Shameful Treatment of a Kitten

In the July 17 Southern Maryland Extra, there was a story about a frightened little kitten that attempted to swim to safety after jumping from the Thomas Johnson Bridge.

With every ounce of energy in his little body, he risked this leap of faith rather than be caught by the humans who were attempting to save him.

I met this kitty Saturday, the day before your article. I am a volunteer at the Tri-County Animal Shelter in Hughesville, and I am proud to be part of this team of dedicated people. I am proud to be one of the people who held that little kitten and gave him love and warmth. But I am ashamed to think that anyone would take a warm, living, breathing creature of God and toss him, like a bag of garbage, into the heavy bridge traffic with nothing more in mind but to kill a tiny, defenseless kitten.

I was proud to see the lengths so many went to in order to save this little life. I was saddened to see a quote from a law officer who said, "Why don't we just shoot the damn thing; I'll get my 700 and shoot it from Calvert." This thinking is not much different from what the coward who tossed this baby from a car window did, is it? These are unspeakable behaviors that no animal should ever have to endure. Thank God for the dozens of rescuers who cared so much for this little life.

Thank God for all the loving people I have met through the Tri-County Animal Shelter. I have seen this team of hard-working men and women work long hours without stopping, working hours past their quitting time when a last-minute emergency brings them sick, battered, forgotten, abandoned, frightened and starving animals. They never say no. Many rescue groups take the unwanted and spay and neuter them, feed and love them, place them in foster homes and work to find them permanent homes.

I hope your article sent a message to the residents of Southern Maryland. We don't have an animal problem, we have a people problem! If pet owners would have their animals spayed and neutered, it would stop this overpopulation of puppies and kittens and the needless slaughter of innocent babies. Not all the puppies and kittens at the shelters are a celebrity like our "Bridge Kitten," but there are hundreds that need a home. Please adopt and save a life.

Dorothy Smigal

TCAS volunteer,

Patuxent Animal Welfare Society foster home participant

La Plata

Keep Primaries

In September

It has been proposed that the Maryland primary election be moved from the second Tuesday in September to the second Tuesday in June.

The proponents of this shift say it will give the challengers more time to run a race against an incumbent and give the challenger more time to raise funds for a general election campaign.

Let me share with you why this is not a good proposal. Last month, Virginia held primaries for statewide and local elections. The total voter turnout was less than 8 percent. This is a state that had many interesting races.

By contrast, the September 2002 primary in Maryland had a 40 to 45 percent turnout. The primary should be held at the convenience of the citizens, not the candidates. Primaries not only select the candidates for political offices but also for school boards, judgeships and central committee members.

Let's look at where we vote. Many of our polling places are in public schools. The county school calendar has been set for 2005-06. If this proposal happens, those schools would have to be closed for the day, thus prolonging the school year.

Finally, let's talk about election signs, specifically road signs. Road signs, large and small, can be put up 45 days before a primary. Election signs are allowed to remain up until the general election. As you might have figured out, 45 days before a September election is late July. But 45 days before a June election is sometime in April. Again, elections and the dates of an election should encourage the greatest participation of the electorate. Shifting the date of the primary to June is a bad idea.

Del. W. Daniel Mayer

R-Charles

La Plata

Many Helped Guinea Pigs

July 2 was a very happy day at the Tri-County Animal Shelter.

The approximately 40 remaining guinea pigs from a May 2004 Charles County Animal Control seizure of 240 guinea pigs and 10 dogs were loaded up and driven in air-conditioned comfort by Patuxent Animal Welfare vice president Randy Radeackar to the Critter Connection in Connecticut to await placement in homes.

Their journey, much like the one taken by the staff of Tri-County Animal Shelter over the last year, was made possible with the support of many caring people. The Tri-County Animal Shelter would like to express its deep appreciation to all the organizations and individuals who have unselfishly contributed supplies, time, money and knowledge to the care and placement of the guinea pigs.

While space restrictions prohibit a complete list, the following show how far and wide people came to assist: Judi Lainer and everyone at Metropolitan Guinea Pig Rescue, Charles County Humane Society, Calvert County animal control officer Craig Dichter, Last Chance Animal Rescue, the Lucky Ones, Calvert Humane Society, Calvert Animal Welfare League, St. Mary's Animal Welfare League, Maryland SPCA, Mark Hocking, Mary Baldwin, Dorothy Smigal, Joel Edelen, Stacey Reynolds of Riviera Kennels, PetSmart Charities, Guinea Lynx, Southern States Co-Op Charlotte Hall, the Critter Connection, Patuxent Animal Welfare Society, Small Angels, members of the Professional Animal Workers of Maryland and dozens of volunteers not affiliated with any group. Finally, a big thank-you to the shelter's staff for its hard work and dedication.

With more than 14,000 animals entering the Tri-County Animal Shelter last year, caring for such a large number of guinea pigs was, to say the least, very challenging. Guinea pigs require clean bedding, a constant supply of fresh water and, of course, food. At the highest point, this involved almost 100 cages of guinea pigs on top of a daily population of almost 200 dogs and cats.

The generous spirit of all who lent a hand is immeasurable and will never be forgotten. To all of those who helped, please accept our gratitude and know in your hearts that your kindness not only got us through the hard times but also ended with almost all of the guinea pigs living happily ever after in a half a dozen states.

Thanks.

Joanna Snow

Tri-County Animal Shelter supervisor

Hughesville