KY General Assembly Has One Bright Spot for Animals

The General Assembly just passed HB 319, which will allow pets to be protected in domestic violence orders. This is great news, and it will help animals as well as human victims whose abusers use threats against pets to control them. However, a couple of other animal welfare bills moved but did not get passed into law.

Excuses for those failures abound. HB 420, an enhanced dog and cat torture bill, was championed by local celebrity Ethan the dog, who himself was rescued from the brink of starvation to become a therapy dog for other abused animals. He has an enormous following on social media who came through and made calls of support for the bill. However, cockfighters (yes, you read that right: criminal cockfighters) also organized and called their legislators to oppose the bill. Apparently, the criminals were given more due than animal advocates were. I guess we are just lucky dogfighters did not decide to oppose to their legislators as well. Most of them may be even more illiterate than the average cockfighter, so I assume that is why we were spared that debacle. Regardless, HB 420 was listed on the Orders of the Day to be called on the House floor mid-March. However, it was not called until March 21st. Officially a co-sponsor clapped when the bill was announced. “Leadership” deemed the co-sponsor out of order and withdrew the bill from consideration. Some have argued that bills died because they were associated with national animal organizations. However, all of the bills that moved were supported by local, grass-roots animal organizations. The real reason the bill, which over half the chamber had co-sponsored, was pulled was that many legislators from eastern Ky cockfighting hotspots did not want to have their votes go on record and hurt their chances at the ballot box during an election year. Two co-sponsors actually caved and withdrew their support after cockfighter harassment.

SB 125 would have provided a cost of care statute. If an animal shelter or rescue had to provide care for hundreds of animals from a hoarding case or puppy mill, this measure would have required that the owner forfeit ownership or pay for care during the pendency of any court case. Due process would be afforded. This would have saved taxpayer money used to house the animals in shelters. The bill passed the Senate but was not assigned to a committee in the House.

The Ky 2022 General Assembly Leadership saw fit to pass bills furthering charter schools, moments of silence and banning trans students from sports and against teaching racial history. They somehow further restricted women’s rights. They failed to explore revenue options of medical marijuana and sports betting. HB 319 is a bright spot in a pretty dark session.

More change is needed, and we aren’t going away. We can’t. The animals don’t have a voice, but we do.

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Surviving Rescue


Surviving Rescue
By Tia Torres
Review

Tia Torres, in her webinar Surviving Rescue on 2/27/22, began by giving thoughts on Ukraine, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight. It’s the size of the fight in the dog.” She said she had been a prison wife and worked with committed children before running a rescue.

She acknowledged to a group of around 1200 online that the pandemic has been a difficult time for animal rescues. She said people are the worst part of rescue. She shared that she got into rescue by accident. She talked about the emotional, physical and financial pain involved.

She said when people ask what is needed to start a rescue, her main answer is money. Just getting a 501c3 does not automatically get donations. You have to think of it as a business. She told a funny story about how she had in lean times had to work as an exotic dancer to feed her kids and animals. She had a plan to open a brothel to fund her animal rescue. It went public as Heidi Fleiss was arrested and got press headlines “Woman Opening a Cat House to Support a Dog Rescue.” Unfortunately the place burned down. She said not to rely on any other network. You have to do PR and make your own money. She learned about social media and eventually got into TV. They do merchandising with good artwork. They also have a sponsorship program. They use Patreon. Their top earner is True Crime Obsessed, which has a $5/mo item. She acknowledged that cat rescues have it even harder. She said to do gofundmes for specific cases.

As for emotional issues, she said there are some awful, meanspirited people in animal rescue. She said people namecalling and guilting is a big problem. Social media plays a big part in it. It can be your best friend or worst enemy. Compassion fatigue is real. She shared a story about a shelter worker who had to euthanize animals becoming a hoarder. If you see something, say something.

All in all, the webinar was very helpful for those in the animal rescue world. Torres came across as honest and funny in her recollections. If you are involved in animal rescue, I would recommend searching for the webcast if you missed it the first time.

Surviving Rescue

By Tia Torres

Review

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Happy New Year

I

It’s NYE 2022. I’m truly hoping 2022 is an improvement over 2021 for all of us.

