Milton Animal League deserves credit for ‘fantastic’ workBy Canton Citizen
I would like to respond to your April 26 article submitted by the 10th grade Canton Community Problem Solvers (“Help find Ralph a home”). I know that the Community Problem Solvers are generous, motivated, hard working, bright students with equally wonderful committed parent volunteers and staff overseeing their work. I commend their efforts on behalf of the animals and the Milton Animal Shelter. They cited some excellent resources and statistics in writing their article, including the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA). Their volunteer initiative, Team MASH (Milton Animal Shelter Heroes), is a wonderful way for them to improve the lives of the animals during their stay at the shelter, give much-needed support to the shelter staff, and help these companion animals find their forever homes. What a wonderful way to help animals.
My concern is that the article did not shed the best light on the Milton Animal League (MAL). As a veterinarian and AVMA member, I have had the great privilege of working closely with the MAL for the past 14 years. In that time I have gotten to know Nancy Bersani, the present Milton Animal Control Officer and her predecessor, Linda Kippenberger, who retired last summer, quite well. It is unbelievable how hard these women work full-time in their capacity as animal control officers.
The same can be said for the wonderful people at the Canton Animal Shelter, Nadya Branca, Stacy Nee, and Kevin Coffey. These women and men do truly difficult and physical work — often around the clock — to protect us, our communities, and animals every day. After hours, Nancy goes to work nights and weekends for the animals at the Milton Animal League as a volunteer, in the capacity of caregiver, trainer and animal advocate. She works closely with groups far beyond Milton to find homes for these pets.
Granted, the facility at the top of Governor Stoughton Lane in Milton is not fantastic, but the work that the volunteers do there truly is. Those animals are in the expert hands of some incredible professionals. They get more than just shelter and the finest premium pet foods. They get so much love, socialization, rehabilitation, grooming, training, compassion, and time, not to mention all the veterinary care above and beyond what many owned animals can enjoy. I cannot think of any group of people more committed and generous with their time than the volunteers behind the MAL. They too are heroes. A small note: when we are home safe and warm in a bad storm, in the middle of the night, they are at the shelter taking snow off the roof, preventing rain from coming in, and letting the animals know that all is okay.
Whatever the appearance may be to shelter guests, I can honestly say that the Milton Animal League is a fine-tuned machine. I am impressed every morning when the animals are brought in with Nancy’s daily briefing on each animal, what their concerns are, what has to been done, their specific emotional needs, and what we are authorized to do. She is the greatest advocate that any animal could hope for.
The Problem Solvers quoted the JAVMA article as stating that sheltered dogs develop aggression. I can honestly say that the opposite is true at the Milton Animal League. They ensure that the dogs are happy and socialized, preventing aggression, and even treating it. The dogs are all temperament tested. All potential owners are carefully screened so that each animal will be placed in the most suitable environment, ensuring that it will always be safe and well cared for. I know this firsthand as two dogs in my family had spent time at the shelter.
The Problem Solvers stated that their team “was shocked by the deplorable conditions and the miserable lives of these dogs and cats.” I cannot refute that the present building itself is quite bad, but I must question the use of the word “miserable.” Companion animals are not so impressed with fancy accommodations, although with the expert screening of the MAL staff they will get placed in an appropriate home with the bonus of it being fancier. In December 2011, the Milton Animal League received a sizable grant from the Copeland Family Foundation to fund a new building. This grant, however, only pays for less than one half of the cost of the building. I must point out that much of the great work and services provided to the animals at the Milton Animal League are funded by donations.
Thank you, 10th grade Canton Community Problem Solvers, for helping to find Ralph a home, helping his sheltermates find theirs, and helping to make the community aware that there is a great need in our towns for assistance. Please help the Problem Solvers support the Milton Shelter (Milton Animal League) and Canton shelter.
Sara Joseph, DVM
Canton Veterinary Hospital
Short URL: http://www.thecantoncitizen.com/?p=13521