Michelle Mann

“Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.”

That’s the first line of a poem—author unknown—familiar to most who have lost a four-legged family member.

It is a poem brought home to my broken heart this summer as my 16-year-old Peek-A-Poo crossed the Rainbow Bridge to a place where “there are meadows and hills so they can run and play, where all the animals who have been ill and old are restored to health and vigor.”

There are no words to describe the loss of a furry family member and the only thing I knew for sure was that I didn’t want to go through that heart-crushing experience again.

No more pets. The end. That. Is. It.

That’s exactly what I told my longtime friend Ruth Scheipe who runs the Ozark-Dale County Humane Society when I ran in to her a couple of months later.

The only exception, I said firmly, was if she happened to see a small, older dog who needed a home.

As a matter of fact, she replied, one had just that very day been brought to the shelter.

That she was probably five years old was all we were told about the four legged fur ball before making the decision—sight unseen—to let her decide whether she would let us adopt her.

There is a wait-time on animal adoptions as they are spayed or neutered, heartworm tested, micro-chipped and brought up to date on all their vaccinations. The Ozark-Dale County Humane Society, established in 2004, is a no-kill, not-for-profit, registered 501(c)3 organization. In Coffee County, Save Our Strays (S.O.S.) Animal Shelter, founded in 1981, operates under the same principles.

Both shelters focus on the care of and re-homing for cats and dogs who have been abused, neglected or abandoned. Donations and fundraisers are the only sources of income for the shelters. Both shelters welcome volunteers.

I say all that to say this. Tis the season that cute little pets often end up under Christmas trees. Please consider adoption.

In Dale and Coffee Counties, we have shelters filled with four-legged friends waiting to to find forever homes. Many end up in shelters through no fault of their own. They come in all ages, colors and sizes. Please consider a visit there first.

And the five-year-old that had just arrived at ODCHS the very day mentioned previously? It was not the golden curls and the big brown eyes on that tiny eight-pound body that stole our hearts.

It was decision she made to let us adopt her that has paw prints running through my heart—again.

Michelle Mann is a staff writer for The Southeast Sun and Daleville Sun-Courier. The opinions of this writer are her own and not the opinion of the paper. She can be reached at (334) 393-2969 or by email at mmann@southeastsun.com.

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