This year has been a weird one for me. I went from empty nest to divorce to bankruptcy within a span of a few months. It has been difficult, but things are starting to look up and settle down.

2021 saw a continuance of the pandemic with its attendant problems. A large percentage of Americans continue to stubbornly resist vaccines, so economic and health issues are continuing to loom on the horizon. Gas and grocery prices are up, but wages have not risen for many.

The tornadoes that ravaged Ky this month, as well as the wildfires devouring land out west, are partly results of climate activity caused by humans.

Politics are as polarized as ever here and abroad.

A young person starting out now would definitely have to think twice about bringing children into the world in its current state.

Yet, when I woke up this morning, I could hear the chatter of birds outside my window.

A blue pink sky is slowly appearing overhead.

My cat’s purring/snoring in a warm sleepy ball at my feet.

Optimism may be too strong a word to describe my current mood. Hope feels more like it. Cheers to you, and here’s hoping 2022 will be kind, or at least gentle!

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Home

My divorce is final and my house is empty, so it’s time to move back in. The only problem is all the repairs that need to be made. I did make the discovery of hardwood floors under the years-old carpet. However, they are going to require a lot of work. I spent last weekend mainly ripping up carpets and painting. Friends and family are helping paint. Today I’m going to attempt to start stripping paint off the floors. Wish me luck!

Here are a few pics. I’ll be sharing more along the way!

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What It Is

What it is

What it is is I haven’t lived totally on my own in over twenty years, or ever really. I lived with someone for 18 years, was married to someone for 8 and had a kid for the last 18 years. Now I’m almost 50 starting over.

What it is is I at least feel like for the last 25 years I’ve been the one who after work came home, took out the trash, mowed the yard, cooked or got dinner, did the laundry and made the appointments.

What it is is outside of work, family and volunteering, I don’t really know who I am or what I want.

What it is is I just know I don’t want to do it by myself. I don’t know how. I guess this is how old people who have been married feel when a spouse dies.

What it is is I’m so fucking scared and excited at the same time. No one of the opposite sex has wanted to go out and do stuff with me or take me anywhere for so long. Now I can do what I want when I want pretty much. But do I want to do it with a friend or by myself?

What it is is I am around a year from retirement and own my home, but circumstances are that I now will struggle to pay bills for awhile. I thought I was close to being retired, married, able to volunteer or travel as I liked. Not so much now. Oh well, whatever will be will be. I guess I’ll find out.

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Lock It

Mel felt the reverberations before she heard the sirens go off. She didn’t know if there had been an earthquake or a bomb, but she knew she had to get out of her building fast. She grabbed Purrbles and shoved her into her carrier. She slung her purse over her shoulder, found her keys and flew out the door.

She had not gotten ready for work yet. She half grimaced at her pulled-back hair and leggings in the hallway mirror before a second blast shot her back to reality. She ran down the stairs and encountered more panicked people at each floor. When she finally reached the street, she planted the cat carrier by the wall and stopped to think for a moment. She instinctively picked up her phone and dialed her mom’s number. No signal. People were running aimlessly down the streets, kids and adults were crying and yelling and cars were at a standstill.

Mel picked up Purrbles and started to walk down the sidewalk. She decided to stay close to, but not inside, the buildings. That way, she figured she could take cover if needed but get away if a building started to fall. She heard bits of speculation as to what had happened. The words bomb and terrorists replayed through the crowd. In the distance, she saw a familiar face. She ran toward Dan, who worked in her department. She did not know him well, but they exchanged pleasantries at the coffee pot occasionally. “Dan, Dan!” she yelled to try to get his attention over the din. He did not hear her until she reached him and touched his arm.

“Mel,” he said in recognition. “Do you know what’s going on?”

“No,” he answered, “but it can’t be good. I’ve tried to get news updates on my phone, but I’m getting nothing.”

“Me either,” she said. “Should we follow the crowd, you think?”

“I don’t have a better plan.” They folded themselves into the passing crowd but were careful not to lose sight of each other. Mel periodically switched Purrbles’ carrier from one arm to the next. If she was meowing, she could not be heard over the cacophony around them.

