The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 8 No. 46 - August 6, 2008

headlines


Trolleys to stay free if cities ante up

Faced with budget restraints fueled by lower property tax collections, the Manatee County Board of Commissioners has given approval of a plan to retain one of the county’s most popular amenities, the free trolleys that run up and down Anna Maria Island.

The plan would take advantage of the new rolling message advertisement inside the vehicles, but the cities would be asked to ante up some money until the county can pay them back from the ad revenues.

County Administrator Ed Hunzeker made the proposal to the commissioners during a budget meeting last Wednesday.

"It’s such a popular community asset, not only for residents but for tourists who visit," he said. "It’s good for business and it’s good for the environment and we want to keep it as an alternative to driving on the Island."

Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore said the majority of the commissioners approved of the plan, which revolves around the advertising.

"If we get 40 businesses to advertise, it would bring in more than $144,000," she said. "It was Commissioner McCash’s idea to ask the cities to pay $8,000 and then reimburse them from the revenues."

Last year, the county cut back its support of the trolleys to the point where officials started talking about charging fares. A plan was worked out so that the cities would pay $8,000 to keep the rides free.

According to Randy Beckwith, marketing specialist with Manatee County Area Transit (MCAT), advertising on the trolleys is a bargain.

"It costs $300 per month and you get a minimum of 60 exposures each day at 30 seconds per exposure," he said. "Your ad will appear on all of the trolleys in the fleet, including the one trolley that goes into Sarasota County as part of the new Longboat Key expansion."

Beckwith said that MCAT recently made the transition from the free ads that it offered to area businesses this summer to the paid advertising.

"We plan to blast e-mail businesses on Anna Maria Island and south into Longboat Key and Sarasota County to get advertisers," he said. "We’ll also get lists from the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce and the Convention and Visitors Bureau."

Beckwith said that they would also offer a weekly rate of $67.17.

"If a restaurant is already advertising but has a special event or menu item coming up, they could take out a second ad for a week or two," he said. "We’ll also offer a list of the advertisers on our MCAT Web site so if somebody sees something on the rolling screen but needs more information, they’ll be able to get it from the Web site."

Hunzeker said that will help for the coming year, but he is still under pressure to cut spending.

"We decided that we would not cut the service level on the transit system this year, however, we had to shore up the budget from our savings account, our reserve," he said. "We know we can’t do that forever, so we’ll have to address everything, including mass transit, in the 2009-2010 budget."  

Bus shuttle planned for bridge closure

MCAT is also planning on shuttling people onto the Island during the closure with a bus route from 75th and Manatee to Cortez Road and west to Coquina Beach. The free route would allow the buses that would normally come to the Island to stay on schedule by avoiding the bridge. MCAT originally considered using trolleys, but switched to buses because the trolleys break down so often.

County candidates square off at Sun forum
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

SUN PHOTO/LAURIE KROSNEY
From left, District 3 Manatee County Commissioner Jane von Hahmann
and challenger John Chappie and District 7 challenger Greg Witham
and Manatee County Commissioner Joe McClash participated in The Suns’
forum last week.

Voters from the Island and west Bradenton turned out to hear four candidates for two seats on the Manatee County Commission give their views on everything from trolleys to trees at the Sun’s candidates’ forum in Holmes Beach City Hall last week.

Candidates for the District 3 seat are incumbent Jane von Hahmann and challenger John Chappie. Candidates for the District 7 at large seat are incumbent Joe McClash and challenger Greg Witham.

Each candidate started the evening with an opening statement.

Von Hahmann: "We face some different issues today than when I first came into office. We need the kind of leadership that’s already been there and traveled down one road to get us down the next road. The economy is key right now and we need ways to improve our economic status. We’re working on that in the county to get those projects on the road to put people to work."

Chappie: "Times have changed. The growth in our community is unbelievable. The economy is like this big crash and local government has been forced to look at the budget and where the money is going. Our taxpayers are demanding that we have representation and accountability. I will be fiscally responsible, professional and fair. I want to help fight the issues that face Manatee County."

