Sunday, March 3, 2013
This time last year, Elaine van der Linden was recently released from the hospital. She had congestive heart failure, which had kept her hospitalized for two weeks. Doctors also informed her that she had suffered two heart attacks in the past two to three years, even though she didn't even know it.
However, now roughly 13 months removed from that ordeal, she is starting to get back to 100 percent. Of course, nothing kept her organization, Molly's Militia, off her mind.
"I'm feeling much, much better, and it's really taken me a year to get back to feeling normal," she said. "But, luckily, I have the best volunteers in the world, and Molly's Militia didn't miss a beat, even though I did."
Molly's Militia works to save shelter dogs in the CSRA. The group works in conjunction with a number of shelters in the area to save dogs who may otherwise be euthanized.
"They're the ones who have limited time, just a matter of days for most dogs," van der Linden said.
Here in North Augusta, there is just one shelter. For van der Linden, that is a fact that is not only heartbreaking, but one that she hopes can change. She said that the shelter is closer to a holding area than an actual shelter.
"It gets to me that North Augusta doesn't do more for stray and abandoned animals," she said. "The animal control officer there, Mike Strauss, is great. He tries to find homes for everything that comes in there. ... He doesn't have a whole lot to work with over there, though he's doing the best he can."
It's a priority for van der Linden, who lives in North Augusta. Unfortunately, given her health issues, she lacks the energy to go to council meetings and to be a voice for the measures needed within the city.
"Most citizens of North Augusta probably don't even know that there is a shelter here, and I'd like to see that change," she said. "I don't want to come off as hateful or mean, but those are just the facts."
Though Molly's Militia is always open to donations, one thing that van der Linden stresses is the need for foster homes.
Though she can go to shelters and rescue dogs, she must have a place to put them until their forever homes arrive.
"We provide all of the medical work to the dogs, usually the foster home may buy food or treats, but we ask that they come to two adoptions a month either in Aiken or North Augusta," she said. "That's how they get adopted, we also put them on two websites and just that they treat them like family."
Another thing that van der Linden hopes to see is an eventual mandatory spay and neuter law.
"This is an issue we can't rescue our way out of, it has to start with spaying and neutering," she said.
For more information on Molly's Militia, visit mollysmilitia.org or call (803) 279-7003.
By the numbers:
The Humane Society of the United States estimates that animal shelters around the country care for 6-8 million dogs and cats every year, with approximately 3-4 million being euthanized. These are not official numbers as there is no agency dedicated to collecting data.
Progress has been made, however, since the 1970s. Back then, roughly 25 percent of American dogs and cats were euthanized every year, and now that number sits at 3 percent.