When they reached the town’s square, they saw that the crowd was much larger than they realized. People from all over the city had poured into the center of town. Somehow, they mayor had taken a spot on the central steps with a megaphone.

“Everyone, please keep calm” he was yelling into the megaphone. “We are getting radio information from the state. Bombs have detonated in at least three other cities across the country. We’ll keep you updated as we have more information.”

Mel nervously ran her fingers over the gold heart locket hanging from her neck. Her mom had given it to her for Christmas that year. She wondered if or when she would see her again. She and Dan moved away from the center of town. She needed to find a bathroom and something to drink. She needed to think.

Just then, Greyhound buses began to pull up at the corner. “Please get on in an orderly fashion,” the driver of the first bus said. “We’re taking you to stations set up outside of town.” Mel and Dan glanced at each other, then walked to the bus. Once they were seated and the bus filled, they took off.

As they rode, Mel tried to catch her breath and replay the morning’s events.  She was not sure where she was going or when or if she would get back home.  She remembered bolting out the door in a hurry.  She had forgotten to lock it. 

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Too Incompetent for Treatment?

Luckily HB 310 passed the KY General Assembly this year. It should make it easier to get defendants found incompetent to stand trial incarcerated or hospitalized. The bill leading to the law was filed mainly due to the case of Cane Madden. He raped a child in Louisville while free because he had been found incompetent to stand trial on other charges. He had also been found not to benefit from treatment in a psychiatric hospital.

His case is far from the only one that could be impacted by the new law. In 2019 Jonathan Watkins skinned a dog in Floyd County to try to make a “doggy suit.” He had previously been found incompetent to stand trial for the 2012 murder of his stepfather, a law enforcement officer, and was eventually released back into the community.

Watkins has a pretrial conference in Floyd Circuit Court tomorrow, Thursday, June 24. Please contact the Floyd County Commonwealth Attorney Brent Turner and Ky Attorney General Daniel Cameron and ask them to use this law and anything else at their disposal to keep him incarcerated or hospitalized so he can not continue to be a threat to the people and animals in his community.

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Unspeakable

There are some acts so disgusting and heinous many do not think about them even needing to be codified as law. Bestiality and animal sexual abuse fit clearly into that category. Fortunately Ky finally made the act a felony a couple years ago.

Last year Christopher Jones of Bracken Co pled guilty to a felony conviction for animal sexual abuse. However, Larry Stewart of Christian Co got his animal sexual abuse charges dropped.

Currently Willy Wireman in Magoffin Co is facing felony charges for molesting his Australian Shepherd, Xander. Xander also suffers from severe heartworm disease. Magoffin County, will you convict Wireman and hand some justice to Xander? Or will you follow the coward’s lead that Christian Co took? It’s up to you, your Grand Jury and officials. Please choose well!
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Rescue Me continued