Witham: "This election will have some profound and long-term effects on the direction of our community. I decided to run because I think our government has failed to evolve and change along with our community. We do things in an older, expensive, antiquated manner and we need to bring in new technologies and business practices and a common sense business approach to doing things."

McClash: "As a government, we have shown a lot of discipline over the years. We had a good strategy when times were good. We didn’t spend all the money for operating costs. We put money in investments like the Robinson Preserve, the judicial center, the emergency operations center. The county has been financially responsible and more than stepped up to the plate meeting the challenges of technology and being efficient."

Trolleys and taxes

Q: Should we continue to keep the trolley free? How or why not?

A: Chappie, von Hahmann and McClash said the county plans to seek $8,000 from each Island city to help keep the trolley free. It plans to reimburse the cities with revenue from selling advertising on the trolley. Witham said advertising is a great way to help subsidize the cost, but the trolley should be funded with the tourist tax, not property taxes.

Q: Do you favor raising the bed tax to fund beach renourishment?

A: McClash said he has asked the tourist development council to hold a charrette to discuss solutions to the demands on the tourist tax funds.

Von Hahmann agreed with the charrette but said because "beach renourishment is only going to get more expensive, we need to look at new technologies."

Chappie also agreed with the charrette, but said no to raising the bed tax because of the economic times.

Witham said yes because "those beaches are necessity for tourism."

Q: Anna Maria taxpayers are paying 42.8 percent of their ad valorem taxes to the county and independent districts. What would you do to make sure the Island receives its fair share?

McClash: One of the arguments I use is keeping the trolley free. It’s our way of returning some of those tax dollars to the Island communities. Look on the other side of the bridge at the preservation properties that we purchased – the Perico, Neal and Robinson preserves – some of the amenities that you have on this side of town. The Island communities are important assets to the whole county and we try to be fair with the tax revenues that we receive.

Von Hahmann: I agree with Joe. In every situation there are donors and receivers. You are a donor community just like the county is a donor to the state. I don’t know how to address that inequity except to do some of the things that Joe mentioned. You are in an area that at no fault of ours escalated at such a rapid pace that you’re burdened with more taxes. We need to go to the state to address the inequities of how properties are assessed.

Chappie: As a District 3 commissioner I’ll go wherever we need to go to get equity and we have to have it. I will fight that fight for you.

Witham: I don’t think we’ll ever achieve perfect parity meeting the needs of the community. We need to address how to lower our operating costs downtown in order to lessen the taxes on the community as a whole. The biggest issue is our taxes are about 20 percent above and beyond the rate of inflation and the rate of growth here, and that’s because of some of the things we do downtown. Not the decisions but the implementations of those decisions that are very costly and less efficient.

Oil and gas

Q: Do you support oil drilling off the coast?

Von Hahmann: We have to look at a more holistic way of meeting our energy needs because we’re so dependent on tourism.

Chappie: We have to make some changes in this country with its dependence on oil.

McClash: The state needs to commit to alternative types of energy. We have too precious of an environment to risk drilling oil off our shores today.

Witham: I’m much in favor of developing renewable energy, but it will only partially meet our needs. We’ll have to drill and take advantage of our own natural resources, whether it’s here or in Alaska.

Q: Under what circumstances would you approve Port Dolphin?

Chappie: We need to protect our environment, our tourism our beaches, our borrow pits and get it as far away from the Island as possible.

Witham: Take a proactive approach, got after it the right way, monitor it, put safety measures in place and take advantage of the economic benefits. I would never support putting it where we get our beach renourishment sand.

McClash: They planned on locating it right off the shore of Bean Point and that was just crazy. As chairman of Port Manatee, I had a chance to meet with the Port Dolphin people. After they heard the concerns of the community, they got the message and moved it out of the sand source area.

Von Hahmann: I agree with protecting our sand source. We need to have a hookup offshore not on shore.

