Very seldom do I have to defend my firefighters from bad press, but after reading Amy Wingard’s letter about Jake the Dalmatian, I need to set the record straight. Though I appreciate her compassion for Jake and her support of the Grand Strand Humane Society, she is very short on the facts about Jake and the character of the men and women of the Myrtle Beach Fire Department.
Nearly 13 years ago, the Myrtle Beach Fire Department took in a dog that needed a loving home. Galley became a part of our fire department family and was an instrumental part of our public education program for many years. When her health wouldn’t allow her to continue her work with young children, we adopted another Dalmatian from the Grand Stand Humane Society. Galley was retired from work, but was still a station dog that was well loved and taken care of.
Logan came to us with many medical problems and a very timid disposition. Though he had these medical problems, he loved attention and we utilized him in our safety programs. Unfortunately, Logan died from his medical problems a short time before Galley died.
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For many months we didn’t have a dog, and the firefighters were asking about adopting another Dalmatian. One of the city’s animal control officers stopped by the station and told us that the Humane Society had what we were looking for. We adopted Jake over a year ago. He, too, had health issues and was very temperamental. In the two or three months that we had him, he snapped at several people and bit two firefighters. Because he is housed in a community building, he posed a threat to the public and we knew we couldn’t keep him. Instead of taking him back to the shelter, we found him a home with a friend of one of the firefighters. She kept him for several months, and when she moved away she – not the firefighters – returned him to the shelter.
Our firefighters have spent hundreds of dollars to ensure that all of our dogs are healthy and happy. They pay for all food and vet bills out of a firefighter fund. No taxpayer funds are utilized for our dogs. They do this because of their love of animals, not because they have to.
Over the years, I have seen many firefighters enter perilous conditions to save someone’s dogs or cats. Not only do they rescue them, but they are equipped with special air masks to provide medical care for them. They do this because they understand how much a pet means to a person. They do this because they are a compassionate group of men and women who put others first.
I am extremely proud of the character, compassion and professionalism of the men and women of the Myrtle Beach Fire Department, and I hope that the facts show that to the public that they serve.
The writer is chief of the Myrtle Beach Fire Department.