Bella needs help
I am writing on behalf of a dog named Bella, a 4-year-old black labrador retriever that originated from the South Animal Care Center in Melbourne.
She was there for quite some time, waiting to be adopted.
Luckily, Bella's plight was brought to the attention of Paws & Stripes, a program of the Brevard County Sheriff's Office.
During the next eight weeks, Bella was to receive obedience training from the inmates and pass her Canine Good Citizen Test before being placed into a permanent, loving home.
Unfortunately, she was diagnosed with cruciate ligament disease, which resulted in the rupture of her ACL. And if that news wasn't bad enough, Bella's only option for recovery is an expensive surgical procedure that is not performed at that animal hospital. So I began the quest to save Bella once again.
After sending out a plea for Bella's medical treatment, Dr. Jeff Godwin, DVM, of the Animal Medical Clinic in Melbourne responded with a very reasonable offer, beating the average quote for surgery by nearly $1,000!
Within 24 hours, Dr. Godwin's staff set up an account at the clinic for Bella to collect donations toward the procedure. But even with the discount, the cost of the surgery and aftercare comes to almost $2,000.
So I am asking the public to help Bella reach her goal.
Donations can be made in person at the Animal Medical Clinic, 4020 S. Babcock St., Melbourne.
Or, if it is more convenient, people can contribute with a credit card by calling the clinic at (321) 727-2421.
Everyone who has met Bella knows of her incredible spirit and zest for life; she is truly the personification of happiness.
But without the needed surgery, Bella's future is bleak, and delaying the procedure can cause permanent damage to her knees.
I hate to think that she cheated death once, only to find herself in an equally desperate situation.
Again, I implore any local animal-lovers to give what they can to help.
No amount is too small.
Suzan Kundrat, Paws & Stripes Guild member
'Lonesome George' and the Indian River Lagoon
Any dire prediction that something will soon vanish, such as "without protection and care, the Indian River Lagoon will quickly be gone," often has little or no impact beyond a dedicated few.
Unfortunately, a dedicated few, regardless of how exhaustive and admirable their efforts, are too often ineffective.
Habitually, those who should listen and join preventive actions too often think the problem is over-stated, politically motivated or that "something" will be done by "someone" to prevent the disaster.
I've recently returned from the Galapagos Islands. There, I met "Lonesome George" of Pinta Island. He represented one of the 11 remaining races of the Galapagos Giant Tortoise (Geochelone elephantopus abingdoni).
With millions of tortoises in the world, what made "Lonesome George" special? Well, he was a giant tortoise, he was in the Galapagos, and while both make him special, there's something else that made him not only extraordinary, but also terribly tragic.
"George," found in 1971, was the last Pinta Island tortoise.
There have been 41 years to study "George," propose solutions, find alternatives and make plans. The result was simply that there are no more of his species. None. There is no recovery; no last minute reprieves, there is nothing anyone can do. This is the ultimate finality. When he died, his entire race was dead.
Yes, there are other tortoises, terrapins, turtles and other shelled animals. Yes, there are any number of places we can go to see them, catch them or make them road kill.
One could say then that when "Lonesome George" passed, it made little difference. And, after all, he may have lived more than 100 years. But when one actually saw him, understanding that when he died there were no others left and nothing could be done to prevent his death, the fact that there are other types of tortoises means little.
There was nothing abstract, overstated or political about this death - it was absolute, forever.
As it is with the Indian River Lagoon.
I never want it said, "We had more than 40 years to take action, but when one saw the lagoon, understood that when it died there was nothing left and now nothing can be done to prevent this death, the fact that there are other rivers, lagoons, lakes and oceans means little."
Yes, the Indian River Lagoon is large; yes, it is full of fish, and yes, it is in trouble. We have known the trouble for years. The trouble is not something new, discovered just in 2012.
For example, in 2001, the Fish & Wildlife Research Institute collected 935 fish, representing 42 species, in the Indian River.
Reports indicated at least one fish from 14 different species had unsafe mercury levels. Eleven species showed mercury levels so high that women of childbearing age and young children should eat them no more than once a month.
Leading reasons attributed to this pollution of our cherished lagoon include runoff from lawns, gardens, fertilizer, faulty storm drains and pollution spewed from industry.
Further, this study did not discuss red tides, brown tides, fish kills and sick dolphins.
All that said, we simply are not taking care of our most valuable natural resource; we are not taking care of ourselves.
I have heard that we really don't have to do anything to save the Indian River Lagoon; nature is cyclic and it will take care of its self. I've heard that there's plenty of time to study, years and years ahead to solve the problems - if there are problems. I've heard that the problems and any possible solutions are somehow tied to politics, economics or personal interests.
We must take action now, if it is already not too late, to save the lagoon.
No problems? Lots of water? An abundance of fish? Plenty of time? It's only a cycle - just wait?
Then why - right now, today - are you and your children warned not to eat fish from the lagoon?
Each day we wait, regardless of the reason, we get closer to, or perhaps past, the point of no return.
Can the Indian River Lagoon be ruined? Can this special, one of a kind actually be destroyed forever?
Earl Gillespie, Banana River Sail & Power Squadron