Q: What type of new bridge should we seek to replace the Anna Maria Island Bridge?

A: All supported a replacement bridge and said they would listen to the community’s wishes.

Perico and pines

Q: If Seven Shores (St. Joe’s planned high-rise development on Perico Island) were to come up again, what would you do to keep it from being developed?

McClash: John, Jane and I all opposed that project from the beginning. We have a window of time to contact the property owners to see if we can make it a county park. If they’re willing to offer that property, we should put it on the ballot and let the voters decide. I see it as an enormous resource for the community. It’s too valuable a piece of property for us just to walk away and say there’s going to be condos there.

Von Hahmann: I totally agree with Joe. The board is so environmentally focused on getting those pieces of property that are jewels in the necklace of Manatee County. I was one of the 12 Concerned Citizens of Manatee County that filed a lawsuit when the city of Bradenton and the Florida Department of Community Affairs approved the rezone for that property.

Chappie: I agree with Joe. Put it on the ballot and let the people decide. As your district commissioner I will fight that fight.

Witham: I’m not well versed on the subject, but I would support putting it on the ballot and letting the public decide. I don’t care to take tax dollars to buy preserve land.

Q: What’s your opinion on Australian pines?

McClash: I like Australian pines. What other tree could you have on the island that has that much shade and character? They are good trees in certain locations. A lot of the ones we cut on the Causeway were because of the power line issues.

Von Hahmann: We remove them strategically and we have reasons for doing it. They are an invasive, exotic species and nothing grows under them. They also are beautiful, provide shade and are fast growing, but they are not sturdy in storms. I’m not for clear-cutting them, but if they need to be removed to restore the environment, I’m for that.

Chappie: I’m not in favor of cutting all of them down. We need to cut down the ones that are causing a safety issue. They make beautiful hedges; you can work with them.

Witham: I agree with John. Safety issues aside, with power lines and utilities, they can be trimmed or hedged. Let’s not remove any more of those. They’ve been here a long time.

Closing statements

Chappie: I enjoy getting involved and being able to see projects go through to help preserve and protect the type of community we really want here in Manatee County and on the Island. I’m pro-business; we need to get people back to work in our community. I have experience and knowledge, I learn quickly, I’m not a micro-manager and I will be involved.

Witham: As an engineer, I learned the value of technology; as a manager, I learned the value of efficiency; as a business owner, I understand the cost of doing business. I will put emphasis on driving down the cost of doing business and pass that on to the taxpayer. It starts downtown. We need to make it a more productive and more competitive environment.

McClash: I never expected to be here this long, but it gives me the ability to have the historical knowledge to help me with decisions. You’ve seen what I’ve done. I want to keep this a place we want to call home. We don’t want dramatic change. The board is not causing this economic crisis, but this community will rebound faster than others because we have tourism and we’re doing innovative things.

Von Hahmann: I love my job. My opponent and I have been in office for an extended period of time. Look at the jobs we have done in our own communities and how we have handled those issues that have come before us. I have participated on the state and federal level and will continue to do so. I tried to lead for Manatee County and stay engaged with my constituents and always be there when they call.

Since candidates in both races are Republican, the elections will be decided in the Aug. 26 primary. Registered voters in any political party can vote in this election.

Candidate bios

District 3

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story
John Chappie

Chappie graduated from Ohio University and moved to Bradenton Beach in1974. He volunteered on several of the city’s boards and committees including the planning and zoning board, on which he served as both vice chair and chair.

He was elected to the city commission in 1997 and served as vice mayor three times during that period. He served on the city commission until 2001 when he was elected mayor. He served as mayor until 2007, but did not seek re-election to the position due to term limits.

In 2007, he was elected to the city commission and currently serves as the city’s vice mayor. He is a member of the Manatee County Republican Executive Committee.

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story
Jane von Hahmann

Von Hahmann is a native Floridian and has lived in Manatee County for 32 years. She and her husband, Rocky, have been married for 34 years and have three sons. She has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Florida. She is a member of Saint Peter and Paul Catholic Church.

