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BY KAREN SPARAPANI

My job as the Executive Director of Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Commission (MADACC) varies not only daily, but minute to minute. I can be cleaning up after animals, managing staff and animal populations, putting out figurative fires, handling customer service, teaching at the Milwaukee Police Academy, dealing with law enforcement, social service agencies, health departments, and residents with animal-related crisis all over Milwaukee.

There is no such thing as a dull day at MADACC. I feel so fortunate to be able to serve the community in this capacity and honestly still love coming into work every day. I am on call 24-hours a day every day of the year to assist with law enforcement or animal emergencies when MADACC is closed. I am also the appointed Humane Officer for all the municipalities in Milwaukee, except for Greendale. This allows me to consult on animal abuse cases, prosecutions and large animal seizures.

MADACC is the largest government animal control facility in the state, dedicated to the 19 municipalities that are part of Milwaukee County. As a governmental agency, and a public safety organization first and foremost, many people do not understand why we operate the way we do. We are not a traditional humane society with an animal control contract. We do as much as we can for every person and animal that needs us as long as we can remain compliant with state law and local ordinances while ensuring the safety of people and animals in the community.

Every hour at MADACC, we have people who come in needing special assistance. While MADACC cannot do everything for everyone, we will never turn someone away who needs food, or something we can provide easily such as pet supplies or referrals for low-cost assistance. We are not a not-for-profit organization, but we are committed to enabling owners to provide the best care possible for their best friends. That means going above and beyond for many people in lots of ways.

We have personally paid reclaim fees and medical fees at outside vet clinics for those who have no financial resources. Why? Because it meant they could get their animal back or the animal could get care it needed. We had a veteran who lost everything in a house fire and we took up a collection of furniture, clothing and personal items, so when he was released from the VA, he had a fully furnished apartment and everything he needed to start again rather than have to sleep on the floor with nothing. You do not read about this stuff because we are not doing it to get praise or get on the news. We are doing these things because they are the right things to do and nothing more.

Animal control is a relatively simple endeavor on paper. If an animal is off their owner’s property, we take and hold them to keep them safe until an owner can come retrieve them. In practice, it rarely goes that easily. Add onto it the many animals that are seized by law enforcement, animals that are abandoned when people move out of homes or apartments and animals that are abused and neglected beyond all hope. Things can become very hard very quickly on a daily basis.

While I have met very few people happy to come to MADACC and pay to get their animals back, most are happy that they were safe, not stolen or injured and can come home where they belong. For those animals who are not as fortunate, either no owner comes to get them or they were dropped off by their owner as a stray for lack of shelter or rescue space to surrender them to, we have a very robust adoption program at MADACC now comprising of volunteers. We are always in need of adoption counselors at MADACC. This year we will have adopted out over 3,000 animals. We can continue to increase the number of animals we can adopt out if we have more surgical staff and volunteers to get them ready to meet the public.

BY CHERESE COBB, FREELANCER

For four years, Department of State (DOS) Agent Paddy worked as an Explosive Ordnance Division Technician at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. When Danny Scheurer and the rest of his unit went to clear a building, he leaped from an SUV and dashed to the door. “We tried to run,” Danny remembers. “But the guys in the back — because they didn’t have radio silence or a [military] dog—breached the building. It blew up.”

While serving their country, both Danny and Paddy were injured. Danny was given a 70 percent disability rating. “I received VA medical care, options for schooling, paid training for employment and multiple other perks for serving my country.” However, Paddy was labeled unsuitable for typical retirement. Because of former aggression, he was slated to be put down.

“How’s that for a soldier who serves?” Danny says. Dogs have been officially serving as four-legged soldiers in the U.S. military since World War I (1914-1918). Approximately 5,000 military working dogs (MWDs) served in the Vietnam War. They saved nearly 10,000 human lives. (The U.S. Army didn’t keep records before 1968). MWDs also took part in the takedown of Taliban leader Osama bin Laden and ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

There are around 2,500 MWDs in service today and 700 deployed overseas. “Imagine hearing both stories, while not aware that Paddy is a canine,” he says. “Most people’s reaction would be anger, concern or consternation regarding a veteran being denied retirement due to atypical retirement qualifications.”

That’s where Save-A-Vet in Lindenhurst, Ill., comes in. Danny started the nonprofit to rescue canines that aren’t adoptable because of their attack training, field experiences or physical and mental injuries—including post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries that may cause dogs to barely blink or eat.

