A Heartbreaking Anniversary

Today is depressing enough with all the bad news coming out of Chardon, Ohio. For many of us in the Greater Cincinnati area, it’s also the one-year anniversary of a dreadful event: the fire at the home of Shannon DeBra, co-founder of the rescue group Recycled Doggies. The fire killed 14 animals, including Debra’s own three dogs and cat and 10 foster dogs. The tragedy had a personal connection for my family, which I discussed in this blog post, “RIP Jumping Jack and Friends.”

To some, mourning the loss of pets compared to mourning the loss of three young people gunned down at school may seem out of proportion. To anyone who loves and cares about animals, though, the DeBra story is emotionally searing.

Shannon DeBra broke my heart with the photos she’s posted on Facebook today of the animals’ tombstones in the Pines Pet Cemetery. The one above remembers several of the lost dogs, including Jumping Jack. This one to Shannon’s own dogs made me cry:

Another shot shows three tombstones with the dogs’ collars placed in order on each marker as a tribute.

Despite the emotional and financial setback, DeBra pulled herself together and moved on with her life and her work. She has a new home and is still devoted to saving as many dogs from kill shelters as possible.  See the Recycled Doggies site for more about the organization’s work; go here if you can contribute money, goods, or volunteer time.

Besides the survival and continuation of Recycled Doggies, there are two other positive aspects I’d like to share.

My sister, Diamondqueen, adopted her own recycled doggy just days after the fire. St. Jimmi is a beloved member of her immediate and extended family. You can read Diamondqueen’s account of adopting Jimmi here. In that post, Diamondqueen recounts her contact with another rescue dog, Tristan. Today, Tristan’s mommy, Lori Hiltenbeitel , wrote her own blog post with her perspectives on the tragedy and Shannon Debra’s dedication and courage. What she doesn’t write about in this post is her own courage and dedication in adopting and caring for Tristan, a horribly abused dog who is still learning to overcome fear and accept love.

On a day when the news, especially here in Ohio, creates despair at the horrible things humans can do, it’s healing to read about saintly humans who care about animals as well as people.

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