She was elected to the county commission in 2000 and re-elected unopposed in 2004. She is the current chair of the county commission, a post she also held in 2004.

She has served on numerous boards including the Manatee County Port Authority, the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council, the Peace River/Manasota Regional Water Supply Authority and the Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Agency.

District 7 at large

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story
Joe McClash

McClash graduated from Manatee High school and served in the Marine Corps for four years. He owned McClash Heating and Cooling from 1982 until 2002 and currently owns McClash Rentals, Inc. and his wife, Casey, have two children. He is a member of Saint Peter and Paul Catholic Church and has coached youth soccer for 14 years.

He was elected to the county commission in 1990 and has served on the board since. He has served as the board’s chairman in 2000 to 2001 and 2006.

He has served on numerous boards including the Manatee County Port Authority, the West Coast Inland Navigational District, the Manatee County Tourist Development Council, the Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Agency and Tampa Bay National Estuary Program.

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story
Greg Witham

Witham is a Florida native and he and his wife, Janene, have two children. He graduated from Manatee Community College with a degree in engineering technology and served in the Marine Corps 14 years. He owns and operates Florida Bio-Fuel technologies, a distributorship for renewable energy products.

He has served three terms as chairman of the VFW, as chairman of the Marine Corps League and as vice chairman of the Manatee County Veterans Council. He serves as chief financial officer of Kirby Stewart American Legion Post 24, as the Manatee County coordinator for the Marine Corps Reserves Toys for Tots program.

He is a precinct representative for the Manatee County Republican Executive Committee. In 2007, he was selected as the county’s Veteran of the Year.

Watch your speed on the bridge

The speed limit over the Anna Maria Island Bridge is 25 during the rehabilitation project and the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office is strictly enforcing it, according to several drivers who received tickets last week.

If you forget, increase your speed and get stopped while construction workers are on the bridge, the penalty will double. One driver reported getting a ticket that will cost him $300.

A word to the wise: the speed limit is the speed limit, even when it is temporarily lowered. Don’t forget to drive slowly over the bridge during this project.

Island jazz promotion silenced

Budget cuts have silenced the month-long Jazzy Little Islands promotion that debuted last August to attract visitors to Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key.

This year’s Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau budget did not include the promotion, aimed specifically at drawing German visitors to Manatee County beaches during a traditionally slow time of year for tourism businesses.

The promotion included several events, including live solo jazz performances on trolley rides and jazz entertainment at restaurants and bars all month.

Fify thousand dollars from county tourist tax revenues helped restaurants defray the cost of hiring jazz musicians. Another $50,000 was allocated for promotions on German radio station Jazz Radio Berlin. Seventeen thousand dollars was spent on a television commercial filmed near Bean Point featuring Jazz Radio Berlin announcer Leslie Nachmann, who hosted broadcasts from local restaurants, and local musician Koko Ray Hansen.

The first water taxi service on the Island also debuted during the promotion, taking visitors from Bridge Street in Bradenton Beach to a concert by German jazz musician Nils on the mainland at the Crosley Estate.

The jazz event is the latest budget casualty for Island tourism; earlier this summer, the kayak-oriented Outdoor Festival also was canceled for budget reasons.

Island Fireworks Task Force sums up July 4 efforts
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

PHOTO/CITY OF ANNA MARIA Anna Maria Sheriff’s Deputies confiscated
these Illegal fireworks over the July 4 holiday weekend.

ANNA MARIA – Despite animosity and outright hostility from some in the public, members of the Island Fireworks Task Force said they met their goals over the July 4 weekend in cutting down on the widespread use of illegal fireworks on the Island.

They added, however, that they are unsure if they will do it the same way next year.

Task force members, including law enforcement and fire district personnel from the three Island cities and Longboat Key, had been working since February on ways to educate the public that fireworks are illegal and would be confiscated.