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is pawheart-1.jpg

2
As Melanie booted up her laptop, her cell phone rang.
“Hello,” she answered.
“Good morning, Melanie,” Nick Farley’s familiar rich voice replied. He was the president of All Animals Rescue, the rescue that had helped Sam.
“Hi, Nick,” she said. “How’s Sam?”
“Well, the vet says he’s going to lose his leg, but he’s in remarkably good shape otherwise. They’re going to amputate and do his neuter today, and he should be ready to go to foster tonight.”
“Oh good. I’m sorry about the leg but glad he’ll be ok,” she said. “Thank you for helping him.”
“No, thank you. He may not have made it without you. By the way, we’ve found that tripods usually get around very well. I just wanted to update you.”
“Thanks, Nick,” Melanie said, before hanging up.
Melanie smiled as she returned to her voicemails. Nick could always be counted on to step up in a pinch for an animal.
John, Melanie’s boss, appeared holding a cup of coffee in her doorway. “Could you pull the Skaggs file for me?” he asked, adding “if you can find time between your animal work.” Despite his sarcastic attitude, Melanie knew John appreciated her rescue efforts. The fact that he had more than once picked up strays off the road and brought them into the office was proof that her belief was accurate.
“I suppose,” she responded in kind as she made her way to the file room.
Melanie made it through the morning and lunch, but she struggled to stay awake during an afternoon meeting. When 4:00 finally arrived, she hurried to her car and headed home. Marcus had already been dropped off by the school bus and was lying on the couch on his phone beside Kitty. “How was school,” Melanie asked him. “Fine,” was his monosyllabic reply. “Well, go on and take a bath. I’m getting ready to start supper. Do you have homework?”
“No,” he answered. Melanie doubted the veracity of his answer, but she would have to wait until she got some other chores done to check his backpack. At 14, Marcus was a typically lazy teenage boy. She was glad he was at least participating in marching band as a bass drummer. Early spring was off-season for band though, giving him more time to laze than usual.
Melanie filled the cat’s bowl and rummaged through the fridge for dinner ideas. She decided to fix stir-fry vegetables over rice. She heard Dan’s truck pull into the driveway as the rice water started to boil.
“Hey,” she said as he walked through the kitchen.
“Hey,” Dan answered. He changed from his work uniform, went to the bathroom and poured himself a drink.
“Busy day?” she asked.
“On and off,” he answered, before retiring to the living room. No mention was made of his text the previous night. Melanie decided to let it go, hoping for a peaceful, early evening. She was still tired from being out late the night before.
Melanie heard her phone ding multiple times as she was loading the dishwasher after supper. Wtf, she thought. She picked up the phone and saw five notifications from her friend Chrissy. That explains it, she thought. Chrissy was a wonderful rescue networker and fellow board member of Kentuckians Fight for Animals. However, her mind worked so quickly that Melanie had to fight to keep up.
Did you talk to Cook about meeting Wed?
What did he say?
What time?
Should we take info to give him-business cards, flyers, copies of spreadsheets?
Driving now. I’ll call when I get home.
Oh good Lord, she’s driving and texting all this, Melanie thought with a chuckle. She pulled up her email to make sure she had not missed an email from Marty Cook, their legislator. She had not. The annual legislative animal advocacy day was just two days away, and she had yet to get a firm appointment with their State House representative.

3
By Tuesday afternoon at quitting time, Melanie had finally received email confirmation of a meeting time with Rep. Cook for the following morning: 10 am. She gathered her purse and keys and headed for the parking lot. She had not made it to the interstate when her phone rang.
“Hello,” she answered.
“Oh my God, have you heard?” asked Chrissy.
“Heard what?” Melanie said.
“It’s Nick. He killed himself. Mattie went to the facility this afternoon for her shift and found him shot in the head in the office.”
“Oh my God, what the hell,” said Melanie. “Are you sure? Are you sure he’s dead? How do they know he shot himself? Maybe some druggie broke in looking for drugs or money or…”
“He left a note,” Chrissy said. “and they found the gun right beside him. I just can’t believe it.”
“I can’t either. I gotta go. I’ll call you later.” Melanie hung up and pulled into a gas station parking lot. She pulled up facebook on her phone and searched for Nick’s page. There were condolences and outpourings of sympathy already piling in. She put down the phone and stared into the distance still in shock. Why would he do such a thing, she thought. He had told her recently that All Animals had over sixty animals, mostly dogs and cats, in rescue at that time. Only about half were in foster care. The rest were being cared for at their facility. What would happen to them? She knew he had been injured in a fall from a ladder while making repairs at the facility not long ago, but he had been getting treatment and physical therapy. It made no sense. Melanie took a deep breath and steered the car back onto the road toward home.
Melanie parked her car in the Capitol parking garage at 9:45 Wednesday morning. She hurried up the steps and met Chrissy on the Capitol steps.
“Where have you been?” Chrissy asked. “I’ve been waiting for ten minutes.”
“Sorry,” Melanie said. “Let’s go on in.”
They flashed their IDs at security and took turns going through the scan machines.
“Have you heard any more about Nick?” Melanie asked, as they made their way up the stairs. “No, just what I heard yesterday. It’s awful,” said Chrissy.
Melanie shook her head in agreement. They reached the top of the stairs and entered the House office area. Melanie checked in with the receptionist, and they found a seat in the reception room. A few minutes later, they were beckoned by a staffer. They entered Marty Cook’s office and were greeted by none other than the legislator himself. “Hello ladies, Marty Cook,” he said, extending his hand. Introductions made, they entered his office.
“What can I help you with today?” asked Marty.
“Well, Rep. Cook, we wanted to speak to you about the animal shelter bill,” started Melanie. She began her spiel about improvements that needed to be made to the current shelter standards, and she handed him written materials. Chrissy took the opportunity to give him a flyer and a business card.
“Please, call me Marty. I have two rescue dogs myself,” Marty said. “If this bill makes it to committee, I’ll definitely vote yes,” he said.
“Can you co-sponsor it?” Chrissy interjected.
Marty stood and ran his hand through his dark hair. “I’ll do that,” he said with a chuckle. “Now, I have to get into session. Can I reach you at the email and phone number here on the card?”
“Yes,” Melanie and Chrissy said in unison.
“Thank you for your time. We really appreciate it,” Melanie said, heading toward the door.
“My pleasure,” Marty said.
Melanie and Chrissy reviewed the meeting as they left the building. “I hope he does sign on,” Chrissy said.
“Me too,” said Melanie. They followed each other out of the parking garage. Chrissy headed home, and Melanie drove to the office.
At home that evening, Melanie looked through Marcus’s backpack while a casserole baked in the oven. “Buddy, what’s this blank worksheet?” she asked.
“I don’t know,” he said.
“Well, work on it while supper’s cooking,” she said, handing it to him.
“Dan, have you seen the pen that was on the table?” she called out.
“No, haven’t seen one,” he said from the living room. People are so helpful around here, Melanie thought. She dug through a drawer until she found a pen that worked.
“Here, use this,” she handed the pen to Mario.
Melanie’s phone dinged. It was a text from Chrissy.
Nick’s visitation is Friday at three with the funeral to follow.
Melanie typed thanks to her friend, sighed and pulled the bubbling casserole from the oven.
Her phone dinged again, this time with an email notification.
Ms. Burden, thank you for meeting with me today. I would be glad to co-sponsor the animal shelter bill. Please contact me by phone to discuss further. Marty Cook
Melanie typed a quick thank you reply and made a mental note to call the legislator tomorrow.

