>Western Tribune column Sept. 9, 2009 Shelter Abuse and Ed May

>Here is my Western Tribune column for the week.

On July 7, 2009 at a city council meeting Bessemer mayor Ed May accepted a $5000 check from Robert White for Bessemer Schools.

On September 1, 2009 at a city council meeting Mayor May explained his refusal to accept a $2000 donation from Robert White which would have benefited the Bessemer Animal Shelter which had been without food.

I would quote his statement that he did not have the authority to accept anything on behalf of the city except why should we believe him, when he also said this:

“There has been no time when we have been out of food for our animals nor has there been any time when we have not had sufficient funds to purchase food. The dogs have absolutely not gone hungry.”

He said this less than a week after the shelter had called Greater Birmingham Humane Society begging for food and cleaning supplies.

I spoke with the director of GBHS and was told this is not the first time Bessemer has called with such a request.

The mayor previously said, “Something like this, quite frankly, it reminds me of Sodom and Gomorrah,” when the council passed the bingo ordinance.

The lesson of Sodom, when considered with all the passages in the Bible that mention the story, is a condemnation of the mistreatment of those who are most vulnerable, in that case, the strangers who appeared in town. In Ezekiel the guilt of Sodom is referred to as pride and excess of food with an unwillingness to assist the needy.

While the prophet was certainly referring to needy persons, it just seems that the prideful mayor’s refusal to accept the excess of food for the needy animals reeks of the type of wrongdoing referred to in scripture.

And while we are considering the biblical aspects of the story, let’s remember that we were given dominion over the creation. That means that we have a responsibility to care for the earth and its creatures, including the dogs and cats under our care. At the very least that would mean not neglecting or abusing animals and not withholding food. There is documented evidence of abuse over the last few years at the Bessemer shelter, and this latest incident only serves to underscore the uncaring attitude of city officials.

The people of Bessemer should rise up in protest about our shelter and our mayor. The dogs and cats deserve better.

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