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About 75 rally before animal shelter decision

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    By Danielle Arndt
    Daily News intern

    STANTON – A group of protesters gathered in Stanton today at 11 a.m. to prove to Montcalm County Commissioners that "people everywhere care about this cause," said Jeanne Urbanski, a Montcalm County resident.
    "Commissioner (Carl) Paepke said what Montcalm does is no one’s business except Montcalm’s, but the world is watching," added Urbanski, a member of the Concerned Citizens Coalition (CCC).
    About 75 people lined the sidewalk along Main Street in front of the County Administrative Building, carrying signs, chanting "Stop pound seizure" and waving to cars that drove by and honked their horns in support.
    Some protesters even brought their dogs to get in on the action.
    "We’re not doing this to be bad," Urbanski said. "We’re doing it because we feel it’s right."
    Commissioners were expected to vote on a set of recommendations from the Animal Shelter Ad Hoc Committee today. The primary issue on the table is whether or not the county will renew its contract with R&R Research.
    Urbanski, her husband and many others have fought against the contract for years and are hopeful that "this is the year," Urbanski said. She said she has never seen so much support from surrounding communities, as well as national organizations. Since January, the CCC Web site has received about 30,000 hits, with users commenting from towns in North Carolina, Urbanski added. Melissa Henchen of Stop Taking Our Pets traveled from Perry, N.Y., to help fight against the R&R contract and in favor of Michigan’s House Bill 4663, which if passed would ban the practice of allowing animals from public shelters to be sold for medical research.

    The rally drew protesters of all ages.
    Sierra Bigler, age 20 of Sheridan, said she was rallying to protect her two dogs.
    "The thought of what those animals in testing endure just makes me want to go cuddle up to mine and never let them go," Bigler said.
    Ethel Niles, age 73 of Gowen, agreed, adding we should all fight to protect God’s creatures.
    "When you can be cruel to animals, as I was brought up to believe, you can be cruel to humans, too," Niles said.
    Protesters at the rally were adamant about not compromising with commissioners.
    "It’s not an option," said Ryan Hipp of Grand Rapids. "You can’t compromise with matters of right and wrong."
    Hipp added the practices of Montcalm are archaic.
    "It’s time to change and think about the future," said Hipp, holding a sign that read: "Montcalm commissioners need a lesson in ethics."
    Sue Maguire, of Montcalm County, agreed.
    "Pets deserve better," she said. "All pets deserve a chance at a better life, a chance at adoption, or, worse come to worse, a chance at a humane death."

    The Daily News will continue to cover the story throughout the day.

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