That’s a long title. What do Tango, the Bark Park & sea turtles have to do with sustainability? Well, a lot. They all encompass some of the key elements that comprise sustainability, as defined by the 1987 Brundtland Report. Starting with Tango (he’s a cutie & mischievous), he’s a rescue dog pulled from a local overcrowded, ill-kept kill shelter. Two women friends run the Canine Rescue, a non-profit organization in our community that saves animals, educates people about the virtues of having a dog companion and strives to stop the proliferation of unwanted pets. Animals that are allowed to pro-create and then are abandoned create a burden on our communities resources. These animals have to be collected, cared for, euthanized and disposed of at tax payers expense. Some animals that are “disposed of” may be sent to rendering plants (warning – not for those with a weak stomach) that pose serious environmental hazards. By providing a service like the Canine Rescue they are helping to build caring, responsible communities.
Next, the Bark Park. Again, this is a non-profit organization formed to establish a local fenced, off-leash park for dogs. As we petitioned for the park and presented our mission to the county commissioners, we had much opposition. It seems many individuals thought this was a waste of time and money. Not so. The county has “leased” the Bark Park 2 acres of land that would otherwise be rendered useless due to it’s proximity to wetlands and hurricane debris fill site. Both controlled by the DEP. No one wanted this land. The county volunteered to do all site preparation, though all other infrastructure including parking, fencing, water, etc. was the responsibility of The Bark Park. In come fundraisers galore. The park is now in place and provides a safe haven for pets and owners to exercise and mingle. Many local relationships and networks where born out of the love for a dog. Organizations like the Bark Park help strengthen our society by fostering a sense of community. In addition, this particular park turned a barren piece of swamp land into a vital communal stomping ground. It also, gives dog owners an alternative to the beach which can often lead to disturbing beach goers and native wildlife.
Finally, about that native wildlife, usher in the sea turtles. Here in Walton County, we have a group of volunteers that run the Sea Turtle Watch program. Sea turtles are an endangered species and are protected by the Endangered Species Act. These volunteers scout the beaches for turtle nests, mark them and keep vigilant watch over the nests to ensure the emerging young turtles make it back to sea. I’m envisioning another post coming about construction, turtle lighting and sea turtles. In Topsail Island, North Carolina, they also take sea turtle endangerment seriously as well as one step further. In this coastal town you can find the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center. At this turtle hospital, injured and sick turtles are cared for and released back to their natural habitat. If you want to see something really cool, check out their live turtle webcams. Saving sea turtles preserves the biodiversity of our natural environment as well as boosts our communities cultural and natural resources. For places like South Walton County Beaches and Topsail Island, saving sea turtles is directly linked to the local charm that attracts tourists and potential home owners alike and keeps our local beach economy buzzing along.
And that’s what a dog, a park, and a turtle have in common.