Two years ago, an unlicensed rescue in Eldora Iowa was raided. Over 15 animals were found dead with over 45 others starving, neglected, and in need of medical care. For those that died, their bodies were left where they died, or they were tossed into a dumpster. No respect, no remorse, not an ounce of compassion.
Here is a link to the news story http://www.kgan.com/newsroom/features/investigations/videos/vid_9.shtml .
The anniversary of the rescue was marked by a Memorial Vigil to celebrate the lives that were saved, and to remember the animals that suffered and lost their lives at the hands of a woman who has fled the state without going to court for the crime that she committed, and may be comitting again in her new town of Tremont Pennsylvania.
I once considered Michele Kintzer a hoarder. But as I learn about the case, I no longer consider her a hoarder. I now consider her a heartless animal abuser. Hoarding is a mental illness that usually has the animal's best interests in mind, and the person involved usually has good intentions, until the disease overwhelms the hoarder's ability to care for the animals. This woman just let the animals go without food, without food, and with no effort to rehome or relocate them to another rescue during her "illness". She sat there as animals died in her backyard and in her house. There were no good intentions in this story.
HEART ( Hardin Eldora Animal Rescue Team) stepped in and with the assistance of volunteers and other rescues, they saved the dogs and cats that were still alive. Despite two veterinarians writing letters that the animals were neglected and in need of medical care, the county prosecutor never pressed charges. The charges pending on Michele Kintzer are due to a individual citizen's concern. She found an attorney willing to press charges, and did it all at her own expense. This case is just too big to ignore.
The link above tells the story the best, I don't need to reiterate what is done so well there. Stop here and watch, listen, and share it. I will wait for you...just be sure to come back and finish reading...
This blog is about the Second Annual Memorial Vigil.
HEART organized an open vigil to be held outside the Hardin County Courthouse in Eldora. My staff and I attended. I expected to see the photos I had previously seen in newscasts and on the internet. I expected that there would be an air of sadness for the lives lost. And I expected that there would be celebration for those animals to whom we helped find loving families.
But there were things that I did not expect. There were moments for which I was unprepared. These were the moments that make me glad that I attended. These are the moments that motivate animal rescuers.
Three of the dogs that were rescued from Waggin' Tails attended the vigil. They were fat and happy, and you would never know that these dogs were half starved at the time of their rescue. They donned bandanas that said, "I survived". I was not expecting to see them, and was not expecting to feel the way I did when I did see them. I have placed hundreds of animals into new homes. Some of them came to me as pampered pooches, and some were in very bad health when they came to me. Some of them I see on occasion for vaccines and health care, and I am thrilled when I do see them. But this was different. You forget that animals can rebound from adversity quite well. I am certain that they do not forget the past. I have seen too many incidents to believe that they forget. But I do believe that they forgive. And these dogs have forgiven. These dogs have forgiven the people that we, as humans, cannot forgive. They are not burdened with depression, or rage. I remember hearing a story of a man throwing his dog off a bridge into a river. The dog swam to shore and greeted the same man with a kiss. Forgiveness. Forgiveness that some may not deserve, but nonetheless, it is forgiveness. These abused dogs have accepted their new families and their new lives and are so grateful to have them. I respect animals for having this ability. It is a gift we humans often lack. Never let it be said that we cannot learn by example from other species.
That being said, one of my favorite quotes is by Martin Luther King, "The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people." The people who investigated this place initially said the conditions were okay. The prosecutor who would not prosecute the offender, his silence made these conditions okay. But photos and videos show that the conditions were not okay. And while the dogs have recovered, we, the people, the rescuers, have not. We are angry, we are sad, and yes we are happy when we see the survivors. HEART acted when others were silent. And with this vigil, HEART Rescue Team is still screaming out of the silence.
Meet Zeus. Zeus is a lab mix. He was featured on a poster with a photo of him at the time of his rescue. To see the before photo and the healthy dog standing right in front of you, and knowing it is the same dog is a wonderful feeling. Who could ask for more than that. Such gratification. Look at the ribs and all the other bones that are showing in the photo on the sign. And look to the right at that alert, pampered, healthy pooch standing next to it. It is the same dog, but with a new leash on life, no pun intended.
Moose arrived with his new guardian, Tony. Moose is a handsome chocolate labrador retriever. Moose was full of energy and just happy to be around people. He is at a good weight, and has a beautiful shine to his coat.
A friend has allowed me to post this photo of "the moment"...
UPDATE: After reading this blog, a friend sent me a photo of the exact moment I discussed... and here it is...booty kick and all!
As we drove to the vigil, I told my staff that I didn't intend to stay very long. We closed the veterinary clinic so my entire staff and I could attend the vigil. We planned to show our support and get back to work. We stayed longer because we were surprised at the commeradery we felt. We were overjoyed by the success stories we heard and saw. We were thrilled when people honked their horns in support of our efforts. Two gentleman stopped and spoke with us about why we were there that day. Before we knew it, they were holding signs and memorializing the more than 15 animals who we could not save.
It is odd how awful times can bring us together and create beautiful moments. The animals that died at Waggin' Tails Nightmare died in a way that no animal or person should ever have to endure. They died an awful death, but they are not forgotten. HEART Rescue is making sure of that. I like to think that moments like the ones I described above give proof that those animals that died, did not die in vain.
Visit HEART Rescue's website to see the animals they currently have for adoption, or send them a note of thanks for their efforts at http://www.petfinder.com/shelters/IA145.html .
Here is a slide show about the case... http://www.slide.com/r/5DiyU4NP6z9ExH50I3fKcW0cT09fKnL7?mail1=1 Click to view it.
Thank you Amy for being my friend, for being so courageous, and for speaking so loudly for the silent ones.
You are invited to share a link of the blog http://www.vetrescue.blogspot.com/ on Facebook, MySpace, or Twitter.
If you would like to receive this blog into your email inbox each time it is published, go to http://www.vetrescue.blogspot.com/ , and enter your name into the subscribe box on the upper right side of the page. The blog will send you a confirmation email. Reply as instructed in the email to confirm your subscription. This is a required step. You will then receive the blog as it is published. You will not get junk mail as a result of subscribing!