"It was a mixed emotional event," Mayor Fran Barford told the group at its exit meeting last week. "I rode in the parade, and I got a lot of negativity as mayor for doing this. People said I was un-American and was taking away their rights as Americans.

"I feel good that no one got hurt. That was the key issue and the point. I think our objectives were met, but I don’t know if we’ll do this again."

Anna Maria Sheriff’s Sgt. John Kenney said he felt the confiscation was fairly successful and deputies got a quarter of the complaints about fireworks that they have on past July 4 holidays. He said they confiscated $5,000 to $6,000 worth of fireworks in three days.

"People would see us on the beach and would run out from the tree line and set them off and then run back," Kenney said. "It was a cat and mouse game. So many people got really, really mad and said we were unpatriotic, but we didn’t let it escalate beyond what we could handle.

"Other people said it has been a tradition for years and they didn’t know that fireworks were illegal. I don’t see how they couldn’t have been aware, especially with those big signs (trailer signs on the roadsides to the Island and in the Island cities)."

"They’ve always done it. It’s a rite of passage and what you do as an American and the injured be damned" Barford concurred. "They say why should we ban them because one person lost a hand."

"It’s an acceptable risk in their minds," EMS Capt. Larry Leinhauser pointed out.

A number of Island residents also sent letters to The Sun’s Letters to the Editor complaining of the crackdown on fireworks. Several echoed the sentiment that Kenney and Barford heard – that confiscating the fireworks was un-American and a violation of their rights.

Goals met

Holmes Beach Lt. Dale Stephenson said he thought the goals of educating the public and making the holiday safer were met. He said the roadside signs should be used again.

The district had no medical calls related to fireworks use and he got a positive response from business owners with the flyers in rentals and motel rooms, Deputy Fire Marshall Kurt Lathrop, of West Manatee Fire & Rescue, told the group.

Manatee County Hazmat Coordinator Bob Tollise said he thought the committee did a great job but pointed out, "The root cause of the whole problem is confusion that the state allows illegal fireworks to be sold.

"Then here we are taking away something that people have purchased in a different county. We’ll be struggling with this issue until something changes."

Longboat Key Fire Marshal Lou Gagliardi said another issue is the waiver allowing people to buy fireworks for agricultural use or sporting events.

"There’s no way to verify it’s really what they’re doing," Lathrop added.

Barford said she felt it was one of the "most positive experiences we’ve had a city in terms of coming up with a problem and getting everybody to work together on a plan to better manage it. Everybody came in and did their part and followed through.

"What I’d like to do is send a letter from this committee to our legislative delegation regarding the success and the effort it took to do it. Any changes (in state law) need to come from the legislature."

She suggested that the group have one meeting in December or January and decide what they want to do for the next July 4 holiday.

Lathrop said the Coast Guard needs to be involved next time because it must approve fireworks shot from barges as is done at the BeachHouse.

Bikers plan run during Bridging the Gap

When the Anna Maria Island Bridge closes to vehicle traffic, motorcyclists will be on a mission as part of Bridging the Gap, a grassroots effort to attract visitors here on weekends during the bridge closure.

Laura McAdams, co-owner of The UPS Store at 7322 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton, is still looking for ideas and volunteers to help make the Motorcycle Run a reality. Call her at 792-6366.

There will be another meeting at 5 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 11, for organizers and anyone else interested in helping the Island businesses bridge the gap for the 45-day closure. The following are some of the events planned.

Rotten Ralph’s restaurants are planning wing eating and karaoke contests at their two Island outlets and the Elks Lodge in Bradenton, where they run the food service operation.

The Anna Maria Island Sun will have its Dog Costume Contest on Oct. 25.

Trainer Jeff Levine is organizing a softball tournament for men and women. He plans to hold it on Sunday, Oct. 12 or Oct. 26. Call him at 744-6883 to sign up.

