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.
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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