[Salt Lake Tribune - opinion]
You can't beat the feel-good factor of an army of volunteers fanning
out across bomb-scarred Beirut, rounding up 300 homeless dogs and cats
and airlifting them to a no-kill animal shelter in Kanab, Utah.
Best of all, the story has gut-wrenching video, which virtually
assured its placement last Friday on the "CBS Evening News with Katie
Couric" in a feature called "Assignment America." Best Friends Animal
Society, sponsor of the $450,000 rescue of the stranded pets, could
scarcely contain its excitement.
"Our expenditure may even go higher," says Best Friends president
Michael Mountain of the early-September airlift. "Our aim is not
simply to rescue 300 dogs and cats, but to help reconstitute the only
humane society in the entire country of Lebanon."
Meanwhile in Utah, Salt Lake County Animal Services was investigating
a rash of kitten abuse cases. The probe centers on a man who has
adopted several kittens through newspaper ads, then allegedly tortured
them and presented them to an ex-girlfriend for help. Authorities
suspect it's the man's way of winning the woman's sympathy.
That's just the latest animal cruelty case making headlines. As for
the pet overpopulation crisis, Utah's animal shelters never slack off.
Last year the state euthanized 30,000 homeless pets.
He notes that members were asked to earmark their donations for the
What it apparently comes down to is Best Friends is so awash in cash
that its work in Utah won't suffer a whit.
Which doesn't necessarily assuage others in the business. Temma
Martin, spokeswoman for Salt Lake County Animal Services, says bottom
line, "these efforts hurt existing shelters."
"Instead of getting people interested in a shelter animal, it suddenly
becomes a novelty to get an animal from Beirut," Martin says. "They've
attacked a sliver of the problem, but we could have easily given them
300 animals from our shelter."
Blumental frames Best Friends' position a bit more sharply. "It's like
buying a Mercedes when your kids have no shoes."