To the Editor:
Although his passion for the well-being of the dogs is to be commended, the negativity expressed toward the Better Days Animal League (BDAL) Thrift Store in Mr. Buterbaugh’s letter appearing in the October 13 “News” seems misguided. As I was one of the individuals he spoke with regarding this situation, and as a representative of Friends of BDAL Fulton County, I welcome this opportunity to provide some factual clarification that hopefully benefits not only Mr. Buterbaugh but many of your readers as well.
My original notes from the conversation with Mr. Buterbaugh prior to our monthly meeting on February 7, 2011, state his concerns were shelter without bedding and questionable licensing. Although any licensing issues fall under the purview of the state dog warden, I conveyed his concern about shelter through our established network with the volunteer enforcement officer at BDAL. I have been assured the situation was assessed at that time, and found to have no violation of cruelty to animals as dictated under Pennsylvania state crimes code Title 18 Section 5511.
With that said, it has become evident people benefit by obtaining additional information when it comes to PA Dog Law and PA Animal Cruelty Law … I did. Over the past year, attendees at the monthly meetings of Friends of BDAL have learned more about how these laws do and, in some cases, do not work. This valuable knowledge has been shared with county residents via BDAL community events in an attempt to reduce unrealistic expectations. There are distinct differences between the responsibilities of a state dog warden and a Humane Society enforcement officer, and each must operate within their jurisdiction according to the law. The reality, although sometimes sad, is that not all owners treat their pets at the same levels of comfort and quality; however, this does not mean they are breaking the law.
Not only is it beneficial when people understand the laws in play, but more importantly, when they realize BDAL officers are volunteers. Although some organizations are fortunate to have funding available for officer and administrative staff salaries, BDAL relies heavily upon volunteers and generous donors for daily shelter operations, animal care, veterinary costs and cruelty investigations. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Humane Society of the United States and commonwealth of Pennsylvania provide no routine funding to our local shelters.
Therefore, the dedicated members of ‘Friends’ have made a commitment to Fulton County, and their efforts have been supporting an increased ability to address animal cruelty/neglect issues. Recently, an additional enforcement officer has completed the state training requirements; however, necessities such as uniforms, a vehicle and safety equipment have to be acquired before he can be fully operational. In the meantime, the fact remains that Better Days Animal League is currently the only 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization supporting an officer in Fulton County. Inquiries and cruelty concerns may be reported by leaving a detailed message at 866-493-3590. Please note that return calls are only probable when supplemental information is required, and all complaints are kept confidential.
Opening of the BDAL Thrift Store was another milestone, giving our county the opportunity to directly support the nonprofit organization volunteering this service to us and continually improving the resources available to Fulton County. However, please be aware that the store itself is not a shelter nor does it accept pet surrenders, and there are no holding facilities on site.
Lastly, it’s crucial to reiterate that any support offered to Better Days Animal League should in no way diminish the contributions of other nonprofit organizations providing a variety of greatly appreciated animal services to Fulton County ... but then let’s not compare apples and oranges. Most animal organizations exist out of an honest desire to help whenever possible, and I think it is reasonable to expect they do the best they humanly can for any given situation with the resources accessible at the time. Most certainly, personal opinions / experiences and individual preferences for adoption, volunteering and support for any shelter/rescue will obviously differ but should always be respected without unconstructive negativity.
As always, anyone interested in learning more about improving the lives of abandoned, abused and neglected animals in Fulton County is welcome to attend the next meeting of Friends of Better Days Animal League scheduled for Monday, November 12, at 6:30 p.m. in the St. Stephen Catholic Church CORE building. The more people get involved, the quicker even more resources can be developed.
Please spay and neuter!
Friends of BDAL
BDAL Board Member and