“Unlike a lot of agencies, the DOS truly cares about their K9s and reached out to Save-A-Vet asking us to take him [Paddy] into our program,” Danny says. “I’m very happy they did this as he’s now one of our most loveable K9s and the new mascot of the organization.”

The English Springer Spaniel loves all animals and people. He usually can be found claiming all of the office couches or stuffing tennis balls under their cushions. “He’s got about 150 balls everywhere. He constantly has one in his mouth,” Danny says.

“We don’t have a normal shelter because we don’t foster.” Instead, Save-A-Vet puts K9s in secured facilities throughout the country. It also hires disabled military or law enforcement officers to care for its dogs in exchange for rent-free housing. They’re randomly drug tested. “They must be able to pass a background check and either be employed or attending school full-time with a minimum of a B average,” Danny says. “It’s not a free handout. You wake up at 6 a.m. and take care of my dog. If it’s not being fed at 6 a.m., you’re fired.”

Save-A-Vet is a place of mutual healing between two-legged and four-legged veterans. Ornella, for example, was retired from Homeland Security’s U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBP) because she started eating her own tail. “When we fixed her, it was allergies. The veterinarian figured out that she probably had gotten into drugs.”

Her sharp nose served our country’s borders for two years. Her handler CBP Officer Shawn Johnson says, “She possesses those qualities and energies that make a successful drug detector dog a smuggler’s worst fear.” In 2014, she suffered a fatal heart attack. “The veterinarians tried CPR, but she wasn’t able to pull through,” Danny says. “Although Ornella has passed, we’re happy to have given her what I can only imagine have been the best two years of her life.”

Public donations and Made in America companies such as Basecamp and the Travel & Adventure Show power Save-A-Vet, which cost nearly $81,000 to run last year, even with seven unpaid, full-time staffers. “When we put out that we need volunteers, we typically have a couple hundred people show up,” Danny says. “We have volunteers all over the country.”

Save-A-Vet doesn’t take dogs from civilians or rehome their K9s. (Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, handles all MWDs adoptions.) “With Save-A-Vet’s leadership, military canines became veterans after decades of being categorized as equipment,” says Randi Scheurer who is Danny’s father and the nonprofit’s photographer.

Nero is a former Navy bomb dog. He had two discs in his back fused together and a golf ball-sized lump removed from his jaw, but he was never caged. Firemen, cops and construction workers would drop by his house every morning to bring him bacon. “He was Danny’s constant companion until the end,” Randi says. During Nero’s final days, Danny laid with him in the back of a van—wrapping his arms tightly around him, making another forgotten soldier’s “golden years” golden.

For more information, visit saveavet.org or call 815-349-9647.

BY MICHELLE SEROCKI, FREELANCER

I have a dog that doesn’t like to be touched. His name is TK. I have no idea why he was named that, but I pretend it’s short for Taco King. He’s got spicy taco pajamas now to prove that’s what it means. He loves the jammies that came with his new life, and I love that he makes my life new. However, I must constantly remind friends and family of his aversion to being pet.

We traveled to an overwhelmed shelter in Chattanooga, Tenn., for two dogs, TK and Ms. Pocket. When I arrived at McKamey Animal Center, I was met by a very friendly and slightly frazzled worker. It was obvious she loved her job and the animals involved despite the visible stress displayed on her face. She gave my friend and me the dime tour of their quite spacious and uncommonly clean shelter, at least compared to what I was used to seeing around the country. They had sufficient adoption space for animals to meet potential families and ample outdoor play yards, both grassy and concrete, created for different uses. It was really quite nice, which helped me to convince myself that things were a little better for the hundreds of homeless animals contained within.

TK and Ms. Pocket had been sharing a kennel run because TK was shutting down until they tried the buddy system. It worked like a charm and made their long shelter stay more bearable. This was TK’s fourth time at the “Animal Control Hotel.” His parents had frequent run-ins with the law, and while they went to jail, TK would be dropped off at the shelter. This particular stay lasted four months. This time, instead of being picked up when his parents got out of jail, he was signed over, no longer wanted by anyone.

