Supporters who showed up to back a proposed dog park in Ann Arbor learned it had been taken off this week’s city council meeting’s agenda — apparently out of of concerns that its location across the street from a historically African-American church would be viewed as culturally insensitive.
Ann Arbor officials pulled the plug on the proposal after New Hope Baptist Church leaders raised concerns about noise and safety and what they called “cultural differences,” according to AnnArbor.com. It reported:
“Leaders of the historically black congregation communicated to city officials that a number of the church’s members were born in the South and have different attitudes about dogs, and they simply see a dog park as incompatible with their ability to worship freely.”
I don’t think southerners and northerners, or for that matter blacks and whites, have widely varying attitudes about dogs. People do. Some look at dogs and see joy; some look at them and see danger, or at least a nuisance. That is, most often, a product of their environment and experiences — rather than their region of origin or skin color.
A well-maintained dog park in the neighborhood doesn’t lower home values, it raises them. It’s neither direspecful or insulting.
Tabling the plan seems to send the opposite messages, and to lend credence to the faulty preconception that one can’t be both black and a dog lover.
Sometimes — maybe even especially in progressive communities like Ann Arbor – sensitively tiptoeing around a subject can land you in a big pile of stereotype. No matter which side you’re on.
In expressing the church’s opposition to the dog park’s location in West Park earlier this month, The Rev. Rodrick Green said:
“There’s no reason why it has to be placed in an area that’s going to be offensive to us as a people and as a church, and right now it’s offensive,” he said earlier this month.
That, with all due respect, seems a leap — whether he’s talking about African-Americans, Baptists, or members of his congregation.
But apparently it was enough for the council, not wanting to appear politically incorrect, to take the matter off its agenda.
Despite doing so, council members still got an earful from supporters of a new and centrally located off-leash playground for dogs in Ann Arbor.
One of the speakers at the city council meeting, John Lawter, a former parks commissioner who has led the effort for more dog parks in Ann Arbor, went so far as to suggest that church members work to overcome any fear they have of dogs.
“Let’s break this culture of fear,” Lawter added, calling fear “an ugly thing” that should be put down whenever possible.
Lawter said he believes members of New Hope Baptist Church are sincere in their concerns, but he still feels they are founded in a “gross misunderstanding of canine behavior.”
Several residents noted that the Arise Church, a United Methodist congregation in Pinckney, established a two-acre dog park on its property and that it led to increased church membership.
“We believe that God created people to be in community, and that we are at our best when we’re in relationship to one another,” the church’s website reads. “Therefore, we provide this dog park not only as a fun safe place where dogs can get good exercise, but our greatest hope is that dog owners will make friends here and enjoy great conversations together.”
” … These folks in Pinckney have grown their congregation by having people first come visit the dog park and then decide, ‘Geez, these are good Christian values of inclusion, tolerance, charity and love,’ and then they join the congregation,” said Ann Arbor resident Harold Kirchen.
City officials say a dog park close to downtown remains a priority, and that other locations will be reviewed.
Ann Arbor has two-off leash dog parks — one at Swift Run in the southeast part of the city and one at Olson Park in the northeast part of the city.
Lawter said he believes the city should have stuck with an initial proposal to construct a dog park at West Park as a temporary facility that can be removed after a year if there are problems.
“Ann Arbor is a culturally diverse city,” Lawter said. “Our dog owners are a culturally diverse group, and our parks should be open to all cultures, including the four-legged variety.”
Posted by jwoestendiek January 25th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: african american, animals, ann arbor, baptist, city council, compalints, concerns, congregation, cultural, differences, dog park, dogs, insensitive, location, michigan, new hope baptist church, pets, West Park
Reverend Richard Herrin — after a four-year stretch without one — now has a service dog to help him serve God.
Herrin, a Baptist minister who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, lost his most recent service dog in 2008.
After moving from Texas to North Carolina earlier this year, to be closer to family, he began looking for funding to help cover the $25,000 expense of getting a trained service dog and bringing it home.
His new community kicked in $6,000 of that — through a campaign drive headed by a Moravian church in Winston-Salem.
Herrin went to North Dakota in July to pick the dog up from the Great Plains Assistance Dogs Foundation Inc., the Winston-Salem Journal reports.
Now, Dakota, a 3-year-old black Lab, is at his side, helping him with everyday tasks and in his ministry.
Due to the costs, Herrin had gone four years without a service dog since his last one, a golden retriever, died when he was living in Texas.
Not long after moving to North Carolina, Herrin visited Trinity Moravian Church, several blocks from his house. The secretary there referred him to the Rev. Russell May, interim minister at Bethania Moravian. May coordinated the fundraising effort, and Trinity Moravian accepted the checks and sent them on to North Dakota.
The dog’s main job is to pick things up and give them to Herrin. She’s learning to help Herrin take off his shirt, and has mastered bringing items to him from the refrigerator. She has also chewed up the television remote, but that’s part of the learning curve, say Herrin and his wife, both of whom are professional dog trainers.
“The dog has to know who you are,” Herrin said. “Can they look into you? Can they trust you are going to be honest? Are you going to be who you are? Without building a relationship, you might as well hang it up.”
