By Tom Kettering, staff outdoors columnist
Many outdoorsmen noticed the article featuring the Illinois Animal Action group in the Argus and Dispatch.
One could not help but notice the claims of an investigator of the Rock Island Human Society as part of the protest to the Barnum and Bailey Circus.
As outdoorsmen took interest in the claims from the group that were disproved by the Dispatch reporter, there was a lot of concern with the Humane Society of Rock Island and their role if any in this publicity stunt at The Mark. With questions looming, I inquired about the Humane Society of Rock Island and their stand as it pertains to the extreme views of the animal rights agenda.
For the record, I would like to share the official statement that has been released in regard to the misrepresentation of their efforts.
``Recently, the Illinois Animal Action group gathered at the Mark of the Quad Cities to protest the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus. Please note that the Humane Society of Rock Island County has no affiliation with this group and no one at that gathering was representing the Humane Society of Rock Island County or was authorized to speak for us.''
`` ... Our Society's mission is to operate a shelter for homeless animals, support a spay/neuter program to help control animal overpopulation, investigate animal abuse cases and educate the public regarding responsible pet ownership. The Humane Society of Rock Island County takes great pride in our contribution to the welfare of all animals, both domestic and wild.''
As I spoke to the hard-working, dedicated folks at the shelter in Milan, I found a dedication to the welfare of area pets. Founded in 1977 as one of a few ``no kill'' shelters in the country, they receive no funding from any local, state, or federal governments. Their philosophy is the belief that all homeless animals deserve the opportunity to be adopted into a caring and loving home.
Recently, the Humane Society of Rock Island sponsored a Pet Fest not only as a fundraiser, but as a form of education and entertainment of pets as a member of the family. Cat and dog costume contests, pet tricks, obstacle courses, and dog grooming and obedience demonstrations were offered. Fly ball relay racing was also a part of the entertainment with a team from Cedar Rapids demonstrating their talents.
All of these events are enjoyed by the pets as well as their owners, but many animal rights activists would deem them unacceptable. I was assured that the Humane Society of Rock Island County does not share the same beliefs as the animal rights movement.
Judging from my visit, the shelter is run with care to provide homeless pets a second chance for a loving environment they deserve. Many dedicated volunteers as well as staff work awfully hard to care for animals.
I would like to think that the Humane Society of Rock Island County, by their actions and words, have cleared the air about the misrepresentation of their group. As I offer my support to their efforts, it is my hope that they take steps to eliminate these types of misunderstandings about their good efforts and my next article featuring them would be on the adoption of a fine family pet.