The staff knew that we were coming, so they moved TK and Ms. Pocket into wire crates until our arrival. That way their run could be used for other dogs with no place to go. These two dogs couldn’t have been more different. Their brindle brown coats were about all they had in common. Ms. Pocket was pocket-sized as her name suggests. Her ears stood tall and were, by far, the biggest part of her body. She wiggled and wagged so hard at the sight of her rescuers that her whole crate moved. TK stood tall and although thin, he probably almost doubled Ms. Pocket’s weight. His ears were cut off low and the tops were all scar tissue, the result of years and year of flies biting at them. I moved a foot toward TK’s crate, expecting the same sweet welcome I had gotten a moment ago from his girlfriend but instead received a low, barely audible growl. He froze and glared at me from the corner of his eye. I backed off and knew at that moment this guy had been through some things.

It’s unusual in rescue to have an accurate and lengthy backstory. Many animals are strays with a completely unknown past. Others belong to people like TK did, but they typically don’t share information over years of drop-offs and pick-ups. We know TK’s birthday is 7/30/11. We know the first 7 years of his life were lonely. The reason is unclear, but it’s known that he was kept on a chain in the yard for the entirety of his life. You might think that this meant he enjoyed visiting McKamey where he was offered shelter and human interaction, but that was not his reality. Being confined to a space much smaller than a yard and surrounded by humans would have been very stressful. His anxiety came out in unwanted behaviors like growling, pacing, shaking and lack of appetite.

TK has been home with me now for a little over a year. I love animal behavior and rehabilitation, so I decided to foster him and see what we could learn and accomplish together. His trust issues abounded, and his lack of human handling made physical touch aversive to him. It took months for us to build enough of a bond and positive association with touch for him to tolerate it from me. He’s still incredibly hand-shy, and his skin jumps unless you tell him you’re going to touch him and do it ever so slowly. He solicits interaction with people and enjoys their company while sitting by them, but that’s where he draws the line. It’s by far harder on people than it is on him. He’s so handsome and sweet, and everyone just wants to love on him.

He wants to love back, and together we think we’ve found a way.

I’m excited to announce that TK’s taking over writing The Hydrant in 2020 to share his perspective on dog-related stories.

He’s excited to be part of your lives in this way. Please join TK this coming year to experience his adventures, friends and firsts as an official FETCH writer!

BY CHERESE COBB, FREELANCER

Pepper was black, short and chunky. The one-year-old Shar-Pei looked like a baby hippo. She had mange and infected ears. Chained outside in the heat, she stunk badly. Her owners wanted to euthanize her. But there was something special about her. Kathy Baily, the president of Shar-Pei Savers in Genoa, Ohio, adopted Pepper and trained her to be a therapy dog. (Next year, she’ll be 12 years old.) Independent, regal, alert and dignified: Is this wrinkly wonder right for you?

History

The Shar-Pei most likely originated in the small fishing village of Tai Li in southeastern China during the Han Dynasty (206 BCE-220 CE). While Marco Polo’s journal, published in 1271, only mentions Pugs and Chow Chows, a translation of a 13th-century Chinese manuscript refers to a dog with a “sandpaper-like coat” and a blue-black tongue.

Chinese farmers used Shar-Peis for hunting, herding and guarding their livestock. Following the establishment of the People’s Republic of China as a communist nation, Shar-Peis were declared upper-class luxuries and were virtually wiped out. During this period, a handful was smuggled into Hong Kong and Taiwan.They were crossbred with Tibetan Mastiffs, Chow Chows, Great Pyrenees, Bulldogs and Boxers.

In April 1973, Matgo Law, owner of Down-Homes Kennel in Hong Kong, begged U.S. dog fanciers to “save the Shar-Pei.” Then the “Guinness Book of World Records” proclaimed the Chinese Fighting Dog the rarest dog breed on Earth. Commercially-minded breeders pumped out litters as quickly as impulsive buyers could pull out their credit cards. By the mid-’80s, the Shar-Pei craze died down.

Clowning Around

On April 1, 2018, Jineen McLemore-Torres adopted Jameson from Shar-Pei Savers. At three months old, he hadn’t opened his eyes. “He had a visible cherry eye, and we believe the breeder who surrendered him was unable to sell him,” she says.

“Jameson was initially a medical foster, but my female Shar Pei Jade and I both fell in love with him,” Jineen says. When he’s not lounging on his favorite bed or digging in the mud, he’s running full speed into the couch, without even trying to jump up on it. “When I was playing with him last…he threw himself on the ground, making a loud thump, rolled on to his back, legs in the air and expected a belly rub while nibbling on my hands.”

His stubbornness always rears its ugly head whenever he’s at the store or an event. If he doesn’t want to leave, he plops down on his side or back and refuses to move. “Everyone thinks it’s hilarious, but it doesn’t feel funny when it’s happening to me,” she admits.

