Clarence, the guardian angel

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Is there no greater classic old movie than “It’s a Wonderful Life” with Jimmy Stewart? Remember the story? George Bailey had to take over the savings and loan after his father died. All of his big plans to travel and see the world were reduced to the size of the small town where he was born and raised. Then when mean old Mr. Potter stole the money that George’s forgetful uncle was trying to deposit, and the bank examiner was on his way to the savings and loan, it looked like George was going to lose the savings and loan and also go to jail. George, thinking he was worth more dead than alive, jumped in the river to kill himself.

That’s when Clarence, George’s guardian angel, jumped in and rescued George. Clarence, as you may recall, was an Angel “third class” working to achieve his wings. Clarence saved George by giving him the chance to see what life in the community would have been like if George had not lived. Sorry if I ruined the plot for you. There may be someone, somewhere on the planet that has not already seen the movie, but I doubt it.

April 10th was the 151st birthday of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). The ASPCA was founded in 1866, in New York City, by Henry Bergh after he witnessed the whipping of a horse by the driver of a heavily laden cart. At the turn of the century ASPCA’s focus shifted from livestock to small animals. Their current work encompasses assistance to animal shelters, aiding research in veterinary medicine and animal diseases, promotion of animal cruelty legislation, and the prevention and reduction of euthanasia by promoting adoption and the spaying and neutering of animals. Many larger jurisdictions have animal control officers, usually with police powers to enforce local and state ordinances against animal cruelty and neglect.

ASPCA’s website ( lists 10 ways to reduce cruelty to animals:

• When you observe animal cruelty, REPORT IT.

• Recognize the symptoms of abuse and neglect such as untreated injuries, malnourishment, animals left outside in the elements, animals cowering at the presence of their owners.

• Know how to report abuse by knowing what agencies enforce animal cruelty crimes.

• Be a good witness, provide accurate specific information “who, what, when, how”.

• Contact prosecutors and law enforcement, show your support by urging prosecution of abuse and neglect.

• Learn the cruelty ordinances and inform others.

• Contact your city council, county commission, state legislators and push for tougher anti-cruelty legislation.

• Set a good example. Not only provide the basics of food, water, and shelter for your animal but insure that they have good medical care and give them the attention and love their deserve.

• Text Box: Talk to kids and teach them to respect and love animals.

• Support your local shelter, they need money for foods, shelter, and vet bills. And they need people to adopt animals.

And what does Clarence, the angel have to do with animal cruelty? Well, I happen to believe that WE don’t choose our animal friends THEY choose us and act as our guardian angels. When my little boy came to me, I thought I was going to take care of him. But, I was wrong, he came to take care of me. When I thought I was teaching him to heel, fetch, rollover, or speak on command he was teaching me how to love and how to respect life forms smaller and fluffier than me. I got the best end of that trade.

How could anyone abuse or neglect their guardian angel?

If you already have a guardian angel, have it spayed or neutered. If you know or suspect animal cruelty or abuse, call the police or sheriff’s office and report it. It’s the right thing to do.

• • •

Foster Mayo is a Reserve with the Boundary County Sheriff’s Office. He has been a career law enforcement Officer having served with Salt Lake Police Department and retiring at Bonners Ferry Police as Deputy Police Chief. He continues to serve Boundary County as a Reserve Deputy and writes crime prevention and safety articles to help the public.

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