4
After logging on to her computer Thursday morning, Melanie placed a call to Marty Cook. She was surprised to hear him rather than a staffer answer the phone. “Marty Cook.”
“Hi, Marty. It’s Melanie Burden. I believe you wanted to discuss the animal shelter bill.”
“Yes, I’m glad you called, Melanie. I have some meetings this morning. Any possibility you could meet me for lunch?”
“Sure, that would be great,” Melanie answered.
“The Bistro at noon ok?” he asked.
“Sounds good. Thanks.”
Melanie hung up and returned to her work. She had met with a few legislators, but she had never been invited to lunch with one before. Hopefully he is serious about the bill, she thought. He also wasn’t bad to look at.
Melanie walked through the Bistro’s front door at noon sharp. Marty was already there waving at her from a table.
“Hi, how are you?” she asked.
“Hungry. You?” he replied.
“The same,” she said. “So thank you again for co-sponsoring the bill. It really is needed so we can get each animal adopted from a shelter in the state vaccinated and neutered. Right now it just depends on each county.”
“Well, as I said, I have two dogs that came from the local shelter, and I’d do anything for them. They’ve been a blessing, especially since my divorce.”
“Oh, I’m sorry,” she said.
“Don’t be. It was for the best,” Marty said.
They placed their orders and returned to their conversation. “You know, I know you have a stressful job,” Melanie said and continued “but animal rescue is a hard field too. We just lost a rescue director to suicide this week.”
“I heard about that. Terrible. Maybe if we can get shelters up to snuff, it will take some pressure off the rescues,” Marty said.
“I hope so,” she said.
They ate their meal and continued talking. Melanie was surprised at both how down to earth Marty was and at how comfortable she felt with him.
Marty picked up the tab and shook Melanie’s hand as they were leaving. “Thank you for meeting with me. I hope we can talk again soon.”
“Thanks again. I look forward to it.” Melanie felt an extra bounce in her step as she got in her car and drove back to the office.
At home that night, Melanie told Dan about the meeting. “He’s a really nice guy. I think he can help us get the bill passed,” she said.
“Yeah I’ll bet he’s nice. He’s just trying to get in your pants. You can’t be that stupid,” Dan said.
Hurt, Melanie went into the bedroom and slammed the door. She half expected Dan to come in and apologize, but he never did.