Whenever you try to teach a Shar-Pei a new trick without his favorite treats (ahem…antlers), he’ll throw shade at you. While Jameson is a bit lazy, he earned his AKC Star Puppy certification when he was under a year old. Jineen recently began teaching him to shake hands and give high five. “I thought it’d be at least a week of short sessions,” she says, “but at the end of a 10-minute session, he was throwing his paw up.”

Health

“The joke in the Shar-Pei world is, if you’re not willing to spend thousands on your dog for healthcare, don’t get a Shar-Pei,” Kathy says. Shar-Peis are prone to familial Shar-Pei fever (FSF), which causes fever, temporary joint pain and swelling. It can lead to polyarthritis, liver failure and kidney failure.

“There’s no cure for FSF; only supportive care,” says Dr. Erin Wilson from Spring Harbor Animal Hospital in Madison, Wis. “Owners should talk to their family vet about keeping pain medications or non-steroidal anti-inflammatories on hand for painful flare-ups. They should also learn how to take their Shar-Peis’ temperatures, as prolonged elevated body temperature may require hospitalization and IV fluids.”

Shar-Peis are also susceptible to skin infections, eye problems (like retinal dysplasia or glaucoma) and bloat, which is a potentially fatal twisting of the stomach that requires immediate surgical treatment. “We’ve also found that dogs with a horse coat will tend to get kind of a smell to them,” Baily says. “They sleep in a ball, so their bellies tend to get stinky.” Use a baby wipe or gentle shampoo.

While Shar-Peis don’t require a lot of exercise, a sweater or jacket may be needed during the worst of the winter months. “During summertime, walking should be limited to early mornings or evenings when the weather is cooler,” Dr. Wilson says.

Should You Adopt a Shar-Pei?

Shar-Peis don’t show well in shelter settings. When people walk by their cages, they either shrink back or start to bark. “People see that side of them and think, ‘I don’t want a dog like that,’” Kathy says. But Shar-Peis are extremely intelligent and devoted to their families. They slowly warm up to strangers but generally are great once you get to know them. “They are very clean dogs and housetrain very young…and they give the best hippo kisses.”

BY KERRI WIEDMEYER, DVM, WVRC

It is not uncommon to think veterinary medicine consists of playing with rambunctious puppies and purring kittens. Unfortunately, these interactions are a rare highlight in what can be a grueling profession. A study published by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) in January 2019 showed that veterinarians are 3.5 times more likely to commit suicide than the general population. This may come as a shock to most people. How can someone around animals all day long be sad or depressed or have suicidal thoughts?

This increased rate of suicide in the veterinary field can partially be attributed to the personalities of those individuals who are drawn to the veterinary field. Veterinary school is a very rigorous program. Those who apply are typically very driven and hardworking, and many may even consider themselves to be perfectionists. Unfortunately, these qualities are also linked to increased personal performance standards, stress and anxiety. Veterinary school also comes with a huge financial burden, and it is not uncommon for veterinarians to be hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt after their schooling is complete.

For most veterinarians, our days consist of examining animals, assessing their problems and diagnostics, coming up with and discussing treatment options with owners, and record keeping. While that does not sound like a stressful day, it is compounded by the fact that pets cannot communicate what is wrong or where they hurt. This can add another layer of complexity and stress to the practice of veterinary medicine.

The wide range of emotional situations encountered by veterinarians on a daily basis also contributes to high suicide rates. For example, a veterinarian could be in an exam room where they had to patiently examine an overzealous, wiggly puppy, only to walk into the next exam room containing an older dog who, after examination, is found to have an abdominal mass which means a discussion of possible cancer with his owners. It can be quite the emotional rollercoaster. Breaking difficult or unexpected news to owners can be a very taxing part of the job, as is carrying out the difficult task of euthanasia. Veterinarians are trained to exude empathy and compassion in these situations, but this can take a toll over time. It may lead to an increased incidence of compassion fatigue in the field.

Client interactions also add an additional layer of stress to the profession. Often, clients will try and research symptoms on the internet and come to a presumptive diagnosis, which can lead to confusion as to why veterinarians may recommend certain diagnostics to determine the cause of their pet’s symptoms. In cases where even vast testing does not lead to a specific diagnosis, clients can become angry and frustrated that their veterinarian cannot figure out what is wrong with their pet. Long wait times at emergency facilities is another source of irritation for clients that can impact client-veterinary interactions. Clients are also typically emotionally distraught when dealing with difficult news about their pet. Sometimes, these feelings can be redirected as anger towards their veterinarian.