On top of the chores a service dog helps with, he says, ” the value is the relationship with it.”
Dakota has made several visits to Herrin’s church, Southside Baptist, but Moravian congregations and others are pulling for him as well.
“The support of the Winston-Salem community has enabled him to get a tool that will challenge him, and that empowers him,” May said. “This is not simple charity. They have given him a responsibility, too… He wants to do ministry. This dog will help him in that.”
(Photo: Andrew Dye / Winston-Salem Journal)
Posted by jwoestendiek October 16th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: baptist, bethania moravian church, black, cerebral palsy, church, dakota, disabilities, fundraising, funds, great plains assistance dogs foundation, lab, labrador, minister, money, moravian, north carolina, raised, retriever, reverend, richard herrin, service dog, southside baptist church, trinity moravian church, winston-salem
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has cited Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center for violating the Animal Welfare Act after a monkey escaped from a university research laboratory.
Wake Forest Baptist is appealing the findings, the medical center told the Winston-Salem Journal Wednesday.
The citation was for failing to house the monkey safely and securely, but it wasn’t clear what punishment, if any, the medical center faces.
An inspection report noted the latch of the monkey’s cage was “easily manipulated to open.” Staff at the primate center have since installed a chain with a secure latch to the center’s outside corridors to prevent further escapes, the report said.
Under the federal law, failure to correct problems documented by inspectors can result in fines and confiscation of animals.
The 8-pound female macaque — used to breed other monkeys for research purposes — got out of her cage at the Wake Forest Primate Center on June 29. She opened a latch on her cage, then managed to open a chain-link fence and get out of the center, officials said.
She roamed the woods for 11 days before she was captured.
The federal action is the result of a complaint filed by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
“We had hoped that WFU would honor the monkey’s indomitable spirit by sending her to an accredited sanctuary after she was recaptured, but the university has not given any indication that it is pursuing this compassionate option,” said a PETA spokesman.
(Photo by Crystal Hughes, via Fox 8)
Posted by jwoestendiek August 10th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: baptist, cage, citation, department of agriculture, escaped, findings, inspection, lab, laboratory, latch, macaque, medical center, monkey, peta, research, usda, wake forest
Are Baptist pumpkins preachier? Do they go all fire and brimstone? Do they achieve life everlasting, or is that dream just pie in the sky?
I pictured a chapel filled with orange orbs, sharing fellowship, singing hymns. I wondered if other denominations of gourds had similar facilities — say, Catholic Cantaloupes, Jewish Watermelons, Seventh Day Adventist Squash?
What makes these Baptist pumpkins so holier than thou to think they deserve their own center, even their own exit sign, I wondered as I exited Interstate 55 in Louisiana, not far from Hammond.
Baptist was one way, Pumpkin Center the other. Less intrigued, I just got back on the interstate.
(“Dog’s Country” is the continuing account of one man and one dog spending six months criss-crossing America.)
Posted by jwoestendiek July 30th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, baptist, baptist pumpkin center, baptists, church, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, exit sign, exits, hammond, highway, I-55, interstate, louisiana, pets, pumpkin center, pumpkins, religion, road trip. ace does america, signs, traveling with dogs
Mosby, a 3-year-old golden retriever who was deemed too friendly for work as an assistance dog for the disabled, has found a purpose in God’s house.
Mosby is a ministry dog, one of a growing breed of assistance dogs assigned to clergy and church workers. He was featured in a Boston Globe article yesteday.
A few times each week, Mosby visits hospitals and assisted living centers. But his busiest day is Sunday, when he can be found in a pew alongside his owners, Lynda and Larry Fisher, at the First Baptist Church of Littleton, where they are longtime members and he’s the official greeter.
“A dog ministry breaks down barriers right away,’’ said the Rev. Deborah Blanchard. “It helps put aside the barriers and connect on a real level to offer comfort and love.’’
The idea of a formal training program for ministry dogs sprang up just over a decade ago, when a divinity student and dog lover made a case to NEADS, Dogs for Deaf and Disabled Americans, a nonprofit organization based in Princeton, Mass., that is one of the nation’s largest assistance-dog training programs.
“She explained how she’d be going to hospices and working with the elderly and sick children, all populations who can’t have a dog but could really benefit,’’ said Sheila O’Brien, the agency’s chief executive officer. “She said, ‘You know, Sheila, dog spelled backwards is God.’ ’’
NEADS has trained more than 15 dogs as ministry dogs since 1998.
Lynda Fisher approached NEADS last year in hopes of being matched with a ministry dog afer she and her husband, Larry, lost their dog, a 15-year-old Brittany spaniel named Jessie.
“I told them, ‘I’m a deaconess at my church. Part of my duties is to visit the sick and infirm, and it would go so much better with a dog,’ ’’ Fisher recalled.
Although the dogs are generally designated for ministers, Fisher’s 40-year affiliation with First Baptist and enthusiastic devotion to her faith, and to dogs, won her an exception to the rule.
Posted by jwoestendiek July 17th, 2009 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: assistance, baptist, church, dog, dogs, god, golden retriever, healing, hospitals, littleton, ministry, mosby, neads, ohmidog!, religion, therapy