2006-04-13 / News

Who wants to be the top dog?

By Barbara Szepatowski

"I'm number one." "No, I'm number one." "No, I want to be. My mommy and daddy wanted me to have the number one license." These are some of the rantings and ravings recently heard from our loving but bickering pets as they frolicked at Forts Getty and Wetherill. Just like most Rhode Islanders would trade their most valuable possessions for a low numbered automobile license plate, the same craze exists with Rhody's dogs. Who could figure?

All kidding aside, wouldn't it be cool for your best friend to have the honor of wearing Jamestown dog license number one for a year? Well, thanks to the help of our town manager, the deputy town clerk, and the public works director, Jamestown dog license No. 1 is available. All it takes, is to be the largest donor to the animal shelter during April 2006. All pledges must be received by Paws & Claws by April 28 so that your dog can be licensed by the end of April. And if your dog is already registered, license No. 1 will be transferred to you. So either drop off a pledge to Deputy Town Clerk Kim Turcone at the Town Hall, or at Paws & Claws, or e-mail RIPawsClaws @aol.com.

This prize sits atop the plate held by a "brass Egyptian-style dog." This dog will make his way to various locations in town for viewings, and "oohings" and "ahhings" by your dog. Presently, it sits amongst the cats in the window of Paws and Claws.

Shelter News

High hopes and wild dreams aside, the shelter building remains standing but with little progress to report due to rainy weekends. Hopefully, the Easter Bunny will bring good weather this weekend and the roof construction will start, although a carpenter is still needed to install the three skylights. On a positive note, most of the major items like plumbing, electricity, a hot-water heater, and flooring have been pledged. Donations are still needed for general construction materials.

Stranded porpoise

Last Friday, the Jamestown police received a report of a stranded dolphin on the beach at the Fort Getty boat ramp. Officer Thomas Balcom and Harbormaster Sam Patterson responded and found a small porpoise lying upright on the rocky beach area. By accident, we just happened to be checking on a report of a cat that was hit and left to die on Beacon Avenue, and were told of the report.

First the cat - why would anyone hit a cat with their car and continue on their way with no thought of making a report or stopping to pick up the injured animal? Don't tell me they didn't have a cell phone. Thanks to residents who did care, the cat was rescued by the Jamestown police and taken to the vet.

When we got to Fort Getty, we could see the dolphin on the rocky beach. Because porpoises are covered by the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act, no one except a licensed rehabilitator could assist the stranded animal. By the time we viewed the animal, the Mystic Aquarium had been called numerous times to make the rescue. We credit Officer Balcom for having an immense amount of patience while enforcing the law and not arresting Town Councilor Michael Schnack and me, during the tense and emotional negotiations with the staff at the Mystic Aquarium. It was brought to our attention by many of the participants that we risked federal prosecution if we touched, moved, or in anyway interacted with the animal.

Because of cuts in federal funding, the porpoise program at Mystic had lost its rescue funding for this year. However, due to lots of perseverance, the male dolphin was picked up by Mystic's staffers, checked by Dr. Dunn of the Charlestown Animal Hospital, and transported to an aquarium in New York. Dr. Dunn used to be an oceanographer but switched careers to become a veterinarian.

We have made peace with the staff at Mystic Aquarium and highly commend them for their abilities to deal with the issues involving the public, upholding the law, and saving animals. In the next few months, we will meet with them to discuss training a group of Jamestown and Aquidneck Island residents to become "first responders" for stranded marine mammals. Of course, we will also investigate whether there is any chance for a rescue group to work out of the URI Oceanography School.

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