Finally, another reason the field has high suicide rates is that struggles with work/life balance can compound these other stressors for the veterinarian. They tend to work very long hours to accommodate clients and their pets, and they often stay longer than they’re scheduled to perform procedures, complete surgeries and finish paperwork. Over time, this increases emotional burnout that, if not corrected or treated, can increase the potential for suicidal tendencies.

When faced with feelings of suicide, unfortunately, veterinarians are also equipped with the knowledge of how to do it. They have access to anesthetic, pain and euthanasia drugs, as well the knowledge of how to combine them to be lethal; this can be used to facilitate suicide in a different or debatably easier way than the general population.

How Can You Help?

Finances are a large factor of stress for both the pet owner and the veterinarian. Owning a pet comes with its own financial burden. Vaccines, diagnostics, treatments, medications and procedures cost money, and owners should be prepared for possible costs that may occur over the years. Please keep in mind that most people do not become veterinarians for the money. It is not the lucrative job often associated with having “Dr.” before one’s name. Thus, it is unjust to think that a veterinarian is recommending a diagnostic treatment or procedure to pad their pocketbook. Payments go toward running a clinic, staff, equipment, medicine and upkeep. So having a separate emergency savings account for your pet and understanding the potential medical costs that come with pet ownership is ideal. Pet insurance is also a growing market and can be a cost effective option for routine wellness and emergency pet expenses.

Be patient. Your veterinarian is not making you wait on purpose. They are likely running around treating as many animals as efficiently as possible. This means they might not have not had lunch, gone to the bathroom or even had a drink of water.

Remember that your veterinarian is a human being who is just trying to do their job to the best of their ability. Treat them as you would want to be treated; with respect and kindness. Remember that they took an oath to do no harm, and they just want what is best for your pet. And please—the next time you talk to or see your veterinarian, say thank you. Those words mean more than you might think.

BY MEGAN TREMELLING, DVM, LVS

When people find out I am a veterinarian, many of them say, “Oh, I always wanted to do that!” They then go on to relate all the reasons it didn’t work out. Surprisingly, none of them have so far admitted that the reason was that they couldn’t pass organic chemistry.

The next thing they say is, “You’re so lucky! You must love it!” Well, yes and no. I feel about my job the way a parent may feel about a highly spirited toddler: I always love it, but I don’t always like it, and there are times when I wonder how long I can keep up with it.

Becoming a veterinarian is challenging, there’s no doubt about it. This is not a career you wind up in accidentally like real estate appraisal or furnace duct cleaning. It’s more of a calling than a job. Most veterinarians either knew from early childhood onward that it was their future or had some kind of epiphany later on. The process of answering that calling is long and sometimes painful. As the famous choreographer Twyla Tharp says about becoming a professional dancer, “[To devote years of your life] working very seriously, with complete commitment, for not a penny… You have to be either hopelessly passionate or very stupid.”

Getting into veterinary medical school is a challenge as there are more qualified people interested in going than there are seats available. Once you have gotten in, it is four years of very hard work to try to learn enough to take good care of every animal species on the planet except humans. It culminates in a crushing exam for licensure that not everybody passes. Tuition is a burden in most university programs; the days are long gone when a summer job could earn enough money to pay a year’s tuition and living expenses. I was fortunate enough to graduate with a debt load that was only about twice my first year’s salary. Costs have gone up since then. I regularly hear of young veterinarians graduating with $200,000 or more in student loans. Passion, it seems, has a price.

Fast forward a couple of decades, and my passion for taking care of animals hasn’t faded. Of course, there is nothing quite like the feeling of being presented with a miserable or dying pet, providing it with the skilled care to fix the problem and returning it to a grateful owner to live happily ever after. Routine care, like vaccinating puppies, doesn’t provide much excitement, but it’s still rewarding because I’ve seen what happens to the animals that don’t get that care, and it isn’t pretty. You only have to watch one puppy suffer through parvo or hear stories from the older generation who tried to treat dogs before the parvo vaccine existed to know that giving that vaccination is good and important work.

I don’t delude myself that I’m some kind of hero. I am not feeding the hungry or pulling children out of burning buildings. But I do see value in helping the critters that can’t help themselves and thereby helping the humans who love them. Pets are a source of companionship, stability and affection in a world that needs them desperately. By helping people to keep and enjoy their pets, I like to think I’m making the world a better place in my own small way.

