Dear Editor:

What is wrong with this town that so many have no compassion for God’s creatures? I refer, of course, to the mayor and City Council’s war on feral cats. I have heard that as many as 30 cats have been killed. Despicable. In a town where there is no drinkable water and no jobs, surely city officials’ time can be better used than to trap and kill cats because they dig up flowerbeds and their urine smells.

Karyn V. Allen


Dear Editor:

I am writing today in response to an incident that occurred at the Van Buren County Animal Control on Feb. 26, 2013, at approximately 2:30 p.m.

My name is April Westling, and as some of you may know, I am the owner of the Loved Me, but Left Me animal rescue in Leslie. I am writing this to hopefully ease the minds of some of our potential critics, as well as speak my mind about an incident that happened in my presence.

As I was waiting to pull animals from the shelter, I was surprised to overhear a very predominant member of Van Buren County talking negatively about me to an employee of the animal control, as well as to a guest of the shelter. She was making reference to how our animals are housed, cared for and had even made a comment about my personal physical appearance and upkeep, and how it potentially hindered my ability to properly care for animals. There seemed to even be a question as to what our intentions were for the animals after they were pulled from the shelter.

This is my response to those comments. First, this woman has never been to our shelter or on our property, even after we personally invited her to visit. Secondly, every word that came from her mouth about me or our rescue was incorrect, and some of it was even fictitious. I would also like to elaborate on my second point, so the general public has as much information about us as possible.

We are a small, independent rescue in Leslie, Ark. We are not currently a 501(c) (3) facility, but we are in the process of becoming one. We spend all day, every day, working with, rescuing and re-homing unwanted, abandoned and abused animals in our county, as well as literally hundreds of the animals that come through the doors of the Van Buren County Animal Control. Why do we do this? Because no one else does in Searcy County, and there is limited support for unwanted animals in Van Buren County. We do not get grants, we have limited donations and unfortunately we now have many, many critics, but we still believe that the animals need someone to give them a voice and a second chance. We spay and neuter all pets prior to adoption; in fact, they are fully vetted before leaving us, and they are also crate trained and house trained to the best of our ability. Our animals are also adopted on a strict contract and potential adopters go through a rigorous application process prior to adoption. We have a 100 percent return policy, and will even drive several states away to bring an animal back to us if it is not fitting in with the family. We never ever go back on our promise to these animals to keep them safe and loved until their lives are naturally over.

My third and final response is the one I find most humiliating, but I am willing to put this down for everyone to see. I am a 32-year-old woman. I am 5’3" and currently weigh around 200 lbs., but I can rake poo, lift feed, scrub doghouses, carry dogs and bathe animals all day and all night if I need to. I sleep when I have time, and I have devoted my life to helping the animals here. Yes, I may look like I just crawled out of a doghouse myself at times, but who in their right mind takes a shower and wears their Sunday best to go on a rescue or help at animal control? I am hard-working and, not to try to make myself sound saintly, I am selfless. I do this because I care.

I am thankful in a way that this "good citizen" did not recognize me standing behind her when she was "sharing" her opinion of a person she hardly knows (at least not enough to know they were standing in the room) because it give me the opportunity to open people’s eyes to the ignorance that still exists.

We as members of a community have the responsibility of working together to make things better, not spread rumors and uneducated opinions. All I have ever asked for is to be allowed to help things who cannot help themselves, yet every single day I am harshly judged.

So here I wish to tell all my critics: Judge me if you will, but my actions speak louder than your words.

April Westling


Dear Editor:

While not without precedent, Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation is the first one since some time in the 1200’s; it is generally expected that each pope will die in office, and the entire machinery of papal selection is geared to that event.

In the landmark film ‘Shoes of the Fisherman’, Australian actor Leo McKern, in his role of Cardinal Leone, explained to Anthony Quinn that he had watched several men in the office of pope, and that ‘… you are the last I shall see. You will be here until the day you die, and the longer you live the more alone you will become. This is Calvary, Holiness, and you have just begun to climb.’

Joseph Ratzinger, unusually, became a cardinal with hardly any pastoral experience; he is an academic, and an accomplished one, but apparently unsuited by temperament to the demands of his office which require him to deal with the public and the important political meetings.

Once fairly liberal, Ratzinger over the years became more and more conservative in his views: or perhaps it is more accurate to say that while he did not change, that the church laity has in its collective views changed, and where his views were once seen as liberal, today in comparison to many Catholics they are conservative.

While he is an accomplished theologian, this is not the same as being an experienced pastor, a man of the people, as his predecessor was, and while the two men were close friends it may easily be that they were attracted to each other by their differences rather than their similarities.

If His Holiness saw himself as poorly suited to be Pontifex Maximus — a Latin phrase which means Great Bridge-Builder — then it is an honorable thing to give up the office in the hope that the Holy Spirit will find a more suitable, and thus a more successful, inheritor to the throne of Peter.

Both John Paul II and Benedict XVI were great rarities — popes who were not Italian.

It remains to be seen when the College of Cardinals will meet in conclave to elect a successor to Benedict XVI.

In these difficult and dangerous times, let us all pray that the man chosen will be gifted as a pastor and spiritual healer; a man of strong principle with the ability to encourage others to tolerance, understanding and a respect for human rights.

May he, as Scawen Blunt said of King Edward VII of England, ‘He succeeded in his kingly profession, and he had the instinct of peace.’

Roger Smith

Bee Branch