On the weekend of Nov. 14-16, Cultural Connections of Anna Maria Island will hold ArtsHOP. It starts on Friday, Nov. 14 with an art walk to all four galleries on the Island – Artists Guild Gallery, Island Gallery West, the Anna Maria Art League and The Studio at Gulf and Pine. The Historical Society will also host an exhibit of Seminole Indian clothing at the museum in Anna Maria.

On Saturday, Nov. 5, there will be a Bridge Street Market in Bradenton Beach and an arts and crafts show at the field next to Holmes Beach City Hall to benefit the AMI Butterfly Park. The Island Players will also hold a live performance.

On Sunday, Nov. 16, the Anna Maria Island Community Chorus and Orchestra will hold an afternoon concert at CrossPointe Fellowship in Anna Maria. Call 778-2099 for more information.

Bridging the Gap Events

• Tennis tournament, Kip Lalosh, 778-5446
• Realtor progressive open house, Sandy Rich, 778-0426
• Dog costume contest, The Sun newspaper, 778-3986
• Sand castle tournament, Pam Fortenberry, 778-0436
• Skim Board Bash, Ronee Brady, 778-1001
• ArsHOP Weekend, twalk, Joyce Karp, 778-2099
• Fishing tournament, Jake Spooner and Dana Snell, 778-3400
• Mini-golf tournament, Jake Spooner and Dana Snell, 778-3400
• Progressive raffle, Sandy Rich, 778-0426
• Trolley scavenger hunt, Linda Haack, 779-2545, ext. 1130, and Caryn Hodge, 778-8705
• Key Royale Golf Tournament, Tom Tollette, 779-1888
• Bicycle tour, Lauren Sato, 352-514-6545
• Motorcycle run, Laura McAdams, 792-6366
• Flea Market, Ginny Dutton, 778-7370
• Concert in the Park, Mark Kimball, 518-6329 and Steve Bark, 720-3200
• Holly Trolly, Sabine Musil, 778-5405
• Pickleball, Robert Taylor, 778-6465
•Three-mile Run/Walk, Irene Pearman, 518-9806
• Wing eating contest and karaoke contest, Tom Siwa, 419-341-1035.
• Softball tournament, Jeff Levine, 744-6883.

O’Connor Bowling Challenge coming
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

SUN FILE PHOTO The O’Connor twins,
George and Billy, share a laugh at last
year’s bowling tournament.

Dust off those bowling shoes and polish those bowling balls, the 18th annual O’Connor Bowling Challenge, sponsored by The Sun, is set for Saturday, Aug. 23, at AMF Bowling Lanes, 4208 Cortez Road, Bradenton.

Pre-registration is highly recommended for this sell-out event. Bowlers must sign up by noon Thursday, Aug. 21, to be guaranteed a lane. Registration is at Duffy’s Tavern, 5808 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach.

"Every year we have to turn people away," Billy O’Connor explained. "The only way to guarantee a lane is to register and pay in advance. You have to pay to play."

The donation is $25 per person, which includes shoes and three games. If there are any lanes left, you can sign up at the bowling alley at 5:30 p.m. and bowling starts promptly at 6:30 p.m. and ends at 9:30 p.m.

"It’s a cheap night out with all your cheap Island friends," O’Connor said. "Where else can you have that much fun for that price?"

All proceeds from the event are donated to the Island Community Center to purchase sports equipment. In the past 17 years, more than $210,000 has been donated.

"Money is so tight at the Center," O’Connor said. "The last thing I want to do is cut kids’ sports equipment."

This year’s after party will once again be held at the Anna Maria Oyster Bar, 6696 Cortez Road W., Bradenton. Oyster bar owner John Horne has promised beer and margarita stations, a full bar and bowlers’ specials.

Raffle tickets for a big screen television donated by The Sun and hundreds of outstanding prizes from local merchants and restaurants will be available at the bowling alley. Tickets are six for $5. O’Connor has also promised a few surprises along with the prizes.

In addition to the raffle, trophies will be awarded at the after party. Trophies include high and low game male and female, high series male and female and the Chuck Stearns Memorial High Game Trophy, The trophy is in honor of Holmes Beach Police Officer Charles "Chuck" Stearns, who passed away in 2005.

