A shelter technician holds a cat at the Animal Refuge League in Westbrook in a 2005 file photo. The Animal Refuge League takes in 4,000 animals a year, and they get lots of attention and care from volunteers and staff – but each animal would like to have a home of its own with a loving owner, a shelter employee says.
Each day at the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland, we have hundreds of animals to feed, medicate, clean up after, walk, socialize and, of course, love.
For the 14 communities we serve, we are often the last chance an animal has. They come to us from hoarding situations, domestic abuse, animal cruelty cases, abandonment and owner surrenders.
Nothing can prepare you for what you will feel when a person hands you the leash to their beloved dog, sobbing uncontrollably because they can no longer afford to care for their pet. We see that kind of love, and we also see horrible neglect -- both extremes of the human condition.
We are charged with giving each animal the respect, medical care and love they need and want -- all 4,000 of them each year. We have no time limits here. Our animals get holistic and traditional medical treatment, and each one has a staff of 33 watching their back.
We cajole our family members and friends to take them in, we post photos on our website and Facebook page, we make media appearances, we have a pink cat mascot and we've held publicity stunts. We hold fee waivers, even if it means sacrificing revenue.
Our guests look to us to tell their story, and we are proud to advocate for these precious creatures. We do all this, but in the end our success depends on you.
Adoptions must keep pace with intakes, and to do that we need people to come through our doors. You'll meet wonderful volunteers who give 41 hours a day, dedicated staff and happy adopters showing off their new pet.
It is not a sad place. It is a place filled with the promise of finding unconditional love. So please, visit us often and adopt.
community relations manager, Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland
Lou Gehrig's disease threat to vets as well as athletes
A few weeks ago, studies found that NFL players are at greater risk of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease). Papers like this one ran stories about the news, and rightfully so.
But with Veterans Day having just passed, how many of us know that a much, much larger segment of our population -- military veterans -- also is at greater risk of Lou Gehrig's disease?
Sgt. Joshua A. Kennedy of New Gloucester died April 27, 2012, at the age of 34, losing his two-year battle with ALS.
I watched my beloved husband and father of our three young boys fight a losing battle.
Studies have shown that military veterans are about twice as likely to die from ALS as the general public. It does not matter when or where they served in the military -- home or abroad, during a time of peace or war, from World War I to Afghanistan.
Unfortunately, for these heroes and everyone else in the world who is living with ALS, there is no treatment.
There is no cure.
They will die from the disease in an average of just two to five years.
We do not know what causes ALS in veterans or NFL players. But we do know that raising awareness of the risk faced by our veterans not only can let these heroes know about the significant VA benefits that are available, but also help us to find the cause of and treatment and cure for this horrific disease.I encourage your readers to visit the Wall of Honor at www.alsa.org.
There, people can read the stories and see the faces of hundreds of veterans living with ALS and those who already have been lost to the disease.
There, they can see that ALS does not simply strike the stars we watch on TV every Sunday, but also our family members, friends and neighbors who have served in the military -- our heroes.
Citizens' needs should take priority over foreign aid
It is estimated that the cost of Hurricane Sandy will be nearly $80 billion. Where can we as a nation get that kind of money? Stop sending federal tax dollars (foreign aid) to the rest of the world and take care of U.S. citizens' needs first.
My suggestion is that we do not put any federal government agency in charge of the funding, but instead let the local governments and Red Cross organizations apply for the funds. The damage is local, and that is where the funding needs to be used.
Congress must act soon to preserve wind energy jobs
America's energy independence hinges on the development of clean, renewable sources of energy that will reduce our dependence on oil, reduce dangerous air pollution, create American energy jobs and improve public health.
In Maine, we are fortunate to have enormous potential for wind energy production, both onshore and offshore.
Wind energy tax credits, like the production tax credit and investment tax credit, drive job creation and manufacturing in wind energy -- an industry that produces clean renewable energy and creates jobs.
These tax credits for wind energy are set to expire at the end of this year. Maine's senators have led the way by co-sponsoring legislation to extend these credits, with critical action needed by the end of the year.
Unfortunately, the dirty oil industry believes we don't need to invest in or protect clean energy sources like wind, which actually create tens of thousands of American jobs while the extremely profitable, dirty oil industry receives billions in federal subsidies -- a practice that has gone on for more than 100 years.
Wind energy tax credits help level the playing field and have driven wind-industry job growth over the past decade. They are set to expire at the end of 2012 unless Congress acts now.
Approximately 75,000 wind industry jobs throughout the nation are in jeopardy because of congressional inaction on the production tax credit, which helps promote on-shore wind development, and the investment tax credit, which helps promote offshore wind development.
Americans want clean air, clean water and cleaner sources of energy. They support wind energy jobs. It's time for Congress to get to work and pass the production tax credit and investment tax credit so others can get back to work.
Diane H. Schetky