With Thanks to Some VIP’s at VIPP

Posted by Scott Heiser, Director of ALDF's Criminal Justice Program on June 22, 2009

You might think that one would have a pretty thick skin after spending close to two decades in the trenches as a prosecutor, where the carnage incurred (inflicted) as part of the human experience is very real and ugly. For a host of reasons, however, animal cases (as with cases involving kids) have always gotten to me–I never managed to develop much of a “professional distance” when dealing with these crimes. So, with a steady diet of animal cruelty rolling across my desk, it was with some sense of relief and much excitement that I recently left for vacation with my wife: 10-days of sailing to go wherever the wind might take us…

End-of-sailing-day behaviorWith a boat based in Seattle, our first day out resulted in a strong northerly, so we went south (beam reaching on an 85 degree day in 20 knots of wind–nirvana to any sailor accustomed to year-round sailing in the pacific northwest). At the end of the day, we found ourselves anchored off Vashon Island.  

My wife has family on Vashon Island (Rick and Leslie), so we gave them a call and hopped in the dingy to meet for a visit. Rick greeted us at the beach and we piled in his car to catch up with Leslie who was finishing her day doing some volunteer work at Vashon Island Pet Protectors (VIPP), a local no-kill shelter that has been in operation for 25 years. Leslie gave us a tour of this very impressive shelter where my wife and I met some of the sweetest, most loving and adoptable cats I have ever seen (we already have three cats at home, otherwise…).

Fur Ball fundraiserLeslie has been volunteering at VIPP for years, doing everything from raising money (including helping to organize the annual “Fur Ball” scheduled for August 8th this year) to cleaning cat boxes. Rick helps out a lot there as well, recently doing some repair work on the building.

On this particular day Leslie was working with Trevor, an impressive young man who will be turning 13 shortly. I soon learned that Trevor possessed a very strong work ethic and a truly adventuresome sprit as he recounted with some pride his host of past injuries, including a fall off a trampoline. Trevor’s love of both gravity-defying activities and animals was obvious, but even at the age of 12+, he possessed a certain wisdom and appreciation for where he lived and what he is doing with his life. Most kids can’t wait to “get off the island” and hang in the city, but not so for Trevor–he loves where he lives and what he is doing (helping animals). It was a true inspiration to see this level of insight in a kid his age. While I didn’t get to meet all the great people at VIPP, Leslie, Rick and Trevor are most assuredly a representative sampling of the quality of folks dedicated to easing the suffering of the animals of Vashon Island. With thanks for the inspiration and a wonderful visit, keep up the great work!

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