For information, call Billy O’Connor at 650-5488.

Rescued dog rescues injured owner
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Izzy demonstrates affection for her family
each and every day. Here, she sits on
Dr. Saul Ladd’s lap and shows her smile.
SUN PHOTO/LAURIE KROSNEY

HOLMES BEACH — When Dr. Saul and Rosalee Ladd adopted a sweet, seven-year-old gray dog from UnderDog Rescue of Florida, they had no idea that the pup, named Izzy, would be such a hero.

One night this past spring, she proved herself when Rosalee had a bad fall.

Dr. Ladd had already gone to bed and he doesn’t hear as well as he used to. And on this night, he had removed his hearing aids prior to retiring.

Rosalee stayed up a little longer playing computer games down the hall in another room. Izzy went padding back and forth between the rooms, checking to make sure everyone was all right.

When Rosalee got up from her chair, she took a bad tumble and found that she couldn’t get back up. It later turned out she had broken her pelvis and her wrist. She called for her husband, but he couldn’t hear her.

"I knew I was hurt," she said. "I knew I needed help. Izzy seemed to know that too."

The dog ran to Rosalee where she lay and circled in distress. She ran to the bedroom and then ran back to Rosalee.

"I was asleep, and Izzy just wouldn’t leave me alone," Dr. Ladd said. "She was pawing me and licking my face. Finally I just got up, and she led me to where Rosalee had fallen."

Thanks to the determination of this now 9-year-old dog, Rosalee got the help she needed right away. Without Izzy, both Ladds said they think Rosalee might have lain on the floor all night.

"It was just like a Lassie episode," Dr. Ladd said.

The Ladds, who have been married 60 years, said they’ve always had dogs, and when their golden retrievers passed away, they decided their life had a void that could only be filled by a dog.

"We decided we’d take an older dog, because we didn’t think it was fair to have a rescue dog that we’d outlive. The dog shouldn’t have the trauma of having to adjust to a new home all over again," Dr. Ladd said.

They checked at Pet Smart and the Humane Society to see about getting a little dog. Both places recommended they contact Shona Samuels, director of UnderDog Rescue of Florida.

"We filled out the application and waited just a few days before we got a call."

The Ladds had said they wanted a Yorkie, but there were none available, but UnderDog foster mother Deb Sieber had a dog that just might work out for them.

"We went to see the dog, and just fell in love," Rosalee said.

"Izzy was a poor eater," Sieber said. "She had been fed only table food, and her coat was very coarse and oily. She had had a recent ear infection, and her lab tests showed that her pancreas was not functioning well – again, the table food."

Sieber said she put Izzy on premium dog food and gave her a bath with non-soap, non-detergent shampoo.

"That was just the beginning," Sieber said. "Izzy was very sweet from the get-go – loving with people, enjoying being with other dogs, gentle, affectionate, obedient, loyal, quiet and potty trained."

The Ladds took one look and brought Izzy home.

"We never had one problem with her," Dr. Ladd said.

"Well, there was just one time," Rosalee recalled. "We left the room to answer the phone. There was a roast beef sandwich on the table, and when we got back, the sandwich was gone."

"But she didn’t eat the bread," Dr. Ladd added.

Now, three years after she first came to live with the Ladds and several months after Rosalee’s fall, the Ladds sit in their living room and talk affectionately about Izzy and how much she has enriched their lives.

"And she’s always mellow, except for when I go get her food," Dr. Ladd said. "Then she just twirls and prances."

All dogs are spayed or neutered. They have a microchip, and they’ve been fully vetted, including an examination of their teeth.

"Really, this is such a good thing," Rosalee said. "You are giving a home to a dog that needs it, but in the end, it’s the dog that’s doing you a favor."

Anyone interested in adopting a dog or becoming a foster home for dogs waiting for their a new home should log onto www.UnderDog.petfinder.com or www.UnderDogAdpopt.com.


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