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In defense of the Ketchikan Borough and Animal Protection
By Georgianna Zimmerle


April 30, 2006

First, I'd like to say that I have nothing but respect and admiration for Eric Muench. Mr. Muench is passionately outspoken and demonstrates his expertise with his wise and pragmatic advice on many issues.

Second, I'd like to defend the Borough and Animal Protection staff for their part in the neglected horse incident. I had first-hand knowledge of the entire incident. Although the Borough's animal protection department was organized and specializes in the care and control of cats and dogs, they often find themselves responding to varied and unusual animal situations. They deal with pigs, eagles, ravens, snakes, and horses to name just a few. The staff of this department has always been minimal. The staff has always been as responsive as they can be with limited manpower and funding.

It has been some time and my memories of this particular incident had been pushed as far back in my mind as I could get it. The whole thing was a nightmare. The Borough responded as timely and as best it could under the circumstances. Every other person in Ketchikan had an opinion on what was wrong with those horses and how to fix it. In spite of horrendous public pressure, criticism and accusations, the staff at Animal Protection worked diligently to solve the problem albeit it may not have been as quick and easy as some wanted. The Public Works staff worked in cooperation with Animal Protection to provide a dry shelter at the South Tongass property. The Animal Protection staff spent many hours on the telephone with the horse rescue ranch to arrange the transfer of the horses to that facility. Animal Protection staff accompanied these horses on the ferry trip and drive to Sedro Wooly, WA. The Borough spent many thousands of dollars providing for and transporting these horses. This does not diminish the many wonderful donations received from the community and people like Bill Blackwell. It was an excellent team effort among all involved even with the frustration and anger expressed by many. The real culprit here was the person who brought these unfortunate animals to Ketchikan and then neglected them.

During my time as manager, animal issues were among the most emotional and difficult. I want to congratulate Eugene Martin who will soon be retiring from Animal Protection. He is a wonderful employee and public servant. He always does his job ethically with dignity, fairness and caring.

Georgianna Zimmerle
Ketchikan, AK - USA

About: Georgianna Zimmerle writes she was the "Borough Manager from 1996 through 2001, lived through the tragic horse incident."


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