This could be a “David vs. Goliath” story.

One woman’s quest to care for animals that have been abandoned because of Hurricane Sandy or other unforeseen events vs. the township of Jackson and some irate neighbors whose quality of live is being affected.

At stake are the numerous dogs, cats, and other pets cared for by Seer Farms and its founder Laura Pople.

Despite being in a residential area where this type of shelter is not permitted, Pople is housing the animals; hoping that she could find long term accommodations for them.

Otherwise some might have to be put down.

So, it’s the animals’ lives vs. the quality of life of the residents.

Seer Farms, which temporarily harbors pets while their owners are unable to care for them, was issued violations last week by Jackson, whose officials said the sanctuary was operating in a residential area where such businesses are not permitted. The sanctuary is located along a portion of West Veterans Highway, in a forested and residential portion of the township.

The citations roused ire from animal lovers across the nation, many of whom were familiar with Seer Farms founder Laura Pople’s work with helping animals.

In addition to temporarily housing pets of people with illness or who have lost their homes, Pople has helped foster animals displaced by superstorm Sandy while their owners found long-term living arrangements. She also gained attention in the animal rescue community for her prior work to help pets displaced in the wake of hurricane Katrina.

A petition supporting Seer Farms began circulating last Friday on the activist website, less than 72 hours after the citations were issued.

Jean Johnson, an Ocean County resident who declined to give her town, said Pople’s work with animals, particular during superstorm Sandy, should be a source of pride for Jackson.
“What she’s doing is phenomenal,” said Johnson. “She’s not harming anybody.”

By Tuesday evening, more than 2,700 supporters had signed the petition, which included a letter to Jackson officials urging them to permit Pople’s animals to stay on the property.

But Seer Farms neighbor Richard Cusumano defended the township’s action, said officials are doing their jobs.

“What about my quality of life. Doesn’t that count?” asked the West Veterans Highway resident, who said the animal sanctuary attracts rodents, is filthy and noisy with barking dogs.

Cusumano said no effort has been made in the week following the citations to clean up the property.

“It’s not about the animals. It’s about somebody who’s breaking the law,” he said.

After news of the citations spread, supporters of Seer Farms took to social media to defend the sanctuary.

Scott Neuman of Manchester said Seer Farms came to his brother-in-law’s aid after a fire destroyed the home that he shared with his wife and Siberian husky, who were both badly burned. Pople’s sanctuary housed the dog for a month while the family juggled job loss, hospitalizations and homelessness that followed the fire, Neuman said.

“It went from bad to worse for my brother-in-law,” he said. “If it wasn’t for Seer Farms, I’m sure he would have put the dog down.”

Pople met with Jackson officials Tuesday and said she was grateful for their willingness to work toward a mutually agreeable solution. She said she was also thankful for the enormous outpouring of support from around the world in her mission to bring comfort to families temporarily separated from their pets.

I always admire the passion of animal advocates (see the goose story from yesterday.)

What’s problematic for me is how they value the lives of animals over that of humans.

Yes, I too feel for the displaced animals and laud the work of Laura Pople. Perhaps the world needs more folks like her who show the type of compassion she does.

And while, in the perfect world, it would be nice if the township would allow her to continue her work housing the animals; it’s just not reasonable given the demands of a growing township like Jackson.

She is, after all, operating in a residential area.

Perhaps if those 27 hundred or so signees of the petition to allow her to keep her sanctuary could make some room in their homes for these animals, she wouldn’t have to shoulder the burden of caring for them herself.

And I’m sure they’d find their new accommodations with compassionate caretakers just as amenable.

Should Seer Farms in Jackson continue to operate its shelter for displaced animals?

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