5
Friday dawned chilly and gray. Melanie got up, put a pot of coffee on and got Mario up and on the bus. Since she had taken the day off for the funeral, she took her time getting ready. She decided to catch up on entering her work timesheets, but then she realized she had left her laptop at the office. She opened Dan’s laptop and prepared to boot it up. When she touched a key, his email inbox appeared. He must have forgotten to close out of it, she thought. She started to open a new window, but the subject line of the last email received grabbed her attention. HEY SEXY screamed at her from the computer screen. Her heart racing, Melanie clicked on the email from sherry223.
I love talking to you, but I want to see you in person.
We will soon. I promise.
Melanie, hands shaking, started to slam the laptop closed. She decided better of it and grabbed her cell phone. She took a screen shot of the email and texted it to Dan.
We need to talk.
She looked at the clock and realized she needed to shower and dress to make it to Nick’s service. Her mind kept replaying the words of the email. She was angry and shocked, but she didn’t really feel as upset as she thought she should. There had not been much of a relationship between Dan and her for a long time.
Dan still had not responded to her text by the time she reached the funeral home. Melanie shook her head and made her way to the door. She met Chrissy as she was walking in.
“I thought I would recognize more people,” she told Chrissy as they found a seat.
“Yeah, Nick knew a lot of people.”
After a touching service that featured Nick’s girlfriend speaking while holding his favorite pit bull Rocko, the party made its way out to the cemetery. Melanie jumped during the twenty-one gun salute given to honor Nick’s military service.
Melanie said goodbye to Chrissy and walked toward her car. She was stopped by a heavyset man in a dark suit. “Melanie Burden?” he asked.
“Yes?” she asked warily.
“I’m Detective Burley with Nice PD. Can I ask you a few questions?” Melanie nodded.
“We have some questions about Mr. Farley’s death. We see that he spoke to you the day before his death. Can you tell me about that conversation?”
“I had transported a dog for him. He was just updating me on the dog’s condition,” Melanie said.
“Ok, if you think of anything else, call me,” he said and handed her a card.
“Do you think there was something suspicious about his death?” she asked.
“We just have to investigate all angles in a death investigation. Thank you, ma’am.” With that, he was gone.
Marcus was spending the night with a friend, so Melanie was sitting alone at the kitchen table when Dan walked in the door from work. He avoided looking at her and went straight to the bedroom to change his clothes.
“So you have no explanation for me for that email?” she called after him.
Dan returned to the kitchen. “What do you want me to say? We barely talk anymore. There’s nothing here for me.”
“Well, in that case, pack your shit and get the fuck out!,” Melanie screamed. “Do you think I haven’t had opportunities to screw around? But I didn’t. Just get out.”
Dan didn’t protest. He got his suitcase out of the closet, packed a few changes of clothes and grabbed his toothbrush and deodorant. “I’ll be at Sherry’s,” he said as he walked out the front door.
Melanie screamed and threw an empty coffee mug at the door. Kitty jumped when it hit the floor and shattered.

