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Animals in need abandoned

Date: 2/23/2009

Call it what you like, but after a 95-year presence, the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals will abandon Springfield on March 31. No better than the helpless stray left on the proverbial doorstep. Franky, I'm outraged, and you, fellow citizens, should be, too.

For back on Sept. 24, 1999, amid much fanfare, a beautiful $10.5 million building was dedicated. Paid for entirely by donations, this state-of-the-art 46,700 square foot facility was to be a city's dream: expanded animal health care, one-on-one adoption services, the dedicated, ever present staff eager to serve 24 hours a day, a safe haven, where even the lowliest creatures would never be turned away. A treatment center open to all including those from Connecticut, Vermont and New York. Yes, a highly respected and thriving 95-year-old entity in Springfield. Truly a city's dream.

But summer of 2007 brought devastating news: the Angell Memorial Animal Hospital would cease to operate. Valiant efforts and pleas by concerned citizens including this writer, who proposed a Veterinary Consortium in hopes of establishing a "Teaching Hospital," fell upon deaf ears. Someday, this plan may reach fruition. But first things first. Desperate times call for creative actions not padlocked doors, MSPCA.

September 24, 2009 will mark the 10 year anniversary of the opening of the MSPCA/Angell Memorial Animal Hospital on Union Street. We can all let the day pass, or, as concerned citizens, step up to the plate and pledge our time, knowledge and resources to community service as newly elected President Barack Obama urges. Truly this needs to be a bipartisan effort, transcending both political and organizational boundaries if we are to affect continued animal care in the South End of Springfield.

In this effort, I request you mail this article to Mayor Dominick J. Sarno or your elected representative, urging them to develop a sustainable animal care succession plan for the Union Street facility. Springfield has many resources: the Affiliated Chamber of Commerce, the Zoo at Forest Park and the Thomas J. O'Connor Animal Control and Adoption Center Foundation to name just a few. It is critical to keep this facility open whether under the auspices and stewardship of the MSPCA or a third party. Too much hard work, dedicated staff effort, and donations of time and resources over the course of 95 years have been invested to simply padlock the door on poor creatures who sadly have no voice; who sadly have, no vote.

I'm marking Sept. 24, 2009 on my calendar in the hope of celebrating a rededication of the Union Street facility. Some might ask who am I to propose such an appeal. In response, let me borrow a line from the classic movie, "To Have and Have Not": "Nobody, just another volunteer." You can be, too. Won't you join me in this effort?

Athene D. Zaleski