As an emergency veterinarian, I work nights, weekends and holidays. This was my choice, and so there’s a limit to how much sympathy I can expect for it, but to be fair, somebody’s got to do it; so if I were not there at 2 am to help your pet, it would be some other veterinarian, equally sleep-deprived, over-caffeinated and vitamin D-deficient. Most veterinarians can only work nights for a couple of years before they burn out. I’ve been doing it for 20.

I enjoy problem-solving, and there is no shortage of problems at my job, but sometimes it becomes less of a fun puzzle and more of a frustrating labyrinth. There are patients that defy diagnosis. There are patients that don’t respond to treatment the way you expect them to. Living organisms are complex enough that it will never, ever be possible to know every variable in the system. This means that I am provided with ample opportunity to look like an idiot on a regular basis. The only consolation I have is that all veterinarians everywhere have the same problem. I’m in good company.

No sensible person becomes a veterinarian for the purpose of getting rich; that would be like moving to Seattle for the purpose of getting a good suntan. There are certainly veterinarians who do very well for themselves; there are also those who will never be able to scrape together enough money to buy a home or provide for a family. We could have made more money as engineers, lawyers, dentists or medical doctors. There’s no doubt about that. I have to admit that I seriously considered not going to veterinary school when I found out I could make more money as an optometrist. In my experience, optometrists are usually not working at 2 am. On the other hand, my patients are mostly cuter than humans are.

And then there are the clients. Most of them are wonderful people who want to do what’s best for their pets and appreciate my help. A few of them, sadly, seem to regard me as an obstacle rather than an ally.  Then there are always the ones who think that a Google search is an adequate substitute for four years of medical school (it isn’t) or that having owned several dogs in their lifetime provides equivalent experience to treating thousands of dogs in a career (it doesn’t). And lastly, there are those who just can’t understand why we veterinarians have to charge for our services. Unfortunately, unlike a dancer, no matter how passionate I may be, I can’t do my job for free. The tools and supplies we use cost enormous amounts of money. And ultimately, I also need to eat.

Lastly, being a veterinarian takes an emotional toll in many ways. I believe that performing euthanasia is a privilege that spares animals from suffering, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy for me. I’m not a fan of having people lash out at me because I’m a handy target for their grief, guilt or frustration.There are certainly times when I wonder why I have invested years of my life, endless hard work and large sums of money all to earn the privilege of being yelled at by a client who doesn’t understand that I’m trying to help.  And I could happily go the rest of my life without ever again having to call a devoted owner in the wee hours of the night to give them heartbreaking, bad news.

Do I Like Being a Veterinarian?

Overall, yes. Would I do it again? Some days yes; some days no. There are easier paths I could have chosen. Would I recommend it to anyone else? Maybe not. For those who think they might maybe enjoy being a veterinarian, I recommend considering other options. But there are those who hear the call, who feel the passion and who are willing to make the sacrifices. You know who you are. And it can be rewarding—assuming you can pass organic chemistry.

Dear FETCH Friends:

My heart goes out to every person that works with animals. As a child, I dreamed of becoming a vet (see page 8 about Megan’s dream). My 4-year-old daughter Scarlett, posing above with our dog Sophy, would also like to be a vet, ironically. But it is definitely not a job for someone like me. I cry constantly about dogs. So if I had to euthanize dogs or other animals as a part of my job, my head would not be able to move beyond that. It’s safe to say I am not strong enough. I once volunteered at MADACC (sorry, Karen, for not continuing), and I literally cried day and night for months. I’m tearing up now just writing about it. My dad, Tom Putz, God rest his soul, told me not to go back because I am not the type WHO can handle that. He was right (and boy do I miss how right he always was). I often dream about working with animals and having my own rescue, but again, can I handle that?  It really takes special people with gifts from God to do these jobs that are talked about in this issue. They deserve the utmost respect from all of us who are not capable of performing such tasks. My outlet for working with animals is simply producing this magazine. I believe (and I hope you do as well) that this is in some small way helping them! Again I encourage anyone with suggestions, comments or concerns to reach out to me. I’m not one to ignore another’s opinion or steer away from conflict. I am one to recognize it and appreciate it for what it’s worth, and it’s how I learn moving forward.   

To being your own beautiful self & helping animals in your own unique way,

N.Putz