6
Melanie planned to go to bed early Sunday night after a mostly sleepless weekend. She took Marcus’s phone at 9 pm to keep him from staying up all night playing games on a school night. She had told him that Dan and she were going to be taking a break from each other. If the news affected him, he had not shown it. He just shrugged. Although Melanie had adopted Marcus when she was still single, Dan had been his stepdad for over half his life. She worried how the separation and probable eventual divorce would affect him in the long run.
Melanie checked her phone before plugging it into the charger on her nightstand. She had an email notification from Marty Cook.
Melanie, please call me when you get this message. It’s important.
Melanie dialed the number on the email. Marty picked up on the first ring.
“Melanie, thanks for calling. I need to talk to you. In person. Can you come by the office first thing in the morning?”
“Ok,” Melanie said. Before she could ask him to elaborate, he said “Ok, gotta go. See you in the morning.”
Melanie couldn’t imagine what that was about, but she was too tired to imagine anything. She took a melatonin capsule and was asleep within minutes.
Melanie reached Marty’s office door shortly after 8 am. He greeted her at the door and ushered her into his office.
“Sorry for all the cloak and dagger,” he said, “but I’ve come across some troubling information. You were contacted by detective about Nick Farley’s death, right?”
“Yeah, what’s going on?” Melanie asked.
He answered her question with another question. “Were you aware of any cockfighting investigation Nick was involved in?”
“No,” she said. “But Nick was always fighting for animals, either dogs and cats or chickens or circus animals. It’s quite possible.”
“According to my sources, Nick’s death may not have been a suicide. He had security cameras at the facility. For some reason, the camera in his office went dead for a half hour surrounding the time of his death. Also emails and texts were found on his computer and phone with undercover officers investigating a cockfighting ring.”
Melanie’s eyes got big, and she could almost feel the blood pumping through her body. Cockfighting was a huge problem in Kentucky, because of its lack of felony laws against the barbaric practice. Cockfighters from other states and even other countries came to the state to participate in the bloodsport. It would be just like Nick to try to get involved and stop it.
“So you think cockfighters broke in and killed Nick?” she asked.
“Not cockfighters. Most of them are too stupid to pull something like that off. Most likely, it was someone with the Game Producers Association. They’ve been lobbying and paying off legislators for years to keep the laws from changing.”
“So Nick threatened that and they killed him? What about the suicide note though?” she asked.
“They’re doing handwriting analysis on the note. I wouldn’t be surprised if the note isn’t a match for him. I know this is a lot to take in. I just wanted you to be aware and to be careful.” Marty put his hand on Melanie’s.
“I will,” said Melanie. “I’ve got to get to work. Tell me if you hear anything else, ok?”
“I will. Be careful.”
Melanie’s eyes darted as she made her way through the rest of the day. She just laughed when her boss asked if she’d had too much coffee. As soon as she got home, she called Chrissy and told her about Marty’s conversation.
“That’s crazy,” Chrissy said. “But why did he have to talk to you in person? I think he’s got a thing for you.”
“No, he doesn’t. He was just being nice,” Melanie said.
“Whatever,” Chrissy said. “He’d be a big improvement over Dan. Just let me know if you find out anything else.”

7

After the dinner dishes were put in the dishwasher and Marcus was tucked into bed, Melanie decided to try to send a facebook message to Layne, Nick’s girlfriend. She hated to bother her while she was grieving, but she needed to find out more about the circumstances of his death. She typed:
I’m so sorry again about Nick’s death. I was questioned by a detective because I spoke to him on the phone the day before. Do you know anything about what’s going on? Thanks
She expected to not get a reply for awhile if at all, but just a few minutes later her phone notified her that Layne was messenger calling her.
“Hi Layne” Melanie said.
“Hi , I saw your message. I didn’t know the police had talked to you too. You know Nick was working with an undercover investigating cockfighting pits, right?”
“No, I didn’t,” said Melanie, “but it doesn’t surprise me.”
“Yeah, he had posed as a cocker with another guy last year. They were getting ready to turn over pictures and video with names to the feds. There’s a lot of crazy shit going on.” Layne’s voice broke.
“I’m so sorry,” Melanie said.
“Thanks,” said Layne. “It’s just stuff doesn’t add up. The security tape had been messed with, and they’re questioning whether he wrote the note. I think he was killed to shut him up.”
“Have you told this to the police?”
“I have, but they won’t tell me anything.”
“Well, take care and let me know if hear anything, ok?” Melanie said.
“Ok thanks,” said Layne.
Moments later, the doorbell rang. Who could that be, Melanie thought. She opened the door and saw Marty, looking wild-eyed.
“Come in,” she said.
He walked in and sat down on the couch. “Can I get you something to drink?” she asked.
“No thanks, I can’t stay. I just wanted to drop by and check on you and tell you I talked to Det Burley.” He said.
“Yeah, what’d he say?” she asked.
“They got the handwriting analysis results. He didn’t write it. That and the security footage tampering both point to foul play. That’s what the coroner’s report will list as cause of death. Also they found Doug Moore’s thumbprint on Nick’s computer.”
“Doug Moore, the Game Producers president?”
“That’s him,” said Marty. “They’ve already gotten an arrest warrant and are on the way to pick him up.”
“Layne will be so relieved. I need to check with her.” Melanie started to reach for her phone, but Marty grabbed her hand.
“I also wanted to do this.” He put his hands on her waist and kissed her gently. Melanie returned the kiss and smiled.
“Well, I’m glad you stopped by,” she said.
“Me too.”

