in the animal shelter business is so high. It is stressful and sad. Those who want to continue to do this work have to find ways to deal with the sadness and the stress.

The Saving Max foster program at the Correction Industrial Facility is one of those good things. Inmates at the Correctional Industrial Facility care for the pets of victims of domestic violence as well as deployed military, people who require hospital care (but put it off because they have no one to care for their pets), people who have lost their jobs and their homes. We care for their pets while the owners get back on their feet.

We have a dog named Maggie. One of her humans is a Vietnam veteran who is experiencing PTSD. He lost his job, his wife lost her job, then they lost their home. They desperately want Maggie back but currently have nowhere to keep her. They came to visit Maggie the other day after not having seen her for 3 months.

Watching this reunion was a reminder as to why we do this work. It is not just about the animals but their connection to us. The dog heard her voice and streaked to her owner and literally threw herself into her arms. The owner cried and Maggie flipped around like a nut. It made everyone watching laugh and cry. That was the essence of the human animal connection; that is the essence of the work we do. Animals are one of God’s many gifts to us.

It is rewarding that we are able to offer this to members of our community who are having difficulties and so desperately do not want to give up their pets. Watching these people fight to keep their pets because they matter so very much to them helps us deal with those in our community who throw their pets away like unwanted trash.

Their love is more powerful and shines its light on all of us involved. This program also helps keep these pets out of local shelters.

This program is operated by donations only. If you would like to help keep this program alive, please send donations to Animal Protection League, 613 Dewey St., Anderson, IN 46016 or go to to donate online.

Please come visit our animals at PetSmart, Speck’s, the Pet Connection at Mounds Mall and the facility at 613 Dewey Street. Adopt a shelter animal. Save a life.

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

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