In honoring Carol Whitmore as Manatee County's first "Lightning Community Hero" this week, the Tampa Bay hockey club cited the county commissioner's lengthy service in support of children, AIDS patients, low-income families, addicts and the homeless.
Describing Whitmore as someone who "always tries to give a voice to those in the community who are voiceless," the National Hockey League team elaborated: "One of her greatest attributes is her kind heart and willingness to assist people who are disadvantaged."
Those well-chosen words are a terrific tribute for a Manatee High School graduate and Holmes Beach resident whose dedication to the community is evident on a daily basis.
One of her latest and greatest accomplishments is as the commission's driving force behind the county's no-kill policy for dogs and cats, adopted last October in a unanimous vote. Manatee became the first Florida county committed to becoming a no-kill community -- and an inspiration to others.
Manatee's no-kill resolution and action plan call for the county's Animal Services department to gradually increase its live release rate to more than 90 percent by the end of this year, a vast improvement from the 61 percent before the new policy.
This is a community-wide effort, requiring commitments from the county's private animal welfare organizations in order to spare a large number of cats and dogs from euthanasia. The save rate reached 82 percent in March, a tremendous achievement in a short time span that demonstrates the broad support for the no-kill policy.
In earning the Lightning honor, the club awarded Whitmore $50,000 for her favorite charities. Her commitment to the no-kill cause is reflected by her designation of $40,000 to the Animal Network, which raises money and sponsors projects to improve the lives of pets.
Whitmore also assigned $10,000 to the Bill Galvano One-Stop Center, which serves the homeless. She has an intimate knowledge of the issue, having experienced homelessness as a teenager.
The Lightning selected a well deserving member of the Manatee community for this honor. Congratulations, Commissioner Whitmore.
Dog art museum viability
A grand plan to locate a museum housing paintings of dogs whose images were captured right before euthanasia sounds unnerving at first blush. But the co-founders of a nonprofit organization are pitching the idea to Bradenton officials because, they say, the area has become the "epicenter of the no-kill movement."
That's certainly true in Florida. Even across the nation, there are few no-kill communities -- though the movement is growing. This week, Broward County became the second in the Sunshine State to adopt such an animal-control policy -- and, like Manatee, in a unanimous vote.
The co-founders of An Act of Dog, Mark Barone and Marina Dervan, hope to raise awareness about the treatment of shelter animals -- and the fate of many. That's an admirable goal.
Before Bradenton's Downtown Development Authority invests tax money in a canine art museum, we expect conversations revolving around these questions: Will enough people pay to view paintings of dogs? Can organizers raise enough money to fund a museum? And will such a museum attract tourists and new businesses, spurring economic development as suggested?
We fully support the expansion of the no-kill movement. Should a thorough study prove the viability of a Bradenton museum, we'll give our full endorsement.
Quote of the week
"Is this pretty bad? Well, heck yeah." -- Manatee County Sheriff Brad Steube, commenting Thursday after releasing results of an investigation that revealed two high-ranking jail officers used horse feed, hay, farm supplies, and a bulldozer for their personal use.