8
Melanie was on the road before dawn Saturday morning. She had three crates packed into the back of the car. She had to pick up two mama cats and kittens and two puppies from the shelter. She would drive them to northern Kentucky to meet another driver who would continue the drive to a rescue up north, where the demand for pets was higher and the supply was lower.
She saw her phone light up and saw a text from Marty.
Let me know when you’re home safe.
Melanie smiled, put down her phone, turned up the radio and headed toward the shelter.

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Rescue Me

1

Melanie squinted into the dark rain as she navigated her suv around hairpin curves.  A coal truck was so close on her tail she was afraid she would be hit if she dared tap the brakes.  “Get off my ass,” she said under her breath, as she pulled onto the shoulder of the road.  She unclenched her grip on the wheel as the truck gunned its engine and sped around her.  “Idiot,” she mumbled and pulled back on to the road.  Travelling through the roads of eastern Kentucky at 9 pm on a Sunday night had not been on Melanie’s agenda for the day.  However, she had gotten a message about a little dog who had been run over and was yelping in pain under a trailer.  She had gotten a rescue to commit to taking and caring for the dog.  Now she just had to find him. 

She looked at her GPS, but there was no signal.  A light shone a little ways up the holler ahead of her.  She wound her way up the hill and eventually saw the silhouette of a small, dilapidated trailer ahead.  She parked in the gravel driveway and started to jump out of the car.  She was stopped by an angry growling white pitbull mix dog.  “Shut up, Baby!” a short dark-haired woman called out from the door of the trailer. Baby backed up, still eyeing Melanie sideways. 

“Hi,” Melanie called.  “I’m here for Sam.”  The woman motioned for Melanie to follow.  “I’m Jane. He’s under the house here,” she pointed.  “I’ll give him a hotdog and see if he’ll come out.”  She dangled the treat into an opening between the trailer and the dirt underneath.  A few seconds later, a dirty snout appeared and grabbed the meat.  “Come on,Sam,” Jane coaxed.  Sam, a small, long-haired terrier, hesitated, but then appeared outside for another bite.  Jane grabbed him and carried him to the waiting crate in Melanie’s car.  When he walked into the crate, Melanie could see that he was not putting any weight on his back right paw.   Melanie gently closed the crate and car doors.  “He’s going to a good rescue,” she told Jane.  “They’ll get him fixed up and find him a good home.”  “Ok thanks,” Jane said, as she was already heading back into the house.  She didn’t look back at Sam, and he didn’t look at her.

It was almost midnight by the time Melanie pulled off the interstate into Nice, her hometown.  Her phone dinged and lit up in the dark.  It was her husband.

Don’t bother coming home since you’re not in by now.  It’s midnight.

Great, she thought.  Dan had seemed fine with her making this little trip earlier, but that was before he had started his nightly drinking.  She pulled into the driveway and prepared for an argument.  Sam was dead to the world in his crate, all ready to be delivered to the vet the next morning.  Melanie cracked the window, locked the door and crept into the house.  She could hear Dan snoring before she got the door closed.  She peeled off her jeans, peed and collapsed on the couch.

Melanie didn’t wake up the next morning until her phone alarm blared in her ear.  Kitty, her unoriginally-named calico, pawed at her phone in a vain attempt to silence the beast.  Melanie hit the end button, fell back on to the couch and then lit a cigarette.  She showered and dressed and then prepared for the morning fight to get her son Marcus, a typical teenager,  up for school. 

By 8 am, Melanie had put Marcus on the bus, dropped Sam at the vet and arrived at work.  She made it to her cubicle and settled into her chair.

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Melanie

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